Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Occupy Leeds and #occupycarols


On 20th December 2011 Occupy Leeds held an event in Leeds City Square that helped win the support of many passing by and those with their eye on the global “Occupy” campaign. Along with members of the Red Ladder Theatre Company, members of the band Chumbawamba and comedian, DJ and author Phill Jupitus, supporters of the campaign met and performed a Christmas carol service with a difference outside the camp itself on City Square. As George McKay explains, “one way in which cultures of resistance define themselves against the culture of the majority is through the construction of their own zones, their own spaces.” [i] To the observer on this particular occasion, the space on City Square was, indeed, theirs.
The “Occupy” campaign, which is not only represented in Leeds but has affiliates around the world, exists to facilitate local discussion around issues of freedom of information, an end to global conflict in the quest for oil and a return to the appreciation of the earth in all its natural beauty. Occupy Leeds as a group themselves feel that the current political system is undemocratic and unjust and that an economy based on the exploitation of natural resources is unsustainable. In fairness the group are not professing to have a simple answer, but are passionate about facilitating discussion with a view to change. They themselves admit that they are not affiliated to any political party and are made up of “every day people from different backgrounds with similar concerns, values”.
The Red Ladder Theatre Company began life in London in 1968, and in its own words are rooted in the radical socialist theatre movement “agitprop”, which, also informed by feminist theatre, has helped to shape its identity today. The company moved to Leeds in the 1970’s and has gradually changed its structure from that of a cooperative to one that is hierarchical and now targets work for youth audiences.
The carol concert itself comprised many well known, traditional carols that were given a twist pertinent to the movement it was supporting and promoting.


 Sung to the tune of Jingle Bells
Jingle bills. Jingle coins.
Jingle all the way.
Oh, what fun it is to shop,
while freedom slips away.

Oh,
Jingle bills. Jingle coins.
Jingle all the way.
Oh, what fun it is to shop,
While justice is delayed.

Dashing through the mall
With credit cards in play
Into debt we go
Laughing all the way

Bells on cashbox rings
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to shop for bling
While we lose all our rights.

Oh...
Jingle Bells, Stock Exchange smells
They took our jobs away!
Profits first while people thirst
For justice every day!

Oh
Jingle Bells, fill the cells
Of prisons with the rich!
Who practice greed while those in need
Get told that life's a bitch!



Sung to the tune of “Away in a Manger”
By Fern Capella
Away In Our Hearts

Away in our hearts
lives a place we all know
where children are cherished
and healthy things grow
where everyone’s equal
and all have a home
a place full of love, grace, compassion and hope.

A new day is coming for the Earth that we love
that old way is dying and shrivelling up
the world that we make now is up to all of us
let’s let every day be the day of the dove.

Peace is our vision and love is in our hearts
we don’t know what will happen but we know this is the start
our children deserve laughter, imagination and art
Take my hand in this new world
and let’s all do our part.


... and for a rousing finale...

Sung to the tune of 12 Days of Christmas
12 Days of Tax Avoidance by Anti-cuts Leeds

On the first day of Christmas,
Corporate tax could buy
One million hospital beds

On the second day of Christmas,
Corporate tax could buy
Two thousand fire engines,

On the third day of Christmas,
Corporate tax could buy
Thirty thousand degrees

On the fourth day of Christmas,
Corporate tax could buy
Four thousand playgrounds

On the fifth day of Christmas,
Corporate tax could buy
Five thousand homes

On the sixth day of Christmas,
Corporate tax could buy
Six thousand head teachers

On the seventh day of Christmas,
Corporate tax could buy
Seven pints of beer each

On the eighth day of Christmas,
Corporate tax could buy
Eight ‘Children in Needs’

On the ninth day of Christmas,
Corporate tax could buy
Nine sports centres

On the tenth day of Christmas,
Corporate tax could buy
Ten thousand libraries

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
Corporate tax could buy
Eleven thousand jobs

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
Corporate tax could buy
Twelve thousand nurses





[i] McKay, G (1996)  Senseless Acts of Beauty , London, Verso.

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