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Reflections on Cardiff University Occupation

Salaam 'Alaykum | 28.02.2009 14:07 | University Occupations for Gaza | Free Spaces | Palestine

Following on from comments made on an earlier post:
I am angry and wanted to say things which people would see, not comment on an old article.

The occupation is a success, we made our point, no point in dragging it out, blah blah fucking blah!

Forgive me if I sound pissed off, the occupation of the Large Shandon Lecture Theatre meant a lot to me, but as I now sit in more comfortable surroundings I can't help but feel that people from OUTSIDE the university with VERY DIFFERENT agendas SOLD US OUT. We only got a few of our demands met and by leaving so early lost an opportunity to spread our message throughout the student body as a whole.

These people from the SWP only want to add members to their tiny little group, not fight for justice in Palestine. The way one of them lectured our brothers in Gaza during the video link up made me feel ill. They may join us condemning Israel, but they are not really our friends.

Some other people gave support and came down to give HELP (not CONTROL) if only the SWP could have acted in the same way, thankyou to the people behind;


Salaam 'Alaykum
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swp - and the student occupations

28.02.2009 14:55

well, saalam they havent fooled you about their intentions... make sure your voice his heard when u and your fellow occupiers next meet.

same old story !

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28.02.2009 15:36

Put this comment on the other article as well, but ill repost as it is relevant...

Yep, couldn't agree more. If you look at successful social movements around the world one of the first things they do is kick out collaborators like the SWP. These people have repeatedly run organisations and groups in this country into the ground, and have been trying to do the same with the occupations, but we keep having to put up with them, often under the liberal conceits of 'inclusivity' and 'democracy'. There is nothing inclusive or democratic about allowing these people to hijack our movements for their own agendas.

Latest news for all you trot-watchers, they are now trying to take over the NGO/union coalition 'Put people first' march at the G20 and associated actions taking place around the country now ! If your union/NGO is involved in this coalition (and most are) and you have the opportunity to participate in any of the planned events, dont let them dominate or speak for you to the press or the public!

student occupier

Should still be there!

28.02.2009 16:28


About 10 yours older than everyone else, hanging around the union all the time despite being either unemployed or on the party payroll - not a student anyway.

You jumped on people wanting to do something about stuff they care about and installed your petty little pathetic anti-democratic agenda. Your mad shouting 1000 decibel speech at the guantanemo talk was horrible, but I had no idea.

You constantly talked over everyone, at length, all the time, alienated me and loads of other people, which is shit because some really good people were really trying to do something.

If you really think the uni isn't going to buy shares in the arms trade in the future your off your simple in the head. I don't think you care either way though huh? you sold some papers and maybe got some new people for your tiny cult.

not happy


28.02.2009 17:25

If someone is making personal attacks on another individual they should identify themselves. Maybe they don't because they don't represent the general consensus of the occupation.

One of the things I thought was great about the occupation was that people from very different backgrounds and campaigning organisations came together and brought different things to the table that made it more effective. For example, comrades from the anarchist movement helped bring in No Borders who did a great short film & also introduced us to hand signs that were very effective in facilitating debates. My own opinion was that the occupation was run extremely democratically and with participation from everyone, and everyone felt very empowered by being part of the process. The Socialist Party students brought BAE trade unionist Yahya to the occupation.

Speaking as Secretary of Cardiff Stop the War Coalition and non-SWP member, I visited the occupation several times to show support and worked damned hard to use our network to get wider support for the occupation - not to dominate it, but to make it stronger - because I believed that students taking such inspiring action should be supported. I also did stuff, like giving the students doing press releases for the occupation a list of emails and phone numbers of journalists and media contacts that we had built up over the last 8 years. I spoke at the demonstration when someone asked me to, otherwise I wouldn't have.

The only people present from the SWP that I was aware of was a PhD student who did loads of free photocopying for all the leaflets & set up the collection in the local mosque for the occupation, got most of the lecturers in his department to support the occupation including coming to introduce the film 'Unseen Gaza' & a young officer of the local Stop the War group who actually was extremely helpful, he had been involved in a campaign against Swansea University's investment in the arms trade and an occupation that took place there & helped giving lots of practical advice.

I should mention that it was this second SWP member who contacted people like Leanne Wood AM to come down and show support for the occupation, got a member of the SWP in Cardiff UNISON (representing 4000 workers) to put a resolution to their AGM to send a message of support for the occupation that was passed - one of the biggest trade union branches had a big discussion on what the students were up to.

Cardiff Stop the War Coalition (whom the SWP individual is an officer for & whom I have worked closely with) did a lot of work backing the occupation - getting in contact with Chomsky to send a message of support, and all the lecturers, politicians, trade unionists who have supported our network to rush messages of support to boost morale of occupiers. We played our role in getting UWIC students who had organised a Palestine Awareness Week whome we've been in contact with through campaigning against Gaza, to relocate the video link up with Gaza students that they had planned from UWIC to Cardiff University at the occupied theatre.

I think that people should be aware that it was the general consensus to bring the occupation to an end (the vote was pretty much unaminous), I understand why people wanted to continue to fight, but the truth was that the occupation wasn't that big, several people I spoke to told me that they weren't going to stay another night, if the occupation had continued people would have got weakened and demoralised, instead you have front page coverage on the student newspaper and a platform to build a bigger campaign.

Anyway, massive respect to the students, I have to say how much I feel energised and inspired by what you did.

Adam J
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It really is

28.02.2009 18:25

..the same old story.

Beware people who want to do things FOR you, like bring in 'important' people, and preach political correctness according to some dogma or another

rather that people who support you to do things for yourselves, like make your own decisions and your own mistakes.

The SWP just want to centralise dissent under their own committees, in whatever guise they take.

we never learn

Sectarian Bullshit

28.02.2009 18:55

Nobody was making decisions for anyone, but a section of anarchists just like to talk to themselves, do small irrelevant actions, and when something big happens they snipe from the sidelines 'cos they are irrelevant.

Rebel with a cause

Nice words Adam

28.02.2009 19:04

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt about you not being one of them pretend "ex"swp-ers who makes a big deal about not being in the party but defends the the SWP at every turn and is involved in every one of the front groups; Unite Against Fascism, Public Services not Private Profit, Defend Council Housing, Globalise Resistance, Love Music Hate Racism, Stop the War Coalition, Anti-Nazi League, Keep Our NHS Public, Organising for Fighting Unions, Respect (renewal or otherwise), Left Alternative, Left List, Campaign Against Climate Chaos, People Before Profit Alliance, or one of the dozens I have (thankfully) forgotten.

I don't know the specifics but its usual SWP style to turn up to any form of protest (especially student protest) and insert their agenda.

It's great to hear that No Borders activists introduced consensus decision making to the process, but I bet the party faithful didn't like it. As I have always been told by a swappie years back when I was in uni; "You don't go into a meeting to make a decision, you go into a meeting to convince other people of the decision you have already made."

Anyway, here's some nice links:

@ trotwatcher

To sum up . . .

28.02.2009 19:06

Look I can't put it any better than to borrow the words of the great Trevor Bark from another context:

'You lot should really stop picking on me, you have far far more problems of your own which can only be sorted out when you start some serious self appraisal and reflection. Then you can start some grown up politics rather than irrelevances. By that I mean relating to the real political world, rather than avoiding it. You carry on in your own little dream worlds...

That you cannot see that you're politically fucked is perhaps the sadest one. I mean, I do not even have to point this out, you lot are doing it so very well on your own.'

Adam J

What do you expect?

28.02.2009 20:21

Salaam 'Alaykum, This is pretty typical SWP behaviour but in all honesty I'm glad you spoke out, music to my ears.

same old story

enough said

28.02.2009 20:47

Well, i think that ends that little discussion. Thanks for the laughs Adam, its been great, you were so awfully sincere and for about a millisecond i may have even believed you. Im not really sure who 'you lot' is meant to be, but 'us lot' seem pretty resolved against the involvement of 'your lot' , so I'm not sure if 'we' really do have that much to sort out. SWP (and Adam?) : FUCK OFF!

occupying student


28.02.2009 20:56

'Forgive me if I sound pissed off, the occupation of the Large Shandon Lecture Theatre meant a lot to me, but as I now sit in more comfortable surroundings I can't help but feel that people from OUTSIDE the university with VERY DIFFERENT agendas SOLD US OUT. We only got a few of our demands met and by leaving so early lost an opportunity to spread our message throughout the student body as a whole.'

Look, everyone overwhelmingly voted to end the occupation on that day. People from young greens, P&P, STAR, amnesty, not part of any group, Socialist Students, SWP and others. So are you gonna criticise 98% of the students who were involved in occupying & voted almost unaminously (in fact, I can only remember 2 voices of dissent in the discussion).

Do really think that staying in would have resulted in more of our demands being met? If so, you are naive. All that would have happened is that we would have been isolated. Lots of the most dedicated people in the occupation weren't prepared to do another night, and it was better that we all went out TOGETHER with our heads high chanting victory than the occupation dragged on having lost its momentum.

As to losing an opportunity to spread our message throughout the student body as a whole, check out the front page of Gair Rhydd & Page 4 and the double page spread on Yahya Al-Faifi and the editorial. If we had stayed in, with what were - let's be honest - not huge numbers, the management were gonna stop anyone else joining the occupation, and we would have just been in a bunker barricade in, with no ability to engage with the masses of students who will have now - thanks to the huge splash we made in the student media - know of our action and we can now go and meet them.

The large Shandon Lecture Theatre meant a lot to all of us. It was the most beautiful 3 days of my life, I still feel a tingle inside when I think of what we did, but your bitching and divisiveness is leaving a real bad taste in my mouth. Stop being bitter & seize the time, we've electrified the whole campus - you should realise it. Over the next 48 hours everyone is gonna be talking about what we did!

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Let's rock and roll

28.02.2009 21:16

'Well, i think that ends that little discussion. Thanks for the laughs Adam, its been great, you were so awfully sincere and for about a millisecond i may have even believed you. Im not really sure who 'you lot' is meant to be, but 'us lot' seem pretty resolved against the involvement of 'your lot' , so I'm not sure if 'we' really do have that much to sort out. SWP (and Adam?) : FUCK OFF!
occupying student'

Sorry it was a joke, I was losing my rag having been accused falsely of being on the pay role of an organisation I am not even a member, by people who hide behind anonymity while making comments about me, and getting a little tired of much of this back-biting and bitching, but if you have a personal issue with me, and me visiting the occupation & doing solidarity work, then email me at and we can discuss.

As someone very active in a campaign - Cardiff Stop the War - that has mobilised a lot of people in solidarity with the Palestinians & has a very big network - 2000 on our mailing list, including a vast number of students, and links with lots of activists and people in the local community. I felt that the support we gave to the occupation was helpful and positive, . I also didn't realise there was any hostility towards me & lending the support of our organisation to the occupation.

Adam J
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Monopolise Resistance - a critique of how the SWP operates

01.03.2009 09:37

This is a pretty good analysis of how the SWP operates.
They are the first line of state policing or just another cult....whatever the effect on movements are the same.

It's all about marketing for them recruting and selling the paper.
they have decades of experience at such opportunism (they are devoid of mutuality outside the cult...there are "comrades" and "periphery" and you can guess what you are classified as) and are very good at screwing you over

Worth reading
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Further Comment

01.03.2009 13:09

Speaking as a libertarian marxist, If people like Schnews engaged themselves in some self-criticism occasionally that might be a big step forward . . .

The problem with this article, is someone is hiding behind anonymity posting individual bitchy comments on a public noticeboard about a collective action, happy to publicly criticise individuals but not identifying themselves. This is very unaccountable. I disagree with your interpretation of the occupation.

Firstly, there was virtual unaminity to bring the occupation to an end. One individual (an extremely serious activist whom I greatly respect) argued that the occupiers should sit-out longer to get a stronger statement from the university on divestment from the arms trade.

So to argue that the occupation was 'sold out' by outside people with other agenda's is a flawed analysis and also an insult to the democratic decision and processes of the occupation who voted overwhelmingly to go out together. I have to say that in general conversations with many activists including anarchist comrades they told me they were not prepared to stay another night (this was partly an unconscious assement of the balance of forces, if the occupation had been 3 times as big, people would have felt more inclined to fight it out).

Secondly, my observations from several visits to the occupation was actually that the processes were extremely democratic and people felt energised by engaging in this collective process, so different from the typical experiences of students at a university.

I was particularly impressed with the input of 2 anarchist comrades in really shaping the procedures of the decision making meetings so that they were well facilitated, everyone had a say & to really get everyone to participate. I have to say, I was initially sceptical of the hand signs, but they won me over that it was a v.effective way to make meetings work better - so even for someone who has been involved in activism for a while, it was a consciousness raising experience. To say that a couple of members of the SWP controlled the occupation seems to cut against the grain of what I witnessed with my own eyes which was an extremely vibrant group dynamic of everyone working together for a common aim. I have also always been disappointed when people rather than debating politically make statements about peoples sincerity. The SWP member who has been mentioned, we don't always see eye-to-eye, but to say that an activist who has put immense energy & time into Palestinian solidarity doesn't care care about Justice for Palestine is a pretty offensive slur.

Thirdly, what really impressed me visiting the occupation was that it was a collective enterprise in which different people with different skills worked together, and how people who seemed in the background before the occupation suddenly were playing a key role. And the way different people brought different things to the table that made the occupation stronger.

Also, it was interesting to see how people were going through a massive learning curve with ideas literally changing throughout the occupation through the debates, discussions and intense process of being involved in such a collective struggle. I think we can truly say that 'this is what democracy looks like'.

Finally, I think that the poster of this anonymous article is probably someone who is sincere (but upset) and I respect their view that the occupation should have carried on, but I think that they are in danger of getting so wrapped up in this position that they are losing a sense of perspective, getting so bitter that they are making rash accusations - for example, ignoring that it was pretty much a unaminous decision to end, not one imposed by any political group from the outside - and frankly really not grasping what a magnificent achievment the occupation was & how it has electrified the campus for the first time in many years.

Every single occupier I have met since the occupation has ended is still buzzing and on a massive high & determined that this is not the end, but the beginning.

So, massive respect to the occupiers, I feel privilleged to have met them!

Adam J
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The lady doth protest too much methinks

01.03.2009 14:26

If your not a member of the SWP Adam, why do you keep defending them?

I haven't been to Cardiff for years but I doubt the local branch and paid organiser are any different to others across the country.

Everything that has been said about them on this thread is remarkably familiar.

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unity means what..

01.03.2009 18:58

Cries of unity are only useful if all parties are committed to the same notions of unity. A party that comes in with its own agenda and tries to subvert it only do damage in the long run. False unity is more dangerous than none at all. Groups such as SWP seek only to use and co-opt, or destroy what they cannot control. They will not accept alternatives to their message and as the alternatives of Russia found out the SWP ideological masters in Lenin and Trotsky proved to be deadly ruthless in putting down resistance. Even Castro had anarchists shot.

Where the SWP are concerned, even short term "unity" under a banner is dangerous. Sometimes I cannot decided if they are not as bad as the state and the fash in how they damage the politics of the left.

Dictatorship of the Proletariat... what dictatorship is not quasi-fascist?


In defence of Marx

02.03.2009 14:10


As an aside you seem to not actually grasp the concept of 'Dictatorship of the Proletariate' as used by Marx. It is seldom used by marxists these days because of the possibility of misunderstanding, instead they tend to use the phrase 'workers state'. (incidentally the SWP don't support Castro whom they rightly see as a dictator)

Marx described liberal democracy as a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, all the key decisions in society are made by unelected small elites with very little accountability - the boss fires you, but you can't fire the boss. Voting once every 4 years gives you very little control over your communities or the workplace where most people spend most of their lives.

Marx proposed a 'dictatorship of the proletariate' in the sense of the majority finally imposing their will on the small minority who had concentrated wealth and power in their hands,

Marx's model of the dictatorship of the proletariate was the Paris Commune of 1871, in which the existing state machinery was smashed and replaced by democratic bodies established from below - elected workers committees & community councils - where all elected representatives were subject to immediate recall (rather than every 4 years), received a workers wage (rather than higher salary than the people they represented), and much more direct forms of democracy flourished.

So Marx's concept was not a dictatorship, but actually making real the promises of democracy, establishing democracy in every sphere of society and particularly economy. Hence Marx called himself 'an extreme democrat' and his platform 'extreme democracy'.

Finally, you should do well to contemplate the achievements of marxists in Britain - the anti-poll tax movement, the Anti-Nazi League that in the 70s smashed the National Front off the streets of Britain, the Liverpool Council who defied central government saying it's better to break the law than break the poor, the granite wisdom of EP Thompson and historians such as Gwyn Alf Williams, Christopher Hill et al. The National Unemployed Workers Movement in the 1930s, the rank and file trade union groups, and the impact of CLR James' residency on Black militancy.

Adam J
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Cut The Shit

02.03.2009 14:58


I was one of perhaps three dissenting voices in the final vote over whether or not to stay in occupation. I thought at the time that we should have pressed further, at least to consolidate what we had. We could still have been out within the day if we had said we would leave on some small condition, but although I stand by this assessment I FULLY and WHOLEHEARTEDLY support the democratic decision made in that lecture theatre to leave at 4.00pm on Thursday. I support the decision because I trust the process of consensus decision making introduced by my anarchist comrades. It quietened the dominating voices and allowed everyone's opinion to be heard on as equal a footing as possible.

To say that certain groups don't approach campaigns with their own political agendas would be naive. To say that I KNOW the SWPies do or do not behave in this way would be a statement made from ignorance, because I don't have all that much experience of their structure and know nothing of their decision making process. But some of the accusations and personal attacks on here are insulting to my SWP friends and comrades who worked so hard to make this occupation a success, and are by extension insulting to me as their unaffiliated friend and comrade. Individual members of SWP made an essential and much-appreciated contribution from the first moments of planning to the final vote that ended the action. These SWP members acted as individuals, as evidenced by the fact that they debated and voted against each other.

There is no need for this divisive bullshit. In fact, this is the inherent weakness in our positive, diverse (nameless) social movement: we preach tolerance to the rest of society but as long as we define our stance by adherence to rigid factions we are divided and weak. I demonstrate and occupy alongside Communists, SWP, socialist party, anarchists, Lib Dems, vegans, Muslims, Krishnas, Buddhists and whoever else cares to join in. If they have a hidden agenda, either as an organisation or as an individual, I trust myself as an intelligent person to notice and avoid it without compromising the basic reason why we are side by side in the first place. Issues, people, not parties. -isms = schisms.

The SWP has done its damnedest to reel me in, and I recognise that tactic. I remain independent, and if I recognised truth in the bitching on this site then maybe I would join in. But the SWP didn't take over; the occupation ended because the university played its cards EXACTLY right to make a critical number of inexperienced and / or PRAGMATIC activists feel that we had done enough. Democracy, not a dictatorship of the proletariat, got us out of that lecture theatre and although I personally felt that we could have stayed longer, I am happy to acknowledge the victory we had, and the correct assessment that we can strengthen the campaign on the back of it.

Now take that photo down. No-one deserves to be singled-out like that. Who the fuck are you, the FIT? Happy to identify others but not yourself? I realise that I probably know and like you in the real world, so a piece of advice from one friend to another: personal attacks are out of line.

Love and rage,


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