A report on King's Lynn Counterfire in 2013 by King's Lynn Counterfire members
King’s Lynn Counterfire has doubled in size over the last year. This is because of the high level of activity of Counterfire members, the excellent speakers we have been able to offer, Counterfire’s involvement in Stop the War, the King’s Lynn and District Trades Council, the GMB union, King’s Lynn Against Welfare Reform, and small local climate change initiatives, not to mention the local campaigns against the proposed incinerator and now the local hospital.
Counterfire has a great deal of respect locally and part of the success of this is because of William’s excellent videos of local events and press releases. Linda also has a very successful relationship with the local press and events such as our 5 November People's Assembly bonfire night have been well covered. Linda, Tom and William have been running the Facebook group, with William designing posters, leaflets and press releases for Stop the War, the People’s Assembly and CoR. Linda, Dave, William and Jackie attended the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in London in May. We also had a well attended Counterfire meeting in November. We write regularly for the website, contributing book reviews and articles e.g. incinerator or local fares campaigns, firefighters’ dispute, etc. as well as articles on figures such as Shelley and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.
On Tuesday, 26 February, the long-awaited Public Inquiry into the proposed incinerator opened. CoR and Counterfire members met outside the inquiry to give an impromptu concert including William’s Incinerator Hymn. Jackie spoke at the inquiry on behalf of Stop the War and William spoke for a local climate change group. William video’d this for Counterfire. Demos and vigils against the incinerator have continued, but we do not yet know whether the planning permission will be given.
Women for Change
The very successful series of talks organised by Jackie for the King’s Lynn and District Trades Council continued in 2013 with brilliant speakers such as Lindsey German, Kate Connelly, Feyzi Ismail, Helen Pankhurst and Cristel Amis, who works at the Crossroads Women’s Centre helping refugees. Lindsey’s talk took the form of a book launch for How A Century Of War Changed The Lives Of Women and was shared with Stop the War so it was instrumental in getting a number of Stop the War members back into activity (see below). All Counterfire members have been very helpful and supportive at these events.
Coalition of Resistance
We asked the local GMB branch secretary to support a CoR meeting on 14 March and he agreed to do so on the proviso that Neil Faulkner was the speaker! This was a brilliant success, very well attended and as a result around 40 people signed a letter to the local press calling for a Peoples Assembly. We also held a joint protest (with the Trades Council) in May outside Sandringham Palace to highlight the changes to welfare reform by sitting outside the house of one of the richest people on benefit in the country. Once again, Neil was kind enough to come and speak, and so did Cristel Amis. It was chilly, but the GMB kept the hot dogs coming!
Stop the War
In February Jackie and William with Derek Paice, a new StoptheWar member, attended the conference in London. Derek is now very supportive of StoptheWar and attended the demos at RAF Waddington in April and the Syria demo in August. As mentioned above, Lindsey’s talk for Women for Change inspired several women to become active once more for StoptheWar. We held a planning meeting for the Ground the Drones demo and the women asked for a public meeting with Chris Nineham. This was well publicised, but unfortunately not as well attended as we had hoped, but 10-year-old George wrote a report for our Facebook page. Although it was difficult for families with children to go on the RAF Waddington anti-drones demo on 28 April, a good group attended, which was well reported in the local press and TV, and our banner was on national TV. In August a group attended the Syria demo, including Tom and Abi, who later joined Counterfire. William’s video of this event is on the Stop the War website.
We got off to an early start for enthusiasm for the PAAA and 7 people from this area including Dave, Linda, Jackie and William attended the Peoples Assembly in June. At a Trades Council meeting on 8 July, also a book launch for Neil Faulkner’s People’s History of the World, it was decided to launch the Fenland Peoples Assembly at the NHS rally the Trades Council had planned for 28 September. Fenland Peoples Assembly would include Wisbech, Spalding, Peterborough and other Fenland towns. The launch was a great success, with Owen Jones as speaker. Linda and William were joint chairs and Tom wrote the report for Counterfire. William’s video of the demo at the Tory Conference the next day, Speaking to Power, is also on the Counterfire website.
On 5 November, a number of Fenland Peoples Assembly members and supporters organised an event in the centre of King’s Lynn. We took a guy with Cameron/Clegg masks and asked passersby to pin on messages to the coalition government. It was a great success and we got 37 messages despite the pouring rain. Later we took the guy to a firework party at a local pub and threw him on the fire. Tom wrote the report for Counterfire and William made a video. Abi and others tweeted.
In October the local hospital launched a campaign to protect services as many of these are now being transferred to Norwich. A demonstration was held outside the meeting of the Care Commissioning Group. William wrote two short comedy sketches highlighting the issues and members of the Fenland Peoples Assembly performed them at the demo. William also asked questions at the CCG meeting.
William was elected President of the Trades Council in February and Jackie continued as Equalities officer. Linda and Dave both joined the Trades Council. William is Press Officer as well and his work has been recommended for a SERTUC award (at present he is one of 3 possible winners). In February the secretary was seriously ill and Jackie took over some of her duties.
William Jackie Linda and Dave are all GMB members. Jackie is Equalities Officer and has attended the Equalities Conference in London and the local Equalities meetings. The GMB are very supportive of our activities.
King’s Lynn Against Welfare Reform
This was set up by Linda and Dave in January 2013. Les, a CoR member, introduced us and William suggested the Trades Council support their initiative and help pay for their leaflets. Linda runs the Facebook group and represents disabled people who may lose their benefits. She has collected 500 signatures on a petition, which she will be presenting to MP Henry Bellingham with a copy to David Cameron, and we will be adding the comments collected on 5 November.
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