Taking some much-deserved time off from wandering aimlessly around the city lying and bullshitting to long-suffering residents (surely spearheading a modern and professional election campaign? ed.), the Reverend Rees has taken an especially large dump and evacuated a stinking pile of an election manifesto on to the public. And yes, we’ve read it all and our research team are now in recovery.
Yet again, we’re treated to the, now, traditional Labour shopping list of promises off the back of a fag packet. We’ve counted a total of 91 of these promises and hardly any of them are costed. Starting with the unfeasibly bonkers plan to “deliver a mass transit system … in the form of both an underground and an overground” because, we’re assured, Marvin’s “laid the foundations for a mass transit system.”
What foundations has Marvin laid? A demented assertion in a couple of interviews and some orange lines on a Google Map? Where, for starters, is the feasibility study for an underground he promised three years ago? He’s, literally, done nothing about this plan he can show anyone. Why would anyone sane believe a word of it? And how much will it cost?
Another tactic from Marvin is to promise again things he promised in his 2016 manifesto. So having failed to deliver ‘2,000 homes a year, 800 affordable’ as plastered on billboards all over the city in 2016, this time we’re assured the Reverend will be “building over 2,000 homes a year, of which 1,000 are affordable, by 2024.”
Another gem recycled from the 2016 manifesto, “Complete and open Hartcliffe Way recycling and reuse centre”. Why hasn’t it been completed already as promised five years ago? Why believe it in 2021 if it was patently untrue in 2016?
Or how about this one? “We’re delivering on our 2016 promise to get an arena built”. The only thing Marvin delivered on this subject was the exact opposite by cancelling getting an arena built. Who believes they’ll be an arena open in Filton by 2024 then?
In all, there’s 14 pages of this crap. Some appears stolen from the Greens in a blind panic: “Provide free travel for apprentices and students under-25”. Some is appearing in everybodies’ manifesto as the essential uncosted promise du nos jours: “Deliver a London-style one-touch integrated ticketing system so that your ticket can be used across different types of public transport.”
Some is peculiarly clueless: “Deliver a Green Spaces and Allotments Strategy which encourages local food production in every ward to help tackle food poverty”. As if local food production has something to do with low cost food.
Similar economic illiteracy abounds throughout. Another big idea is, “work with the City Funds to deliver the economic priorities in the One City Plan”. Why the fuck get a small charitable grant making trust run by your evangelical looney mate to deliver an economic plan for the eighth largest city in the UK? It makes zero sense. Who thinks this shit up?
We’ll conclude with the Reverend confirming his five years of useless failure in style with the promise to “Expand the Community Toilet programme and introduce an app that provides their location”. In other words he’ll not be bringing back the public toilets he closed. Instead he’ll spend our money on useless private sector provision with a pointless tech solution thrown in.
Unlike our own pathetic version of a ‘socialist’ Mayor here in Bristol, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo of the tiny town of Marinaleda (population of less than 3000) in Andalusia, Spain, gets up every morning to take control of yet another piece of privately-owned but idle property with his fellow townsfolk, or redistributes produce to those in need by immediate requisition from city supermarket chains. And he also succeeds, simply by using the principle of “from each according to their means, to each according to their needs”, relentlessly using militant direct action and leading by example from the front.
In a poverty-stricken region of Spain with 35% unemployment – the people of Marinaleda have only 5% due to local initiatives. The once idle, privately owned land is now owned communally (seized originally through land occupation) and farmed collectively. They also now have their own democratically-run primary and secondary schools for the kids, their own community radio station, and best of all, the hated local police force are not allowed into town.
Now compare and contrast with the wealthy metropolitan city of Bristol where you can’t get a council house for love nor money: but in Marinaleda you get a full grant to build your own high quality council house to any specs you like, getting expert help and the building materials for free, and then afterwards you pay onlythe equivalent of £13.50 a month! ___________________________________________________________________
IN FEBRUARY of this year, two activists from Bristol (Y and Z) travelled to Marinaleda on spec, hoping to interview this inspiring character. “We were starting to despair of the mayor having any time for us,” said Activist Y, “as he was so busy with his work for the community”. However, the day before their arrival they finally managed to contact him on the phone, where according to Activist Z, “he said only two words: ‘Diga me’ (tell me), and once he’d heard what we were about, he boomed out just one extra word: ‘Venga!’ (come!)”.
Below is the transcript of their interview with a very different sort of Mayor:
Activist Y – How did the Marinaleda socialist project start?
Mayor Gordillo – It started with a struggle against unemployment. Fighting land ownership was the best way forward for solving unemployment, because in rural Andalusia just 2% own 50% of the cultivatable land and we realised that we were not going to get anything through charity. We had to seize the initiative by taking direct control of the land and the means of production. So we fought continuously for 12 years and did many things from hunger strike to occupation to get the land back. King Juan Carlos and those other rich scum haven’t forgiven us, because for the first time in the history of Andalusia we managed to get back our land and to keep it. So there we were, the forgotten poor, facing off against the government, the judges, the police and the landowners, and we got our land back.
Activist Y – What approach was in your opinion the most successful?
Mayor Gordillo – The success came from fighting; each struggle never stopped until we got a victory no matter how small it was. That made people motivated enough to struggle on for the following success and then the one after that. It helped people to forget what they hadn’t been able to get, and to remember what they had gained.
Activist Y – What problems have the community encountered, and how have they resolved them?
Mayor Gordillo – The problem is that when people start getting land and the government or the landowner concedes a few crumbs from the table, they start feeling like masters – without actually being masters. Peasants who didn’t have anything before now have some rights, but it can breed complacency. Another problem is the concept of work. If one person has a wage and another hasn’t one at all, this creates division. The other problem is maintaining people’s unity amidst a constant barrage of consumer culture. We have been gaining ground slowly, recently discussing with people for example how we can possibly pay the [central government] taxes, or whether we could even stop paying them at all, so this is how the battle continues. But the capitalist system is always a thief, and is exploiting us more than ever before.
Activist Y – Have the ideas of Marinaleda had any influence across the region, or even into any other parts of Spain?
Mayor Gordillo – In some places yes, but I wish we had more influence across Spain and in the world, and that people paid proper attention to what we say instead of seeing us as a freak show. It’s terrible how the public is deceived – they don’t seem to realise that by buying things, they get bought. But people like us who don’t buy this con and who’d rather spend our lives fighting don’t have to follow that life. Through struggle, you learn not to be afraid of anything.
Activist Y – How do you plan out the allocation of land and housing in Marinaleda?
Mayor Gordillo – Those who don’t have a home receive the materials to build them. 350 houses have been built in this way in the town centre. They are each 90 metres square, and each has a further 100 square metres of courtyard. A typical council house here has three bedrooms. Except that they cannot sell it, the house is effectively owned by its residential household, who pay 15 euros a month into the community housing fund.
Activist Z – In my city we have many homeless people, so if someone became homeless here, how would you support that person?
Mayor Gordillo – There should not be anyone without housing or food, but if somebody ever needs it, they’ll get it. We can provide all of our people with economic assistance – I don’t think there’s anyone homeless in Marinaleda.
Activist Y – How does wages and money work here?
Mayor Gordillo – Same as everywhere in the world. The ideal was to have our own currency and our own bank, but money works the same as in any other country. What we earn here is more than the standard [over double the Spanish minimal wage], and way over what people generally earn for labouring in the countryside of Andalusia. There are no poor people, but there are no very rich people either. In terms of indirect taxes for sustaining what we have, everyone pays the same. There are no direct taxes that are charged on wealth, as everyone in the village is more or less on the same level economically.
Activist Y – Do you have a TV station for the town?
Mayor Gordillo – We had one, but we had to close it in the end. TV is only good in that it gives you a voice, and that’s very important because mainstream media is run by big capital. Most Spanish channels serve as the voice of the rich. There is no public TV in Spain. We do still have a radio station.
Activist Y – In Bristol, our mayor pretends to be a socialist but he is really just another self-serving careerist and blind follower of the market ideology. For a ‘wealthy’ city, there are many homeless people and much poverty, while the council hires inefficient private companies and high-fee charging consultants to make things worse. The council runs along happily under the model of ‘austerity’.
Mayor Gordillo – There are far too many people who call themselves socialists, but in reality they are capitalists. These things do not sit well together, or at all. Energy, water and housing should be expropriated and turned into public assets. Small businesses can be kept private, but large businesses and the means of production must always be made public, run directly by the workers. TV and radio too. Austerity is driven by the endless search for low production costs. The cheapest labour costs for capitalism currently come from Africa and Asia. Take Amancio Ortega – the richest man in Spain – his textile companies are in Bangladesh and India. There he pays a euro and a half for 10 hours labour without paying any taxes, then he sells on at a huge profit in the US and Europe. Austerity is just a tool to drive the working class everywhere down to the same level of total exploitation and misery. Ortega is a multi-millionaire. If a person gets very rich, then he is a thief. He does not get rich through his own work, but by stealing. Under capitalism the workers always fail, while the idle rich always succeed.
Activist Z – What solutions do you think we could achieve in Bristol? Is there a message we can take back to our own council, or even better to the people they are supposed to represent?
Mayor Gordillo – You won’t get socialism by accepting how things are. You can only achieve what they always tell you is impossible through direct action – by struggling for it, just as we are doing here. Every single city, town or village in the world has the land and resources that can sustain it. Get out there and take back control!
This transcript was translated from the original Spanish recording by two Bristolians: Activist Z (see above), and Activist X, a native speaker.
News reaches us that Massive Attack member Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja is seriously considering running for Bristol Mayor as an independent next year. In 2012 Del Naja publicly backed George Ferguson for mayor but was reputed to be less than impressed with George’s performance. However, our source tells us Del Naja is “absolutely livid” at the Reverend Rees, particularly with his attack on the Bearpit and Bristol’s graffiti culture as well as the failure to deliver an arena.
It’s thought Del Naja will run on a ticket demanding freedom for Palestine; an arena for central Bristol and the decriminalisation of weed. We understand Del Naja will be supported in this bold bid by fellow Bristol Sound pioneer, Portishead’s Geoff Barrow. He’s been penciled in to become Del Naja’s political assistant, replacing “Slo” Kevin Slocombe, on £95k a year, should Del Naja scoop the big prize next year. Sources close to Del Naja say, “Geoff’s undoubtedly a people person who oozes diplomacy. He’s the perfect fit for a role bringing our divided city back together.”
Our source assures us Del Naja is “very serious about this. He’s even shelved an exciting new world music project happening later this year with Damon from Blur and has got Banksy working on some ideas for flyers.”
“Let’s just say a mayoral run is much more likely than a new Massive Attack album next year.”
A surprise YouTube video announcement was made today as a hitherto unknown ‘Dave’ stepped forward and declared himself as interim elected Mayor of Bristol, declaring his intention to ‘restore democracy’ to the benighted city.
‘Far too long have we’ve languished under the oppression of the dictator in charge of Bristol City Council,’ said Dave. ‘The state of crisis in the city is intolerable. I call on BCC’s departmental managers to immediately transfer their loyalty to me, and in return I’ll grant those who do a pardon once I take office.’
Consternation at this announcement ensued at College Green, where the Revd. Rees shortly appeared with his response in a fanfare in front of the Counts Louse, flanked by his redoubtable deputy Asher Craig. ‘I will not stand down to this impostor,’ he said. ‘I alone was elected to implement Tory austerity in Bristol, not this “Dave”. I’ve done the job Tessa [Theresa May] gave me well. It’s nothing but an unconstitutional coup organised by my persecutors: those allegedly-homeless racist vagabonds in the Bear Pit and disgusting anarchists working together.’
Dave however claimed to have rather received the tweeted support of other council Mayors including the new Mayor of South Kensington Council, Steve Bannon, and from Bristol’s Merchant Venturers via Mayor-No-More George Ferguson. ‘This proves that not only UK councils but also the international business community is solidly behind me,’ he said. ‘Donald Trump added his tweet of support this afternoon.’
Bristol’s city centre homeless were asked for their opinion of the crisis. ‘Can you give me your coat?’ said a shivering man in a blanket down Broadmead. ‘I’m fucking freezing to death out here.’
The selection process for the Labour mayoral candidate in 2020 continues to be gripped by BUREAUCRATIC INERTIA. As nobody, it seems, in the entire Labour movement still has any idea how the trigger ballot process they’re proposing to use to decide if the Reverend runs again or not actually works or when it might take place.
However, we do now have some idea about the Labour-affiliated organisations who will DECIDE whether the Reverend Rees gets a free run at re-election next year or whether he will need to go through a proper and, likely, very tricky ONE MAN ONE VOTE selection process within his own party.
We’re reliably informed that 25 Labour WARD BRANCHES made up of members have a vote each in the trigger ballot; 15 SOCIALIST SOCIETIES have a vote and 77 TRADE UNION AFFILIATES have a vote. Members, many of whom oppose the Reverend, are therefore outgunned THREE TO ONE by the votes of faceless trade union bureaucrats. If this ballot ever happens, the result seems a foregone conclusion.
Meanwhile the Bristol Labour Party, encouraged by Momentum campaigners, has forged ahead with an “open” selection process for its candidates for councillor. Although all might not have gone quite to plan after a well-organised LGBT LOBBY helped out by right wing DARREN “DIPSHIT” JONES SUPPORTERS in Bristol North West managed to get two female socialists and opponents of Rees’s Tory austerity agenda REMOVED from the councillor list for “transphobia”.
Naturally, the usual ragbag of Blairites, social climbers and former Lib Dems who tend to make up the majority of Labour’s council candidates have all been waved through for selection as candidates.
The question on the lips of many Labour members in Bristol – “How the fuck do we get rid of the Reverend Rees”? – remains UNANSWERED by the Bristol Labour Party less than 18 months before the next mayoral election.
Members have been told that any selection process for their mayoral candidate in 2020 will be subject to a ‘TRIGGER BALLOT’. A process where affiliated organisations such as constituency parties, trade unions and other largely mysterious and unknown Labour Party interest groups get a vote to decide whether there should a selection process or whether the Reverend Rees should get another shot at mayor UNCHALLENGED.
Many local Labour members are unhappy with the trigger ballot process, claiming that a decision on whether to have a selection process should be ONE MEMBER ONE VOTE and not left to the Labour Party’s labyrinthine bureaucracies and rule book to decide.
Unfortunately members appear to have LOST that battle already. Instead, local members are left scratching their heads at the nature of this ballot they do not want after trigger ballot rules, largely used to challenge sitting MPs, were CHANGED at the last Labour Conference. Now, nobody seems sure what that means for a mayoral trigger ballot in Bristol.
Local Labour members have been told that the local party and its regional office is “seeking clarification on what the changes to the trigger ballot process mean for the Mayoral selection”. But the clock is now running down FAST.
Will the Reverend get returned to office due to administrative incompetence and bureaucratic inertia against the wishes of the majority of Labour members in Bristol?
A certain UNISON branch secretary was spotted lurking in the depths of City Hall last autumn.
UNITE reps – having been tipped off that devious shenanigans were in the offing from their opposite numbers in UNISON – were posted at strategic locations to intercept and follow him. The ensuing sneaking around was likened to something that might be achieved by Japan’s finest ninja assassins. Others likened it to a chase scene from Benny Hill.
Regardless, the upshot of it was that UNITE managed to find the location of a secret meeting with the Mayor. A meeting that they had every right to attend but the invites to which the UNISON branch secretary had mysteriously forgotten to send to UNITE! The branch secretary had a duty as “employee side secretary” to invite all the attendees but had conveniently forgotten to do so when an important discussion was to take place.
A discussion concerning the fate of thousands of employees and many services that might face cuts. It has been alleged that said secretary wanted time alone with the mayor to finesse things to his union’s advantage. It’s now being reported to us that shortly after this shoddy episode, the UNISON branch secretary now no longer holds the post of employee side secretary.The post is instead held by UNITE.
It’s also has been reported that UNISON is now finding it difficult to arrange meetings with the mayor. Strange, because the mayor seems to be meeting every Tom, Dick and Harry that asks. Only last week the mayor met with a couple of commies from an anti-austerity group that were hanging around trying to sell a few copies of the Morning Star. They were whisked inside and afterwards said the meeting had been “quite productive”.