Why Barnard Castle?

Reproduced in full from: Craig Murray Please share widely.

UPDATED Dominic Cummings specifically stated now in the press briefing that he had been eager to “get back to work to get vaccine deals through, move regulations aside” and that is why he drove to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight.

Now it may be entirely a coincidence that the place to which he chose to drive for his eyesight test happened to be the site of the major factory of GlaxoSmithKline. It may be an entire coincidence that two days later, on the very day Cummings actually started work back in Downing Street he has stated was “to get vaccine deals through”, GlaxoSmithKline announced an agreement to develop the vaccine.

It is however plainly not crazy to ask the question. This astonishing Twitter pile-on against Clive Lewis for retweeting my piece says something very worrying, when you consider that the large majority of those piling in are supposedly part of the “opposition” and include many journalists. A society where it is viewed as a sign of madness to look into the prospect of corruption involving a company as massively, provenly corrupt as GlaxoSmithKline and a figure as shady as Cummings, is a very unhealthy society indeed.

One red flag to me is the number of trolls claiming GlaxoSmithKline only has a small and remote office in Barnard Castle. This is not the entire site, and in a further £96 million investment two new blocks are in construction or recently finished:

So to return to my original posting:

In 2012 GlaxoSmithKline were fined $3 billion for fraud, overcharging and making false claims about medicines in the USA. In 2016, GlaxoSmithKline were fined £37.6 million in the UK for bribing companies not to produce generic copies of their out of patent drugs, thus overcharging the NHS.

Despite the fines, these frauds were still massively profitable for GlaxoSmithKline. A perfunctory search on the company brings up similar frauds and fines it perpetrated in South Africa and India. All this within the last decade. I cannot find any information that anyone was jailed, or even sacked, for these criminal activities. It is absolutely astonishing that such an habitually criminal enterprise carries on serenely in the UK. And what is particularly interesting today is that it carries on its crooked activity from its massive manufacturing and research base in Barnard Castle, County Durham.

On 12 April Dominic Cummings was seen in Castle Barnard during lockdown. Two days later, GlaxoSmithKline of Barnard Castle signed an agreement to develop and manufacture a Covid-19 vaccine with Sanofi of France.

Of course, that could be coincidence. As a child I lived in nearby Peterlee and I know families may go to Barnard Castle just for relaxation. Even when that is illegal. But GlaxoSmithKline Barnard Castle has been working 24/7 during the coronavirus crisis including the weekends. It was working.

The government’s extraordinary refusal to confirm or deny Cummings visit to Barnard Castle appears to make little sense if he just went there for a walk.

But surely if he was discussing Covid-19 vaccine business on behalf of the government, that would answer all the critics of his trip, would it not? They would want to trumpet it from the hills? I mean to believe otherwise, you would have to propound a crazed conspiracy theory. You would have to believe that criminal activity may be occurring again involving GlaxoSmithKline of the kind which might lead to fines of 37.6 million pounds for overcharging the NHS, or of three billion dollars for fraudulent medical claims in the USA. Nobody sane believes that kind of thing, do they?

UPDATED: I should never be surprised by the puerile nature of debate on the internet, but I frequently am. There appears to be organised pushback stating that this article is only speculation. Of course it is. It states a number of facts not generally known, and wonders if there is a connection. It does not claim to have proof Cummings visited GSK, let alone of what he did when there. But both GSK and Cummings are known bad actors.

The even sillier argument is that Barnard Castle is the research and manufacturing centre and not the corporate HQ and therefore no deal could have been done there. Because when a company is involved in a massive criminal conspiracy, as GSK undeniably was in the multi-billion fraud in the USA or its price-fixing to the NHS, such criminal actions obviously can only be arranged in the main London company boardroom during normal working hours with lots of people around and the maximum chance of inconvenient people finding out what is happening? That is a stupid argument.

Equally, those who claim I have uncovered a criminal conspiracy are wrong. I have not. All I have done is put together some circumstances around Cummings denied trip to Barnard Castle, that could potentially provide a more reasonable explanation for why he would take the risk of going there, and why the government would stake all politically on denying it, than a day trip for a walk for his wife’s birthday. I have not proven anything.

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Anathema, a Philadelphia anarchist periodical: Volume 6 Issue 4, May 2020.


Volume 6 Issue 4 (PDF for reading 8.5×11)

Volume 6 Issue 4 (PDF for printing 11×17)

In this issue:

  • Lockdowns & Incarceration
  • What Went Down
  • Homelessness
  • Resource Extraction Updates
  • The State Of Surveillance
  • Interview With A West Philly Rent Striker
  • When Things Get Rough We Ride Together
  • A Short Timeline Of PA ELF Actions
  • Loving Anarchy (LA)
  • A Quick Rant On COVID
  • Expropriationist Anarchy In Crisis Times
  • Philly Bingo Card
  • Chapter Report Background

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Third comment on corona virus pandemic, from the south of England: The future of our Class. By Mal Content.

Parts 1 & 2 can be found here.

“Always be honest and logical with honest and logical people, never be either with a system that is neither.”

– Carl Cattermole: The Prison Survival Guide.

This is written as the British government has once again changed the “rules”* for the territory of England. Scotland and Wales will continue to make their own, under the devolved administration, and of course Ireland will have two sets, causing people to scurry back and forth across the border.

* What a stupid idea; no-one ever takes pride in following rules, only in getting around them.

I’m not remotely interested in these changes, which only reflect what people were doing anyway, or what the state found it could not police, with a smattering of pointless detail on precisely under what circumstances people are “allowed” to meet others from outside their “household”* to give the impression some thought has gone into it.

* I’ll take a moment to deconstruct this bourgeois concept; it is a hateful thing and we should have no truck with it. It implies property ownership and once involved a retinue of servants, including women and children who had no agency and were subject to abuse.

The privatisation of domestic space that accompanied the separation of production from reproduction encouraged Working Class folk, contrary to their own traditions, to mimic the bourgeois household and abuse their own.

The nuclear family is simply the most efficient unit for wage labourers to reproduce at their own expense. The Working Class has always drawn its strength from the extended family, tribe or village; the atomisation of these support mechanisms has been high on the capitalist agenda since the industrial and agricultural revolutions.

Anyone who believes the policy-makers are wiser than us is irredeemably stupid and at high risk of dying from something or other at any time. For example some fuckwit has decided that public transport is safer than car-sharing! For a taste of just how dense these people are, here’s a screen shot from the government’s own website:

According to the Oxford English Dictionary: “Retail is the sale of goods to the public in relatively small quantities for use or consumption rather than for resale.” – Not wholesale, transport, research, manufacturing, cleaning, construction or admin. But you knew that, and so did I.

My purpose here is to examine the class dynamics that will develop in the aftermath, and how we can turn these to our advantage. Indeed, how we must if we are to avoid the bleak future the bosses have planned for us.

As stated previously the concept of “lock down” is construed entirely in bourgeois terms. Their slogan “stay at home, stay safe” is aimed at a tiny minority who are thus able to monopolise the moral high ground. If I had a pound for every middle class prick on the radio telling us “we all work from home now” whilst waiting for a Worker to deliver their groceries, I’d be able to retire. The television combines corporate team-building bullshit with adverts for technological gimmicks and online gambling.

For the precarious and heavily exploited people who keep the infrastructure running, the only noticeable effect of “lock down” has been the closure of their leisure facilities and meeting places, reduction of already sparse and overcrowded public transport, queueing at the shops, and the pressure of a potentially unsafe working environment. The bosses have tacked a ‘race to the bottom’ in health and safety on to that of wages and security.

Workers in hospitality and entertainment, bar and sex work have been subjected to a simple lock-out. The “furlough” scheme is inadequate and doesn’t apply to everyone; 80% of fuck all is fuck all.

Added to this, is the interruption of Working Class children’s education, and loss of their main/only meal of the day, yet another handicap in the lottery of life. It hasn’t occurred to the toffs that many families rely on free school meals to feed their kids, or perhaps they have reverted to the 20th century tactic of using starvation to keep the lower orders from developing.

The changes will feed a new group of workers to the virus, after healthcare, logistics and transport, now manufacturing and construction, whilst the idle rich – including the media and politicians – continue to hide themselves away. Golf and tennis are coming back, but not basketball or boxing. It’s all intended to keep the bourgeoisie firmly in the saddle. As ever, the workers suffer and scrimp to protect their masters’ wasteful and extravagant lifestyles, the bourgeoisie’s self-inflicted crisis of 2007 fell entirely on the poor whilst the rich got steadily richer without a hiccup.

The tinfoil hat merchants would have us imagine the entire situation has been manufactured to allow the imposition of totalitarianism, I won’t entertain this idea, we know our leaders are all bent, but they really aren’t that clever. Neoliberal disaster capitalism is programmed to exploit every crisis to increase the power of the ruling class – but not at the expense of everyday commerce. Even the most unscrupulous capitalists: Virgin’s Branson, Wetherspoons’ Tim Martin and B.A.’s Willy Walsh, bemoan the ineptitude of their political lackeys.

They have visibly been caught on the hop, despite having been warned by the study they commissioned in 2016 that the NHS would not be able to cope with a pandemic, they carried on squeezing it and flogging it off. They shot themselves in the foot with ‘brexit’ and presumed we would carry the can for that as well. You’ve only got to look at that idiot Boris de Pfeffle Johnson pointing at a graph on telly to conclude that he’d never set eyes on one before. Nor are we fooled by their arbitrary “steps” and “phases”. Pfeffle will be getting the sack as soon as they can find a replacement; there should also be hue and cry from our Class over the thousands of unnecessary deaths from their failure to procure adequate PPE, ventilators or testing.

Ask yourselves: how much longer will you let this gang of chancers blight your future in pursuit of their failed neoliberal project?

The money economy is going to take the biggest hit of its life. It was not fully developed during the Black Death and since the modern banking system appeared in the late mediaeval period it has always been fed and watered by the expansion of empires. War has never hurt the bourgeoisie, two World Wars and the cold one generated huge state subsidies to industry for the development of technologies they would come to own and protect with patents. Almost everything we take for granted in the modern world was invented for the military. The debt thus created and traded is underwritten by the Working Class.

This is entirely different, it’s a straight contraction of commercial activity; it has not served any of the functions of war: to destroy surplus production, to cull the working population*, no lucrative technologies have been developed and there will be no rebuilding of infrastructure. The bosses will be desperate to recoup their losses and expect us to do it for them. Capitalism will not survive unless it is carefully nurtured, unless we sacrifice to make up their profits, and why would we want to do that?

* Appalling though it is, the death toll will not have a significant effect on the labour market.

There is going to be mass unemployment, homelessness, failure of health and welfare systems, and vast numbers of empty buildings – what are we going to do about it?

If the anarchist movement has any value in the modern world we must be on hand to offer credible alternatives, bring our experience to bear and lead by example. This is the moment we have been waiting for.

We need to squat everything – including residential dwellings – in an organised systematic fashion and we will need to exercise self-discipline, not just because the virus is likely to be with us for some time. We recall the devastation wreaked on Working Class communities by thatcher. People on the street without support can rapidly lose self-respect, empathy and focus.

The spooks are most likely going to flood the country with cheap smack as they did in the 80’s, or maybe ketamine. Don’t be prison fodder; if they can’t extract your surplus-value they will lock you up and make money out of you that way.

There will be skilled trades-people standing idle who can co-operatively prepare buildings for use once the homeless have taken and secured them.

Occupy unused land and grow food on it.

Turn disused restaurants into free canteens for the Working Class.

Set up neighbourhood supply and defence committees to protect the vulnerable and resist evictions, deportations etc.

Create no-go areas for cops, bailiffs and other undesirables.

We should look into occupying manufacturing facilities with a view to making something useful (to us). The simple act of setting up a co-operative venture, learning and sharing new skills, organising the work and supply chain by consensus, prepares us to take over industry once and for all.

Some will find teaching their children at home works for them. With the range of skills and experiences available to the extended family or ‘village’ kids can learn much more than how to fit themselves to the wage system. Who knows, they might actually find things they enjoy and are good at.

Empty offices can be social centres, libraries, medical or legal drop-in points, venues for gigs, film shows, seminars, meetings, self-defence training or whatever you want.

We should have our own radio stations, they’re more fun than the internet and easier to keep a grip on.

It has been suggested there will be no live entertainment this year, well they can fucking back out with that! We may see a revival of the free party/festival scene, playing cat and mouse with the babylon. Parties could be timed to coincide with more serious expropriations. The more we stretch their resources the less they will have to evict squatters.

Those of us who find ourselves by chance still in waged labour are another front. It beggars belief after decades of austerity and precarity that most of our Class are still not unionised. If this is you, get into one fast, you can join the IWW for a pound a month unwaged, or, if appropriate, one of the more location and industry specific such as UVW, CAIWU and IWGB. It will fall to us to prevent the boss class re-asserting itself; all the old Wobbly tactics are as relevant as ever.

  • Sick-in, the slightest sniffle will now give you good reason to take seven days self-certified, you’re doing society a favour!
  • Good work strike, be kind to your class, turn a blind eye to shoplifting for example.
  • Sabotage (need not involve physical damage), use your imagination here.
  • Expropriation (theft), you need never queue for bog rolls again!
  • Open mouth (whistle blowing); let’s hold the bosses fast to the rules while we break them.
  • Working to rule. Health and safety legislation allows any worker to walk off the job if they believe it poses a risk to themselves, their colleagues or the public. They cannot be disciplined for this and their belief does not have to be correct, only reasonable. This is a good excuse for a sit-down strike while they sort it out.
  • Shirking, skiving, go-slow; take it in turns to do fuck all for half an hour, see above.
  • Dual power: organise the work to suit yourselves and by-pass the boss, it’s good training for when there isn’t one.
  • Bombard management with grievances to tie them up and waste their time; I see no problem with using the law as it is the terrain on which we operate, so make yourself an expert. It’s skewed in favour of the bosses but this has led to a culture of impunity whereby most of them can’t be arsed to familiarise themselves with it, which leaves a lot of ‘low hanging fruit’. It’s akin to hitting your opponent with the door or the wall rather than bringing a cosh to the party. The only thing that matters in a fight is who’s left standing at the end of it.

You’ll find more tactical detail here:

How to Fire Your Boss – a workers’ guide to direct action.

Here’s a pamphlet on taking over the healthcare sector:

Defend the NHS – fight for socialised healthcare. By Felix Sabot.

Let’s hope it’s a long, hot summer and we have some good riots.

Mal C. X

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Scrubs: The Story from the Bottom Up, from Haringey Solidarity Group.

Scrubs: The Story from the Bottom Up

Much like the elderly forced to walk laps and climb stairs to raise money for the NHS, the scrubs movement has been popularised by mainstream media as part of a ‘national effort’ at a time of ‘war’ fighting an ‘enemy’ we allegedly cannot see. We are being encouraged to paint rainbows and clap for the bravery of the health workers, when in reality we are sending them to their deaths. As of today (19/4/2020), at least 86 health and social care workers have died of COVID-19. The enemy is not invisible, it has been sitting in the leathered seats of parliament, imposing years of austerity which have left the health system bare to the bone; it has criminalised and worn down benefit claimants with strategies of surveillance, sanctions and deterrence; it has exploited the labour of key workers living hand to mouth, whilst endowing inessential services with bonuses, tax rebates and bailouts.

The current PPE scandal is no different

At the end of January 2020 it was already clear that a country like the UK, which had been de-industrialised through decades of neoliberal economics, was not going to be able to cope with the demands for PPE. The Tories had a simple answer: “people are going to die” and their fellow eugenicists chimed about “herd immunity” and supposed facts based on “science”. And once again, the working class was put to slaughter. After years of vilification and abuse, they were placed at the knife edge of this crisis. COVID-19 is not the touted ‘great leveller’, it is disproportionately culling the elderly, the disabled, the poor, and BAME communities. 70% of NHS workers killed by COVID-19 are BAME. Workers who have been brought to the point of desperation and are starting to fight under the slogan “no kit, no care”, facing suspensions and potentially prosecutions for negligence if they fail to continue to work, in spite of a lack of protection.

We are now entering our fourth week of running one of the many autonomous scrub production units that have sprung up as forms of mutual aid across the country. We provide scrubs to all sorts of health workers who are lacking access to them in their workplaces. Staff who have had to perform C-sections on women wearing soiled clothes, scrub-less doctors bringing infections back to their family homes, workers on respiratory wards without protection, homeless nurses, social care providers looking after the elderly and disabled, trainee nurses sent to COVID wards wearing flimsy plastic aprons and bin bags. These are just to name a few.

Some of us are mothers, some of us lost our jobs, some of us just want to help or need something to take our minds off the crisis, and a large majority of us are professional seamstresses and tailors, providing an entirely unfunded service, save for public donations, across the entire country. A number of these local groups have up to 300 people, working from the safety of their homes. Delivery companies and independent workshops have offered their help in cutting and distributing fabric pieces to sewers, some of which are decentralised into smaller neighbourhood collectives, able to help each other out through the use of WhatsApp chats.

These local initiatives are sometimes receiving up to 1000 orders and are having to suspend taking more requests, as volunteers grapple with long hours, balancing paid and unpaid work. It doesn’t take much to realise that the network of these groups combined, exceed the workforce presently employed by large manufacturing companies, who have only recently received contracts to make changes to their production lines in order to deal with the demand for PPE.

There is no official scrub production in the UK. Scrubs are primarily made overseas, in countries such as China, India and Pakistan, often by informal labourers for extremely low wages. They are then entered into convoluted distribution systems and finally reach the hospitals which allocate the scrubs according to an equally tragic priority chain. Our particular scrub collective aims to remedy this by making them locally and delivering them directly to the health workers in need.

Many of these groups have managed to enter production with professional atomised systems within a week. You would think that we would be able to supply hospitals with stock, however we have been unable to contact procurement departments, who are often externalised from the main hospital sites and thereby have little connection to the health workers themselves. In fact I was told by unions reps, that if I ever did manage to contact them, it would be a miracle. General managers in hospitals are likewise fairly unresponsive, and those who have responded, told us there was plenty of PPE, when in fact nurses on their wards couldn’t even access basic items such as masks. Some hospital trusts are accepting donations only and are failing to pressure those further up the chain to release funding for their production.

The absurdity of this dilemma runs deep within the heart of the capitalist system. While the government is engaged in international profit-wars, back in the UK, Deloitte has been approaching friends and well known textile brands such as Barbour and Burberry, in effort to manage a temporary solution to the problem. Smaller scale manufacturers on the other hand, have heard nothing from the government after filing in their survey nearly two months ago, and instead are asking our scrub groups for material donations in order to start their production. Groups, who are at the forefront of providing immediate solutions to the problems, which more often than not, fall to women and their continuous underpaid and unpaid labour.

Burberry is expected only to start production in another week, other companies facing difficulties with the required certifications for water-resistant gowns are not to start in another two, at the very least. On the horizon is also a shortage of fabric, and the incessant greed of distributors who have hiked up even the cheaper cotton poplin to nearly half of its original price. Many are now resorting to use old duvet covers and bedsheets in order to make scrubs.

We also have to mention the struggles of our fellow workers internationally, such as in India, who are likewise fighting against the privatisation of hospitals; a lack of PPE; a lack of welfare provisions for informal factory workers, and a recent government decision to revoke the Factory Act of 1948, in order to standardise 12 hour working days, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushes to restart manufacturing in the middle of a raging pandemic. In Bangladesh the COVID infection rate is increasing faster than many hard hit countries.

We need to politicise the struggle with a clear internationalist response that unifies all of us, our work, our mutual aid and our care. For as long as profit rules, there can be no peace. We need to requisition all health, manufacturing and transport sectors and provide all workers, currently unpaid or paid with fair wages and safe working conditions. This is not a public relations crisis with seemingly unfortunate logistical difficulties, this is an emergency stoked by the greed of those for whom our deaths are only a motivation for the accumulation of their capital.