It’s Freshers’ Week, so it seemed rude not to go and join the minions who were firing flyers at the students as they went into the Fayre at the S.U. in Cardiff. We were there to share info on the Direct Action Training Workshops coming up locally, and also the Why Anarchy? event, and got a brilliant response! Lots of people were engaging with us and asking questions and we’ve come away feeling like we’ve definitely drummed up some interest.
We couldn’t really let the day pass without some Direct Action though, especially when you consider that to get a stall inside the Fayre would have meant producing the teeth of our grandmother’s first-born hen or something. So in came the suggestion to occupy the Tory stall in the Great Hall, and in went members of Direct Action Cardiff, South Wales Anarchists and Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraig.
Armed with a megaphone, anti-Tory posters and a red and black flag, we completely blocked the stall from view. Lots of ‘Tories Out! Tories Maes!’ chanting pulled in a crowd who were mostly smiling and taking photos, and then the megaphone was used to remind students about the recent attacks on our education system by Cameron and co.
We did reassure the two young men behind the stall that we weren’t there to hurt them. One of them responded by offering political debate. We explained that they’d never sell capitalism to us and suggested that they should probably tidy up the pens that one of them had knocked over in the confusion, and rearrange their display of small, cuddly Welsh Dragons complete with website attached.
In came the Uni staff to tell us that we were a health and safety issue as the stalls had been laid out in a very specific way for people to walk through. When it was pointed out that if they hadn’t allowed for at least a single depth of people at the front of stalls then they were in breach of their own H&S policy, they disappeared. Then they came back to ask if we were all students. They didn’t ask specifically if we were students there, so mostly got ‘yes’ in response.
Eventually, a security guard turned up. He was friendly enough and by this time we’d achieved as much as we were going to. The only person he told off was one of the Tories for aggressively ripping up one of our posters! So we marched out of there chanting, flags and banners waving, to applause and laughter. The security guard followed us out and thanked us for our co-operation. He smiled when he received a wink and a ‘You don’t vote Tory, do you?’
A couple of writers from the student paper came and found us outside. They asked who we were and if we felt we’d achieved what we set out to do. It was explained to them that we weren’t aiming to promote anything during the occupation of the right-wing stall, but to protest against the government and its vicious cuts. We also discussed the fact that we were rarely given an opportunity at these kind of events to express our beliefs anyway as we were non-hierarchical and anti-establishment so therefore didn’t fit into the comfy hole they were aiming to create.
If nothing else, we definitely made a mostly boring zigzagged walk of ‘sign this’ torture a little more interesting for a bit, though if I was a fresher in that hall today, I know what would be standing out in my head.
I think that there’s a fair chance we’ll see some of them again soon.