Spring tour dates and “The Red Shed” script

Mark Thomas outside The Red Shed in Wakefield
Photo by Tracey Moberly

Just in – new tour dates for spring 2017 including a week at Battersea Arts and dates around the UK including Scotland, Salford, Sheffield, Newcastle, Taunton and many more – the full listing are found on the gig list.  Plus we have stocks of the programme/script for Mark’s latest show, “The Red Shed” in Mark’s online store. In the store you will also find Domestic Extremist tea towels and aprons and now you can get a matching T-shirt from our friends at Philosophy Football.

Back by popular demand – “Mind the Farage” Stickers

Farage stickers back in stock

We have some more (about 100, be quick!) lovely vinyl “Mind the Farage” stickers back in stock ready for your wheelie bins or any other creative use you can come up with for them. £2 a pop or £5 for a pack of three. Come and get’em!

As Farage “man of mystery” has stepped down (again) as UKIP party team captain but oddly hasn’t stepped down as an MEP even though he want’s nothing to do with Europe – maybe he needs the expenses, then he has more time on his hands, perhaps he could replace his second job with that of wheelie bin cleaner?

Also, Mark’s new show “Red Shed” is at the Edinburgh Fringe soon and dates are currently going up for an extended nationwide tour in the Autumn. All dates should be up by the end of this week.

Get_your_lovely_bin_stickers_here_Mind_the_Farage__httpwww.markthomasinfo.co.uksection_store

To my Green Party friends: In the London Mayoral election your second preference counts.

To my Green Party friends: In the London Mayoral election your second preference counts.
As a supporter of the Green Party and Sian Berry I will obviously be voting for Sian as my first preference on Thursday but the question of second preference has become incredibly important in the outcome of this election.
I have publicly condemned New Labour for decades but I am voting Sadiq Khan as my second preference and I am asking my fellow Greens to do the same.
The reason for this seeming turnaround is simple: we can not allow Zac Goldsmith’s campaign that has played with race and bigotry to win.
Goldsmith’s campaigned has smeared Khan as linked with Muslim extremists and in doing so has not only pissed in the waters of public debate but has stoked fears and bigotry of the Muslim community.
Goldsmith’s article in the Mail on Sunday , yet again pointing the finger and shouting friend of the jihadist, was accompanied by a picture of the blown up bus from the 7/7 bombings as if claiming Khan was somehow in league with terrorists!
In Parliament Cameron claimed Khan to be linked to an Islamic State supporter Mr Gani, the fact that Gani turned out to be a Tory supporter shows Tory desperation but does not alter the focus of the race based smear campaign.
And not forgetting Goldsmith’s leaflets cak handedly targeting the Indian community claiming Khan was against them.
Time and time again Goldsmith dabbles with race and violence to paint Khan as ‘not like us’ , playing on prejudices about Muslims and fears of terrorism.
London is the most diverse city in the UK and if Goldsmith wins he will have won on a racist campaign.
We can not allow that to happen.
If the Green Party does not stand for social justice alongside the environment then it stands for nothing.
So I am asking friends and comrades to put Khan as their 2nd Preference.
See you out there Thursday and good luck to Sian!

Western Sahara

Of all the campaigns and issues I have been involved with over the years the Western Sahara Campaign has been one that has always dogged my activist heart, hanging around, sometimes slipping from memory but always popping back unheeded to prod away at me.

Western Sahara is one of the great forgotten causes of the world and for that fact alone it nips the heels of my conscience.

Western Sahara was occupied by Morocco from 1975 and for a short while became a cause celebre amongst the left but faded from favour as the struggle wore on to a stalemate.

There was a guerilla war to try to reclaim their land which was partially successful, Mauritania occupied the lower part of Western Sahara but were driven out – in part by Sahara fighters- only to be replaced by Morocco.

Between 1975-1976 some 250,000 Sahrawis fled to the Algerian desert where they have been living in exile for over 40 years in refugee camps, there remains approximately 165,000 refugees still there.

The more mathematical minded amongst you might well conclude that refugee camps should never be that old but they are.

A while ago I visited the camps, towns really in the middle of the desert, made of tents for the winter and mud brick huts for the summer. As is often the case it is the poor who are most hospitable and the care and kindness refugees showed to me was quite overwhelming.

So I am relieved to announce that this Monday’s show- Mayday- at the Tricycle is to be a benefit for the Western Sahara Campaign. The money will help the court case WSC are bringing, here are the details.

http://www.smalgangen.org/a146x1095

See you there.

Gigs and Badges

Is Mark appearing near you soon? The Trespass tour continues through to the 7th May including Wednesday 16th at the Dukes, Lancaster and a few others – tickets are selling out quickly so make sure you don’t miss this show before Mark starts on a new show in June – details coming soon.

Also new in the merchandise store we have DOMESTIC EXTREMIST Badges for when you feel silly wearing your DOMESTIC EXTREMIST apron whilst out and about.

Last posting dates for your Mark Thomas merchandise

100 Acts of Minor Dissent book cover

If their present lists contain any of our books, CDs, stickers, badges, tea towels or aprons then make sure you family and friends are not disappointed!

Last postage dates for the UK are 19th December for 2nd class post and 21st December for first class post.  Due to an imminent move of premises shortly before those dates we may have fun tracking down the stock but we are looking at alternative shipping arrangements to reduce any delays but please order earlier than the last posting dates if you can.

Cuckooed in New York

The God of Visas has smiled upon him and Mark is now in New York until 21st November performing Cuckooed at the 59e59 Theatre (near the south east corner of Central Park).

The show won the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression award 2014.

So tell your American friends and comrades, and anyone lucky enough to be on holiday in the area come and say hello.

There is a discount of 20% with the code THOMASNYC – details are on the attached flyer.

59E59-CUCKOOED-EBLAST

Oxford Beggar Traps Update

This Monday morning saw the installation of ‘beggar traps’ outside Oxford City Council offices. These boxes big enough for a human, have metal grills propped open with sticks, string is attached to the stick ready to pull away the support and shut the trap. Inside is a cup of tea to lure beggars. Two young women walk past with their children and loudly proclaim,

“That is disgusting.”

“That is outrageous,” says the other, “they shouldn’t be doing that!”

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As it turned out they were the first of quite a few who believed the traps to be real, with passers-by tutting,

“Bastards,”

“Haven’t they got better things to do!” and

“Dreadful.”

That so many thought the traps real either speaks volumes of human credulity or council belligerence, quite possibly both.

The traps were made by local artist Lois Muddiman – with whom I concocted the idea after a show – and were made to highlight Oxford City Council’s plans to entrap beggars. Here is how they will do it:

The council intends to vote through a Public Space Protection Order this Thursday (15th Oct) which will make “aggressive begging” – by which they mean begging near a cash point machine  – in the designated area of the city centre an offence liable to a fine, a Fixed Penalty Notice, of £100.

 

When I posted about this last week Oxford City Council went on the offensive.

Writing on the Change.Org website in response the council claimed, “The redrafted PSPO now only targets those begging aggressively, such as those begging next to cash points, and categorically will not require them to pay a fine.”

Oxford City Council claimed instead they would be helping beggars access services by sending them to a Magistrates Court – making them automatically liable for the mandatory court charge of £150 if they plead guilty (much more if they are foolish enough to plead not guilty). And of course a likely additional fine and a criminal record. Not exactly the help most beggars need.

 

“We will not be fining homeless people.” The council tweeted at me. “We want to use PSPO to take aggressive beggars to court to require them to get help they need, ie rehab”

 

When I had the audacity to claim they were being disingenuous the council fired off another missive,

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“we will not be fining beggars. Please change your website to reflect this.”

After taking legal advice, they were today forced into admitting the truth:

Chief Exec Peter Sloman wrote, “I understand that a Council posting on Change.org last week stated the Council would not impose a Fixed Penalty Notice for aggressively begging. That is not correct.”

He lists what the council could do: “Report the offense to the police; Issue a fixed penalty notice; Prosecute in the Magistrates Court,” and notes that “Court does charge a court fee and could decide to issue a fine.”

So exactly as I had described. The Council is voting to give itself the powers to issue on the spot fines to people begging or take them to court where more punitive charges and costs will be levied at them and thus entrap beggars in debt and the criminal justice system.

“I am sorry if our statement…was misleading” Sloman went on. On Saturday I asked Oxford City Council whether they were being incompetent or disingenuous. Today’s events suggest they are both.

BEGGAR TRAPS?!

JOIN US IN INSTALLING BEGGAR TRAPS AROUND OXFORD TOWN HALL ON MONDAY 12 OCTOBER
AT 10AM

oxford2

Oxford City Council are giving themselves new powers to entrap the poor, to criminalise them, put them into debt and into prison.

This Thursday the council vote on a measure to punish people begging near cashpoint machines by making them pay an on the spot £100 fine.

The council know most beggars won’t be able to pay this.

They know beggars will be forced to a Magistrates’ court and will have to pay at least another £150 in court charges.

They know most won’t be able to pay the increasing burden of debt and fines.

They know people will be imprisoned… for the crime of begging near a cashpoint machine.

The council’s defence is as weak as it is absurd. They say:

“…the intention is not to use the fixed penalty approach as the people concerned are unlikely in many cases to have the financial resources to meet a fine.”

So why bother bringing in this measure? They say:

“Instead, the PSPO will be used as a route to the Magistrates’ Court where magistrates have the power to require them to engage with the extensive and effective drugs, alcohol or homelessness services that are available in the city”

But what this means in reality is beggars will be subject to Grayling’s mandatory court charge of at least £150 as well as facing further punishment as is happening now:

Mark Smith, 38, of no fixed address, admitted persistently begging in a public place, Cornmarket Street, Oxford, in May. Also admitted breaching an antisocial behaviour order made on December 12 prohibiting him from sitting within 10 metres of a cash machine in Cornmarket Street. Sent to prison for 30 days and ordered to pay a £150 criminal courts charge.

Matthew Dobbs, 26, of Speedwell Street, Oxford, admitted begging in Cornmarket Street, Oxford, on March 28. Also admitted failing to surrender to custody at Oxford Magistrates’ Court without good reason on April 22. Fined £50 and ordered to pay a £20 victims’ surcharge and a £150 criminal courts charge.

Oxford City Council know that as soon as a beggar is sent to a Magistrates’ court they are setting them further on a path of indebtedness and exclusion

This is not about helping people, it is about punishing people for the crime of being poor. Begging prosecutions have increased by nearly 400% in the Thames Valley area and the new powers will only allow more. This has nothing to do with offering people help. All the council care about is socially cleansing the centre of Oxford so it looks nice. Oxford City Council are the Hyacinth Bucket of the Labour movement – they are concerned only with appearances.

Come and join us in taking action against Oxford City Council’s proposed PSPO (Public Space Protection Order) on MONDAY 12 OCTOBER. Meet at 10am at Carfax Tower where we will be installing street art to protest the measure.