A report to conference on the activities of King's Lynn Counterfire group
Video produced about trade union support for local anti-incinerator campaign
King’s Lynn Counterfire started at the same time as the national movement and continued the work started with Stop the War, Unite Against Fascism and the Trades Council in King’s Lynn. Our first Counterfire meeting was 21st July, 2010, attended by 19 people and at which we recruited. Counterfire has also supported industrial action with the postal workers and firefighters and were active in the 2011/2012 campaign in supporting the NHS. We write regularly for www.counterfire.org and are involved closely in the following organisations:
King’s Lynn Counterfire has built a Coalition of Resistance group which has been very effective. In 2011 the King’s Lynn and District Trades Council affiliated to CoR, and we held a joint meeting in July with Neil Faulkner speaking, in support of the NHS followed by a lively demonstration in September. This helped us build an excellent demonstration in November 2011 over the pensions cuts at which we recruited, including Tom Pearce who later joined Counterfire. At our CoR meeting in March 2012 we formed a CoR group of 12 – 15 activists: SWP, Labour Party, trade unionists, school and university students, pensioners and unemployed. We hold monthly meetings and regular stalls in the town centre with the trades council, have a Facebook page, have been involved with campaigns against the closure of community centres (two of which were successful). One CoR member has been especially active in trying to set up an unemployed workers centre in one of the saved community centres and we hoping to get union and Trades Council financial support for this. CoR members were central in publicising the 20 October 2012 demo and were the contact for the coach. The local GMB branch secretary is so impressed with our activity that he offered to subsidise a meeting in March, with the proviso that the speaker was Neil Faulkner, as he enjoys listening to him so much! This meeting is also being supported by a local Unison branch. CoR members will also be present at the public inquiry into the incinerator and Jackie will be presenting an objection on behalf of CoR.
Counterfire also has links with the local transition town (DAVIT) and because of this James Meadway was invited to speak to its members in June 2012.
Jackie is Equalities Officer for King’s Lynn GMB and attended the equalities conference held in London on 27 October. William has made videos for the local branch which are on the national GMB website.
Counterfire has been involved from the beginning in what has been the biggest and most successful campaign in King’s Lynn perhaps ever! What started as a few local residents protesting against the building of a mass burn incinerator two miles from King’s Lynn is now supported by the majority of the population of the area with support from a (right-leaning) local paper and both Conservative MPs. A 400 strong demo outside the Town Hall helped the (Tory) Borough Council to come out against the incinerator. Now there is to be a public inquiry to be held in KL for 20 days starting on 26 February. Counterfire has been present at most meetings and protests organised by KLWIN and made links with the Trades Council and GMB. As a result, the GMB nationally opposes the building of mass burn incinerators) . We arranged a meeting in Downham Market in 2010 and have leafleted, sold raffle tickets etc. for KLWIN. William has made videos, including one of the June protest at Norwich which resulted in the coach company waiving a charge of £120! A second video is currently on the Counterfire website.
Jackie and William are the organisers for King’s Lynn and Wisbech StoptheWar and have been since 2003. In 2012 we held two vigils in 2 different towns. Tom planned a Peacefest to raise money for StW, but unfortunately this has had to be postponed until 2013. However, more musicians and poets have offered to help organise it – there are a lot living locally and the event should be excellent. We are planning a joint meeting with the Women for Change talks at the trades council to launch Lindsey’s book, Women and War. We have also set up a KLSTW facebook page and are advertising February 9th conference on it in addition to our mailout.
William is Publicity Officer. Because of local sexist attitudes, Jackie suggested a series of talks under the title Women For Change, and was subsequently elected Equalities Officer. She organised 8 talks with both local and national speakers including Kate Connelly, Lindsey German and Jackie herself (all Counterfire). Other speakers included local StoptheWar activists. William designed the leaflets which some people have had framed! The 2013 Women for Change talks include Lindsey, jointly with StW, and Kate Connelly on Emily Wilding Davison in April. This initiative has been praised widely by trade unionists and as a result Unison financially supported the October (Black History month) talk.
Anti Nazi work
William and Jackie initially set up a UAF group in the area, leafleting at a St George’s Day event in Downham Market, 2009, and organising groups to leaflet in King’s Lynn against the BNP candidates in King’s Lynn in 2009, with the Green Party and in 2010 with both them and the Trades Council. There were no BNP candidates in the area in 2011.