Friday, 20 January 2017

Libertarian socialist discussion meetings

The next Libertarian Socialist Discussions meeting is entitled 'Is the working class movement dead? What is the role of pro-revolutionaries in the current social, political and economic climate?' This meeting will be at 19:00 at the Regents Club (102 Regents Road, Leicester, LE1 7DA).

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

LSG Meeting Next Week

The Leicestershire Solidarity Group will be meeting next week on Wednesday the 2nd of November at 7:30 in the Regents Club. Anyone in the Leicester area with an interest in left libertarianism and working class action is welcome to attend.

New proposals for useful activity locally will be discussed at the meeting, feel free to bring along any information that may be of interest to the group. Topics at previous meetings have been highly diverse, including existing and proposed union action, discussion of revolutionary activity internationally, news about local film screening and book publications, and involvement in immigrant solidarity networks. If any of these or related subjects are of interest to you, come along and tell us about your experiences. We'll see you there!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The stuff your landlord doesn't want you to know

Some key housing rights

Housing status

There are many types of housing status, your rights as a tenant often depend on what your housing status is. “Regulated tenants” have very strong rights whereas “excluded occupiers” (such as lodgers) have few rights. Most renters now are “assured shorthold tenants”, and have some rights and protection. Before taking action against your landlord on something like repairs you should check your security of tenure and read your contract.

Implied terms

No matter what your tenancy is or what your contract says, your landlord has obligations which are given by law and are implied into all tenancy agreements.

Some of the most important implied terms are:
- your landlord must carry out basic repairs (damage is called disrepair).
- your landlord must keep the installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating and heating water in good working order
- you have the right to live peacefully in the accommodation without nuisance from your landlord (Your landlord is required to give you 24 hours’ notice in advance of any visit, with the possible exception of emergencies.)
- In most cases, your landlord must not discriminate against you.
There may be some exceptions, for example, if you live in the same accommodation as your landlord. 

Tenancy Deposit Scheme

Your landlord needs to pay your deposit into a Government approved deposit protection scheme, and return it to you at the end of your tenancy – unless there’s a dispute about your tenancy.

Your landlord must give you details of the scheme they are using to protect it. It is also important that you and your landlord agree, in writing, what condition the place is in when you start renting it, including a list of the furniture and fittings (known as an inventory).

You should get your deposit back within ten days if you and your landlord agree about how much you should get back. If, for whatever reason, your landlord withholds all or part of your deposit, then s/he needs to provide an itemised invoice of all of the costs deducted from it, including receipts for any repair or cleaning work.

Landlord Harassment

Harassment by a landlord is an offence and can take a number of different forms, for example:

- removing or restricting access to services such as gas, electricity or water, or failing to pay the bills so that these services are cut off
- visiting your home regularly without warning, especially late at night
- interfering with your post
- threatening you
- sending builders round without notice
- entering your home when you are not there, without your permission
- allowing your home to get into such a bad state of repair that it’s dangerous for you to stay
- beginning disruptive repair works and not finishing them
- harassing you because of your gender, race or sexuality

The Eviction Process

If you’re a private tenant, your landlord needs “grounds” (a reason) if they want to evict you before the end of a fixed-term contract. Councils and housing associations also need grounds to evict most types of tenants. This could be due to something like 8 weeks rent arrears or breaking a term of your tenancy agreement.

To be evicted your landlord first has to give you a written notice that complies with particular legal requirements depending on your tenancy. You don’t have to leave at this point.

The next step for your landlord is to get a court order (saying when you should leave the property or pay rent), you can put your case across in writing and by going to the court hearing.

If your landlord or anyone else tries to evict a residential occupier without following the correct procedure (written notice > possession order > court bailiffs) this is an Illegal eviction and is a criminal offence. 

Going into dispute

Any dispute with your landlord needs to be carefully considered. Here’s some things you can do to help you through:
- Read your tenancy agreement to find out your contract rights and responsibilities.
- Research your housing rights from Tenants’ Handbooks, specialized housing websites and legal advice centres. (See back of leaflet)
- Record and copy any and all correspondence (and photographic evidence) sent to your landlord to create a “paper trail”.

There are a number of groups that exist to resolve or arbitrate issues between tenants and landlords. Shelter and CAB will give you good advice about your rights but if you need to teach your landlord a short, sharp lesson in their responsibilities you might want to contact LSG to discuss taking Direct Action.

Direct Action

This could mean:

- Delivering a demand letter to the landlord’s home or work address
- Publicly ‘outing’ the landlord to their neighbours
- Bombarding their telephone or email inbox
- Occupying your local housing office

These are just examples, anything that gives you leverage over your landlord works; challenging their reputation or hitting them in the pocket is advisable.

All of these actions are best taken in conjunction with your family and friends, or – even better – other tenants!

Standing up for ourselves

It can be useful to know the law because many landlords don’t follow basic legal requirements. But we also need to remember that the law is not going to be on our side most of the time. We shouldn’t rely on it to make sure we’re treated fairly.

Direct Action and Solidarity

If you’ve rented, you’ve probably discussed with other tenants how best to deal with a landlord or how to survive in a renting market that seems stacked against us. Perhaps you’ve even gone with one of your fellow tenants to speak to your landlord about a problem in your building. These conversations and actions form the basis of solidarity. 

What next?

Fighting a legal battle can be costly, take a lot of time and require specialized skills. Direct action doesn’t. Anyone can take direct action and win. Instead of relying on courts and lawyers, direct action means that we win through organising ourselves and confronting landlords collectively. It could be something straightforward, like going down as a group to demand your landlord complete unfinished repairs. Or it could mean creating a tenants’ union and organising a rent strike. Defending our rights is just the beginning. Once we achieve this, we can start to take the initiative.

Who Are We and Why Do We Care?

Leicestershire Solidarity Group (LSG) is a group of people living in both the city and wider Leicestershire County who see a real need for genuine working class organisation in the area.  LSG encourages self-organisation and collective action. In other words, it is the kind of organisation that means ordinary people stick together to get things done and defend ourselves from the powers that be - whether unscrupulous landlords, employers, national or local government, or anyone else who tries to divide working class people according to our race, sex, age, disability, employment status, sexuality or cultural background.

We are looking to set up a Tenants’ Union in Leicester.
If you’d like to get involved in this, then get in touch! 

Friday, 6 February 2015

Whoever you vote for, the bosses win…Let’s do things differently.

Another 5 years have passed by, and once again we are being treated to the spectacle of a General Election. And that’s all it is, really – a spectacle, a circus, a placebo, a safety vent. The ‘Political Class’ justifies its existence with claims of democracy and a mandate. This fa├žade needs to be carefully maintained, and to do this they need to make a regular public display of ‘big-P Politics.’The promises are made, posters are put up, hands are shaken, babies are kissed (is that even allowed anymore?) – but the whole process has more to do with securing the interests of the wealthy and powerful than providing representation of our needs. 

And we know this! Over and over again the Political Class are exposed as corrupt and self-serving – expenses scandals, MPs voting themselves a pay rise while wages stagnate for everyone else, the revolving door between Parliament and the City, ‘favours’ for powerful corporate sponsors. None of the major parties standing in the 2015 election are any different. Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Labour, and now UKIP, all rely on money from corporate sponsors for their election campaigns, and all of them sign up to the same economic world-view, which prioritises profit over people, and makes excuses for the increasing inequality all around us. And we’re not stupid, we see all this happening, we sense the growing distance between ‘Politics’ and our daily lives, alongside the growing gap between rich and poor. A choice between two (or three, or four) shades of the same shit is no choice at all! General Election voter turn-outs have been falling for decades. We are not apathetic – we’re angry, we’re unrepresented, and it can’t go on. 

We can do so much better than the farce that passes for democracy at Westminster and Council meetings. We can take power back by organising ourselves and making decisions within our local communities and workplaces. Direct democracy means keeping our own mandate for self-government, instead of giving away power to the Political Class. Every time we organise for ourselves instead of relying on the government we undermine their legitimacy, and bit-by-bit, little-by-little, we can build effective alternatives to the systems of exploitation and unfairness that exist all around us.We can build and organise a better world ourselves – or at least, we can’t do any worse than the status quo! 

That’s what Leicester Solidarity Group is all about – building community level networks to improve things for ordinary people. As isolated individuals we’re vulnerable to the actions of unscrupulous landlords and exploitative bosses, but together we can resist these injustices.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Jelly and Ice Cream... Post-Thatcher Party

You are cordially invited to an impromptu gathering tonight (Tuesday 9th April) at 6pm at the Clock Tower to celebrate the demise of Margaret Thatcher.


Yes, we know it's all a bit personalised and we shouldn't substitute 'The Evil Thatch' for capitalism, but sometimes, you've just gotta party.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Smash workfare!

9.30 am, this Saturday 10th November 

We'll be out in town this Saturday 10th November to put pressure on comp[anies and charities that are taking advantage of the free labour provided by workfare.  Several companies have already been forced out of the scheme by public pressure.  We can increase that number and make the government's workfare scheme more difficult to implement.

Workfare, and You...

Workfare: It means people like you forced to do unpaid work, for up to six
months, for multi‐million pound companies. Politicians wouldn't work for six
months for no pay, so why should you?

Forced unpaid work means taxpayers subsidizing rich companies, and threatens
to lower wage rates. But It will not provide you with a job. Why?

By forcing people to work for no wages, multi‐million pound companies such as
Asda, Pizza Hut and British Heart Foundation use workfare to replace paid
positions. They can now get staff for free, so why pay for them?

But people across the country are finding ways to challenge workfare. Look after
yourself and stay in touch with us! Tell people you know who might be affected
that we exist, that we are working on ways to help. Share information with us. The
more we know, the stronger we all are.

As a result of our campaign 'sanctions' for leaving unpaid work placements on the
Work Programme, Work Experience, and Sector‐based Work Academies have
been temporarily suspended.  We aim to make that permanent.  

Know your rights!
Fact: The only personal data you need to share with a Work Programme provider (such as A4e) is your referral letter and signing on book
Fact: You don’t need to give them your bank details, passport, driving licence or utility bills
Fact: You don’t have to sign any Work Programme provider documents  or forms, apart from the action plan
Fact: You are entitled to a copy of anything you do sign
Fact: Your CV is personal data and you don’t have to give them a copy
Fact: The JobCentre can postpone starting the Work Programme for 90 days if you have a
job interview, or are expecting to work soon
Fact: If you are on another JobCentre scheme, pregnant or a survivor of domestic violence
you do not have to do the Work Programme

Visit the website 
for more info on your rights

If you are on a workfare scheme and have a complaint, first take it up with the provider.
Every organization should have a formal complaints procedure, which you can ask to see.  If
you are not satisfied with the response you can then take it up with the JobCentre.

Don't volunteer for “Work experience”!  There is a risk that once you volunteer for JobCentre 'work experience' it becomes
mandatory. Although the government appear to have made some concessions on this
scheme, there are still sanctions ‐ direct and indirect ‐ that you may face.

Make sure this doesn't happen to you:
  • Do not agree to volunteer for the JobCentre's “work experience”: It can quickly become forced unpaid labour.
  • If you want to do work experience, find something that really is voluntary.
  • If you are sent on the scheme, you must turn up on the first day - but you should not face sanctions if you leave within the first week (unless due to misconduct).

Avoid Mandatory Work Activity!
We have seen people referred for this just because they have challenged their advisor. But
there are strict DWP guidelines on this, which you can use to challenge referral.  You do not
have to go on this scheme if:
  • you are currently working (paid or voluntary)
  • you are undertaking employment related study or training
  • you are taking part in, or recently completed, another “employment measure”
  • the only reason given is you have a lack of recent work experience or because your advisor thinks you haven't been meeting your jobseeker's agreement.
Even if you are already on workfare check out the website and get informed.

Facebook: Boycott Workfare

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Bread and Circuses (austerity version)

In this latest tale of bread and circuses (the austerity version, without the free bread), once again 'The Nation' goes completely bonkers over a bunch of spoilt royal nonentities... or does it? 

Truth to tell, it's hard to say.  Sure, there were big crowds out in London for the big concert... and true, the queen's mug was plastered over the front pages of every daily paper in the land and virtually the only story worth reporting on TV news was... her Maj, the jubilee pageant, the royal gig, Prince Phillip's bladder troubles, the royal spawn, her adoring subjects (that's us, apparently).  Yes, the only news fit to report was our alleged collective grovel at the inbred feet of the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha clan.  Meanwhile, the fact that over 150 people were killed in Nigeria due to a plane crash mustn't at all be allowed to put a dampener on our patriotic celebrations, so reporting of that disaster was kept suitably scant. 

But for those of us old enough to remember the collective arse-kissing known as the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977, it's interesting to compare the two.

2012: Yes, we know the media tell us there are street parties happening the length and breadth of the country, but has anyone actually seen any or been to one?  Then again, there hasn't really been much in the way of vocal opposition to the jubilee either.
1977: There were actually a fair few visible street parties in most towns and cities and royalist bowing and scraping were much more prevalent.  At the same time, however, opposition to the silver jubilee was far more visible.
So swings and roundabouts...

But one thing that seems clear from this is, the majority of people in this country seem not to give toss about the royal family and neither love nor hate them but will take the day off thanks very much.  The main emotion with regards the royals appears to be disinterest in the antics of this ludicrous family, despite the media doing their utmost to whip us up into a patriotic frenzy.  Nice try but no cigar.

And fuck Workfare too!

Here's another story that didn't manage to get onto the TV news. After all, if nearly 200 dead in Nigeria aren't considered newsworthy enough to interrupt the royal circus, then why should the misfortunes of a few unemployed folk in the UK?

According to The Guardian, forced 'work-for-dole' labour was bussed in from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth to steward the royal pageant.  Fortunately, they were all given free accomodation... hmm... actually, they were all told to sleep under London Bridge!

The full story can be found here:

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Report - 4th Feb EDL visit to Leicester

On Saturday 4th February, numerous anti-fascists withstood freezing temperatures and a bitterly cold windchill to stand against the fascist EDL’s visit to Leicester. 

Prior to this, Mayor Peter Soulsby, Leicester City Council, politicians, some ‘community leaders’ and the police had predictably told locals to stay at home and see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.  Shops were advised to close, pubs were shut, and, displaying a fine spirit of the blitz, Leicester market was closed as well.

EDL burns flag of what they
think is the Argentine Caliphate
The EDL, meanwhile, threatened to bring ‘thousands’ of drunken fascist hooligans into Leicester.  However, some of us knew better, fully aware that the splits and infighting among the EDL with its organisation literally falling apart at the seams would take its toll.  The fact that it was generally a bit nippy and the pubs would be shut was also sure to damage the EDL Special Brew Division’s turn out as well.  As it happens, the fash did manage to collect about 500 (the Leicester Mercury claims 700) dubious specimens of the ‘master race’ for their march, with the highpoint being the burning of an Argentine flag. Argentina, as everyone knows, is ‘the most muslim country in the world, probably…’ (but we reckon geography is not the EDL’s best subject).

So what of the anti-fascists on the day?

The day started with a number of independent anti-fascists in town, basically looking at the lay of the land.  The situation was, the police had the Clock Tower pretty much locked down, with cops everywhere and a string of riot vans bumper-to-bumper at the Haymarket-Eastgates-Church Gate turning.  The rest of the City Centre was also pretty heavily policed. This meant that, certainly at the Clock Tower, the scope for any serious anti-fascist activity would be severely hampered, if not impossible.

Unite Against Fascism, after several previous U-turns to do with cooperation and non-cooperation with the police (telling people to go on their march, telling them to go to the Clock Tower, then to their march, then to the Clock Tower again), finally managed to create a demonstration of somewhere between ‘dozens’, ‘50’ and ‘200’ people on Gallowtree Gate, a couple of hundred metres from the riot vans at the Clock Tower.  They seemed pretty much kettled though, and apparently, they were pushed back by the police up to Belvoir Street.  From there they went on to the A Block rally and then they had their march through the backstreets (chanting 'Whose backstreets? Our backstreets?' we wonder) which took them back to A Block again for some music.

To be fair on the UAF, however, they (and others) did an excellent job of getting the information about the EDL’s visit out onto the streets with lots of leafleting. Also, we should recognise that their organisers did put their money where their mouth is and, at some point before the EDL visit, refused to cooperate with the local plod's planned march, despite the threat of arrest.  So fair play at least on this score, even if they did backtrack later.

As for the independent anti-fascists, they did two things.  Some avoided being moved on or picked up by the dibble and managed to hover around town until the heavily policed EDL turned up.  In spite of the heavy policing, about 200 independent anti-fascists (these included some Leicestershire Solidarity Group members) still managed to get to the Clock Tower and chant ‘Nazi scum, off our streets!’ which was vigorously taken up by groups of Asian youth in the area.  Well done to all of them for getting in there.  The second group of independents (which also included LSG people, as well as members of the Anarchist Federation and one or two socialists) headed off to help defend St Matthews from any potential fascist attack.  Down by the Campanile, Belgrave flyover and the Belgrave Gate roundabout, they joined about, at times, 200-300 (at other times, fewer) mainly Asian, Somali and Kurdish anti-fascists in keeping a barrier between the local community and potential roving EDL bands.

We hear there were also mobilisations in Highfields, and a ‘moving kettle’ of around 60 Asian youth were driven out of the centre by the police and moved into Highfields. We also got word that some anti-fascists tried to head the EDL off at the pass, with some shenanigans going on in Abbey Park in the general direction of the EDL rallying point and near the canal.  We are now hearing reports that the police used dogs on Asian youths.  Also noted was the EDL coach that got lost and had to be escorted out of East Park Road (what did we say about their geography?), and the EDL van that parked up in Highfields (to ask for directions?) and was quickly shunted out of the area by the cops before any unfortunate mishaps could befall them.

The balance sheet

All in all, the EDL are in a rut and a turn out of 500 out of a threatened 1500 is rubbish.  The infighting and division in their ‘movement’, the fact that they are routinely so heavily policed in towns without beer, and the fact that they are generally about as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit wherever they go, must also be thinning the ranks of this futile organisation.  For the EDL, this march will be a massive fail which can only lead to even fewer numbers on wherever they next decide to head for.

For the anti-fascists, it’s a little more complex and there are positives and negatives.  It needs to be said, that however good the intentions of many of their members, Unite Against Fascism is not an effective means to fight fascism.  Firstly, UAF is a front organisation for the Socialist Workers Party.  This means, its prime motive is the building of the SWP and any effective anti-fascism is purely incidental.  Secondly, and more importantly, the UAF does not appear to believe in effectively confronting fascism as their main objective.

While Ross Willmott and some members of UAF may think that a state ban on the EDL is a way forward, we contrast this with militant anti-fascism, always.  Besides, asking for a state ban on anything is never an option, asking the boss class for any kind of support is a bit like asking the baby batterer to mind the creche.

Instead, the UAF-SWP usually prefers to have marches or rallies (often with music) away from the fascists.  This is not a bad aim in itself, and there is always scope for such activities, but it should not be the default tactic, as is the case with UAF-SWP, certainly not when the fascists are planning to march in our town.  Finally, UAF-SWP’s cooperation with the police, Council, etc, is a serious check on any meaningful anti-fascist activity.  True, they eventually decided not to cooperate with the police, but only when push came to shove.  The fact that their starting point is normally ‘what deal can we make with the police and the Council’, who both have zero interest in defeating fascism and only seek containment, is a serious flaw in their strategy.

All that said, the fact that there are a number of people on what is often termed ‘the left’ who are prepared to do what they can to take on fascism (some UAF members included), and the fact that there are local people in certain communities who are also prepared to defend their areas is certainly a good start.  However, such groups working together can often be a haphazard affair and there is occasional suspicion on the part of the different groups concerned.  While this is sometimes understandable, it needs to be addressed. 
Let’s not forget, fascism is not merely anti-muslim (or anti- whatever their most recent target is: anti-semitic, anti-black, anti-asian, anti-asylum seeker, anti-gay, anti-‘red’, etc).  First and foremost, whoever their scapegoat happens to be, fascism is fundamentally anti-working class.  And this is they key which must never be forgotten; building a genuine working class unity that is prepared to take on those who seek to divide us for the benefit of the boss class must be our priority.

And whilst the vast majority on the EDL march had been bussed in from outside the city, trying to pretend that racism is not an issue within Leicester flies in the face of the everyday experience of many of Leicester's residents.

Let’s also not forget that the real winners on the day were none other than the police. This more than anything should tell us we all need to seriously rethink our tactics.

That’s our starting point. Let’s get to it!


Late info...

Listed on Indymedia, here's a list of coach companies used by the EDL on 4th Feb

Belle Vue Manchester Limited
The Travel Centre
Discovery Park
Crossley Road
Sk4 5DZ
Telephone Number: +44(0)161 947 9477
Fax Number: +44(0)161 947 9479

Bromsgrove Bus & Coach Co
7 Sherwood Road
Worcestershire B60 3DR
Telephone: 01527 877754
Fax: 01527 877754

Confidence Bus & Coach Hire Ltd
30 Spalding Street
Tel: (0116) 2762171

Eleet Travel
273 Link Road
Landline: 0116 235 3717
Mobile: 07801 562741
Fax: 0116 235 6665

Griffin Executive Travel
47 Wallingford Road
London Heathrow Airport
Tel: +44 844.736.1465

Hunter's Coaches
30, Fraser Close
NN11 4GZ
Tel : 01327 312958
Mobile : 07802 959128
Email :

Pygall's Coaches
Unit 8a Sea View Industrial Estate
County Durham
Telephone: 07901 554 249

Red Rose Coaches
Unit F
West End Business Park
Blackburn Road
Tel: 01254 399 019
Fax: 01254 790 152

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Defend against the EDL on 4th February!

If you didn't know already, the racist and fascist English Defence League is planning to hold a rally in Leicester on 4th February.  The arrival of the EDL in any town represents a very real threat to those they are against - particularly muslims, black and asian people and anyone seen as 'foreign', but also trade unionists and anyone remotely associated with 'the left'.

There will undoubtedly be calls from the 'proper authorities' to 'stay in and leave it to the professionals', i.e. the police. This we will not do.  There will also be calls from certain elements for a static rally that will be confined by a police kettle.  This is simply not good enough.

In response, LSG calls on everyone to be out the 4th Feb, supporting those whose communities will be under the most direct threat from the EDL.  That means standing together with those under threat and helping to defend our streets.

* * *

For those who are learning English

We realise that many people whose first language is not English may so far be unaware of the EDL's visit.  We are also aware that those people will face a direct threat from the EDL's presence here, so any knowledge that enables them to decide what they want to do on the day is essential. With this in mind, please feel free to pass on, copy or use as an ESOL teaching material the following text (which just happens to be at Entry Level 3 ESOL).

The fascist English Defence League (EDL) plans to return to Leicester on Saturday 4 February 2012. They have told Leicester City Council that they want to have a march and rally in the city. The police can ask the Home Secretary to stop the march from happening but the EDL can still have an unmoving protest.

The EDL last came to Leicester in October 2010. They weren't allowed to have a march but they had an unmoving protest. The police tried to keep them in one place but the EDL supporters broke through the lines of police and tried to get into Highfields. Hundreds of people in Highfields came out onto the streets to protect their area and the EDL were not able to get into Highfields.

Although they couldn't get into Highfields, they were able to attack shops and restaurants selling halal food in and near the city centre.

At the same time anti-EDL protesters were in the city centre but they were kept in one place by the police and couldn't help to defend the shops that were being attacked.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Reminder - rank and file meeting Thursday night

Well, you don't need to have the foresight of Nostredamus to see the predictability of this:

"The UNISON Local Government Service Group Executive has reputedly voted by 24 votes to 10 to endorse the proposed Agreement, the Higher Education Service Group Executive voting likewise by 8 votes to 5. This would appear to mean that UNISON is accepting the agreement which UNITE rejected yesterday.

Separately the Health Service Group Executive voted to ballot members on the offer to them, and will meet next week to agree their recommendation to members in that ballot."

And we hate to say 'we told you so'... but this sort of spinelessness is exactly why more than ever we need to be building strong rank and file organisation in our localities, workplaces and industries.  So let's get to it then!  See you at Thursday's meeting:

Thursday 12 January
Leicester Secular Hall
75 Humberstone Gate