Joe Anderson: “I was punched” claim an outrageous allegation
By Leila Davey 15/12/2011
On Monday night (12th December), Liverpool City Council held an extraordinary public meeting to vote through £30 million of swingeing budget cuts. Despite the meeting being poorly advertised - no doubt to prevent dissenting citizens from attending - it was reasonably well attended. From 4pm a diverse mix of members of the public, including anti-cuts activists, workers, trade unionists and the unemployed gathered outside the town hall in the cold and rain, waving placards and chanting.
Contrary to the disingenuous nature of the mainstream media reporting, the demonstration was lively yet peaceful. At its height the crowd was around 30 strong including women, children and young people who, as has been widely reported elsewhere, are the primary victims of the proposed cuts. As the crowd swelled in number, many began to dutifully queue at the entrance to the town hall after receiving assurances that they would be permitted entry as this was after all, a public meeting.
The illusion of democracy
In an outrageous turn of events, it soon became apparent that the council had absolutely no intention of allowing members of the public to attend a public meeting. Enforced by a characteristically disproportionate Merseyside Police, members of the public were physically prevented from entering. Indeed, I witnessed a completely unjustified assault on a non-violent protester from occupy Liverpool, which was observed by a small crowd of witnesses who immediately protested to the watching police: "He's being assaulted! Aren't you going to do anything?" This fell upon predictably deaf ears.
As time ticked on, local councillors began to arrive and the atmosphere soured even further. As we stood with the wind and rain whipping around our faces, the mood remained indignant. Cries of, “You shouldn't be going in there without us! We are the public!” and “This is not democracy, this is a police state!” rang through the air, only to be met with indifference and disdain by the ruling classes and their uniformed enforcers.
Declaration of war against the working class
As reported in Nerve Liverpool council have taken a slash and burn approach to the implementation of savings demanded by Tory-led central government. In a disproportionate attack upon the working classes, youth work has had a 60% service cut, four Sure Start Children’s Centres are facing the axe next March, public sector workers are facing extreme pay cuts (the majority of whom are women), with some standing to lose up to £5,000 and over 1,100 fewer staff are providing services than that at this period last year.
In a statement, campaigners from Liverpool against the cuts said: "Liverpool Against the Cuts completely refute the idea that any of these cuts are necessary. The deficit is being used as a cover by the Tory-led Government to unleash an ideological attack...on our public services and welfare benefits. We must join together in a campaign that unites communities, workers, the unemployed and pensioners and fight every cut!"
Labour-led council launch smear campaign against campaigners
Not content with the wholesale destruction of jobs and public services, yesterday council Leader Joe Anderson took to the local media to unleash a totally false, hyperbolic attack upon the members of the public and campaigners present. Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, he claimed: "I got kicked in my ankles and punched in my side. They were chanting 'Nazi scum' at me. You get used to this type of thing, but this was a little bit more sinister".
As an eyewitness who was stood within less than a foot of Councillor Anderson as he entered the building, this is an outrageous allegation and unequivocally untrue, (as corroborated by a number of people, besides myself). While it cannot be denied that heckling occurred, nobody laid a finger on Councillor Anderson and I would challenge him to produce any evidence that any assault occurred. It should also be noted that any shouts of "Nazi" were being directed at a lone fascist who was being challenged by Anti-Fascist demonstrators a few feet away. That notwithstanding, his claims that he was assaulted in full view of half a dozen police officers is patently absurd, but as the old adage goes: "Throw enough mud and some will stick."
Anderson is no stranger to misrepresentation and hypocrisy when protecting himself from criticism. As Michelle Smith from Liverpool Against the Cuts today recalled: "Joe Anderson claims to be a trade unionist and a socialist and that he stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Liverpool. Why then is he trying to smear anti-cuts activists, whilst exhibiting the sort of thuggish behaviour he supposedly condemns? We have video footage of the protest outside the Echo arena on Friday where Anderson squared up to and screamed "scum" in the face of a person there protesting against Francis Maude. Anderson then went in to have a cosy lunch with Maude." Shoulder to shoulder with the people of Liverpool indeed. Footage of the incident is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcNLz8C5RAw (Thanks to: twitter.com/akblackandred for the link.)
These events can be clearly viewed as an extension of the class war being waged against working people by central government. As has been seen across the country, the rich elite are colluding with an eager right wing media to demonise anti-cuts activists in the eyes of the general public. The question is: Are we going to let them?
Comment left by Graham on 15th December, 2011 at 17:26
Comment left by Joe Cruise on 15th December, 2011 at 18:04
Comment on this article: