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NOBODY WINS IN EASTON
BLAIR may have greased a thousand palms to bring
his heartland flock of property owning country folk back to the
polls, but one corner of Britain didn't give a monkeys what the
election outcome was.
The people of Easton in Bristol said a big 'No
ta' to every would-be representative and declared their community
an autonomous zone, after wreaking havoc on the electoral procedure
(of course) - as if the whole fucking charade wasn't laughable enough
as it is.
On May 3rd Easton was asked to go to the polls
and decide who should run their inner city borough: Nobody or the
Council. "Bogus as it is, May 3rd was the day the Council's
mandate ran out," said spokeswoman Nora Nobody. "We posted
ballots through 5,000 doors and there is enormous local support
for ejecting all authority from the community."
Cooked up in the back room of an Easton boozer,
the idea was simple. Nobody sticks by election promises; Nobody'll
get the next round in... you get the picture. So Nobody was er...
born. Ordinary people sick of the system and smarmy parasites, put
up their own candidate, ie Nobody. In practice: spoil your ballot
paper and elect the community, give the lying politicians the heave
ho. If there was more spoiled ballots than the winning candidate
then we, the people, could declare Nobody the winner. The politicians
would have no authority to rule (under their own rules)- all power
to the people.
Stickers and posters declaring; 'Nobody Cares',
'Nobody will make a Difference' and 'Nobody is the Black Candidate'
appeared on every lampost and disused shopfront. Posters appeared
in a thousand front windows. Billboard graffiti across the community
said: 'Vote Nobody'. On May 3rd (the original election date), a
righteous Nobody motorcade was mobbed in the streets before the
ballot returned 145 votes to Nobody and five to the council. (One
extra-staunch anarchist even spoiled their paper in the vote to
ban all authority...)
As the result was announced the Autonomous Zone
of Free Easton was declared, a stirring rally was held in the Community
Building and the first Easton Popular People's Assembly was initiated
- it's first task was to give the invasive police presence waiting
outside its marching orders. "Your services are no longer required,"
said one elderly resident as she handed a confused looking officer
a large sack. Hopeless Easton Councillors John Kiely and Muriel
Cole were also fired in their absence.
The following morning, anyone entering the zone
was greeted by the legend 'You are now entering Free Easton' stencilled
across the road at every entry point to the community.
Not waiting for permission from above, residents
set up the Easton People's Assembly - everyone welcome. The following
week the first assembly meeting began discussing how to address
some of the local issues long-time ignored by the old power structures:
the lack of youth provision; drug dealing in the local train station;
and bringing a stop to the nuclear-waste train that trundles through
the community each week on route from Hinkley Point to Sellafield.
"Every spoiled ballot paper is counted and
the numbers are announced on polling day" said Nora Nobody.
"Today was a victory, but on June 7th we're encouraging people
to go to the polls and scrawl Nobody or None of the Above, or er...
something more offensive, across their ballot papers again".
As both the ward's councillors were elected on
less than 1500 votes (and everyone gets two votes), Nobody campaigners
have calculated that if 750 ballots are spoiled then the autonomous
zone will even be legitimate under existing procedure. "When
the votes are counted central and local government authority in
Easton will cease permanently," said Ned (another Nobody).
"No more sham democracy. We're taking the power back, and we
encourage other communities to do the same."
An openly rattled John Kiely (Lib Dem Councillor
for Easton) elected on less than a tenth of possible votes, dismissed
the May 3 ballot as "a silly prank". Though he made sure
his home had a police guard on the night, in case the community
decided to exercise some summary justice on the power thieves in
While in Eugene Oregon, America, a group of dissident
anarchists (eh?-ed) endorsed the re-election of their city's ultra
right wing Mayor, Jim Torrey. "Although we don't buy into the
scam of democracy, we encourage others who believe, to vote for
the lesser of two evils. If not for pure comedy, at least to make
it clear to all what type of fascist system we live under."
They believe Torrey's policies of brutal policing and corporate
pandering have been instrumental in creating the city's "inevitable
and beautiful anarchist backlash", and his re-election can
only swell their ranks.
Come June 7 - support for Nobody was community
wide. Old Jamaicans would berate door-knocking party canvassers
with "I'm voting Nobody - so piss off!" A rambling Nobody
support group partied through the streets disrupting polling stations
and custard pieing hi-ranking party activists and politicians with
glee. Interference FM pirate broadcast to 'voters' for eight hours,
until the DTI shut them down. An anticipated punch up with the New
Labour massive never materialised, but punk rock legends Conflict
baptised the autonomous zone (and celebrated the lowest election
turnout since 1918) with a rip-roaring free gig in the Queens Head
pub on Easton Road.
The feeble turnout showed, as if it needed showing,
that most of the nation think the present electoral system of reshuffling
the business party is pretty much a joke. But where do we go from
here? Electoral reform is a con trick. Representative democracy
has sod all to do with representation and even less to do with democracy.
The Nobody Campaign was saying: let's ditch the suits, its time
for community power, time to explore the possibilities of setting
up alternative structures outside the confines of state control.
It was never intended as an end in itself. It was a grass roots,
uprising sticking a well-deserved two fingers up at an illegitimate
system, ridiculing the 'players' in the process. Nobody is dead,
long live Nobody, smash the fucking state. and where's me cup a