On the 24th July, the streets of central London were flooded by 8,000 people dancing, singing and marching to reject our new sexist, racist, classist, homophobic, climate science denying Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The street festival of music and arts assembled in Russell Square and spread to Whitehall where it put Downing Street on lock down, even blocking the new Transport secretary from entering on his way to join Boris’s cabinet of cronies.
There was a clear vibrancy and emphasis on creative participation on the day, aspects often neglected in the usual leftie demonstrations. Charged by the festival callout to “Bring the art, Bring the Noise, Bring Mates”, participants brought their own mobile sound systems and visual props. This was complemented by an open-top double decker bus with performances from Grime artists, and short but impactful speeches from the Youth climate Strike, Grenfell activists and John McDonnell. A predominantly young crowd was drawn by a range of networks and groups endorsing the demo, from Docs not Cops to Gal-dem, building comprehensive and congruous presence of different issues. This reflected the culture of resistance and solidarity that is growing around the violence that, not just Boris, but the Tories and the current political system has been, and is capable of, committing.
The festival was a result of effectively harnessing and amplifying this culture that has been bubbling and germinating in certain places over the last month . At Glastonbury, it wasn’t just Stormzy getting 100,000 people to scream “fuck the government and fuck Boris”. Tens of thousands cheered as Loyle Carner revealed his “I hate Boris” shirt on stage, Greenpeace activist disrupted Tory MP Zac Goldsmith’s with a “Tory Policy Kills, Don’t Greenwash Lives Lost to Austerity” banner, and the festival grounds were covered in anti-Boris art. Unlike the problem with dominant anti-Trump rhetoric, this resistance hasn’t been empty or liberal. The organisations, artists, speakers and participants of the anti-Boris and FckBoris movement have not failed to recognise Boris as only one head chosen by 0.2% of the population (almost half over 65, 71% male and 97% white) of the hydra that is the Tory government, responsible for the hostile environment, deportations and detentions, Grenfell, 130,000 austerity deaths – just to give a snapshot. Anti-cop, anti-borders, anti-austerity messages were not compromised for the sake of ‘unity’. On the contrary, at FckBoris they were asserted loudly and clearly centre stage.
The festival cohered this movement into a space where the dread and hopelessness that struck us all at this critical political moment, the beginning of the climax of the Tory government and capitalist crisis, into the awes and empowerment of collective resistance and mass action. We know that the right are engaging and mobilising those alienated by capitalism, the state and patriarchy, by pretending to offer a false sense of collective safety through ethno-nationalism and neoliberalism, the success of which has brought us Boris as PM. The left direly needed an effective answer to this but with the right solutions, which FckBoris shows us a glimpse of.
For the Women’s Strike the problem is not just Boris and his sexist statements like blaming the rise of house prices on the increase in numbers of female graduates. But that he is the face of a larger threat to feminism posed by the Tory government – whether it’s the burden of austerity carried 86% by women, the deportation and detention of hundreds of thousands, cuts to public services shutting women’s refuge and the fuel this provides to the far-right. All of this will escalate under his new cabinet. Only a few days in Boris has already dropped the investigation into the MP who manhandled a woman protestor. This is just the beginning.
It is therefore all the more crucial that we build on what was sparked at FckBoris, and take inspiration from Argentina where in 2001 the continued mobilisation and self-organisation of the people under the slogan “ Que se vayan todos” (All of them must go) forced the state to change leaders four times in 12 days. We need to continue to consolidate the FckBoris movement, and elaborate on our strategy and collective demands. Not just Fck Govt Fck Boris on the 24 July, it’s a 24/7 struggle to the red feminist horizon.
Check out Fck Govt Fck Boris Instagram for more footage of the day.