Friday, 7 December 2012

Take Action this Saturday - Boycott Workfare / UkUncut

A few protests have been planned in Islington this Saturday 8th December. They're all part of the fight against austerity, cuts, capitalist exploitation, greedy bosses and anti-working class government policies. So if you haven't got any plans for this Saturday join one of the actions below.


North London SolFed are targeting businesses in Holloway against workfare in support of the National Week of Action called by Boycott Workfare, starting this Saturday the 8th.
Meet at Superdrug on Seven Sisters Road - 11am sharp and we move on from there.
Nearest tube: Arsenal or Holloway Road.

More on Workfare:
Workfare is a government scheme in which unemployed people are bullied into working for their Jobseekers' Allowance benefits. People on the Workfare scheme are forced to stack shelves for up to 30 hours a week, working out to an hourly wage of just £1.60. In response to a growing movement of opposition to the Workfare scheme, a number of companies have quit the programme, while the government has released a steady stream of untruths.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Social Housing for Mount Pleasant

As people may be aware, Royal Mail is planning to redevelop part of their large WC1 Mount Pleasant site. Both Islington and Camden councils are involved in this and with 750 homes currently planned, it is going to be a major development. Exhibitions have been organised and early plans have been submitted. On Wednesday 14th November, a development forum was organised to discuss the whole project.

The meeting was packed with residents with a range of concerns, most from local housing associations. A wide range of issues were raised but the general feeling was very much that the plan was ill-conceived. The proposed buildings seem excessively high in places (up to 15 storeys), not taking sufficient account of people's right to light, especially along Calthorpe Street and Farringdon Road. The design is rather unimaginative and people felt it was inward-looking. Some spaces in between buildings seem to have no public access, raising the risk of creating gated communities. A public space has been planned for, but it is still unclear who will own it and pay for its maintenance. The danger that it could be lost to private interests in the not-so-long term was raised. 

Generally, in an area which lacks public amenities, including a school which has been demanded for years, it was felt that not much was on offer for the local community and that the proposed development was simply too dense. 
These are obviously all legitimate demands and a plan that does not meet such requirements should be resisted. However, given the current housing crisis it is also true that more homes need to be built in Islington. In a capitalist system, we will always be left with different interests seeming to conflict with each other because as long as basic human needs such as education, health or housing are conceived of as services that have a cost and from which a profit can be made, we will be left fighting for what we need. With the Mount Pleasant redevelopment though, we can fight for our common interest, for all our needs, including housing.

Due to lack of time and bad organisation, the type of accommodation that will be available at Mount Pleasant was not properly addressed at the meeting though. So far Royal Mail say they do not know what proportion of private / affordable / social housing there will be. The design of the flats has deliberately been conceived so that they could be used for either type of housing. The fact that no minimum amount of social housing was ringfenced is not a good sign though. The main worry of course is that whichever developer is contracted to do the job will try to maximise profit by trying to pack in as many private housing as possible. But who can afford such rents? 

The National Housing Federation has found that private sector rents have risen 37% in the last 5 years, while wages and benefit levels have actually gone down. Still, private rents are set to increase by a further 35% over the next six years.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

London Anarchist Bookfair - Saturday 27th October

Although not everyone in Radical Islington describes themselves as 'anarchists', several RI members will be attending this year's Anarchist Bookfair- on Saturday 27th October, 10am-7pm, at Queen Mary's, University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS. 

The bookfair is a free event that has been taking place annually since 1983. It is always lively, with many meetings, stalls,  films and other events taking place, as well as free creches and older kids spaces for younger people and kids.

Amongst the stalls at the bookfair will be a 'Radical London' stall, for local groups similar to ours across London . Radical Islington  will have some of our group's literature on the stall and some of us will be on the stall from time to time, so come and say hi. There is also going to be a Radical London meeting at the bookfair  from 3-4pm , which again some of us will be at, to give updates as to what our group has been doing.

More information about the bookfair can be found on the website, including access information for Deaf and disabled people. If you need further information about this or anything else to do with attending on Saturday, please get in touch with the organisers- the details are on the website too:

If you do make it along, please come and find us and say hi- it would be great to meet you!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Academies – The Privatisation of Education

  Note: this post is the opinion of the author, not Radical Islington

What are Academies? How do they differ from state schools?

 Academies are schools that are funded by the government, but set up by private-interest groups, such as businesses, faith groups, or charities (often called ‘sponsors’). These groups then have control of the school, and can appoint a board of directors without including parents, teachers, or anyone that has been elected. This differs from state schools, which have a board of governors, including elected parents, teachers, and local councillors. Academies are basically state-funded, but can be run like a private school.

Academies can opt out of the national curriculum, although they are “required to provide a broad and balanced curriculum to include English, maths and science”. Academies have greater freedom in their admissions policies than state schools.

What are Free Schools? How do they differ from Academies?

 Free schools are like Academies, but they are set up by local people and/or parents with a common idea about what kind of school they want, for example, if they want a local faith school in their area.

Are Academies worse or better than state schools?

There are many reasons to think the presence of Academies is bad both for the children attending those Academies as well as for children still attending state schools. 

Exam results for Academies are mixed, although judging a school by exam results is flawed because how rich or poor the students attending that school are will effect the results, and exam results are often not a good measurement of learning anyway (see last section for a fuller explanation).

One problem with academies is that they are set up by businesses, and other vested interest groups. In some cases, these groups will have a lot of control of how the school is run. They will often not have children’s best interests at heart. Recently, it has been discovered that the majority of academies are selling products in vending machines that have been banned from state schools because they are so unhealthy. This is probably just the tip of the iceberg – businesses cannot be trusted to put people before profit, or education before profit. Even if Academies and Free Schools are not meant to overtly and directly make a profit, we can expect that businesses will have a business interest in becoming sponsors of academies.

However, during the Leveson Enquiry, Michael Gove announced that he was open to the idea that Free Schools could be run for profit in the future. This is not surprising, and it will be not surprising if it is the same for Academies.

Thursday, 5 July 2012


This Saturday, Radical Islington members will be picketing businesses using workfare in Islington as part of the National Week of Action against Workfare. The event has been organised and supported by Boycott Workfare and Solidarity Federation.
Meet outside Angel Station at 1pm this Saturday 7th July, targets to be confirmed.

The facebook event is here:
and more info can be found here:

The more information on Boycott Workfare:

Come join us!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Islington Against Austerity Day - Building collective resistance.

On Saturday 26 May we are putting on an Islington Against Austerity Day from 1pm to 5.30 pm in Ringcross Community Hall, 60 Lough road, London, N7 8RH. Wheelchair accessible.

It is a day for everyone who lives or works in Islington to come together and discuss ways we can fight the attacks on our benefits and local services.

With practical advice, workshops, discussions, space to socialise, free literature, and refreshments we hope there will be something for everyone. 

Friday, 6 April 2012

A Mount Pleasant Radical History Walk

Radical Islington is caught up in a flurry of action. Not only have we got a benefit gig in the pipeline this April (see post below), but on 29 April, one of our member will be giving a free historical walk of Mount Pleasant (the Royal Mail site in the south of Islington) and the surrounding area. On the walk you will hear about the workhouse, Georgian and Victorian prison regimes, local radicalism, postal service mechanisation and underground railways, the Calthorpe riots, 19th century police kettling techniques. All welcome.

Radical Islington Benefit Gig!

We're holding a benefit gig on 21 April, at The Victoria, Dalston, to fund the Islington Against Austerity Day we're putting on later this year. Come and dance!

Monday, 5 March 2012

We won't pay for their crisis!

Members of Radical Islington joined the protest called by the Joint Unions (Unison, NUT, GMB) on Tuesday 28th February in opposition to the £18M of cuts outlined in this year's budget.

Protesters marched from Highbury Fields to the Town Hall, where some of those affected made rallying speeches. The mood changed when the leader of the council responsible for implementing the cuts attempted to do the same, indulging in sickening hypocrisy as she delivered the lies and deceit politicians make a career of.  She was rapidly booed off and made a hasty retreat ...back to the meeting to pass the cuts. 

For information on the sickening political point-scoring that ensued during the budget meeting, see this article in the Tribune

For those who genuinely came to protest the cuts though, solidarity!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Lobby the Islington Council budget-setting meeting


Lobby the Islington Council budget-setting meeting
TUESDAY 28 FEBRUARY6pm Assemble in Highbury Fields (near to Highbury Corner)
6.30pm March to Islington Town Hall
Organised by the Joint unions: UNISON, the NUT and GMB.

A further £18.2million is set to be slashed from the budget by the Labour-led council. This would bring another 140 job losses – with 42 compulsory redundancies – and more cuts in vital front line services, including the scaling back of library opening hours and raising of childcare fees. Education, youth centres and elderly facilities are amongst other vital public services under threat.