20 April 2016

Brighton Benefits Campaign/Aufheben – Picket People's Assembly Conference on Austerity

The Stupidity of what’s left of the Unemployed Centre/Case Central (!) in Hollingdean

Leaflet from those currently running what was the Unemployed Centre in Hollingdean
For many of us on the Left in Brighton last weekend was a focus of activity.  On Saturday during the day there was a march of 150,000 against austerity in London.  In the evening, at the Synergy Centre there was a variety of entertainment.

 On Sunday there was a day full of debate and discussion amongst people on the Left about how we take the battle against austerity and for change forward.  (see 99% People's Assembly Festival Ousting Austerity).
Magazine at the core of Bright Benefits Campaign
At about 11.30 we were also treated to a picket by Brighton Benefits Campaign/Aufheben.  BBC is a small group which has grown smaller since it was founded 6 years ago.  One of the reasons for its failure to grow, at a time when benefits have been slashed and there have been popular movements  against for example the Bedroom Tax has been its extreme sectarianism.  A number of members who disagreed with the tiny sect, Aufheben, which controls BBC have been forced out by the 2 leading members, Giuseppa Salamone and Felton Shorthall.
Giuseppina's flattery is at odds with Aufheben's leaflet about a Trotskyist/Leninist dictatorship!
I publicly disagreed (not at a conference as their leaflet says but a skype session) with the Aufheben  line that claimants are a potentially revolutionary class by stating that on the contrary claimants have a politically backward consciousness, are susceptible to racism and scapegoatism and incapable of forming their own independent organisations.  Felton Shorthall expressed his disagreement with me by shouting in my face, a party trick he has repeated with a number of other people.  Although the motion to expel me was defeated I resigned anyway.  Subsequently at least 4 people have been forced out of what was already a tiny group hence why the annual sanctions day protest consists of the same handful of people.
What helped lead to the financial crisis was the refusal to remove the fundraiser who was on permanent holiday - John Drury, a more sane member of Aufheben accepted need to dismiss her but this was blocked by Giuseppina - who now calls the worker a 'whistleblower'
This year they decided on another activity, picketing a conference on austerity.  The reason?  Because the centre in which the conference was held uses people on workfare.  Instead of coming into the meeting and putting their position, they chose to picket for ½ hour before wandering off into oblivion. 
Giuseppina first fell out with welfare rights worker Shanti and welfare rights volunteer Sue Graham and....
The question of workfare was discussed at the last but one section on trades unions, led by Andy Richards, Chairperson of the local UNISON Local Government branch.  As a founder of Brighton Unemployed Centre I made the point that the Synergy Centre was not Poundland or some capitalist exploiter, where people are maximising the profits of a corporation and stacking shelves.  Although we disagree with workfare, because it uses claimants who would otherwise be sanctioned if they didn’t agree to work, the key question was whether those who were so employed at Synergy were indeed voluntary.  We needed an assurance that those who were on the scheme at Synergy were there voluntarily and further that if they didn’t wish to work at Synergy they would be returned to the contractor without being in jeopardy of being sanctioned.  We were assured by those who run the Synergy Centre, which is a non-profit making collective and indeed those who work there, without exception, that they want to be there as opposed to being forced to be there.  Further that they should not be out of pocket.  With the exception of one person who was a member of BABC, all the other contributors agreed with the position that I put.
In her paranoia Giuseppina, who is now running Centre, accuses former worker Sharon Halsall of theft

It was first 'lies, lies, lies' that we offered Pina & co. the lease and the company BUC Ltd, then it was a factoid and 'bad memory' - after we had shown a journalist the email we had sent - strange that!
The political direction of BABC consists of members of a weird, anarcho/stalinist group, Aufheben.  Their main claim to fame is what is known as the Aufhebengate affair involving Dr John Drury a lecturer at Sussex University, who is a social science researcher on crowd control issues, which inevitably touches on the question of policing.  I have a lot of sympathy for John but I’ve never been party to this debate.  Aufheben members took over the running of the Unemployed Centre in Hollingdean after I was forced to resign as a full-time trustee because of falling ill with Hepatitis C and liver disease.  Despite being extremely ill and expecting to die, I was put under extreme pressure, bullied and on one occasion nearly attacked by Shorthall but for the intervention of another management committee member.  I was expected to agree to the liquidation of a fund that was known as the Building Fund. 
I have written a comprehensive article in Brighton & Hove Independent explaining the background of the crisis.  Essentially the 2 Centre charities, which had £70,000 in funds when I left, rapidly ran out of money because of a combination of financial maladministration by Giusepina Salamone, thefts of money and toys coupled with the inability of the fundraiser, Aufheben supporter, Robbie Bryan, to raise any money.  Salamone and friends expected that a Building Fund fund agreed on throughout the Centre's existence by the volunteers, by the  Trades Council and unions as well as trustees of the Centre, would be used for running costs instead.  When the trustees of the Fund refused to agree to this and insisted that the Building Fund was for buying a new building we were subject to virulent abuse. 
Salamone criticised me for clamping down on the thefts she tolerated!
Excluding 'external' bodies i.e trade unions from management of Centre - same happened at BUC Families Project
The Building Fund was constituted into a formal legal trust with 5 trustees in early 2014 in order to ensure that the money within it, approximately £1/2m would be legally protected from Aufheben’s supporters and to maximise returns and preserve the value of the capital.  Subsequently a small additional trust, The Trust for Unpopular Causes, has been set up in order to provide grant aid to campaigning groups in the community.
Document obtained by Local Government Ombudsman showed New Labour Council acted, with Charity Commission, to remove Tony Greenstein & political trustees - the same clearly happened with Giuseppina and Felton
The split in the Unemployed Centre has been between those who believe unemployment is a political issue and those who believe it is a charitable issue.  In many ways this mirrors a similar dispute at Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project in 1996/7.  It was out of that dispute that the Hollingdean Centre was formed.  At BUC Families Project, the local Council in the form of New Labour’s Steve Bassam secretly planned to remove the political elements at the unemployed centre who had been involved in things like the poll tax campaign and impose those who saw unemployment as a solely charitable issue.  This information only came to light later via a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.  Indeed many of the allegations, that we refused to hand over money for the Centre’s political wing to the charitable wing, have reoccurred too.
'I suspect Shanti' well we all did but the story has changed now!
From 1999-2012 the Centre was in the forefront of political campaigning and we don’t mean by this the desultory pickets of BBC.  When we first opened the Centre we were met with open hostility by the 3 New Labour councillors led by the wife of the then Labour MP for Pavilion, Jeane Lepper.  As Chair of the Planning Committee she worked to deny us planning permission.  For 13 years none of the councillors set foot in the centre.  As soon as I resigned as trustee Lepper was buttering up Giuseppina & co.
Jeane Lepper did her best to deny us planning permission at the Centre
How touching - New Labour's Lepper supporting the new anarchist centre in Hollingdean
Almost soon as the Centre began in Hollingdean, the refuse workers occupied the Hollingdean depot to enable the removal of the private contractor SITA.  They won and the Centre’s volunteers were integrally involved in picketting and we moved our computer equipment into the site so that the workers could produce propaganda.  We likewise provided support for the campaign against a directly elected Mayor in 2003 and later, when a Labour Council tried to transfer all council housings to a private company (an ALMO) we helped fund the Brighton Housing campaign set up to defeat the Council in a referendum.  In this we were successful.  Labour was defeated in both referendum by about 65-35.
There surely must be some mistake?!!  Brighton unwaged is Giuseppina Salamone!
Today what is left of the unemployed centre is incapable of supporting anything because it is controlled by a freak political group with no roots or base anywhere.
Robbie Bryan justifying why the Charity Commission allows a nakedly racist and apartheid organisation, the JNF to register as a charity
Ironically our great communists, Felton Shorthall and Giuseppina Salamone, have sought the aid of the Charity Commission and the Police.  Unfortunately for them the Charity Commission has refrained from a repeat of its failed intervention 20 years ago when it froze the funds of Brighton Unemployed Centre Ltd until we brought legal pressure to bear.  The Charity Commission’s main role is to police left-wing charities and harass Muslim charities.  It is led by arch right-winger and former Director of the cold-war Henry Jackson Society William Shawcross.  The CC presides over and defends the activities of Zionist charities like the Jewish National Fund which provides funds for land in Israel which is for the exclusive use of Jewish settlers.
happier days
They justify this by saying I reported someone who had siphoned thousands of pounds from the One Fund For All fund that the TUC had helped set up into his personal bank account.  I did indeed make a complaint to the Police.  But inviting the Police into what is a political dispute is entirely different.  The money has not been stolen but it has been put beyond the reach of Aufheben.  It is also the case that a local woman who had painted a penis on my car was reported, not by me, to the Police.  What she was doing was marking me out as a paedophile (I had refused to let her use my computer!) and that was a threat to my physical safety. 
The trials and tribulations of those who deal with the State - Police and Charity Commission - of course when no crime has been committed it's all a bit difficult

Their justification for trying to involve the Charity Commission is that I once referred another charity, the Deans Youth Project to the CC.  This is true, but what they omit to say that it was in the context of a whistleblowing case where a worker, Carolyn Simmons, had been framed by her employer and dismissed on a bogus charge of overpaying herself, i.e. theft because she had reported fraud and corruption in the charity.  Her employers even made a complaint to the Police, who also ignored it.  When I took the case to an Employment tribunal we won a 3 day hearing of unfair dismissal because of a Protected Disclosure (whistleblowing) and obtained substantial compensation.  Of course I reported this charity to the Charity Commission because it had victimised a worker who had tried to expose corruption.  It had nothing to do with asking a government body to intervene in a political dispute. 3 Tory councillors were our witnesses, not just Mary Mears as Aufheben allege!  The respondents also had a Tory Councillor, Dee Simson who sacked the claimants and gave false evidence. 
Letter calling Tony Greenstein 4 interview re malicious complaint from Giuseppina & friends - Robbie Bryabn even repeats the same lies below!
'Poisonous' Pip Tindall and Robbie Bryan justifying grassing me up to social security - Bryan considers himself an expert on my disability!

What the Aufheben leaflet doesn’t mention is that in early March I received an ‘invitation’ to attend an interview with the DWP.  I assumed it was a routine interview but when I attended I was informed that a malicious and anonymous complaint had been made against me.  It was clear from what I was told that the complaint could only have come from those at the Unemployed Centre and Aufheben who ran the Centre.  I was asked if I was a director Brighton Unemployed Centre Ltd and I was happy to accept that I was.  It is a non-trading company limited without guarantee.  I receive no remuneration for being a director.  There was also an allegation I was not disabled, but that would be news to my two consultants.  On the website of the Unemployed Centre’s third charity, Case Central, there is an allegation to this effect from Robbie Bryan, which confirms that he or those around him were responsible for making the complaint.  Making malicious complaints or grassing people up demonstrates the total lack of any political integrity or ethics of those involved in what is left of the old Centre.
First Giuseppina suspected one person and then another
A short detour into the politics of Aufheben.  They are an eclectic mixture of anarchist and Stalinist politics.  I once asked Giuseppina why she and Felton never went on anti-fascist mobilisations in Brighton and she told me that she described herself as a follower of the founder of the Italian Communist Party Amadeo Bordiga that fascism was just another variant of capitalism and shouldn’t be opposed separately.  This probably explains Bordiga’s essay Auschwitz, or the Great Alibi which is the nearest to a left justification of the Holocaust.  It isn’t anti-Semitism but the ejection of the Jews from the productive process which explains Auschwitz and Treblinka.  As Mitchell Abidor says in the introduction to the essay, Der Sturmer” meant nothing. Kristallnacht meant nothing. All we had was capitalism looking for a way out of a crisis.’  It was economic reductionism taken to absurdity.  Bordiga alleged that the SS ‘believed in Western ideals!

Unfortunately there was nothing to investigate

Having been one of the founders of the unemployed centre in 1981, I bridled at the lies and caricatures that Salamone & Shorthall used to justify their turning what was a democratically run radical centre into a personal fiefdom.  Black people and migrants say that there is a racist atmosphere now in the place from white volunteers.  Felton Shorthall was recently banned from the Hollingdean Food Project for attacking a vulnerable woman refugee.  The woman concerned was (wrongly) suspected of having informed me about the disaster of a refugee outing at Lulworth Cove.  The children’s outings have been exploited to provide the funds to run the centre and there were complaints about how a refugee outing was run last October.
Text that described the refugee outing in Dorset - most of the funds for which had been diverted to Centre running costs
Robbie Bryan - 'I am not one of these anarchist squatters who is happy living on a sofa, I am actually a proud bloke who wants to pay his way in life'  - how touching
An utterly dishonest leaflet ‘A Leninist Nightmare’ which makes out that Aufheben is an anarchist group was produced.  It attacks the Socialist Party, despite Giuseppina having previously tried and failed to win its members’ support.  If it were true that a Trotskyist dictatorship at the Centre had been established in the past 15 years one wonders why Giuseppina had never complained of this before.  As the images here of the graphics here show, she was singing an entirely different tune in emails to me! 
Robbie Bryan refers 'hippy anarchists who will sit about all day pretending to be poor and intimidating real poor and vulnerable people'
Despite making sympathetic noises to anarchists about Leninists and Trotskyists, despite their attachment to Bordiga, the unguarded comments of Robbie Bryan show what the real view of anarchists is.  One of contempt.  Robbie Bryan refers to a new unemployed centre, which the Building Fund was established to purchase as likely to ‘attract lifestyle hippy anarchists who will sit about all day pretending to be poor and intimidating real poor and vulnerable people.’  Elsewhere Bryan informed me that he wasn’t ‘one of these anarchist squatters who is happy living on a sofa.  I am actually a proud bloke who wants to pay his way in life’!!

The Brighton & Hove Unwaged Advice & Rights Centre charity was used to fund BBC
It seems that Aufheben or Case Central as they now call themselves have nothing better to do with their time than picketing a day of debate and discussion about things like austerity and unemployment.

Tony Greenstein 

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