Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Lewisham Bridge: lessons in solidarity and resistance

An inspiring campaign, to save Lewisham Bridge school, captured beautifully in this video montage documenting the whole sequence of events up to victory on 30 July. The message, really, is simple: when people take action into their own hands, and co-ordinate their efforts collectively, they can do amazing things - and win.

The solidarity evoked here is tremendous: it is reciprocal, with the campaigners receiving support from various quarters, but also offering solidarity with Visteon and (later) Vestas workers who were occupying to save jobs. These occupations have put militant DIY tactics back on the map, and (as shown here) begun to create networks of solidarity and resistance.

The prospect of increased public sector cuts, including in education, indicates the need for more campaigns like Lewisham Bridge. There's a lot of talk about the Tories' plans, post-election, for a slash and burn approach to public services. The fears are justified, but we shouldn't kid ourselves that everything's fine this side of an election. There will be plenty of groups of public sector workers and service users, over coming months, who could benefit from learning the lessons in this video.

1 comment:

  1. Except that the Lewisham Bridge issue is more complex than a simple 'Save the school' message. It was never a matter of shutting the school, it was to be replaced with an all-through 3-19 school (and NOT an academy by the way, although unfortunately not a community school either, because the council didn't bother applying for that status). There is a severe shortage of secondary places in the borough, and repeated searches for sites over many years had not found anything more suitable than converting Lewisham Bridge to an all-ages school. Ideal? No. But privatising? No again. A cut? No again. A messy compromise? Yes. But that's life. Then the 11th-hour heritage listing threw a spanner in the works. Hats off to the protesters for ingenuity and tenacity with that one, but it was always a tactic, never a genuine enthusiasm for preserving Edwardian sinks. That move has added hundreds of thousands of pounds to the cost of the project, and that is down to the protesters and English Heritage, not the council. That is a great deal of public money wasted for a very unclear principle.