Hackney Solidarity Group: 1990 video clip + PDFs

A short clip of interviews with HSG activists Norman and Justin about opposition to the Poll Tax and the increased class struggle dimension in the anarchist movement after the miners’ strike.

Hackney Solidarity Group was launched in 1989 and existed until at least 1993. Its main activity was opposition to the poll tax, but it was involved in a number of other local working class campaigns too and had a fine line in exposing council corruption.

The footage above is taken from the film “Dare to Dream: Anarchism in England in History and in Action” directed by Goldsmiths student Marianne Jenkins in 1990. It’s is an interesting overview of veterans like Albert Meltzer, Nicolas Walter and Philip Sansom (all of whom have since died) alongside a new generation of activists from London Greenpeace, the anarcho-syndicalist Direct Action Movement and HSG. It even features what looks like a young Roger Hallam of Extinction Rebellion at the 24 minutes mark.

Many issues of Hackney Solidarity Group’s Hackney Heckler newsletter can be now be viewed as PDFs on archive.org. This site includes an introduction to the group as well as scanned versions of the Heckler. (Irritatingly I’ve not got a copy of the issue Justin is holding up in the clip above though…)

There were two subsequent iterations of Hackney Heckler, one in the noughties (or possibly late nineties?) and one by Hackney Solidarity Network in 2018, which can be seen in all its full-colour glory here.

Hackney Heckler issue 12, January 1993

This is the last issue of the Heckler from this era that I have – can anyone confirm it was the last one produced?


CRACKPOT
By Dee Campbell

The venerable Guild of Fine Powder Purveyors has been rocked to its core by corruption allegations concerning some of its members in a north London branch. As many as 25 dealers in Stoke Newington are alleged to have been involved in policing.

“DEALER X”

Suggestions that dealers have given information to police officers are nothing new, but the Guild is currently investigating allegations that go much further – one dealer is alleged to have been earning as much as £2,000 a month as a police officer. The dealer, who can only be referred to as “Dealer X” for life insurance reasons, was named in the confession of self-styled “honest cop” PC Dick Sonofdockgreen.

The self-confessed “woodentop” claimed he saw Dealer X:

– Arresting people
– Giving evidence
– Drinking with known “officers”
– Wearing a brown leather jacket, blue jeans, and new white trainers.

Mr. Bigg, the Guild’s president told us that an investigation, code-named “Operation Crackpot”, has been ongoing for 18 months. However, Roy Nark, head of Stoke Newington’s Guild Branch denied there was any truth in the story: “These allegations have been made by self-confessed police officers – they are absolute rubbish”. Admitting the investigation had lowered morale amongst the area’s dealers, he said, “How can my men provide a service to the public with this hanging over them, knowing every time they make a sale they may be accused of being police officers”.



COVER-UP

Hugh Sless, the civilian member of the Pushers Complaints Authority (P.C.A.) overseeing the investigation, said: “I am absholutely determined there musht be a cover-up, the truth musht not come out. Theshe are sheriously allegationsh and if we find anyone ish guilty of being a witnesssh to them, we musht put them
away for a long time.”

A World Inaction investigation into the scandal will also throw light on the role of a young mother from Stoke Newington, Diane Abbott, who has allegedly been operating as an MP for 5 years. Shocked neighbours told them, “We had no idea, she seemed so nice. We got a bit suspicious when she paid her Poll-Tax, and there were a lot of foreign trips – but we thought she was just running drugs”.

Speaking through a solicitor Ms. Abbott told them: “Politicians are scum; as a local woman with a young child I know only to well how concerned parents are about the menace posed by MPs. I shall certainly sue, I have never represented Stoke Newington at Westminster and I never would.”

NEWS

IN THEIR WORDS

A recent confidential report from Mike ‘Cassanova’ Craig made clear the council’s priorities for the next year. In it is the bland statement: “There will be some scope for reducing the staffing establishment in Payroll as a result of staffing reduction which all directorates are likely to be making next year”.

So it looks like compulsory redundancies all around – and the services that we need further down the drain. But there is one area of growth (apart from Mike’s salary). In his words: “I consider that the Audit Inspectorate is the one area within my budget where growth is required“. So lots more investigating so-called ‘fraud’ while services collapse. But the Town Hall bosses can boast of their “drive against fraud” to draw our attention from their continual series of cock-ups.

COMRADES

In the Prince George recently, after a few beers, Councillor Jon Burnell was holding forth about Tommy ‘The Vamp’ Shepherd: “The trouble with Tommy is that he’s go no political ideas beyond furthering of his own career“. Now if Hackney’s labour councillors hate each other so much is it any wonder we hate them too?

OVERDUE

We’ve been informed that Chair of the Leisure Services Committee, Andy Buttress has not been returning his library books. And not from one but three different libraries! We think that it’s about time that Andy returned his books, especially as he has just issued a memo to the hard pressed library workers that stops them from taking out too many library books. One rule for them and one rule for us perhaps? And while we’re on the subject of Andy, he should pay up his poll tax before the bailiffs come knocking again. After all, it’s Andy and the rest his Labour mates constantly ordering us to pay ours.

YES SIR…

Talk about getting down on your belly! Council leader John McCafferty has now had the guts to invite Tory Housing Minister, Sir George Young, to come and speak in the Town Hall at 6pm on January 21st. This upper class toff is best known for his reference to the homeless as, “the sort of people you step on when you come out of the opera”, to which he added, “the Government’ s efforts to help the rough sleeper are a widely acknowledged success.”

The snob will speak for up to 2 hours on the ‘Government’s Urban Policy.’ What policy? Chaos, cuts in road repairs, cuts in housebuilding, cuts in jobs… It’s the equivalent of a butcher speaking on vegetarianism. Knowing full well that local people might like to ask some difficult questions John ‘always-the-democrat’ McCafferty has made the event ticket only.

So, Sir George Young won’t have to answer why the Tories have halved the councils capital spending programme from £79 million to 1989/90 to just £38 million in 1992/3, thus producing more urban decay! And he won’t have to talk about the cockroaches, the failure to build any new houses… and nor will McCafferty. McCafferty is now a great pal of Sir George, having drunk champagne together celebrating the granting of a mere £7.5 million a year, for 5 years, to Hackney under the City Challenge bid. But as we know, what the Tories give with one hand they take back with the other. So in December they announced massive cuts in Section 11 Funding, threatening 300 local jobs, and causing McCafferty to whimper about “the dire impact on jobs and service delivery.” The Tories also told the Council they were cutting the Inner City Partnership programme by £3.7 million in 1993/4, leaving less money for street lighting, cycle routes, making buildings accessible for people with disabilities, etc, and destroying almost all the local summer playschemes.

McCafferty and Co joined in, announcing their very own cuts of £1,150,000 in the voluntary sector, ending the funding of Hackney Under-5’s and Under-8’s, the Pakistan Welfare Association, the Roots Pool and the Trade Union Support Unit, plus imposing massive cuts on Centerprise, the Claudia Jones Womens’ Project, and many others. Sir George Young should be made aware we don’t need his pompous lectures, so this beano will be picketed. And, if you’d have liked to ask Sir George a question, or just want to know why you weren’t invited, you can phone Shan Nicholas on 071 490 1600 ext2262.

NO SIR NO WAY!

An unemployed poll-tax non-payer was recently fed false information when summonsed to Thames Magistrates Court. He’d wanted to challenge his arrears with the magistrate, but in the court building he was directed to Hackney Council Community Charge staff. They said that he could pay £5 per week, making out it was the least anyone could pay. They also used threats that he could be imprisoned.

The non-payer refused, and only then did it turn out that the maximum they can legally take from people on income support is £2.10 per week with a liability order. This wasn’t mentioned in any literature, nor said by any staff, and quite a few people at the court were tricked into agreeing to losing £5, deducted weekly from their dole. Hackney Council again show themselves to be spineless cheats, taking money off the poor. If you are on income support, the most they can take out is £2.10 per week. If you do go to court, make it clear you know this, and stick to your guns.

LESSONS FROM OUR HISTORY
COLIN ROACH

Colin Roach was shot dead in the foyer of Stoke Newington police station on the night of Wednesday January 12th 1983. The police immediately spread false stories that a young black man with a “history of mental instability” had shot himself. Members of Colin’s family were treated with contempt undeserving of grieving relatives. The community responded with two spontaneous demonstrations and a highly effective campaign against police racism and injustice.

Among the Roach Family Support Committee’s achievements:

• organised four demonstrations
• Hackney Council voted against paying the police precept
• trade unions backed a ‘break links’ policy and community organisations refused to co-operate with the police
• exposed the inquest system as a rubber stamp for police explanations for deaths in custody
• commissioned an authoritative report into Colin’s death and policing in Hackney.

The police tried to beat the campaign off the streets. 80 people, including Colin’s father, James Roach, were arrested on five demonstrations within two months of his death. Ten years on the importance of the campaign is clear. The police’s official cover up failed. The community believes somebody shot Colin Roach and the police have to answer for it. It is fitting that on the tenth anniversary of Colin Roach’s death that a centre is opened in his name. It is in tribute to his family and a campaign which represented an important step forward in the struggle against oppression.

INNOCENT

Another worker, sacked in the council’s so-called “crackdown on fraud” has had his name cleared. This time, the council didn’t even dare to go in front of an Industrial Tribunal: They settled out of court, giving the man £5,000 and good references. John Mac-Cafferty, declared “the paying of compensation should not be seen as the council throwing in the towel”. It all shows that the council have (yet again) completely cocked-up and wasted more of our money. More cases are coming up soon, and we expect the workers involved to be totally cleared. Of course, this caring council won’t give them their jobs back. Solid workers’ action could achieve that. And recent strike action has shown people won’t take much more, so there’s hope.

OFF THE BACK OF A LARRY?

We all know corruption is rife in Hackney. The triumvirate running Hackney – cops, local businessmen and Labour councillors – grin at us from the pages of the Hackney Gazette, the non-campaigning paper which doesn’t care. Several people have recently contacted the Heckler with lurid tales about corruption in the council.So, our team of investigators is about to delve into the murky past If you know anything about golden handshakes to Labour Party members,dodgy contracts, employees sacked to be silenced, keys for cash (yawn!), or especially about Larry Lobjoie, get in touch with the Heckler and help stick the boot into the Hackney Council Mafiosi.

Hackney Heckler
NEW YEAR’S HONOURS

Special Team Awards

For Services To Anarchism: STOKE NEWINGTON POLICE “CRACK” SQUAD for their selfless contribution to the breakdown of law and order.

For Services To Capitalism: HACKNEY COUNCIL LABOUR GROUP for their unflinching support for developing enterprise combined with their spectacular destruction of local services.

For Services To Ignorance: To the three stooges of the HACKNEY GAZETTE PRODUCTION TEAM, seeing nothing, hearing nothing and saying nothing, and charging us 28p for the privilege.

International Solidarity Award:  HACKNEY TRADES UNION COUNCIL for sending two delegates to Turkey who met the Mayor of Kartal only weeks after he had sent the police to break up a council workers’ strike, leaving 20 wounded when the police opened fire on them.

Industrial Harmony Award:  HACKNEY JOINT SHOP STEWARDS COMMITTEE for having jointly done nothing at all together to upset anyone, least of all the Council bosses.

For Services To The Anti Poll-Tax Movement:  STOKE NEWINGTON COMMUNITY CHARGE OFFICE for mistakenly giving out the phone number of a squat in Stamford Hill as their office number.

Individual Honours

Services To The Media: DIANE ABBOTT for only ever doing anything if the papers and TV are there to see.

For Long Suffering: BRIAN SEDGEMORE. In over five years he has not once spoken out against Ms Abbott, some say his parliamentary colleague, and also for cycling around every pothole in Hackney.

The Family Values Award: LINDA HIBBERD, Chair of Housing, for rescuing her son and other family members from the bottom of the Waiting List, and installing them and herself in very nice homes.

Unprincipled Trade Unionism: JOHN McCAFFERTY for not letting his membership of the National Union of Teachers hinder the council in sacking teachers.

The Free Enterprise Award:  LINDA BELLOS for taking the redundancy money, and going back to work for the council, doing the same job as a consultant earning 4 times as much as before.

Bloodsucking Chameleon Award:  TOMMY SHEPHERD for keeping his mouth shut when the Stokey Cokey scandal broke, despite having embarked on his political career in the Community Alliance For Police Accountability.

Headbanger Of The Year Award:  CHIEF SUPT ROY CLARK for repeatedly insisting that nothing was wrong at Stokey Coke-shop, and then quitting for criminal intelligence.

Police Flexibility Award:  D.C. ROY LEWANDOWSKI wins for being bent enough to be convicted of theft, charged with V.A.T. fraud, and for supplying hard drugs.

Justice Award:  SGT. GERRARD CARROLL for getting the right man. When he shot himself (if in fact it was he) many people felt safe to leave their homes again.

Milk Tray Award: CHIEF SUPT BERNARD TAFFS for giving chocolates and flowers to a family mistakenly raided by armed police.

Professionals In Publicity- Grabbing Award: MARTIN SHAW for actually speaking to Stokey Cokey about his noisy neighbours, and posing menacingly on the front page of the Gazette.

Extreme Loyalty Award: CLLR. MEDLIN LEWIS for spending a whole year in the same party.

Even-Less-Caring-Than-McCafferty Award:  LORD TOMLINSON for deciding we don’t need Barts any-more.

Three-Bags-Full Award:  SIR GEORGE YOUNG for getting the maximum from the Council with the minimum of resistance.

Brown Trousers Award:  JOHN McCAFFERTY for what he does every time he hears the name Larry Lobjoie.

PDF version available here.

Hackney Heckler issue 11, November 1992

PLONKERS

Hackney Council prides itself on “Working for Local People”. It’s their buzzword, their slogan! They put it everywhere. And its a complete joke which just shows how out of touch the idiots are with our reality. That’s a reality of cockroach-infested flats, closed nurseries, crumbling schools, potholed roads, run-down libraries, higher and higher council rents. It’s a reality of collapsing local services, of more and more people struggling to stay above water.

TOE-RAGS

And what do our beloved council leaders do? They boast about winning the City Challenge. Great! More expensive shops, more empty offices – while our homes rot around us. And more jobs for the boys / girls, more backhanders, more palms greased. Corruption? What corruption! And when those toe-rags aren’t boasting, they’re blaming council workers… or squatters… or Poll Tax non-payers. “It’s all their fault there’s such a crisis!” cry McCafferty, Shepherd, Craig and the rest of the Mare Street mafia. Talk about blaming other people for your problems, your mistakes, your stupidities.

The Mare Street mob just take the biscuit. The real problem – apart from being corrupt and cracked – is that they are a bunch of gutless, spineless tossers. Time again, the Government has starved Hackney of money – money desperately needed to maintain our services and standard of living. What do our glorious council leaders do? Whimper, whine, complain slightly… and do sweet F.A! They don’t care because they’ve got their power, their nice big salaries, their high-flying careers ahead of them – and they think we’re too stupid, too apathetic to do anything about the savage injustices they’re constantly imposing on us.

SHAMBLING FOOLS

Well, we’ve got news for them. We showed our power through the Poll Tax when we stuffed both central government and the council. Poll Tax is now dead and buried thanks to our struggles, our fights, our solidarity. And we show our power whenever we work together as a community, helping each other – all the small deeds that help to make life a bit more bearable. We’ve shown what we can be capable of. The council leadership have shown that they’re only capable of being a bunch of shambling fools. We’ve got no time for the Tories or the Liberal Democrats: that’s just the same medicine but in a different bottle. If we really want something, the only people that can get it are us. Stuff the council, stuff the government – it’s time for a bit of people power.

NEWS

IT’S BACK, AND IT’S BAD
After almost a year the Hackney Heckler is back. Now produced by members of the Colin Roach Centre, it will continue as a hard-hitting, funny and practical broadsheet. We aim to encourage people to organise and to take direct action about situations that affect their lives, as its obvious that we can’t rely on the government, the council, etc, to take the necessary action for us: we can only rely on ourselves!

TWO-FACED
On the recent huge miners’ demonstration Hackney Labour Group marched with their banner. Yet these same hypocrites support the council when it cuts jobs and services.

COLIN ROACH CENTRE
Hackney has a new centre set up with the aim of assisting people struggling together for a better future. It’s been named the Colin Roach Centre in memory of the young black man who was murdered in Stoke Newington Police Station in 1983. A number of groups and individuals are already involved with the centre, including the workers and some of the management committee of the Hackney Trade Union Support Unit (phone 071-249 8086), Hackney Community Defence Association (071-249 0193), and the Turkish and Kurdish community group Halkder, and the centre is developing a membership, supportive of those groups, but independent of them. For more information phone either of the numbers above.

WE REMEMBER
The official opening of the Colin Roach Centre is to take place on January 12th 1993, the tenth anniversary of Colin’s death. A plaque will be unveiled at the centre, followed by the H.C.D.A. ‘We Remember’ Commemoration March to Stoke Newington Police Station, where wreaths will be laid in memory of all those who have died at the hands of Hackney police. Assemble 6:30pm in Bradbury Street on Tuesday 12th January. Bring your friends.

MY MATE’S A DRUG DEALER

Did you hear the one about the police officer who was earning as much as £2000 per week from drug dealing? His name is Roy Lewandowski, a.k.a. Officer X, a one-time detective constable with Stoke Newington Drug Squad. Although not charged with drugs offences as yet, he’s just been in court on a theft charge, and is also facing charges of VAT fraud.

In Policespeak, this man is not a criminal, he’s “a rotten apple.” And he’s been taken out of the barrel – temporarily at least – because he’s been suspended from duty. Poor old Scotland Yard, hard pressed to deal with the booming drugs trade, had a problem choosing how to investigate Lewandowski and his mates. So they decided it should be an inside man – not just another officer from the Met., but an officer who knew both the area and the people involved.

Who better than Superintendant Ian Russell who used to work in Hackney. So long as the police investigate themselves, so long as Stoke Newington Drug Squad is investigated by Scotland Yard, so long as they appoint officers “familiar with the territory”, they treat our community with contempt. So long as they insist that it’s just a matter of a few rotten apples, and refuse to look at the opportunities for police crime and take away some of the police’s powers, our community will be the victims of crime – whether by ordinary decent criminals or police officers.

STRIKING OUT

The council always tries to make its workers out to be the enemy, blaming them for lack of repairs, poor services, delayed benefit claims, whatever. As usual, they’re lying. Most council workers aim to do their best while being attacked by their management. The workers in Housing Benefits have shown a way forward; faced with a mounting workload, a management proposed staff reduction and a cut in wages they decided that enough was enough and walked out on strike. Four weeks strike got management to see the error of their ways. The workers didn’t get everything they wanted – but they certainly got a lot more than if they had just passively sat by while the council shat on them from a great height. It just shows: if you want something, you’ve got to fight for it..and there’s no use in complaining if you’re not willing to fight.

INNOCENT

Most people will remember the storm over council corruption several months ago. A number of council workers were sacked because of allegations of corrupt practices. However, at the time, it was argued that many of those sacked were in fact innocent and the council were only trying to intimidate and frighten its workers while at the same time appearing to do something about corruption. One of those sacked, Julie Okoli, has now had her case heard by an Industrial Tribunal – the tribunal declared that there was no evidence whatsoever against her and awarded her substantial damages (though it’s never enough). Yet again this council is revealed to be a bunch of liars. Next time you hear MacCafferty, Craig or anyone else going on about this or that: remember that they always lie! Incidentally, why was MacCafferty never investigated for corruption – surely the evidence is strong enough or maybe because it’s only us poor bastards down at the bottom who get investigated?

FIGHTING THE FASCISTS

The fight against fascism in Hackney has been going on for years. Hackney, for example, was at the forefront of the struggle against Oswald Moseley’s blackshirts in the 1930’s. In 1935, Moseley had tried to hold a ‘Nuremberg’ rally at the newly opened Olympia but anti-fascists protested and the resultant fascist violence in the hall disgusted many of his ‘respectable’ backers. In desperation the blacicshirts decid-ed to concentrate their efforts to promote fascism in east London. The centre of their propaganda was in Victoria Park Square.

Opposition was resolute. When the fascists planned a march from Victoria Park, anti-fascists mobilised to block the procession, in the ensuing punch-up there were many arrests. During the year there were many struggles in the park. On July 10th 1935, Israel Becow was arrested and charged with “using insulting words and behaviour” at a fascist meeting. Five days later Barney Becow faced similar charges. In addition he was accused of “assaulting a constable and…James Taylor, a fascist, by striking him on the face with his fist.”

Despite the opposition racist attacks continued at a high level. In 1937, two Asian men were pushing a barrow of tailor’s cuttings up Green Street. Some Nazis attacked them and were detained by the crowd. They were prosecuted in court but; “were dealt with leniently because the Indians… could not make themselves understood in the police court.” Racists mocked them from the gallery.

In 1938 another major confrontation took place outside the Salmon and Bull pub in Cambridge Road. Approximately 1000 fascists and their sympathisers were estimated by the police to have assembled. According to the police reports: “a large number of Communists and Jews” turned up to shout abuse. The fascists were again chased off. The most successful tactic employed by anti-fascists was to oppose all meetings on the street. In Ridley Road fascists spoke from a van. The Jewish People’s Council regularly disrupted them. The fight against fascism in Hackney took place on the streets. It did not die away with the defeat of Hitler. It is only by regular confrontation, in defiance of the authorities, that it will ever be banished from the borough, and the country.

NO DOPE, NO HOPE

Well, that’s a non-starter. We don’t need dope (or weed, draw, bush, hash, cannabis, call it what you will) as much as we don’t need tobacco, alcohol, tranquilisers, whatever. But a bit of dope can be as nice as a pint…if not nicer (especially if it’s good gear!)

Millions of people in this country smoke dope. It’s definetely less harmful than alcohol, tobacco or tranquilisers – but it’s still illegal. From the way the cops or the Government go on sometimes, you would have thought that smoking a bit of dope is like killing your granny. And when they’ve gone on about it, off they go down the pub (or into the drinks cabinet) and get sloshed. Did someone say hypocritical bastards?

Dope has been around for centuries – and for centuries it has been legally taken as a way of having a good time. After all, that’s partly what life is about – having a good time. So all our ancient relatives used to get very high without the fear of being busted. But this century the state decided to criminalise dope mainly because that’s what big business wanted. The reason for this was that hemp (from where dope comes) is an amazing plant that can produce rope, paper, clothes and many other things.

In the attempt to keep it illegal hemp has been researched more than any other plant, but the resarch has revealed many useful and ecologically sound applications. Hemp oil could be used as the substitute for the finest grade lubricating oils; at present they slaughter whales to refine such oils. Hemp has many medical qualities, it’s of known value against asthma, arthritis and rheumatism, is a tranquiliser and antibiotic. It’s less likely to cause cancer than many pharmaceutical drugs, and might even contain the cure to cancer. But the big paper and chemical companies didn’t like all of this because it was a threat to them – and, as they ran (and still run) the government, it was banned.

It’s still illegal now, partly because it gives the cops a good excuse to harass and criminalise us. And also if it was legalised, then the profits of the tobacco companies would drop (until one day there were Marlboro Leb Lights, etc!). A stoned Marlboro man – now, that’s a good thought.

Whatever: it’s time they got off our backs and let us smoke a bit of puff if we want to. The story of this is a classic example of the bosses and the state ruining our lives when all we want to do is to have a good time. Well, we’re having it whatever they’re doing – though it would be a nice change if they saw some sense (but we’re not taking any bets on that). All we can say is stay cool, stay free and get down.

 

PDF version available here.

Hackney Heckler issue 9, August 1991

LABOUR AND TORY BOSSES INVOLVED IN HOUSING SCAMS

Renewed eviction of squatters is necessary, according to Housing Chair Linda Hibbard, because there are 3,000 families in temporary accommodation.

Yet Linda can hardly accuse anyone of queue jumping. Her stepson jumped straight into an empty flat on the Pembury estate and, surprisingly, the flat never appeared on the vacant properties list!

JUMPING THE QUEUE
The Tories also know who to prioritise for local housing need. Themselves! Hackney Tory Chair Joan Hillier has wangled a brand new 2 bedroom flat in Evering Road from government funded Everbrook Housing Co-op. Not exactly homeless, Joan owns her own 3 storey house just around the corner in Nonott Road.

Queue jumping or plain corruption? This is even more sickening since this Tory government has stopped councils from building more homes. They are also pushing the sell-off of estates to private landlords using housing mismanagement by councils like Hackney to boost their argument. This can only mean higher rents and slum conditions. Hackney’s ‘keys for cash’ scandal gives council top dogs the excuse for more victimisation of both residents and employees. Council snoopers hunt ‘non-legal’ residents in all council properties.

When housing workers stage a walk-out after intimidation during the supposed ‘clamp-down’ one worker who tries to organise a union meeting on the issue is threatened with arrest. By threatening to evict people who have been sold keys in the same way as squatters and ‘putting the boot in’ to understaffed, overworked employees, the Council is once again trying to shift the blame from itself!

What we cannot do is to let ordinary workers and residents become the victims of council and government blame shifting. We should refuse to co-operate with housing snoopers, fight intimidation of workers and resist all evictions!

• HOUSING IN CRISIS A PUBLIC MEETING ON Thurs. 5th. September. AT Chats Palace Brookesby Walk Homerton,E8

NEWS

SAVE THE TELLY
After the councils last firm of bailifs got sick of wearing armour when they came to Hackney. And almost went bust, trying to collect the poll tax. Their replacements, Gauts, are trying every trick they know,to avoid the same fate. Including threats that they can break in, and steal our worldly goods. THEY CAN’T. Remember, they can only come in if we let them. If they try it we should give them the same reception as the last lot, by sticking together, with friends and neighbours to stop them. If you want more info, on baillifs and your rights, send us an S.A.E.

…GOING TO RIO…
Janet Jones, former Director of corruption riddled Hackney Housing Department, is now reported to be living in Brazil. We all know how Ronnie Biggs made his fortune but how did Janet come by her loot…

…VIA PIO
PIOs (Protecting Intended Occupier) are a legal device for removing squatters from flats already allocated to tenants. But dodgy housing officers (and we know who you are D03….) use fake PIOs to throw people out on the street and earn a fortune by letting out the flats at rip-off rents. One high rank-ing housing officer who knows what’s going on is Robert Brewer (D02). Why isn’t he telling the truth?

LATE RESULT
COUNCIL 0 BUGS 2 (OWN GOALS)
Cockroach infested flats are not nice. Obvious? Not to the council it’s not. After being taken to court by fed-up Kingshold estate tenants claiming compensation for years of creepy crawly and asbestos misery, the council was ordered to pay compensation. Instead of paying up the council decided to waste thousands more pounds of our money and appealed… It lost again! The tenants were awarded even more compensation. We should all follow this example and make the council pay. If you have suffered enough and want to sue, Hackney Citizens’ Rights Croup at 136/8 Kingsland High Street may be able to help.

ON THE FIDDLE

Council homes have been privately existent claimants have claimed, and rented, keys have been sold, non-much, much more.

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t fiddle from work? For many people it’s just another way of making life that little bit more survivable.

But some council workers have been well out of order, they’ve been not only screwing the bosses but us as well. They have been exploiting their own class like slum landlords lining their own pockets while thousands of us rot on the waiting list!

The council are doing something! They have suspended some workers and are to start a snooping campaign to find out who lives where and evict those who shouldn’t be there.

But just because people have been suspended doesn’t mean they’re guilty, and people who don’t have a tenancy still need somewhere to live. We’ve got no time for dodgy housing officers. But we’ve got even less time for the council who are using these people as scapegoats to frighten and discipline the workers and to take attention away from the cock-up called housing they’ve created.

Bosses like McCafferty and Finance Director Mike Craig are the real criminals. Not only have they happily passed on massive cuts from central government, shut libraries and stopped repairs, they have also had their fingers in the pie.

Remember that poll tax computer contract Mikey boy, remember your brother-in-law Johnny. Now that’s real crime — crime that McCafferty and Craig are joined in by the government and the bosses.


POSTBOX

Hackney E8

Dear Hackney Heckler,

I am writing to say I think the Hackney Heckler is wonderful. When it came through the letterbox over 6 months ago, I thought oh no not another circular, but I read it and I cracked up when you suggested that some council official “very much appreciated calls to his house, his address is…” or words to that effect, and ever since I have always read it. I am tired of the cockroaches, I am tired of the rubbish, and I am tired of middle-class academics (though most of them aren’t because they aren’t that intelligent) dressing up these problems in unobtain-able English which makes them sound as if they are not that bad after all, I like it that Hackney Heckler calls a spade a spade. Keep up the good work.

Katherine

PS hove your sense of humour, it is hard to laugh when you live in Hackney but you make me do it.

LOGICAL?

When the bailiffs have failed to enter my home and remove my ‘chattels’, Hackney council will probably take me back to court and I’ll get chucked in jail for being a revolting peasant.

Keeping me in jail will cost the state £300 a week and cost me my job. This will mean that my husband will have to sign on because my earnings support both of us. When I come out of prison I will have to sign on the dole and apply for housing benefit. I will have a criminal record that will make it difficult to get another job. I will have trouble adjusting to being unemployed and will become a bitter individual who will have lost faith in the judicial system. Whilst I am unemployed I will be able to devote more time and energy to activities which attack the system which put me in this predicament in the first place. I am one individual who will probably end up being a state ‘liability’ (ha ha). I will cost the state thousands of pounds. There are millions of us. Sending me to jail will not TEACH me anything, it will confirm what I already know, the system sucks!

HEALTH MATTERS

Our health is up for grabs with hospitals all over the country being forced to ‘opt out’ leading to huge cuts in funding, job losses and obviously a deterioration in our health.

When we say our health, we don’t mean the middle class who are turning their backs on the NHS with the increase in private health schemes. Wealth = health, as the saying goes! Some say this is the end of a health service which serves the nation as a whole. Rubbish! The rich have always bought their health, from Harley Street quacks to consultants visiting them at home. Our health service has never been adequate, despite the myths about the ‘good old days’. Poor pay and lack of funding has always been a feature ef the NHS under both Tory and Labour governments.

By getting hospitals to become self-financing trusts, the government can blame individual hospitals for inefficiency whilst all the time slashing the level of funding. Advertising and sponsorship are to provide the cash in the future. A top marketing consultant backed by the government suggests “someone like Mothercare could sponsor the children’s ward, and patients would be provided with Mothercare products when they leave the ward.” No doubt they’ll be wanting British Nuclear Fuels to adopt the cancer clinics! The drug companies are already making billions out of our bad health, now others want to get a look in.

NO SURRENDER
The whole thing will end up with the kind of fiasco we have with local councils like Hackney. The govern-ment blames the council, the council blame the government. The government forces cuts, the council carries them out and our services disappear down the plughole. But all is not lost.

Nurses have already organised demonstrations and pickets outside hospitals. We shouldn’t wait for the day we get too ill to complain about the long waiting lists or abysmal service. We need to stand up and fight for a decent health service now, joining demonstrations and talking to friends, neighbours and workmates about the state of the NHS. In the coming months things will be coming to a crunch over the government’s opt out schemes. We should all let it be known to health workers that we will fight with them, even if it comes to strike action, which in the short term may hit us, but in the long term will secure a better health service for us all.

RUNNING….  SCARED

In the aftermath of the well publicised raid, people on the Pembury estate did’nt fall for the “facts” they were presented with.

They saw the siege of their estate and the heavy policing afterwards, as affecting them and not just the so called drugs dealers, and got together to “sort things out”. Diane Abbot attended, and was obviously shocked by what they had to say. Because the next day, she warned the council to guard against fed-up residents,who were thinking of taking over the estate and running it for themselves.

She’s right, they should be scared! When new management practices were introduced, supposedly because of fraud. Council workers saw them for what they were, attacks on themselves, and staged several walkouts. And when the council sacked an employee because he was a squatter, the whole department went on indefinite strike until he was re-instated. Other workers, facing the same fate, have now had the threat lifted.

Yes, they’re scared of us! They know that we smashed the poll-tax and got rid of Thatcher. And we can stop their “plans” for us.

That’s why they keep trying to make us blame each other, it stops us uniting and making “plans” for them. Putting them where they belong – in the dustbin of history!

“OUR TIME WILL COME”

An international conference for those who want to REALLY change the world. To be held in Hackney September 23rd-27th. For more info write to London Class War, PO Box 467, London E8 3QX

  • Hackney Heckler is a bi-monthly, free news sheet produced by HACKNEY SOLIDARITY GROUP
  • We all live or work in Hackney and are sick of what we see around us and want to do some-thing about it. The Heckler aims to encourage struggle for a decent life for all.
  • We welcome contributions and reports. What’s happening on your estate? Which councillors are corrupt? Who’s the worse boss in Hackney?
  • We also welcome donations and help with distribution (we currently get rid of 10,000).
  • If you want to guarantee getting the next issue of the Heckler, send us an SAE.
  • Write to us at Hackney Heckler, PO Box 824, London N1 9DL

EATING THE RICH

It’s tighten our belts time again. ‘The country” we are told, “is in deep recession. Wage demands must be sensible.”

Homes are repossessed. Holidays cancelled. Cars sold. Real wages are cut. That’s the reality of a recession for us. Hard times!

What about the fat cats? Are they suffering alongside us? How sensible are the wage increases they award themselves?

Michael Hoffman, chief executive at Thames Water. His pay has just gone up from £41,000 to £157,435. A fast flowing 383%!

Iain Vallence, boss of British Telecom, who has just sacked 20,000 workers and offered those remaining a 6.1% rise. A 43% long distance hike to £536,303. Definitely not working for us!

Robin Leigh-Pemberton, aristocratic governor of the Bank of England. An interest-raising 16.9% (almost sensible by comparison, but still way above anything we are offered) taking his whack to a modest £155,019!

One thing’s for clear, it’s one law for them and another law for us. But we’re happy to introduce some real wealth redistribution. It’s happened before and it will happen again.

In the meantime our first demand must be that our pay increases are the same! We’re sure that everyone reading the Heckler could do with an increase of 383%. We might even moderate our demands to accept 43% all round!

Some people have suggested that one solution is eating the rich. While we can understand peoples’ desires for dishes such as boiled banker, barbecured boss or politician pie, we feel that a much more permanent solution is needed.

This solution puts an end to legalised robbery carried out on us at work, at home and in the shops. It puts an end to these smug fools ordering us about. It’s about giving what we can and taking what we need — it’s about a world based on human need, not the ruthless greed of the ruling class.

SOLIDARITY ON THE SCREEN

If you like the Heckler you might also like our monthly video and discussion nights at the RIO cinema.

Wednesday 26th August. “Partizans” introduce videos on native peoples’ struggles against land exploitation.

Sunday 29th September. Special screening of RIFF RAF to coincide with “Our time will come” conference.

PDF version available here.

Hackney Heckler issue 8, May 1991

BUG ALERT!

COCKROACHES RIFE IN HACKNEY
All across the borough creepy crawly cockroaches are causing horror for council tenants. Coming out in the dead of night from nooks and crannies in walls and under floor-boards, devouring any food in sight and leaving their sickly sweet smell wherever they crawl. Some tenants have collected them by the bag full to prove to sceptical council officers of their abundance.

IT’S BUGGING
Why is it Hackney and not Hampstead these bugs choose to bug we ask? The answer’s plain — sweeping cuts in services, from rubbish collection through to general maintenance are fast turning our estates into slums: a cockroaches’ paradise. The foolish and pathetic bunch of incompetents who are running our council don’t have a clue what it’s like trying to get the most basic of repairs done to our homes. Not surprising really when the majority of them don’t live on estates but own their own homes on the poshest streets in the borough. Cockroaches may be a problem but they don’t bug as half as much as a council so spineless and corrupt as Hackney’s got. With their readiness to impose the Poll Tax without a whimper leading to huge cuts in services, they’ve abandoned any pretence of being “the caring council”. Caring to them means keeping their jobs, balancing the books and toeing the Tory line.

Oxford Dictionary: (n) scavengers by nature, cockroaches are a threat to health because of their predilection for drains, sewers and rubbish. They inevitably foul more food than they eat, leaving a trail of excreta and regurgitated material.

RENT STRIKE NOW!
But people aren’t being conned so easily. Thousands of tenants are already refusing to pay rent because of inefficient services. This could be extended to an organised rent strike to unite all those who are really sick to death of the council’s mismanagement.

Woodberry Down tenants had the right idea when after years of living without a decent rubbish collection, they got together for a mass dump of rubbish right outside their area housing office. We’d like to suggest a councillors’ front garden next time! A council tenant in Brent who had cockroaches took her council to court and got over £5000 of rent arrears dismissed, setting a legal precedent to anyone with a similar problem to do the same. But in the short term we suggest anyone who has problems with vermin or pests such as cockroaches, slip them in an envelope or parcel and post them off to our present Chair of Housing, Linda Hibberd, for inspection. She lives at the swanky 6 Oakfield Lodge, 37 Kenninghall Road, E5 which, as you can guess, is a far cry from a council flat in Hackney.

NEWS

COUNCIL COOKS BOOKS
• Hubble bubble, toil and trouble! The council embark on their audit this month after being forced to do so by the ombudsman. After three years of creative accounting, McCafferty and Co. will need copious amounts of whitewash to cover their tracks and we eagerly await, the lame excuses, the stern denials and the realisation that public funds have mysteriously disappeared. The report will be ready later this month, so watch this space for further developments.

GESTAPO
• When Hitler invaded Poland, first thing he did was seize government records. These details gave him ready access to where the Jewish community were living, and many met their deaths quicker because these documents were available. Consider this before giving any information on the census or any state forms. As part of their policy for some kind of United States of Europe, they want everyone to carry identity cards after 1992. No doubt Poll Tax registrations and census had that in mind too.

PLAIN DAFT
• Hackney Council chiefs recently put the “loony” firmly back onto the “left” over women’s issues. First, their campaign to get women to report harassment while using LBH Leisure Services’ pools, gyms, libraries, etc….now there’s nothing wrong there….trouble is it’s all hypocrisy because the women (and men) actually working in Leisure Services are regularly harassed — and generally treated like shit — by LBH managers, to which the trendy “Women’s Committee” turns a blind eye. Then there’s the Department of Technical and Construction Services’ banning of patronising words like “love”, “darling”, etc. What nonsense! Offensiveness is just that, whatever the words used. Middle class managers can get away with it by hiding their sexism beneath “correct English” and slimy smiles. Meanwhile, I.BH pretends it defends women — yet evicts homeless mothers!

QUEUE JUMP!
• Labour councillor Martin O’Connor was spotted recently jumping a bus queue. That’s right, he was last one at the stop, first one on the bus. How’s that for socialism?

FILL THE EMPTIES

In their well publicised campaign to rid the borough of squatters for 1992, McCafferty and Co. have recently shown yet again that when it serves their purposes, they’re more than willing to bend and even break not only the law of the land, but also their own council policies.

Council documents leaked to us reveal the Director of Housing’s written policy is to not evict those in “priority housing need”, yet that’s just what they did on 26th April in their dawn raid evictions on Holmleigh Road Estate, Stamford Hill. Of the 10 households evicted that day, the council had to rehouse 4 of them elsewhere. Further evictions were prevented only when construction union UCATT workers walked off, refusing to carry on doing the councils’ dirty work.

Housing Services Chair Linda Hibberd later told the ‘Hackney Gazette’ “We have not evicted squatters who have high priorities, such as those with medical reasons or children, and those families that were evicted have all been rehoused”. A fine piece of double-talk indeed Linda! During these evictions, the whole estate was awakened at dawn and van-loads of cops stood around all day, so that the housing managers could feel they were safe from the angry residents surrounding them.

How much did this fiasco cost? Why didn’t they let those people stay and spend the money making empty flats liveable? Hackney Council is still leaving 1400 of our flats unoccupied. We say NO EVICTIONS — FILL THE EMPTIES FIRST!

Know Your Rights — if you’re threatened with eviction or need any other advice on squatting, you can phone the Advisory Service for Squatters, weekdays between 2pm and 6pm on 071-359 8814.

POSTBOX

Kingsmead Estate
Homerton E9

Dear Hackney Heckler,

After receiving the last two issues of the Hackney Heckler, I just had to write and tell you what a breath of fresh air it is. Like a lot of people, I was getting sick to death of Militant and the SWP claiming responsibility for beating the Poll Tax, closely followed by Labour Party stalwarts who feel we ought to vote Kinnock because he isn’t a Tory. They all know in their hearts that it was the ordinary people that forced Major and Co. to radically alter their handiwork.

I just hope the momentum and thought stirred up by this lousy piece of legislation will carry on into other areas of social injustice. I’m fed up with cuts in services, I’m fed up with bad administration and I’m fed up with lame excuses. Hackney is a dump, but it needn’t be. The area is alive with talent, it has a network of people committed to making things better and, if you don’t mind me saying so, it has a voice in the form of your paper. You are the only people who haven’t tried to tell me it was all your idea, and I appreciate thathonesty.

Yours Sincerely, Ray.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES?

Hackney Council likes to boast that it is a bastion of equal opportunities. But, as so often with this council, there is much difference between reality and rhetoric. So womens’ rights are upheld by this council? Like the right of women in the Labour Party who refuse to attend meetings where Tommy Sheppard (the Deputy Leader) is present due to his sexual harassment? And the right of women to have nursery places for their kids? The Victorian Grove nursery (60 places) has been closed; the Ann Taylor Centre (50 places) has not been opened — yet the queue on the waiting list for nursery places is two and a half years long!

On top of this, the fees at the councils’ workplace nursery are going up by an average of 75%. This shouldn’t bother the Chief Executive of the Council, Gerry White, who has one of the precious 50 places — he’s only on a mere £60,000+ a year. This council is run for the benefit of its careerist councillors and greedy fat cat managers. Workers and residents are at the bottom of the pile and they don’t give a toss about us. We’ve got little to lose… they’ve got everything — how about kicking them out for starters?

VIRGIN BIRTH

A curious thing happened in March. For a few days, every time the news was on and in every newspaper, we had the likes of Dame Jill Knight practically encouraging unmarried women to have sex — unprotected sex at that.

The fuss was about a single women in her thirties, who had gone to the London Hospital in Whitechapel and asked for artificial insemination so she could have a child alone. This Hackney woman was not only unmarried, but celibate. As the mainstream media dubbed the episode — there was to be a virgin birth.

The issue was her virginity, but as a Birmingham fertility clinic doctor summed it up, “Are virgins something special? It’s as if there’s something wrong with being a virgin!”

For most women, the state of virginity is not a big thing. Our lives don’t become earth-shatteringly different after our first sexual event. Women still have to do most of the housework, control their fertility, and work for two-thirds of the money men get, whatever’s going on in the bedroom or the car or cinema. But this society tells men that virginity is the physical equivalent of being brand new, and along with all the other trappings of consumer society, is a highly desirable object to possess.

COLD PRICKS
The heart of the matter was that men were being hit where it hurts — made redundant. This feeling was whipped up by the papers, like in the Daily Mail’s article on production line babies without men getting a look in. But a virgin birth wasn’t quite what was going on: there are no pregnancies without male involvement, even if through the cold pricks of hospital syringes. That apparent lack of men having full-blown sex was what was getting them hot under the collar!

The controversy linked sex with a man to being essential for a woman to be a good mother. Alongside lesbians, single celibate women wanting children were called irresponsible, inadequate and selfish — exactly the labels the media usually lavishes on single mothers by natural insemination. These so-called irresponsible potential mothers had clearly thought about the consequences of their actions. Yet again, women appearing to make rational decisions about their own bodies threw the media into panic.

We believe that a child should be wanted, have a secure home and be loved — but that none of these things have anything to do with a person’s sexual activity.

So they’ve scrapped the Poll Tax. It’s a great victory for us.

‘s something to celebrate — and it’s always a good laugh seeing politicians get stuffed. But we’ve still got the bills, the cuts and other problems. We should take heart from the Poll Tax and learn some lessons: basically, we don’t have to take crap. We can fight it and win! So stuff the Poll Tax and the cuts — we want good local services based on our needs. Latest leaks from the council’s Poll Tax Office (it makes a sieve look secure!) are that 33% haven’t paid a penny of the Poll Tax and only 65% of the total has been collected.

The geniuses who run this council said 95% would be collected —just goes to show what planet they’re living on! Bailiffs Rayner Ferrar have pulled out of Hackney, claiming details on the Poll Tax register are 80% incorrect, making it impossible to collect any debts. But the truth is Rayner Ferrar were driven out of Hackney by local people. Since they started demanding money with menaces, they have found the resistance here too much to handle. They have been picketed, followed, threatened, physically attacked and their cars have been vandalised. Dogs have been set on them, baseball bats waved at them and groin injuries issued. Since saying bye-bye to Rayner Ferrar, Hackney Council confirm they intend replacing them. Meanwhile, we must remember tactics used on these para-sites and maybe we should practise our new found skills on councillors or even McRat himself.
Hackney Heckler is a bi-monthly, free . news-sheet pro-duced by the HACKNEY SOLIDARITY GROUP.
• We all live or work in the borough and are sick of what we see around us. That’s the aim of the Heckler: to encourage struggle for a decent life for all. We welcome contributions, do-nations, reports and help with distribution (we currently get rid of 10,000).
• What’s happening on your estate? Which councillors are corrupt? Who’s the worst boss in Hackney?
• Write to us at Hackney Heckler, c/o PO Box 824, London, N1 9DL. Our next issue will be July 1991.

TALKING ‘BOUT LOVE

Too often in this world we forget to talk about love. We are surrounded and swamped by pressures that drive us into depression and frustration.

Good times
But it is good to remember why we are actually here, what is the point of our existence. We’re not here to be obedient workers and quiet consumers. We’re here to have a good time, to enjoy our-selves, to have a laugh, to have a smile. Basically, our lives should be about pleasure not pain! Of course, this is denied by those who stand above us. As far as they’re concerned, we’re nothing more than workers and consumers — and occasionally soldiers to die in their wars. And their idea of pleasure is always at someone else’s expense because they want to ensure that we remain divided… and so ruled! But there is a different reality to this. There’s the reality of the helping hand, the friendly smile, the shared laugh, the warmth of human companionship. This is the reality that we want and it’s a reality that we see glimpses of all the time in our daily lives.

Real enemies
Often, struggling together helps to bring this reality out. Artificial divisions disappear as we realise that our basic interests are the same — and we realise who our real enemies are. We talk to each other a lot more and the crap that normally fills our lives is seen as being utterly irrelevant. But this doesn’t mean that we just wait for a struggle. We’ve got to start now. We’ve got to fight for our reality against theirs. We’ve got to free our immense abilities from the chains imposed on us.

All of this might sound weird — but look at it realistically. We have the potential to completely change the way we live, to replace hate with love, fear with care: we’ve got nothing to lose but our chains!

PDF version available here.

Hackney Heckler issue 7, March 1991

FIGHTING TO WIN

On March 31st last year 200,000 people marched through central London against the poll tax. One year on, over 10 million people haven’t paid a penny of their poll tax and many millions more have only paid a bit. Most of us see what the poll tax was meant to be — less money in our pockets! But it has come to mean much more: a focus for all our discontents — inflated prices in the shops, cuts in health, education and social services, job losses, the government, the police. and so on. . .

Last Straw
For many the poll tax is the last straw. We were promised that the 1980s were to be the “boom years”, that we would all “get richer together”. The rich did get richer — but the rest of us have seen little of this supposed “prosperity”. The 1980s were an extended con-trick. Those who believed the propaganda and bought their homes were never told about the hidden extras — rocketing interest rates, repossessions, etc. The rest of us have faced constant rent increases, while repairs stayed unrepaired! Services were supposedly made more “efficient” by privatisation — we’ve just seen less of them… apart from increased bills.

Poll tax protestors

Non-payment
But it’s not all doom and gloom. The fight against the poll tax shows that we don’t have to take things lying down. After a year of mass non-payment and resistance, the government is promising reforms — and they had to dump Thatcher! So a Prime Minister got the chop and they’re now talking of change. But we’ve still got the poll tax, a Prime Minister, and a Gulf War — there’s lots more needs changing!

This March there will be another huge demonstration against the poll tax: a chance to show them that we still don’t want it — new model, old model, it’s just the same! And a chance to show them what we think about everything else they’ve thrown at us! But ordinary people are rightly cynical — just demonstrating doesn’t bring about change. We’ve got to go beyond their limits: why just stop on the Saturday? What about returning on the Sunday, going on strike on the Monday. . . the only limit is our imagination. We shouldn’t stop where they want us to — we should only stop once we’ve won!
NATIONAL DEMONSTRATION SATURDAY MARCH 23RD 12.00 AM EMBANKMENT

NEWS

BIG BROTHER
Very soon government snoopers will be asking us to fill in the 1992 census and give them details of who we are, what we do, how old we are, and so on. What business has the government got sticking its nose into our personal affairs, and why should we help people who ride on our backs? We’re not filling the form in, and suggest you don’t either. Tell Big Brother where to get off!

OUT OF TUNE
Jazz FM wisely decided to sack their top DJ Giles Peterson after he had the cheek to play peace songs and mention an anti-war rally on his show: obviously the subversive was intent on undermining the war to “Free Kuwait”. Also, thank the Lord, those sensible people at the BBC have banned records like “Give Peace A Chance” and “Walk Like An Egyptian”. After all, the battle to “Free Kuwait”, where a whole 6% of the men and none of the women have the vote, means we shouldn’t take liberties with our own freedom.

RAVE ON!
There’s going to be a massive anti-war get down on Saturday 16th March at the Triangle on Farleigh Road (N16). Lined up are five bands, including One Style and Bush House, 4 DJs — and there’s a late licence to 3am. It’s only £3.50/£3.00 to get in and kick-off is at 8pm: one not to be missed! There’s also a disco/karoake night at the Rose and Crown (on Mare Street) on Friday 29th March to celebrate one year of the “Hackney Heckler”. Finally, the new “HSG Bulletin”, our theoretical and practical magazine, has just come out — send 50p to HSG, PO Box 824, London, Ni 9DL.

ANTI-FASCIST ACTION
Anti-Fascist Action have a picket-demo against the continuing Nazi presence in Brick Lane. Meet at Whitechapel tube 10am sharp on Sunday 17th March.

EMPIRE BUILDER

The nomination for the worst boss in Hackney must undoubtedly go to Captain Ahab Muldoon of the Hackney Empire.

Over the past four years the crew of this great ship have worked, slaved, sweated and yes even cried so that his vessel stayed afloat. Conditions on board were and still are draconian, with employment rights salty to the taste. Equal Opportunities are met with a nod and a wink — aye aye captain. If the crew organised for meetings, Captain Muldoon would throw tantrums, threatening to put everyone in irons or throw them overboard. Captain Muldoon has been responsible for the loss of a number of crew members. Most resigned, three of them mangers; the rest were sacked. These crew members weren’t allowed a fair hearing, whether to voice their grievances or to defend themselves from false accusations.

On his lone quest of self-gratification and heroism Captain Muldoon forgets two important facts. Who built the Empire to what it is now? And whose money keeps it afloat? Admiral Hajira Khote (chair of Hackney Leisure Committee) along with kiss me councillor Tommy Sheppard hands out our money, £25,000 of it, with a chorus of yo ho ho and another bottle of rum. No doubt councillors drinking in the Empire after hours helps with the grant. The Hackney Empire belongs to the people of Hackney and everyone wants to see it sail on, but without a megalomaniac at the helm. If it doesn’t change captain now, then the Jolly Roger will continue to fly from its mast.

POST BOX

Dear Heckler I am at present squatting in the Trowbridge Estate. Although this is the first time that I have had to resort to such action, I find that there is little option when it comes to finding some-where to live.

On this estate the council are evicting squatters, and sending workers to the now empty flat to devastate it by taking out electrics, water supply, etc. How much do you think it costs to send people to do this vandalism, and who do you think is paying for it? It seems wasteful to me when a council property is squatted by people who truly want to live there, and then for that same council to evict them, making the place uninhabitable, so that nobody can live there. I charge the council with gross misuse of public funding, criminal negligence and being a pack of pompous, misunderstanding, stupidly arrogant fools.

FOOTBALL CRAZY

Crowds at football matches have consistently gone down since the war, when attendances were twice as high. Ordinary fans are treated with contempt by those who run the game. The latest idea of all-seater stadiums has been around for years, the argument being that it would deter hooliganism; but this argument was totally discredited by the emergence of hooligans in seats.

Since Hillsboro’, where people were crushed to death when overcrowded into a small area of terracing by the police, they argue that seats will be safer. They weren’t saying this after Bradford, where people in the seats died in a fire a few years ago. Most people prefer to stand, but the people who run the game want more money from fewer fans, for football to go up-market, pricing out ordinary fans who don’t want to sit down in uncomfortable seats and pay more.

Spurs built more seats and executive boxes, bought top players like Gazza and Lineker — everything to please the experts, and are going bust! Ordinary fans are allowed no say in the way football is run, and the people running football are ruining it. Crowds are likely to decrease further while the game is run by an out-of-touch rich minority.

WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

On 16th January war started in the Gulf. It is impossible to know how many people have been slaughtered but it is definitely tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands. Parts of Iraq and Kuwait have been reduced to rubble. The human costs of this war can only grow, despite all their promises of a short war. Saddam Hussein received military aid from the western powers throughout the 70s and 80s. This was because he was acting in their interests in keeping the lid of working class struggle in the Gulf. But when Saddam invaded Kuwait the world’s most hated copper, America, put its foot down and got up a large army under the UN banner to show Saddam who his boss was.

The Home-front
In Britain the government has been using the war to turn the screw on us, the working class. 7,500 hospital beds have been set aside for war-wounded from a Health Service which already has a two year waiting list for essential operations. It’s not that we’d begrudge the young squaddies a hospital bed, but why can’t they commandeer private hospitals? In Hackney 150 empty council flats have been set aside for families to visit injured soldiers in London hospitals while Hackney Council prepares to evict hundreds of families in the borough in an attack on “squatters”. We give our blood in their war and they still want more.

Sabotage the war effort

The best way we can support our boys and girls in the Gulf is to stop the war. (World War One ground to a halt as a result of uprisings in Russia, Hungary, Germany, Ireland, Britain and elsewhere.) We can organise against the war drive in our work-places and on the streets. We must speak out against the false patriotism that sends our relatives and friends to their graves in a bosses’ war. All our lives we are offered empty choices: in this case the Iraqi ruling class or that of the West.

There’s a different choice — a war to end all wars — THE CLASS WAR!!

In the interests of popular participation in the democratic process the Hackney Poll Tax Office have informed us of the home addresses and phone numbers of the directors of Rayner Ferrar & Co, the bailiffs firm used by Hackney Council: David Westley lives at 51 Ladygate Lane, Ruislip, Middlesex, HA4 (tel 0895 632983) and Anthony Downsett lives at 44 The Spinney, Chesham, Bucks (tel 0494 771335). Thanks for the in-formation!

The Poll Tax Office also inform us that the council are very worried that even more people aren’t going to pay next year either. People are seeing that the only way to stop it is not to pay it. You know it makes sense, as they say! The next national demonstration against the poll tax is going to be on Saturday 23rd March, starting from the Embankment at noon. It should be a good chance to show the council and the government that they can stuff the poll tax where it belongs — in the dustbin of history. Another present from the council (on top of the poll tax) is that come April rents are going up. Considering the state most council places are in, they’ve got a nerve charging rent at all, let alone putting it up. As Hamlet would have said (had he lived in a council place in Hackney) “to pay or not to pay, that is the question”.

Sabotage the war effort

Hackney Heckler is a bi-monthly, free news-sheet produced by the HACKNEY SOLIDARITY GROUP.

We all live or work in the Borough and are sick of what we see around us. That’s the aim of the Heckler: to encourage struggle for a decent life for all. We welcome contributions, do-nations, reports and help with distribution (we currently get rid of 10,000).

What’s happening on your estate? Which councillors are corrupt? Who’s the worst boss in Hackney?

Write to us at Hackney Heckler, PO Box 824. London, Ni 9DL. Our next issue will be May 1991.

ANTI-SOCIAL WORKERS

What’s the difference between a Rottweiler and a social worker? It’s easier to get your kids back from a Rottweiler.

But what’s the difference between a bogus social worker and a real one? You get more visits from a bogus social worker.

Social Services is one of the main areas that have been cut back due to cuts in funding from Westminster but we don’t think this is a major tragedy. The only job social workers do in Hackney is “child protection”, commonly known as kid snatching. Do they focus on children because they are genuinely concerned about their welfare? The main reason why the state “protects” children is because they are the next generation of workers and they need them to do crap jobs. Social workers are supposed to help people suffering from mental distress, elderly people and disabled people. But what can they offer with so little money from Hackney council? The best they can manage is a home help, meals on wheels and “a little rest” down Hackney Hospital.

No begging
We can do without begging at Social Services and explaining our needs in front of the waiting-room audience. We don’t need social workers gently tapping on our doors telling us how to run our lives. Social workers usually haven’t got a clue how we live.

What we need is decent homes with affordable rents and the right to live there as long as we choose. We need enough money not just to survive but to enjoy life. We need to be able to live in the type of families we want, not just Oxo cube families.

We do need control of our lives and support from each other so if something goes wrong, we can get some help to sort it out. Social workers are just another way the state divides us by telling us society is all right, it’s us who are the problem. This is not true. Social workers think that anyone who doesn’t live in a “normal” family is deviant even though 54% of the British population don’t live in “nuclear” families.

Anti-social workers only work on the symptoms of living in this society and do not want to change it. This “Caring Profession” is really a CONTROLLING profession.

PDF version available here.

Hackney Heckler issue 6, January 1991

HACKNEY MAFIA – EXPOSED

Labour Council leader John McCafferty sends in the bailiffs to seize the meagre possessions of the poorest people in Hackney who can’t pay the Poll Tax. “The law must be upheld” he parrots.

Alright John! What about up-holding it against all your own councillors and cronies at the Town Hall. Why was your own brother-in-law, caught red-handed with his fingers in the Town Hall till, shipped off to Scotland quick to avoid a scandal! Labour Mayor Shuka Sheijk is the biggest crook in town — having feather bedded his own nest with funds obtained for his OWN organisation from HIS OWN council! Yet this swindler represents us, the people of Hackney, because the rest of the Labour con merchants are too busy with their own snouts in the trough!

Hackney Council's latest representatives Ronnie and Reggie meet John McCafferty

Hackney Council’s latest representatives Ronnie and Reggie meet John McCafferty

Jobs for the Boys
Those few not on the fiddle are busy carving out their own careers on our backs. Deputy leader Tommy Shepherd is standing as Labour M.P. at the next election; former leader Andrew Puddephat sends in the riot police to evict the homeless from Stamford Hill yet lands a plum job as director of the National Council of Civil Liberties! McCafferty himself sucks up to his hero Kinnochio in the hope of being invited aboard his gravy train.

Councillors’ Surgery
Over the next months we will be blowing the lid off the whole gang of Mare Street crooks. Our corruption exposures will rock the Hackney Mafia back on their heels. But no need to wait till then to see McCafferty shit himselfl Everytime he tries to send in the bailiffs, poll tax rebels will be visiting him at his home at 17 Bayston Road, Stoke Newington, for a spot of genuine “councillors’ surgery” and to let him know what it feels like to be harassed. He also appreciates phone calls at home [phone number deleted] and work [phone number deleted].

ALL INFORMATION ON HACKNEY COUNCILLORS GRATEFULLY RECEIVED. ANONYMITY AND FRONT PAGE GUARANTEED!

NEWS

ROTTEN  BARRELS
Seven Hackney Police Officers have been sacked. Three years ago local lad Gary Stretch was severely beaten outside a pub in Hoxton by off-duty cops. The cops were suspended on full pay to the tune of £300,000 and were never prosecuted. Thanks to Hackney Community Defence Association the case has had widespread publicity, unlike numerous other cases of police corruption and criminality. It all goes to show it’s one rule for them and another for us. A few rotten apples? Festering barrels more like!

COURTS CAN’T COPE!
A secret report from Thames Magistrates Court has revealed that there is not enough time for all the Poll Tax non-payment cases. Virtually everyone who has turned up at court has had their case adjourned to some date in the future. The courts have now changed the rules (as they usually do when they’re losing) by abolishing the right to help in the dock. Just shows that we can never trust their institutions!

POLL MOLE’S GOSSIP
Problems collecting the poll tax in Hackney? Not only have up to half not paid a penny, but some have been taking out their anger against the Cherbury Court Poll Tax Office. First there was a bit of abuse, then some vandalism with the odd brick flying through their windows and the last straw was two armed robberies! The office has now closed down, adding to the council’s despair. The non-payment rate is holding steady despite all the threats of courts, bailiffs, etc. Top dog Mike Craig is talking about further cuts, but he needn’t worry as he’s on nearly £50,000 a year. He’d like to hear what you think about the Poll Tax — give him a ring at home on [phone number deleted].

MAJOR RENOVATIONS

So Thatch is gone. For eleven years that monstrosity has led a full frontal attack on the working class of Britain and Northern Ireland. We’ve fought back strongly all along, resisting in the workplace and on the streets. The Tories made many tax changes which benefited the wealthy few but made most of us pay more tax. The most recent of these discriminatory tax laws is the Poll Tax. In a country where 30% of the population don’t bother voting the anti-Poll Tax movement has given a voice to the widespread discontentment with the government.

By sacking Thatcher and promoting Major the Tories hope to shift some pressure off the government and to put forward a gentler image for the next election. Since moving to no. 10 Major has been waffling on about changing to a more equal, caring society but his actions in recent years tell a different story. As Social Services Minister ’85-’87 he slashed welfare payments and abolished the maternity grant. In August ’89 as Foreign Minister he backed the forced repatriation of boat people from Hong Kong to Vietnam.

It’s not a new figurehead we need, the whole system is rotten. What use will another election be — Labour, Tories, or Liberals — WHOEVER YOU VOTE FOR THE GOVERNMENT ALWAYS GETS IN. Politicians live off us, we don’t need them.

JEWISH SOCIALIST GROUP

Last year anti-semitic attacks on the ultra orthodox Jews of Stamford Hill became a media story. What some orthodox rabbis called “the normal level of harassment” had turned temporarily to regular attacks. Anti-semitism didn’t stop with the war against Hitler. Returning servicemen found Mosley’s fascists organising in Hackney in Ridley Road. Those of us who have grown up in more secular Jewish working class families in Hackney since the ’40s, mostly the children of low paid garment workers, have grown up with some form of Jew-baiting and stereotyping (usually about being rich).

Last year saw an event in Stoke Newington which was an important day for the Jewish Socialist Movement. Between 700 and 1,000 people, mostly Jewish but also non-Jewish young and old, attended a day of “culture and resistance” in Stoke Newington. It celebrated a day of Jewish Socialism and opposition to anti-semitism and was a chance for Jewish activists to talk to each other across generations. As well as beigels and pickled cucumbers, there were exhibitions, plays and songs in Yiddish, meetings and discussions, photos, paintings, children’s events, music and dancing.

Hackney Jewish Socialist Group is here to fight prejudice and organised fascism. Remember that the 1905 Aliens Act, the start of Britain’s racist immigration laws, was passed to keep Jews out.

HJSG can be contacted at Box 11, Centreprise Bookshop, 136 Kingsland Road.

UNEMPLOYMENT IN HACKNEY

Being unemployed in Hackney is grim. Where we sign on is a dump. The dole are inefficient and always “lose your file”. The DSS keep us waiting hours in a prison with no toilets, play area for kids, or coffee machines. They don’t answer the phone. They only tell us what we’re not entitled to and not what is ours to claim. We don’t blame the workers at the offices but the welfare system.

Fun On the Dole?
Income support is calculated at a level of basic survival. Nothing is allowed for entertainment, cigarettes or alcohol. Unemployed people are expected not to need the pleasures of life of other citizens.

Unemployment is high in Hackney. Poor transport links mean that new work is not encouraged to arrive here. The present rate of unemployment is one in ten and rising. This is the result of government policies in the early 1980s.

Talking Out of Turn
The Gulf Crisis has diverted attention from the current recession and is used as an excuse to put up prices. Anyone who complains will be labelled dangerous because after all it’s our interests they’re protecting in the Gulf. Are they ****.

BAILIFFS? – NO WAY!

If Hackney Council think they can use bailiffs against non-payers of the Poll Tax, they’re in for a nasty surprise.

Last November saw the bailiffs turn up to deliver warnings to a handful of non-payers and they were met with fierce resistance. On one estate in Haggerston a group of around 50 locals saw off the bailiffs; but not before bricking their windscreen and damaging the bodywork of their car. They’d only come to deliver a letter, imagine when they try to take peoples belongings!

We have to remember the most effective opposition is organised resistance. This has already started with anti-Poll Tax unions setting up contact lists of those willing to come out and oppose the bailiffs, producing thousands of leaflets and posters on dealing with them and being out on the streets spreading the message “No Bailiffs in Hackney”. We’ve got to ensure the moment the bailiffs arrive, people are out on the street using any means necessary to see them off.

Obviously it won’t just be a matter of dealing with the bailiffs as they will probably get protection from the police. For this reason we should act quickly before the cops arrive or have sufficient numbers to deal with them as well. It’s also important not to always be on the defensive. We could get together and visit councillors, as has already happened with council leader John McCafferty. A group of around 60 people paid him a visit late one night. He almost opened the door thinking they were carol singers, until he heard the dreaded refrain booming out “No Poll Tax, No Poll Tax”. The commotion could be heard all the way up and down his street with people coming out wondering what was happening and, on finding out, joining in the fun. If it happens often enough maybe locals could try getting together to have him evicted on the grounds of “noise pollution”!

Bailiffs are only being used to intimidate and scare us into paying. For most, it’s a matter of “Can’t pay, won’t pay”. And with 54,000 non-payers in Hackney and no more than 15 bailiffs, we have the ability to make Hackney a bailiff free zone.

A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO BAILIFF BUSTING

1 The bailiffs have no legal right of entry. They can only enter your home if they are invited in or if they can get through an open window or door.

2 Contact your local anti-Poll Tax union to go on their telephone contact tree (details below). Or set up your own alarm list on you street/block or with friends, or set one up at work.

3 If they turn up in your area go door to door to alert as many people as possible. Also try place where lots of people gather, ie launderettes, pubs, bookies, local workplaces etc.

4 Airhorns, whistles or someone with a loud voice can alert others to bailiffs arrival.

5 Vaseline smeared on bailiffs windows is like driving at 100mph on the M25 in dense fog!

6 Bailiffs jobs are hot and sweaty. Cool them down with buckets of cold water when they arrive.

7 Good to have transport on hand to follow them when they leave making sure they don’t make any other visits and to “escort them out of town”.

8 The bailiffs Hackney Council are using is Rayner, Ferrar & Co., 20/22 High Street, St Iver, Bucks. Tel. 0753 631144.

Here are just some of the anti-Poll Tax unions in Hackney:

Clapton [phone number deleted]
Hoxton [phone number deleted]
Lordship [phone number deleted]
Shacklewell [phone number deleted]
Stamford Hill [phone number deleted]
Victoria [phone number deleted]

Hackney Heckler is a bimonthly and free news-sheet which is produced by HACKNEY SOLIDARITY GROUP. We all live or work in the Borough and are sick of what we see around us. That’s the aim of the HECKLER: to encourage struggle for a decent life for all. We welcome contributions, donations, reports and help with distribution (we currently get rid of 10,000). What’s happening on your es-tate? Which councillors are cor-rupt? Who’s the worst boss in Hackney? Write to us at HACKNEY HECKLER, do 61 Leswin Road, N16 — and the next issue will be March 1991.

WE WORK TO LIVE

We work to live…. but the boss wants us to live to work. No matter where we work or what we do, this conflict of interests exists. Most of the time the bosses seem to get everything their way, they choose our workhours and rates of pay and are almost in total control of what we do, how we do it, in what conditions we do it and at what speed!

But we do have something on our side. Although the bosses may act like they’re doing us a favour by giving us a job, they need us, no matter what we do, they employ us because they need us. And they get very upset when we’re not there, they try to negotiate (i.e. tell us) when we have our holidays, and if we catch one of the many illnesses which the human body can get, they demand you go in because there’s work to be done, frequently using the ultimate threat, the sack!

Nothing Changes
At this moment in time, as the economy goes into deep recession, they try to fob us off with excuses, “we can’t afford a pay rise… we don’t know if we’re going to go bust… there’s plenty of people out there who’d be glad of your job”. To try and make us submissive and cheap workers. Times may change, the conflict doesn’t. It can only be made more bearable. To do this the boss must be confronted, and the more workers who join in, the bigger the chance of success. By fighting for what we want we regain some dignity as workers and teach the boss a lesson. We’re workers, not robots, and, hopefully, one day, the day will come when the conflict is abolished – which must mean abolishing bosses.

THE WORKER’S REVENGE

At work we killed the boss today
He should have paid us higher pay
We all sat down and made a plan
“Let’s get the bastard while we can
while he’s treating us like shit
We work to make him a rich git
With Persian carpets — wall to wall
While we don’t have a home at all
And only just afford to eat
Like half the people on our street”
So all together we struck back
And gave the boss a hefty whack
And with a token of class hatred
Strung him up with no time wasted
And though there’s just one solution
World wide working class revolution
That’s one rich bastard out the way
A pleasant start to any day.

PDF version available here.

Hackney Heckler issue 5, November 1990

CHAOS, CUTS, COURTS

Empty homes, filthy streets, shutdown libraries, boarded up nurseries…

Nothing new, we say, we’ve had to put up with it for years. Yet some would have us believe that this is all our own fault! The government, being very clever, is trying to make us believe that all these things exist because we aren’t paying the poll tax. As if we were living in some sort of paradise before the poll tax was introduced!

More Cuts

The poll tax is enforcing more cuts because that’s what it’s designed to do, to take away council services and enforce privatisation, causing those services to be run for profit, not need. The results are closures, job losses and lower safety standards for workers. Rather than stand up to the government, the council and the Labour Party have told people to pay up. Worse still, they are now blaming the cuts on us and siding with the government by taking people to court to get their money.

Non-payers showing their "contempt of court"

Non-payers showing their “contempt of court”

Can’t Pay

With an estimated £2,000,000 expenses to implement the tax and the huge court costs that are already mounting up, they’ve got a real cheek trying to lay the blame on the heads of the local people.

No Services

Even before the poll tax was bought in, the council was notorious for wasting money. Now they expect us to pay £499 for next to no services.

Stuff that! We can’t and won’t pay and most of all, we will still fight on!

COUNCIL’S POLL TAX MISERY

Hackney Council brought its first cases against poll tax non- payers on 29th September and 3rd and 10th October. Hardly surprisingly, things did not go as they had planned.

Over 1000 cases were withdrawn on the first two days due to council incompetence, the only contested case they won on the first day was against someone who had already paid, and two other cases were thrown out on the second day because the forms had been sent to the wrong address!

But the most important aspect of the court cases is that while the coun-cil got an estimated 4000 liability or-ders against people who didn’t answer their summonses, only 12 liability orders were awarded against the 400 odd non-payers who contested their cases. So if you receive a summons, contact your local Anti-Poll Tax Union and turn up at court. Let them know that we’ll never bloody pay!

NEWS

CON MERCHANTS
The company that manages St. Helier Hospital, Carshalton, are the same firm who run the catering at Hackney Police Station. They subcontract security at the hospital to a firm whose standards of staffing allowed an 11 year old girl to be raped in the ward by an intruder on 14th October. Maybe the police could contract a dose of salmonella from these cowboys.

BIG SHOT!
Well, well, Hackney’s mayor, “Big Shot” Shuja Shaikh was pictured in the Gazette clutching a machine gun, smiling with boys from the Territorial Army. Why? To support a campaign for the TA to get time off from work to practice their Dad’s Army capers. Most people can’t get time off to go to a union meeting, let alone prance about playing war games. Maybe he’ll be supporting calls for conscription and bunkers in the Town Hall next!

VIDEO NIGHTS
Hackney Solidarity Group have monthly video nights at the Rio Cinema in Dalston on topics such as the poll tax, Ireland and racial harassment to name but a few. The next one will be on the 28th November at 7:30pm and will feature “The Wobblies”, a film about a revolutionary socialist movement which was highly successful in organising workers in America (and elsewhere) in the early part of this century. For further details, contact “The Heckler” at the address opposite.

POLL MOLE’S GOSSIP
When a manager in the recovery section at the poll tax office was asked whether the summonses for non-payment of the poll tax had achieved anything, he replied “not really” — upto 50% (about 60,000 people) still haven’t paid a penny in Hackney. One of the stars at Thames Magistrates Court was Gary Kemp, a leading light in the council’s poll tax office. We are pleased to report that sadly Gary’s career has received a setback: due to his generally pathetic and useless performance, Gary has been effectively demoted. Hard luck Gary — it’s a tough life at the top!

PETROL PUMP WAR?

So is World War 3 about to break out in the Gulf? Saddam is an evil thug responsible for the death of tens of thousands of people but how odd that Thatcher never realised this until he threatened oil supplies to the West.

When Saddam was murdering dissidents in Iraq and dropping poison gas on Kurdish villages there was no talk of sending an army out there to stop him. All that interests the Western governments is the oil and anything else they say is hypocrisy. Most of the Iraqi army’s weapons come from here in the West!

And how come we need the oil? There are other sources of energy available, from wind power and wave power to the coal that’s so abundant in Britain. Oh, I forgot. The coal mines have been shut down. So get ready to pay more for petrol.

THE REAL COMMUNITY CHARGE

On Saturday 20th October the police brutally attacked an anti-poll tax march in Brixton. More than 20,000 people had marched through the streets to show their opposition to the tax. After the march, 4000 people went to Brixton prison as a sign of support for everyone imprisoned after the Trafalgar Square riot back in March. Without warning, the police waded in, truncheons flying. They couldn’t accept the fact of people being on the streets and they couldn’t accept the fact that they got badly beaten at Trafalgar Square. They wanted revenge pure and simple – this wasn’t “community policing”.

People bravely fought back against overwhelming odds, but 120 were arrested and many others badly injured and hospitalised. We have got to show that we will never be intimidated off the streets. We have got the numbers to show them what’s what. The struggle against the poll tax and the right to control our lives are one and the same. Let’s make sure the next anti-poll tax demonstration on Saturday 30th March is the biggest ever. Let’s shake them to their foundations.

ABUSE OF CHILD ABUSE

Child abuse has been hitting the head-lines for the past few years. It’s not a new problem; there have always been children who have been abused physically, sexually and emotionally. As a response to the increase in reported child abuse, Childline was set up. A recent report said that it had received 10,000 calls a day nationwide from children who had no-one else to turn to.

We should be very suspicious of all the interest in abuse. As child abuse gets into the headlines more often, the details given seem to be more titillating. Child abuse is a very real problem for thousands of children that face the misery of pain every day of their lives. But while men are allowed to treat their families as their own private property and while society punishes the child twice by taking them away from their home when abuse is discovered, nothing is going to change. We can ring Childline every day, we can read all about it in the papers but unless we start to listen to what children are telling us and to allow them to control how they live their lives, child abuse will continue to happen, every hour of every day.

Resources:
Rape Crisis — counsel and advice on all issues of incest and violence against women. 24 hour London number 071 837 1600.

Women’s Aid Federation — have refuges throughout Britain offering support/refuge for women and children who have suffered mental/physical/sexual abuse/sexual harassment or rape. 071 310 4464.

Childline — day and night phone counselling service for children an 0800 1111.

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

Every day, in the papers, on the telly, there is some story about crime, but only certain types of crime.

Most crime exists because people are poor, and is a matter of shoplifting and various scams to improve the quality of our meagre existence. This is never publicised because most people understand the choice between going hungry or shoplifting from the local supermarket. The crimes they do talk about are the muggings, the shootings of shopkeepers, the rapes. They do this for a reason. They — the politicians, the papers, the police — want to present all crime as being like this. They want to keep us frightened, scared and worried — because we’re easier to control then, as isolated individuals locking the door behind us.

One Of Them
In fact, the police love anti-social crime because it gives them a good excuse to be here. But their success rate for catching anti-social criminals isn’t exactly great. Of course, it’s different when one of them gets hurt, like the police officer recently killed here. One person was arrested within a couple of hours.

The only way to deal with anti-social crime is to do it ourselves. Muggings, rape, burglary of working class homes can never be tolerated. But nor can the society that pushes people towards this be tolerated either. We’re getting mugged all the time at work by the boss.

British Justice

And if you’re rich and fiddling the stock exchange, you’ll probably get a knighthood. But if you’re poor and fiddling the dole, then you might get 6 months or more. That’s “British justice”.

Rubbish

The fact is a lot of talk about crime in the papers, telly, etc is absolute rubbish. The police are only here to control us — just look at their policing of poll tax demonstrations for a start. That’s what they’re really interested in. The only way to get rid of crime is to get our communities together and build a world where human need is more important than money and profit.

H.C.D.A. — Working For Local People

There are five main areas of HCDA’ s work:

Legal Defence — where HCDA takes up the cases of people who have suffered police injustice. It seeks to involve the local community in these cases by publicising them and encouraging people to lend their support.

Police Monitoring — HCDA monitors police activity with the intention of building an overall picture of police in the area.

Para-Legal Support — HCDA provides para-legal support to community groups and campaigns who are likely to find themselves in con-frontation with the police.

Community Defence — HCDA seeks to build confidence and strength within the community so that people can challenge police injustice. The principle aim of HCDA is to build a community organisation which represents a community which can defend itself against attacks.

Public Events — HCDA engages in political activity by staging public events which raise the issue of police injustice and attacks against the community. Its main annual event is the “We Remember” torchlight procession, held every January to remember the people who have suffered in the hands of the police or died in police custody. Next year, the “We Remember” march will be held on Saturday 12th January 1991, January 12th will mark the 7th anniversary of Colin Roach’s death, who was murdered by Hackney police while in police custody in 1984.

We Remember march — Saturday 12th January, 4pm Hackney Police Station (Lower Clapton Rd); contact HCDA at 50 Rectory Road, N16 or phone 071 249 0193.

Hackney Heckler is a bimonthly and free news-sheet which is produced by HACKNEY SOLIDARITY GROUP. We all live or work in the borough and are sick of what we see around us. That’s the aim of the HECKLER: to encourage struggle for a decent life for all.

We welcome contributions, donations, reports and help with distribution (we currently get rid of 10,000). What’s happening on your estate? Which councillors are corrupt? Who’s the worst boss in Hackney? Write to us at HACKNEY HECKLER, do 61 Leswin Road, N16 — and the next issue will be January 1991.

SEX, LIES AND CENSORSHIP

From politicians to the media to schools, all tell us “sex is something bad for your health and not to be enjoyed”.

Who’s Responsible?

They’re right in many ways, as for a lot of us sex is the most traumatic negative experience imaginable. But the question to ask is — Who’s responsible for this? One example is so-called sex education in schools. This has more to do with trying to make sure we end up in, “happy, married families” with no other form of relationship being acceptable. Sex is shown to be about reproduction and sexual diseases, rather than something to gain pleasure out of. The media also play their part, portraying men and women in roles unimaginable in real life (only 26% of the population live in conventional nuclear families). Women bear the brunt of this sexual stereotyping, constantly being shown as sexual objects available to be used and abused by men. In short, sex in the media fosters exploitative relationships rather than equal pleasurable ones.

Guilt

As for the church, sex has always been a dirty word, with the whole emphasis towards encouraging guilt, confusion and suppression around sexuality. Their idea of healthy sex is making babies under the consent of marriage. It’s easy to say “who listens to these religious bigots?” but they do still have a hold on people’s lives. But at the end of the day, people do cut through the bullshit they try to feed us, with sex being central to many of us as a means for pleasure and comfort. This isn’t ignoring the misery and frustrations it causes: sexual abuse, rape and impotency to name but a few, but these are all a product of how our sexuality is repressed and manipulated by those in power. Lots of us are rejecting the constraints and bigotry being fostered around us, making sex what it should be — something to mutually share and enjoy with whoever and however we please.

Sex can be magic when we start to break free!

PDF version available here.

Hackney Heckler issue 3, June 1990

(NB: I’m missing issue 2 – let me know if you have a copy!)

A POLL TAX SPECIAL
BURN THOSE BILLS!

The Government’s attempt to introduce the Poll Tax is In big trouble as millions of people say “Poll Tax – No Way!’ The principle of the Poll Tax Is that everyone pays the same amount. So a company director on £300,000 a year, living in a mansion, will pay exactly the same as the people who work in his factory.

WILL WE PAY? WILL WE XXXX!
Hackney’s Poll Tax is £499 per person. Hackney is the second poorest borough in the country and yet we are being told to cough up one of the highest amounts of Poll Tax.

There are two reasons why the Poll Tax is being forced upon us. Firstly it’s a straightforward case of taking money from the poor and stuffing It In the pockets of the rich. Most of us are worse off under the Poll Tax – 73% according to the Government’s own statistics. But a few are better off, like Maggie and Denis Thatcher who will save £1,500 a year. And the rich big business supporters of the Tory Party will each be thousands of pounds better off.

Secondly It’s a way of making further drastic cuts and redundancies in our much needed services as the Council slashes its budget to try and keep the Poll Tax level down. Hackney Council has already cut by £10 million and there’s more to come. The services we get at the moment aren’t exactly great but after the Poll Tax they’ll be virtually non-existent.

We are faced with the prospect of trying to find the money to pay huge bills we can’t afford and losing Council services we can’t do without. Now is the time to organise together to fight this vicious attack on our class.

JOIN THE CAMPAIGN
Millions of people all over the country are saying “enough is enough – we’re not paying!’ After a year of the Poll Tax in Scotland up to 1 million people haven’t paid a penny or are In serious arrears. And In England there was an enormous demonstration of over 200,000 against the Poll Tax on March 31st.

It’s by action together that we have the power to stop the Poll Tax. We must organise for mass non-payment of the Tax, by joining our local anti-Poll Tax group, talking to our neighbours and workmates, putting a No Poll Tax poster in the window and so on. Council workers are In a good position to hit the Poll Tax – by boycotting Poll Tax work, offering advice to local anti-Poll Tax groups and of course by all out strike action against cuts in services. Many DHSS workers have already decided that they won’t remove money from the giros of claimants who refuse to pay. By acting together In the workplace and in the local community we have the power to smash the Poll Tax.

People burning their bills, Clissold Park

LABOUR PARTY? WHAT LABOUR PARTY!
During the fight ahead we won’t lust find ourselves up against the Government and their courts. The leaders of the Labour Party, the unions and the councils are Just as opposed to mass Independent working class action as the Government is. The threat of the Mass Non-payment campaign controled from the grass roots, is enough to unite these hypocrites in opposition to it. Well we can’t trust them and we don’t need them.

We also have to contend with those who want to use our struggle against the Poll Tax for their own purposes. We can’t allow party activists to take control of local anti-Poll Tax groups because they’ll stitch us up lilt suits their party politics. What we need are groups organised on non-party lines where every one has an equal say – street based groups of neighbours with regular open meetings, where we can decide on the actions needed to beat the Poll Tax.

LET’S STICK TOGETHER!
In Scotland the number of people not paying has been steadily growing in the last year. The same level of resistance in England and Wales would mean 10 million people not paying! So it’s no surprise that the Government is in a panic about the Poll Tax and is trying to scare people into paying with threats or fines and bailiffs. But if we stick together and support each other against Government threats then they haven’t got a chance of forcing the Poll Tax on us.

In Scotland almost every attempt by Bailiffs to cease peoples’ possesions has been stopped by the actions of well organised anti-Poll Tax groups. Here In Hackney the council have estimated that they’ll need at least 366 court days to deal with all of us non-payers – but the over worked courts could only offer them twelve days. Mass Non-payment will clog up the courts and make collection of the Poll Tax virtually impossible.

WHO ARE THE CRIMINALS?
The Government and the Tory press have tried to make criminals out of the anti-Poll Tax movement, especially since the street fighting with the riot police around Trafalgar after the March 31st demonstration. Their aim is to divide and discredit the anti-Poll Tax campaign, but we all know it’s the Poll Tax that’s criminal not us. It’s vital that we show our solidarity with the arrested protestors by fully supporting the TRAFALGAR SQUARE DEFENDANTS CAMPAIGN. Full Details On Back Page [below]

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DON’T PAY THE POLL TAX?

Many councils are telling people that not paying the Poll Tax will lead to awful punishments, even jail. How true is their threat? In this article we will look at the powers the councils have in trying to recover Poll Tax debts and, more importantly, what we can do to foil their efforts.

BILLING AND COLLECTION
First you will receive a form which offers you a choice of how you wish to pay your tax. If you do not indicate a preferred method of payment you will be sent a Poll Tax payment book divided into ten equal monthly installments to pay the full year’s Poll Tax minus any rebate entitlement if a rebate has been claimed.

REMINDER NOTICES
If a Poll Tax installment is unpaid on the due date, in theory, a reminder notice should be sent. There is no specified period between the date the installment falls due and the issue of the reminder note. Looking at the situation in Scotland this is hardly surprising.

In Scotland the system of billing and collection is in chaos. Four months after the first Poll Tax bills were due some 300,000 had still to receive payment books. Where bills were sent, there were often sent to the wrong address and in some cases sent to children and the dead! Thousands of rebate claims are flooding into Scottish councils deity. But, most of all, the one million Scots who have refused to pay have proved the biggest obstacle yet to the successful introduction of the tax.

Any English or Welsh council which thinks it can issue reminders and penalties within a month of the first bills lives in cloud cuckoo land. Any reminder will instruct you to pay an unpaid Poll Tax installment within seven days. If the installment is not paid within this time, you will lose the right to pay in installments and the full year’s Poll Tax will fall due within a further seven days.

LIABILITY ORDERS
At any time after you have missed Instalments and a full year’s Poll Tax has become due, the council can issue you with a summons to appear before a magistrate’s court. At this stage it is a civil, not a criminal, offence. The police are not involved and you don’t get a criminal record. If the court decides in the council’s favour it’ll issue you with a liability order demanding payment of the full year’s Poll Tax plus an amount towards legal costs.

A mass non-payment campaign would create an immovable log-jam of cases at a time when civil debt cases for fuel, water rates, etc will be flooding into courts, which are barely handling their case loads at the moment. Organised mass non-payment will completely engulf the council and the courts. The Chief Executive of Hackney Council will need at least 366 court days a year to deal with all of us non-payers – but the court could only offer him 12 days! Faced with this, the Poll Tax could fall at the first fence. It must also be stressed that the clerks in the courts and the computer operators are not very highly paid and will be facing big Poll Tax bills themselves. Refusal by them to handle non-payment cases which in a mass campaign would make their workload Intolerable, would make the Poll Tax penalties unworkable.

INFORMATION
Let’s assume the Poll Tax comes this far and a liability order is issued. The council now has the powers to demand information from you about your income, your place of work, where you get any other income from and possibly where you keep most of your possessions.

Failure to respond to such demands for information is a criminal offence punishable by a fine of £100 (£400 for giving false information). It is up the council now and not the courts to choose which method it wishes to use to recover a Poll Tax debt. All its options are shown below. It can only pursue one of them at a time. And, what is more, the council cannot get anyone to work in the recovery section of the Poll Tax office. Hardly surprising really – who would want to work there!

FREEZING BANK ACCOUNTS
Unlike in Scotland, there is no power to freeze bank accounts in England and Wales, so mortgage payments are unaffected. They can’t touch any savings.

INCOME SUPPORT
The council can issue an order to the local Social Security office to deduct Poll Tax arrears from your income support. No other benefits, such as sickness benefit, unemployment benefit, invalidity benefit or retirement pensions, can be touched. The limit (and remenber this is only for income support) is £1.75 a week for a single person and £2.75 for a couple.

If a person’s Income Support has been reduced by direct payment deductions (i.e. for fuel debts or Social Fund loans) or benefit has been part suspended, then a deduction cannot be made. A mass campaign of non-payment will swamp the DSS office with claims for Poll Tax deductions. The people expected to administer such claims will be low paid Civil Service workers, members of unions like the CPSA and NUCAPS who have already taken strike action due to poor staffing and over work. If these workers refuse to process such deductions then the unemployed and others who have most to lose from the Poll Tax will be able to play a full part In a Poll Tax strike. This means another avenue will be closed as far as penalties are concerned.

After a liability order is issued, the council can attempt to recover a Poll Tax debt by issuing an attachment of earnings order to an employer, ordering them to deduct set amounts from a worker’s wages. For example, if your take home pay is £100 a week, the most they can deduct is E9 a week plus e1 towards your employer’s costs. Employers are unhappy about doing this. A big company might have to make payments to up tp 400 councils, causing in the words of ‘Personnel Today’ (an employer’s magazine), “Pay roll havoc”. The ‘Financial Times’ has warned of “potentially disastrous consequences for industry and commerce.”

Problems may arise if an attachment of earnings is considered grounds for dismissal especially in poorly organised workplaces. However, Poll Tax non-payment is not industrial misconduct and should not be grounds for dismissal. The threat of industrial action is a powerful deterrent to any employer trying to sack people because of wage arrestments.

Action on the industrial front against the Poll Tax received a major boost in January when 17,000 council workers in Leicester voted in favour of industrial action if the council tried to issue any redundancies because of Poll Tax driven service cuts. in Stockbridge/New Town In Scotland the local anti-Poll Tax group has successfully campaigned against a rumour at the Cameron Toll Sava Centre that all workers who had their wages arrested would be sacked. In the end the Sava Centre had to respond by writing to all its workers stating that this would definitely not be the case. And in Edinburgh a group of council workers are amongst the latest to announce pains to mount walkouts if any employee is penalised for no-payment of the Poll Tax.

DISTRESS (BAILIFFS)
After a liability order is issued one option for the council is to use its own private baliffs to value possessions, then sell them at an auction to pay the Poll Tax debts plus costs. Ballffs will not be able to take all possessions – vital household goods, including bedding, cooking equipment, children’s toys, learning and studying materials etc. The first £100 of clothing and £150 of tools are not considered either. The most common goods considered for auction are videos, TVs and stereo equipment. You can arrange a time and place for the baliffs to visit you and value your possessions. Goods on HP or belonging to other people (including recent ‘sales’ to neighbours can’t be taken. Once you’ve moved out any luxury items to a friend or a neighbour for the day there is nothing much to worry about.

Using bailiffs is a strategy that relies on fear. In 1977 the county courts issued over 1 million warrants for ballffs but only 3,000 were carried out. Nearly everybody paid up, most likely borrowing money to do so.

In Scotland no attempted ‘poinding’ (valuation of goods) has ever been successful. Poll Tax campaingers have organised physical blockades. These have been followed by angry lobbies of Town Halls calling for the end of this method of debt recovery. Such blockades are not the business of the police to intervene in, unless a breach of the peace is caused, which is unlikely if a few baliffs are facing 300 people. The chances of councils using baliffs on a large scale are very small. In addition to our street reps, we can build a network of telephone numbers to arrange a blockade at short notice should baliffs arrive.

IMPRISONMENT
This is the penalty about which most scaremongering has been put out. Unlike in Scotland, the jell penalty for Poll Tax non-payment still exists, but only as a frightener and as an absolute last resort. The law clearly states that imprisonment for non-payment can only be recommended when all other attempts at recovery have failed. The council could then recommend that a warrant be taken out committing that person to jail. The court would consider whether non-payment was due to wilful refusal or simple neglect. Maximum sentence is 3 months and payment would release you immediately.

CONCLUSION
If the council should succeed In crossing all the hurdles of Implementing the tax and our campaign proves unsuccessful, then Poll Tax strikers would have a price to pay. In most cases that price would be the full year’s Poll Tax plus an amount towards court costs. In Scotland this adds up to around £15 if unemployed and £50-£60 If working. Therefore an unsuccessful Poll Tax strke would in most cases cost £60 on top of the Poll Tax you would have to pay if there was no campaign. But everything Indicates that non-payment will be successful!

In Scotland over 1 million people – 30% of the population – have either avoided the register altogether, paid nothing or are seriously in arrears. In fact the level of non-payment is growing! If the same figures are applied to England and Wales there will be over 10 million non-payers. It is a movement that is not about to collapse or fizzle out. People in Scotland have realised that, with the council’s administrative machinery in chaos, them threatening to seriously take on non-payment is nothing but a joke.

The idea that the same councils who even now don’t know exactly how many people aren’t paying, because their computers are not yet sorted out to count them properly, could take thousands of people to court, order thousands of wage or benefits arrestments or issue thousands of bailiffs’ warrants is plain laughable. Their strategy is to frighten people into paying; they know full well that it is impossible to force the money out of millions of non-payers. In Scotland councils could still be chasing people who have not paid this year in five years time! It would take baliffs 80 years just to visit all those in arrears!

COPY THIS ARTICLE, AND PASS IT ON!

ATTENTION OAP’S

Pensioners will be particularly hit by the poll tax. Even if they get full rebate (which many of them won’t) they will still be worse off. With the rising cost of living this will only make things harder for older people.

OUR MESSAGE IS

• to any pensioners who can’t orwon’t pay: “We’ll support you 100%”

• don’t worry about threats from the council. We’ll make sure no one is left isolated.

• we want as many people as possible not to pay. The more people not paying the quicker we’ll get rid of the poll tax!

• for many people it will be the first time they’ve contemplated breaking the law. This time young and old will be standing together saying “We don’t want your poll tax!”

TRAFALGAR, TIANANMEN- SAME RICE,DIFFERENT CHOPSTICKS!
TRAFALGAR SQUARE DEFENDANTS CAMPAIGN

The National defence campaign for all those arrested as a result of the 200,000+ strong Anti-Poll Tax demonstration on March 31st. c/o Haldane Soceity of Lawyers,Panther House, 38 Mount Pleasant,London WC1X OAP.Te1:071-833-8958 (Answer machine).

WE’RE GOING  TO WIN!

Only by getting together with our neighbours and workmates can we stop the Poll Tax. We must join together home to home, estate to estate, street to street, workplace to workplace and all across the country to smash this hated tax. Solidarity can defeat the Poll Tax.
LET’S GET ORGANISED.

 

 

HACKNEY HECKLER is a bi-monthly free news-sheet produced by Hackney S0lidarity Group. We all live or work in the borough and are sick of what we see around us. That’s the aim of the HECKLER, to encourage struggle for a decent life for all. We welcome contributions, donations, reports and help with distribution (we currently get rid of 10,000).

What’s happening on your estate? Which councillors are corrupt? Who’s the worst boss in Hackney? Write to us at Hackney Heckler c/o 61 Lewsin Road N16 or come to our weekly meeting, every Tuesday 7:30pm at the Old Fire Station, Leswin Road.

Next issue: August

PDF version available here.