Anarchist group smashed window of Barnardo's for thing it didn't do

FAI claim Barnardo's "fund and administrate" a detention centre. Which they don't.

Via @jodelka on Twitter, the group which smashed the windows of a branch of Barnardo's in Brixton during the Monday night celebration of Margaret Thatcher's death has released a statement about why they did it. The "Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI)" writes on Indymedia:

On the celebration of Thatcher's death, we smashed a window of Barnardo's 'charity shop' in Brixton using a concrete slab from a bin on the street. And it was easy. We would of done more if it weren't for self-proclaimed pacifists violently attempting to arrest us.

This action was in solidarity with all migrants detained, deported and struggling to cross borders. Barnardo's was targeted because they fund and administrate Cedars detention centre in Croydon. They detain children, families and individuals who merely seek freedom from poverty, persecution, murder, rape and other oppression the borders.

Barnardo's do not, in fact "fund and administrate Cedars detention centre".

The group provides welfare services to children detained in the facility, which is officially "pre-departure accommodation" housing families due to be deported from the UK. A Barnardo's spokesperson told

Barnardo’s simply provides welfare and social work services there. We believe every family and child should be treated with dignity and respect and be able to access high-quality support.

There is a pressure group, Barnardo's Out, who feel that this is too much. When Barnardo's took the contract, the group set out seven "red lines" which would prompt it to "raise concerns… speak out and ultimately if we have to… withdraw our services", and Barnardo's Out argues that those red lines have been crossed without prompting action from the charity.

It should be noted that there's no hint of a direct link between Barnardo's Out and FAI. In fact, maybe if there was, the latter wouldn't have made quite such a ludicrous claim in their statement.

The smashed Barnardo's. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Photo: Getty Images
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Autumn Statement 2015: George Osborne abandons his target

How will George Osborne close the deficit after his U-Turns? Answer: he won't, of course. 

“Good governments U-Turn, and U-Turn frequently.” That’s Andrew Adonis’ maxim, and George Osborne borrowed heavily from him today, delivering two big U-Turns, on tax credits and on police funding. There will be no cuts to tax credits or to the police.

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that, in total, the government gave away £6.2 billion next year, more than half of which is the reverse to tax credits.

Osborne claims that he will still deliver his planned £12bn reduction in welfare. But, as I’ve written before, without cutting tax credits, it’s difficult to see how you can get £12bn out of the welfare bill. Here’s the OBR’s chart of welfare spending:

The government has already promised to protect child benefit and pension spending – in fact, it actually increased pensioner spending today. So all that’s left is tax credits. If the government is not going to cut them, where’s the £12bn come from?

A bit of clever accounting today got Osborne out of his hole. The Universal Credit, once it comes in in full, will replace tax credits anyway, allowing him to describe his U-Turn as a delay, not a full retreat. But the reality – as the Treasury has admitted privately for some time – is that the Universal Credit will never be wholly implemented. The pilot schemes – one of which, in Hammersmith, I have visited myself – are little more than Potemkin set-ups. Iain Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit will never be rolled out in full. The savings from switching from tax credits to Universal Credit will never materialise.

The £12bn is smaller, too, than it was this time last week. Instead of cutting £12bn from the welfare budget by 2017-8, the government will instead cut £12bn by the end of the parliament – a much smaller task.

That’s not to say that the cuts to departmental spending and welfare will be painless – far from it. Employment Support Allowance – what used to be called incapacity benefit and severe disablement benefit – will be cut down to the level of Jobseekers’ Allowance, while the government will erect further hurdles to claimants. Cuts to departmental spending will mean a further reduction in the numbers of public sector workers.  But it will be some way short of the reductions in welfare spending required to hit Osborne’s deficit reduction timetable.

So, where’s the money coming from? The answer is nowhere. What we'll instead get is five more years of the same: increasing household debt, austerity largely concentrated on the poorest, and yet more borrowing. As the last five years proved, the Conservatives don’t need to close the deficit to be re-elected. In fact, it may be that having the need to “finish the job” as a stick to beat Labour with actually helped the Tories in May. They have neither an economic imperative nor a political one to close the deficit. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.