On the same day that George Osbourne announced an even greater round of welfare cuts to add to those already previously announced…
The Cuts Cafe opened in Southwark in central London yesterday evening. It is intended as a meeting place for people opposed to the government’s austerity programme in the run-up to the TUC demonstration on the 20th October.
The building, which looks a lot like the bank it used to be, has been squatted by activists to provide a venue for workshops and meetings, talks and discussions to take place – to be a point where people can engage with each other about how the cuts programme is affecting them and how we can collectively resist it.
On its first evening’s opening it was obviously still a work in progress, and seemed a little underpopulated considering everything that needs doing, but hopefully as more people turn up and contribute and get involved it will evolve and start to come together.
Part of the plan for the space is that it is only going to exist for the two weeks leading up to the demo. This is quite a smart way of doing things – allowing everyone to focus and to maintain their energy, knowing that it’s only ever for a short period of time. It avoids everyone getting tired and burnt-out and the whole thing dribbling off to a messy end.
It seems like people have put a lot of effort into being very open – their statement about the cafe is really good – very inclusive and non-threatening. Hopefully they can get the main doors open soon and given its location it could be a really brilliant space with huge numbers of people coming in to have a look around. If it seems a bit like a dank squat where you have to knock three times on a barred window to gain entry, the inclusiveness of their aspirations could suffer.
There is already a fairly full programme of events scheduled to run in the space. But hopefully this isn’t all that’s going to happen – there need to be more open discussions planning for the 20th and for the wider movement beyond that day, not just lots of anarchist-bookfair-style talks by different campaign groups (we’ll get all those again in a couple of weeks anyway…)
Get down there and help out! Help make it into what it has the potential to be. This could be an important focal point for building the links and connections necessary for a real grassroots movement against the cuts.
1 Stamford Street, SE1 9NT