#FuckParade – A tedious brick throwers story

#FuckParade – Britain’s answer to the Arab Spring, if you believe their own hype.

Sadly Britain’s answer to the Arab Spring is some blokes with cans of Scrumpy (I suggested Fosters on twitter and was corrected by a ‘protester’) throwing some paint at a cafe that sells cereal. I guess though, what else can you expect? We’re not a country of revolution, we don’t overthrow our leaders, and we’re more comfortable with the middle ground.

For those of you who don’t know, #FuckParade marched around East London being a bit noisy and throwing bricks at estate agents and cafés. It’s well worth checking the hashtag on Twitter – mainly because hardly anyone who was on the march is on Twitter and so it’s just the humourous backlash of others.

They were marching against gentrification, they were marching against what many consider to be the class cleansing of large swathes of London. I sympathise.

As someone who earns a good salary, but will never earn enough to buy a house, I do absolutely sympathise with the pain that is being caused by the lack of affordable housing.

Affordable housing, by definition is “social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing provided to specified eligible households whose needs are not met by the market”.

This article from the kings of the FOI, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, gives more detail on what ‘affordable housing’ is – but needless to say it is not affordable to the vast majority. Affordable housing prices are linked to the private sector housing prices and so as rents shoot up because people wish to profit from housing stock, so affordable housing prices rise. Yet wages don’t, and benefits are cut.

Government data shows:

2009-10: A total of 57,730 gross additional affordable homes were supplied in England in 2009-10. This is an increase of 4 per cent on the 55,570 (revised) affordable homes supplied in 2008-09 and the highest number since 1995-96.

2013-14: A total of 42,710 affordable homes were provided in England in 2013-14, slightly lower than the 42,920 (revised) affordable homes supplied in 2012-13.

It’s not surprising that a Conservative Government aren’t exactly rushing to support actual people by building housing, rather they force councils into letting private contractors build what they want and they want to build £750,000 flats. Elephant and Castle in London is one such area being taken over by developers, though in this case it seems that the council were not too fussed about the provision of affordable housing.

Anyway, it’s clear that there is a problem with affordable housing. What isn’t clear though is why a group of people decided to throw things at a cereal café.

Their argument is that such cafés represent the gentrification that is forcing people out of their homes and communities. Arguably though, it is the giant Pret that they marched past to find the small independently owned café that could be considered the cause of the problem.

There was a time where I’d go to a Pret. Decent and fresh food served by people who didn’t look like they wanted to top themselves for working in the service industry. Then I noticed that on every corner a Pret was popping up. In fact, on my way to work I walk past three and it’s about a 500 yard walk. I’ve since stopped using them.

Big chains can afford to move into an area, pay above the market rate for rent, and run at a loss for a while. This means that over time their customer base builds, they develop a loyalty among locals and before you know it every landlord is demanding the same rents as a chain pays – so small businesses have to shut down.

It’s happening on high streets up and down the land, and it’s getting to the point where places aren’t identifiable from the next.

Independent shops keep the community alive and together, regardless of whether they’re of your taste or stock things you’d buy, there is a pride in knowing that something is yours. So why smash it up?

Similarly in the London riots, some people smashed up and burnt down independent shops in their own communities as a way of telling people to fuck off. It didn’t work, and it killed some of the sympathy people had for them and the important points some people were trying to make.

To smash in your soul to try and hurt someone else is a redundant thing to do.

Last night as people watched #FuckParade, many commented on their choice of target much like I have here. Because quite frankly it is ludicrous.

It is irrelevant that a café sells cereal for £3.20 a bowl (BTW media outlets – they weren’t ‘forced’ to defend their prices by Channel4, and if you have a problem then chat it out over your £3.50 latte from Starbucks instead of using your day jobs to vent that you didn’t think of the idea first). I don’t see people in Brixton smashing up the champagne and cheese café in Brixton Market.

I will also always struggle to see why Tower Hamlet based Cereal Killer cafe is more of a threat to the communities of London than the Tower Hamlet based Canary Wharf with all that it is, and all that it represents.

My main gripe though is that these hooligans have been branded ‘lefties’ by some people. They’re not lefties, they were vandals.

Lefties are the ones who turn out to protest against war, against benefit cuts for the vulnerable, they’re the ones who in their tens of thousands turn out to welcome refugees. They’re not the ones who waste paint on café windows.

I am proud to be left-wing because I believe that people should come before profit. I would rather boycott tax avoiding companies than harangue a tax-paying independent trader just because you think their pricing structure means that some people can’t buy things there.

So many places on the high street add a huge mark up to popular items, such as coffee and sandwiches, so why aren’t these businesses who provide what many consider to be daily staples being targeted? Why is a café that sells a novelty niche product being targeted? (Answer, they’re a simplistic target for people who don’t actually read into an issue but are well known because the media took umbrage to them.)

A real left-wing person is someone who has empathy, and someone who smashes up a café because they’re in a pissy mood with the world does not have empathy. They have aggression and remind me a lot more of the UKIP/Britain First strand of politics than a ‘leftie’.

We all need to take the time to read. We need to take the time to consider what we’re sharing on social media (you always have time to check facts). We need to take the time to show compassion for others, and to make sure our neighbour is our friend and that our friend is never unnecessarily in need.

Marxists #FuckParade aren’t, drunk, maybe.

Like so many before them, from students putting graffiti on the cenotaph, to fathers climbing on Parliament, their stunt nullifies any positives that could have come from their actions.

Campaigning for change is harsh, and sadly other people have the power, so you’ve got to play the game a little and talk. MPs are highly intelligent (however they come across) and aren’t impressed by such things. Write a letter, go to your local MP surgery, and be a positive campaigner for good. Don’t throw things. And don’t call your campaign ‘Fuck Parade’ – expletives put people right off.

I suspect that Cereal Killer café will have a few more customers because of this. I know I’ll be going for a bowl soon.

As an end note, I’m not sure if it was there already or if it’s new today – but the Cereal Killer cafe have trolls on their front page. The ones with big hair, not the weird internet type. Genius.

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