Callout: Stop Trident National Demonstration

Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons programme, is up for renewal this year – opponents of these dangerous and criminally expensive weapons of mass destruction need to mobilise, make the case against nuclear weapons, and take direct action. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has called a ‘Stop Trident national demonstration’ in London on 27th February. NCAFC will be co-hosting a Student Bloc on the demo with Youth and Student CND, the Student Assembly Against Austerity, and Stop the War.

There is significant public opposition to Trident, and for the first time in a long while the Labour Party has a leader who strongly opposes nuclear weapons. There are also powerful anti-democratic interests behind the renewal of Trident that will need to be combatted by a grassroots movement: a tangled nexus of arms dealers, civil servants, ruling class politicians, military officers, and war-mongering media outlets.

At the NCAFC’s recent protest against the abolition of maintenance grants for the million poorest students, Labour MP Clive Lewis made the point that the resources going to Trident ‘could be better spent on educating our country and looking after the people than spending it on weapons of mass destruction.’ The government claims Trident will cost £100 billion, though there have been credible reports that the likely figure is closer to £167 billion. Although we must reject the logic of austerity and the claim that public funds are inherently scarce, Trident is one of the worst imaginable uses of money. It is also necessary to rebut pseudo-progressive rhetoric about protecting ‘defence jobs’ – reports by CND and the Nuclear Education Trust have shown that ‘equally high-skilled jobs can be created in other sectors for a fraction of the costs.’ The campaign to scrap Trident needs to be firm about demanding that all the workers involved be guaranteed decent alternative jobs producing something socially useful, with no loss of pay or conditions.

Worse than the financial cost is the fact that a vote for renewal will lock Britain into many more years of maintaining weapons capable of incinerating millions of human beings. This is a truly appalling weapon system consisting of 40 warheads, each 8 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
We need students to mobilise for the demo, and to make the political case against Trident on their campuses. Here are some things you can do:

– Find promotional materials from the CND here, leaflet and hold stalls
– Sign people up for the CND coaches (full list here), or organise a coach from your campus
– Organise a public talk or debate on Trident renewal and nuclear disarmament
– Target militarism and arms companies on your own campus, for example by disrupting their recruitment at careers fairs (see: Campaign Against the Arms Trade for more information)
– Do a creative protest or direct action on your campus against Trident
– Write an article for your student paper on why Trident shouldn’t be renewed

See you in the streets!

#BursaryOrBust: Fighting the Cuts to NHS Bursaries

bursary or bust profile

This article was written by Danielle Tiplady, a final year nursing student at King’s College London.

Deciding to become a nurse was a late decision for me. After years of not knowing what to do and thinking very little of myself, I never thought I would be in the position where I could do a degree. This only started by me working as a carer in a mental health unit for the elderly. I found it very shocking how ill people could become, I was very naive. However seeing the nurses care for patients and help them live beyond their illnesses was inspiring and within about 5 minutes I had decided I wanted to be a nurse. I too wanted to be able to further my knowledge and take a bigger role in caring for others who needed it most. I completed an access to higher education course and gained a place at university to study a BSc in Adult Nursing, which was the proudest moment of my life. Two things made this possible: my own hard work and my NHS bursary.

The removal of the bursary marks the complete death of state support for higher education for students. Furthermore, it means that it removes the chance for those who care to train in healthcare, meaning only those who can afford to can do so. George Osborne suggests this will expand training places by 10,000 – this is absolutely ludicrous and does not make sense. As well as it being absolutely ridiculous expecting people to pay 64 k to work? To do night shifts? To work weekends?

Hospitals already struggle to accommodate students. Nurses are stretched and many go without breaks or even being able to go to the toilet in a 12.5 hour shift. Earlier this year the government scrapped the safe staffing guidance which would have meant an 8:1 patient to nurse ratio, despite the research which evidences how pertinent these ratios are for patient safety. The wards are bursting with patients. There are limited funds within the NHS and staffing is dangerously low. So how exactly will the 10,000 more nurses coming from George Osborne’s proposed idea actually train? How will patients be cared for safely as well as students be trained to the highest standard?

So then that brings me onto the junior doctor contract changes, does Jeremy Hunt really think this is acceptable? To take away such a vast amount of money from those who have trained for years at university, who help to change and save people’s lives? Who I see in my placements like the nurses, staying for hours out of their own good will to care for patients? Does he really think that junior doctors will stand for these appalling cuts? It all seems a little suspicious and deliberate, it is almost as if the government are setting us up to fail. Setting us up to be angry and want to leave, setting the NHS up to dismantle it and sell it off piece by piece.

Considering the constant attacks on the NHS I decided to start the bursary campaign on an angry Wednesday morning in the library. We had a demo outside the Department of Health which attracted around 500 people. The momentum and support has been outstanding, healthcare professionals and members of the public have united. The frustration and anger within our committee has continued and a couple of weekends ago we had a march in London, whereby 5000 people came to defend the bursary. Moving forward we are co-hosting a ‘Defend our NHS, defend our education’ week with the Student Assembly Against Austerity between the 8-14th of February, which we are asking students nationally to take part in. You can be as creative as you like! And at 10am on Wednesday 10th February student nurses, midwives and allied health professionals will walk out of their placements to join junior doctors on the picket lines. https://www.facebook.com/events/526554437503282/

We must continue to unite and stand against these rounds of cuts to education. The bursary is not a cost but an investment in the health and wellbeing of society. To lose it would not only affect NHS students, but each and every one of you.

Some thoughts on the need for a militant, class struggle feminism

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The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts Women and Non-Binary Conference has been organised to strive towards a revitalisation of militant feminism within the student movement and beyond. In the student sphere, a certain kind of politics focussed on identity and safety still largely dominates feminist discourse and activity. The source of this politics is understandable, and often not thoroughly critiqued with sufficient sensitivity. This is especially true when such critiques emerge from the right and vilify such ideas as just another example of ‘leftist censorship of free speech’ (‘free speech’, in their terms, entailing a freedom to say as one wills, no matter how oppressive, without consequence – a deployment that we must of course denounce). The politics of safety is a natural, impulsive response to a social order which so routinely marginalises, threatens and harms us. It is a kind of secessionism intended to insulate us from the routine miseries and violence inflicted on us by the world. We withdraw into ourselves, ensconce ourselves in as far as possible from an unsafe existence, simulating the ideal world we strive towards. The problem with such politics is indeed not the existence of such safe spaces, but rather the fetishisation of them, and the notion that our political activity can be entirely contained within its spheres – that our struggle is, indeed, one primarily over individual thoughts and attitudes rather than systems of power.

Safe spaces are essential sanctuaries in which we can regroup, form bonds of compassion, support and solidarity, and explore, deconstruct and recover from shared (but, importantly, not uniform) experiences of gendered oppression. However, it is here the disconnect often emerges: there is a prevalent belief that such spaces are ends in themselves, that they are havens in which to seek refuge but not platforms from which to initiate struggle, and that proliferation of their often rigidly enforced prefiguration is the key to our liberation. We should not subscribe to a kind of politics which mechanically functionalises experience, conceptualising political utility only in so far as it results in decisive direct action and negating the very real and meaningful benefits of seeking to actualise different social practices and interactions. But nor should we eviscerate such experiences of their structural commonality and their potentiality for transformative realisation of struggle (and, indeed, nor should we define struggle as solely located in action on the streets). To do so would be to adopt a politics of insularity which disregards the necessity of forceful intervention to our empowerment and liberation, which situates the problem inwards, among us, rather than in the nexus of various intersecting structures of power constituted within, reproduced and fortified by capitalism.

The ultimate problem is not in itself oppressive ideas and attitudes which need to be competitively purged (although we should always strive towards self and collective development of our politics and seek always to recognise and redress oppressive behaviours and internal group power dynamics) but oppressive systems which, in order to justify and naturalise their own power and the structural suffering they inflict, propagate and condition us into those ideas. Our personal experiences reflect and embody the operation of structural oppressions, and our politics must in turn amount not to a kind of evasion of those experiences within sacrosanct spaces but necessarily a weaponisation of them, radically oriented towards not refuge from power relations, our adjustment to them, or – at worst – an advancement into their upper ranks, as proposed by the NUS ‘Women in Leadership’ campaign, but a struggle towards their abolition: a struggle towards collective empowerment, transformation and reclamation, and not individual purification, which too often urges us to seek to outperform one another on the extent of our suffering, and to compete to assert a particular monopolistic set of ‘safe’ political ideas that everyone need adhere to.

Positioning ourselves as anti-capitalist feminists within the conversation on safety and identity is, indeed, all the more necessary and timely when the mainstream discourse, particularly in 2015, has fixated upon Universities as bastions of so-called ‘political correctness’ – resulting, at its worst, in This Morning presenters declaring George Lawlor, a particularly sinister conservative from Warwick University who infamously and publicly refused to attend consent classes as a ‘brave man’ and a journalist branding the world a ‘dangerous place for white heterosexual males’. Now, these claims are not only ludicrous but insidious, and trivialising of the trials genuinely oppressed people endure within University and the world at large, yet they represent a much more complex set of political dynamics: not least that these are the defining features of student politics and that there is an (I think ungrounded) public recognition of the entire landscape of Universities, and not just leftist communities, being dominated by no-platforming techniques and identity politics currents of thought.

Whilst this public recognition is stimulated and stoked by a reactionary media establishment intent on undermining and disparaging left-wing, anti-oppression activism – we must ask why the national demo for free education and living grants for all on November the 4th, an aim that will disproportionately and materially benefit women, where the majority defending themselves from police on the front lines certainly were not men and those organising, preparing and flyering relentlessly for the demo itself certainly weren’t either, wasn’t one of the primary focuses of UK student politics in the public discourse. Our ideas have not claimed outward prominence and space and a feminism which challenges capitalist orthodoxy has (save for the rise of Sisters Uncut) faded since the 1970’s from the public conversation. The situation also speaks to something broader about many forms of ‘liberation’ student politics: that they are more concerned with maintaining themselves in (ironically privileged) purist cliques than they are establishing mass movements and broad community bases capable of confronting capitalism and all oppression. The imaginary of Universities as intellectually and socially elite ‘ivory towers’ detached from the realities of the world is only reinforced by this, deemed to be defined more by the policing of ideas than the expansion and exploration of them, and connections with anti-austerity and wider social struggles are often rendered nominal or unfashioned. While we should recognise the media manipulations and its vested interests at play, and examine how the concept of ‘free speech’ is often instrumentalised to excuse oppressive behaviours and defend entrenched social advantage, we must also challenge the political passivity and insularity of many forms of student liberation politics, their erasure of class analysis, and their tendency towards the self-selection of political ideas without genuinely collective oversight and debate. This is a question about the type of world we want, and how we win it: whether we should restrict and regulate our Universities into selective perfection, or struggle together to seize control of our collective destinies.

We hear proudly declared that more women than ever are attending University, yet fail to mention that those who sustain our marketised Universities, disproportionately on casualized and precarious contracts, are women workers – whether that be Graduate Teaching Assistant staff on far below the living wage or hyper-exploited migrant women cleaners who are at constant threat of harassment, policing and deportation by the UK Border Agency, especially under the Tories’ tightened border and immigration controls. We do not hear how women will be forced to pay off more of their student debt for longer than their male counterparts due to the enduring gender pay gap. We do not hear how the cuts to bursaries for student nurses, midwives and allied health professionals will force disproportionately mature and BME women students to pay for their own training and subject them to ever-spiralling levels of debt, whilst nurses (a vast majority of whom are women) already within the NHS are overstretched, undervalued and suffering declining wages within the context of austerity-ravaged hospitals.

We do not hear about the cutting and outsourcing of our student support services, which particularly LGBTQ folk and those with mental health issues rely upon. We do not hear how shamefully few black women professors teach at our Universities. We do not hear how unaccommodating Universities are to mothers. We do not hear about how the Higher Education reforms proposes a set of policies that will only further deepen the crises in education, entrenching the commercialisation of our Universities. We do hear Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper decrying Jeremy Corbyn’s new leadership over the Labour party on the basis of him being an ‘old white man’ whilst he was the only candidate in the Labour leadership race who posed a political alternative to a vicious austerity programme which has severely damaged the lives of particularly working class women.

We also hear Apple being lauded by some as progressive for affording their employees the opportunity to freeze their eggs – because, of course, the pursuit of waged work is the only truly meaningful future we might consider and should assume absolute priority. Reproductive duties have always been unwaged, invisibilised, devalued and considered an adjunct to waged work under capitalism, which has resulted in the embedding of sexism and binary gender roles within the operation, maintenance and relations of this harmful economic system. Apple’s manoeuvre simply perpetuates a kind of workplace which is engineered to be exclusionary to women and their needs, where there is always a manufactured division between waged work and the domestic sphere, where only certain unilateral roles and subjectivities, positioned with reference to one authority or another, are permitted, where women are forced always to adjust to the whims of (disproportionately white male) bosses, men (often as partners) and systems of marginalization and oppression, rather than the systems themselves changing.

We recognise the current tools of feminism as not only dismissive of the significance of free education as a demand, but inadequate to achieve our liberation. We as NCAFC Women and Non-Binary must not only further articulate and embed a class struggle, intersectional feminist consciousness within the student movement but also express the limitations of the current approach of student feminism, and feminism more broadly – both where it purports to be radical and where it has clearly been assimilated into neo-liberal hegemony. We must address how the practices and cultures of our movements marginalise and erase us, and how these movements cannot succeed in their intended aims without our skills, perspectives and strengths. We must create a movement where women and non-binary people are not only recognised for their indispensable efforts but where our ideas and experiences are regarded as central and integral to the focus and aspirations of free education struggle.

A feminist politics rooted in a culture of real cooperation and solidarity, and open, collaborative debate (rather than intimidation into adherence to the ‘correct’ set of political opinions), is urgently needed. Importantly, it must be oriented towards confrontation with the state and capital that administrate and enforce gendered oppression, rather than solely towards each other as proxies for various oppressive structures. It must be poised to challenge the bosses who degrade us and exploit us; the police who misgender, undermine, harass and assault us, especially our black and sex worker comrades (and even engage in psychologically abusive, years-long undercover relationships with women activists); the University managers who accrue vast salaries at the expense of casualised women staff; the Government who ruthlessly cuts and marketises education, sexual health services, domestic violence support services and women’s refuges, and who routinely imprisons migrant women – often fleeing male violence and torture –in dehumanising detention centres.

Similarly it must be oriented towards a disturbance of the binary roles and expectations we assign to genders. As Sisters Uncut so succinctly articulate on their demonstration placards – ‘women are powerful and dangerous.’ We expressed this in our occupation of Senate House last year – asserting ourselves autonomously and forcefully, in a world which consigns us to roles of deference and submission, and where militant actions which have changed the world throughout history are always (even in leftist discourse) attributed to men, is illimitably powerful. Expanding our definition of gendered oppression beyond a regularised, uniform, and essentialist experience of ‘womanhood’ (i.e. that you must be assigned female at birth and have endured a particular set of lived experiences to be party to genuine gendered oppression) – which negates the multitudinous oppressions that define our circumstances and material conditions, and is routinely weaponised against trans people to brand our identities and our subjection to oppression illegitimate – is an essential task of our caucus. This is why we recently modified our name from ‘NCAFC Women’ to ‘NCAFC Women and Non-Binary’, and is a politics that we must continue to advance and explore.

Our caucus and first conference thus exists to examine sexist and transphobic practices within our movements apart from those who primarily perpetrate them; to affirm our voices and strength when we are routinely marginalised and erased by society; to expand our understanding of gendered oppression within and outside of the University sphere and its intrinsic conjunction with class struggle; to explore how we can optimise the relation of our activism to the experiences and conditions of that oppression; to discuss how we can intervene in the broader student movement to broaden and bolster its politics; and to provide ourselves with a space for collective rejuvenation, association and empowerment where we can act unhindered, on our own terms, as common subjects of gendered oppression and varying forms of exploitation. Free education is a struggle which agitates towards much more than the end of fees – but towards a liberated and emancipatory educational system and a free society. For this campaign to achieve its aims, our unique perspectives, experiences and actions as women and non-binary people must be deployed, emphasised and centred. Free education is not simply a campaign that is important to feminist activists – feminism is essential to it. Free education is not merely a feminist demand, nor is feminism incident to it, as a kind of supplement or appendage. Free education cannot be conceptualised in all its dimensions, specificities and nuances without feminism.

Feminism is integral to our complexity, power and – ultimately – our capacity to win as a movement. Now more than ever, when the very future of education as a public good is threatened, this conference is essential. As with struggle throughout history, it has been women and those of marginalised gender identities that have led the charge against austerity – through Sisters Uncut, Focus E15 Mothers and, all too often forgotten, in the student movement. Austerity cannot be defeated without us – and losing this battle would mean a very real (and disproportionate) material damage to our lives. The market is advancing on us at all angles – and we must be equipped and prepared to fight.

Emergency protest: stop the cuts to maintenance grants!

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Contact 07901844980, 07749263622, 07481190243
This Tuesday, the Labour Party has called an opposition day debate on the scrapping of maintenance grants. The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts is organising a static protest in Parliament Square to coincide with the debate, and to demand a reversal of this disgraceful attack on working class students, and to show that we will not let them get away with this.
Last Thursday, it took just 18 MPs 90 minutes to scrap maintenance grants for the million poorest students. They did so without a debate in Parliament; in a backroom committee which most of the people these cuts are affecting will never have even heard of. And the ministers who made this decision benefited from free higher education and grants themselves.
Hope Worsdale, from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, said: “This is not only a direct attack on working class students, but it also shows the government’s flagrant disregard for the most basic democratic processes. The Tories are clearly scared of having their policies scrutinised and exposed to public anger.”
Students will be gathering in Parliament Square on Tuesday to demand #GrantsNotDebt for all students and an education system that doesn’t shut out the most disadvantaged in society.
Bring banners, placards, noise and energy! (Or cameras, notepads and dicta-phones, depending on who you are).

NCAFC Women and Non Binary conference *AGENDA ANNOUNCED*

ncafcwomenThe conference will take place at Warwick University from the 29th to the 31st of January. You can register here and find out more information here.

 

 

FRIDAY (for people who have to arrive early)
Location: Warwick Campus
Film: Live Nude Girls Unite (& make NCAFC Women Banner)

SATURDAY
10.00 – Registration
10.30 – Opening Remarks and Plenary: Women Workers in Education: fighting casualisation, outsourcing and low wages
10.15 – Break
11.30 – Workshop Session A
1) Gender and mental health in activism and education
2) Fighting the cuts to women’s services with direct action
3) The Fight for NHS Bursaries is the Fight for non-traditional Students
12.30 – Liberation caucus: Black
13.00 – Lunch
13.30 – Workshop Session B
1) Social Reproduction
2) Women in the Kurdish Struggle
3) Critiquing liberal feminism and how to intervene in your FemSoc
14.30 – Liberation Caucus: LGBTQ
15.00 – Break
15.10 – Discussion on Sexual Violence on the Left
16.30 – Break
16.40 – Workshop Session C
1) Fighting the Green Paper should be a Priority for Liberation (why and how)
2) Non-Binary Students and NCAFC
3) ‪#‎RhodesMustFall‬: women and colonial legacies in education
17.40 – Break
17.50 – Workshop Session D
1) How the Further Education Cuts affect women and migrants
2) Direct action is not just for the men: critiquing macho culture and safe space culture
3) Disabled Women and the Cuts
18.50 – Break
19.00 – Plenary: Women and the Migrant Struggle with Movement for Justice
19.45 – close
Evening: Social! – Warwick Anti-Sexism: Can’t Touch This (Feminist Club Night)

SUNDAY
9.45 – Registration
10.00 – Plenary: Free Education is a Feminist Demand
10.45 – Liberation Caucus: Trans
11.15 – Break
11.30 – Direct Action planning: future WANBODA (Women and Non-Binary Only Direct Action), International Women’s Day, Priority Campaign for NCAFC Women
12.45 – Lunch
13.15 – Liberation Caucus – Disabled
13.45 – Should NCAFC Women and Non-Binary caucus intervene in the NUS Women’s Conference/Campaign?
14.45 – Break
14.55 – Democratic Session Part 1: NCAFC Women and Non-Binary Political Statement
16.00 – Break
16.10 – Democratic Session Part 2: NCAFC Women and Non-Binary Political Statement
16.50 – Plenary: Women Unite and (Student) Strike and Closing Remarks
17.30 – Conference close

CALL OUT: Oppose Fascists in Dover on 30th January!

GIAJ20151017C-029_C.JPG  Refugees Welcome Here Demo in Dover. Market Square to the Port of Dover. Picture: Andy Jones

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Refugees Welcome Here Demo in Dover.
Market Square to the Port of Dover.
Picture: Andy Jones

Political conditions in the UK are ripe for a re-emergence of a fascist street movement.

The refugee crisis, the rise of the far right in Europe, a badly organised left, and an impending economic crisis all contribute to a situation that holds a lot of potential for fascists. The role of anti-fascism in this kind of situation is to stop racist and fascist violence, prevent a swing to the right, and make possible the growth of a left-wing mass movement.

This is why it is so important that students around the country come out against the fascist National Front in Dover on Saturday 30th January. Fascist mobilisations at the border cannot be allowed to go unopposed, and must be countered at every possible moment.

NCAFC has worked with parts of the local and national left to push a radical, no borders message in Dover – with the Open Borders Open Europe demo a few months ago attracting 500 demonstrators and making our no borders position clear. Now we have to go back, to show the National Front that their poisonous, violent, racist ideology will not be allowed to develop.

All out to oppose the fash in Dover! Mobilise students from your university or college to join the Antifascist Network mobilisation.

FOR FULL DETAILS SEE FACEBOOK EVENT HERE.

Keep Up the Fight Against Prevent: Solidarity with activists attacked by right-wing media!

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On January 7, 2016, Daily Mail published an article attacking NUS Vice-President Welfare and NCAFC member Shelly Asquith and other activists campaigning against the Prevent agenda, accusing them of being terrorist supporters. The article (which can be found here: http://www.donotlink.com/htc2) is rife with inaccuracies, sexism, and right-wing vitriol aimed at discrediting Asquith’s excellent work and the whole principle of campaigning against the racist and repressive Prevent programme.

We would like to express our solidarity with student activists attacked in the article, including Shelly Asquith and NUS Black Students’ Officer Malia Bouattia, and our unreserved opposition to Prevent. Prevent is a major clampdown on freedom of expression, driven by a racist and Islamophobic agenda. It puts on university workers the duty of spying on students, and has already led to countless absurd cases of scapegoating Muslim, Black and minority ethnic students, such as Mohammed Umar Farooq – a postgraduate counter-terrorism student who was investigated under Prevent for reading about terrorism. Daily Mail is being hypocritical when it criticises students’ unions’ no-platform policies as a threat to freedom of speech, while actively supporting legislation that is used to silence and repress students.

It is not unusual for the right-wing press to launch vicious personal attacks on those who fight racism and oppression. We need to stand with left-wing activists, facing hateful smears from right-wing media, as well as with Muslims affected by institutional racism, of which Prevent is a clear example.

NCAFC national committee meeting – 16 and 17 January

studentprotestOn January 16th and 17th, the newly elected national committee of NCAFC will be meeting to discuss the immediate future of NCAFC, the student strike and the wider student movement. The meeting is open to all members of the campaign – you can come, propose agenda items and speak.

You can see a facebook event for the meeting is here. It will start at 11am on the 16th and close at 5pm on the 17th.

At present, discussions already put forward for the agenda include:

  • The student strike and the fight against the green paper
  • Student struggles in and around the NHS: junior doctors and nurses’ bursaries
  • Internal functions, including finance, comms, press and membership subcommittees, as well as the Secretariat
  • NCAFC’s intervention in the National Union of Students, including selection of candidates (see below)

If you want to add an agenda item, or if you are a non-NC member and need accommodation, please drop us a line at [email protected]

If you are considering running for election at NUS national conference and want NCAFC’s support, please send a short statement to [email protected] before 12 noon on Friday 15th January. We can then let you know the timings of when the NUS discussion and selection will take place.

NCAFC defends the right to criticise religion & opposes the aggressive no-platforming of Maryam Namazie

Maryam Namazie

This statement came as the result of a motion that was passed democratically by NCAFC members at our 2015 national conference.

On Monday 30th November, a talk by Maryam Namazie on the topic “Apostasy, blasphemy and free expression in the age of ISIS”, hosted by Goldsmiths Atheist, Secularists and Humanists (ASH) Society, was aggressively disrupted by a number of men. They made noise, harassed Namazie and switched off Namazie’s PowerPoint presentation. One of Namazie’s fellow activists, Reza Moradi, said that one of those causing disruption issued a death threat at him (an allegation the protesters deny).

Maryam Namazie is a socialist feminist activist with the Worker-Communist Party of Iran, who campaigns for secularism and against repression, particularly of women, that is associated with religious conservatism and the authoritarian state in Iran, from which she was forced to flee. Those disrupting the talk argued that it should not have gone ahead because they say that Namazie’s politics incite Islamophobia in Britain against Muslims.

Meanwhile, other attendees, including Muslim students, opposed the disruption. A video of the event is linked at the bottom of this post.

NCAFC’s members voted at our conference to express our opposition to how the event was disrupted. Shutting down discussion of oppression, in particular a group of men aggressively shouting down a woman discussing sexism, is unacceptable. Whether or not you agree with precisely what Namazie and the ASH Society have to say, this type of disruption and attempted denial of a platform is wrong. In general, with some particular exceptions, open debate and not tactics of “no platform” are the best way to deal with most political disagreements, especially when they are within the left. Indeed, a number of people attending tried to pursue their disagreements with Namazie through questions and discussion, but their ability to do so was limited by the disruption. So we stand for the right to speak and discuss on campuses about religion and politics, including for Goldsmiths ASH society and campaigners like Namazie.

We need to recognise that there are many different sources and perpetrators of oppression, and right-wing and conservative religious forces are among them. The left must defend the freedom to practice or not practice any religion and oppose discrimination against groups of people based on their religion, and at the same time defend the right to criticise religious beliefs and practices – a right which is often most needed by members and ex-members of the religion in question.

Video including Namazie’s talk, the disruptions, and the questions and discussions (Click here to view on youtube):

Solidarity with London Met occupiers!

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Solidarity to occupiers at London Met: Save the Cass, Save the Arts!

NCAFC stands in solidarity with students at London Met, who went into occupation on December 11th to protest the sell off of the Cass Arts Faculty, which will mean yet another wave of course closures, job losses and cuts to student places.

London Met has the highest percentage of working class and black students in the country, and a large portion of its students are women returning to education. We stand with the students and workers protesting this attack on access to education for working class, women and black students, and we stand with the faculty’s dean Robert Mull, who was suspended for speaking out against the sell off.

London Met has long been at the frontline of government assaults on higher education, from attacks on international students to a savage programme of cuts and redundancies, and the planned closure of the Cass sets a chilling precedent for the effects of the Teaching Excellence Framework. It will be arts and humanities courses which produce less high earning graduates, like those offered at the Cass, which will close, and it will be financially struggling, predominantly working class universities like London Met which will be allowed to go bankrupt and exit the market.

The fight to defend the Cass is central to our fight to defend public education.

 Read the occupation’s demands here:

http://occupythecass.tumblr.com/post/134880375893/our-demands