Peaceful No Tesco Tea Party


Well, the No Tesco Tea Party has to be one of the most fun, friendly, heart-filled

musical protests I have ever been on.

Here’s a delightful news item from ITV: over a minute of dancing protest.

But it was also possibly the most stressful because – post-riot – it wasn’t just a matter of ringing up our local bobby.

Instead, we were invited to respectful, professional meetings with Silver and Bronze commanders, who supported our right for a peaceful protest but were thinking worst-case scenarios, and asking: how would we deal with them?

I realised the police, like the medical profession, are (bless ‘em) fear-driven.

So, for a few weeks leading up to the No Tesco Tea Party I felt the weight of responsibility. Dreamed of police on horseback bursting through my front door. Worried about upsetting local charities such as Relate and the Salvation Army who’d been damaged in the riots. Angsted about offending rock throwers, too.

(Rock throwing is not my style but anyone caught-up in those two crazy riot nights might need support so please contact BristolArresteeSupport@Riseup.net, mentioned in June’s edition of The Autonomist.

And anyone with unanswered questions about the Stokes Croft disturbances, please sign the petition asking Bristol City Council for a public inquiry.)

Our protest took place in front of Tesco in Stokes Croft. I was glad to talk with Tesco managers because this campaign is not against supermarket employees.

It’s against supermarkets destroying communities in their single-minded drive for market shares.

The truth is I am a communicator.

I find enemy positions deeply unhelpful. I would rather build bridges.

Listen, we are all victims of the same soulless system that puts profit before people. So let’s find our common humanity and work together for a better world.

When Monday 13 June dawned – bright sunshine after Sunday’s torrential rain – I felt confident. Our protest would be – as all our protests have always been – peaceful.

And it was.

I was moved by the joy and the dancing

and the homemade cakes

and cucumber sandwiches (note Princess Diana tea-tray)


and anti-Tesco knitting protestor.

I was moved by Mark who did not agree with our campaign but became a volunteer peace marshall because he supported our right to a peaceful protest.

For goodness sake, there is disagreement even when you are on “the same side”. So, shaking hands with Richard whom I had met online when our political views clashed made me happy: this is what community is all about.

The No Tesco in Mill Road campaigners had come all the way from Cambridge to join our protest. Thank you!

Our Tea Party protest was to create awareness for our appeal for a judicial review.

Our appeal was heard on Wednesday 15 June in Cardiff.

And we won.

Thanks to People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, Jake and peace marshalls

and People’s Supermarket for donating free food.

O and here’s one of me, thanks to Nadia of GRO-FUN.

16 responses to “Peaceful No Tesco Tea Party

  1. Tears are welling up in acknowledgment of the huge accomplishment you and your compatriots brought about PEACEFULLY and with LOVE! I am in awe of the good vibration emanating from Bristol because of your caring efforts! Keep up the good work Elisabeth and thanks for all you do to make this world a place I want to live in!!

  2. Thank you, Diana – it was a wonderful terrific community effort!

    Many of us felt moved and very proud.

  3. What a lovely day it was and dancing on the news, such fun.

    Many congratulations on the judicial review decision.

  4. Thank you, Jody, and so pleased you felt the vibrations of peace and love emanating from our truly amazing community.

  5. Hot off the press!

    I just heard from Joy Carey, author of Who Feeds Bristol

    Who Feeds Bristol group is calling for a full Council debate on supermarket domination.

    Bristolians, please take a copy of the Who Feeds Bristol statement to your next Neighbourhood Partnership meeting.

    Leave a message and I will email you a copy of the statement. (Your email address is never published)

  6. A report by a retail research company suggests major supermarket chains will target the Bristol area for ANOTHER one million square feet of retail floorspace.

  7. It was a peaceful protest , indeed rather than use the word protest I would say it was a dance in SUPPORT:
    FOR individual shops being allowed to trade
    FOR having a choice where I shop and what I buy
    FOR small suppliers being kept in business
    FOR fair competition.

    Ironic, no? Competition and choice is how capitalism laud its economic philosophy. Yet Tesco damages fair competition and free choice. Ergo Tesco is ANTI-CAPITALIST? (No, not at all, says Tesco, we do like profit, and we do like to make money from our workers’ labour)

    • Thanks, Geraldine.

      Good points! Tesco and its ilk – including Sainsbury’s – are trying to stamp out competition in Bristol (and elsewhere).

      Some complain about the Soviet not providing choice: Ha (hollow laugh).

      And, thanks for loan of Tescopoly by Andrew Simms. What a book! Heartily recommend.

      In Tescopoly, Andrew Simms quotes conservative philosopher, Karl Popper:

      “The paradox of economic freedom, which makes possible the unrestrained exploitation of the poor by the rich…results in the almost complete loss of economic freedom by the poor.”

  8. Lovely photo of you, Elisabeth!! Thank you for all the work you have done for this wonderful cause. You inspire people to be their best, most humanitarian and supportive selves.

    • Many thanks, Philippa, and much appreciated.

      We are a great team with a fantastic community. The flavour of the tea-party protest is very much the inimitable quality of Stokes Croft and its surrounds, which we want to protect from the grasping dead-hand of supermarkets.

      There are many wonderful people involved including Chris Chalkley who has been regenerating Stokes Croft from the street up since 2006, using his own funds. Claire Milne who gave up paid-work for a year to drive this campaign. And more! All working on a shoestring in their spare time powered only by goodwill and love.

  9. Well done Elizabeth!! I admire your determination.
    All the best
    Nina
    x

    • Thanks, Nina – your good wishes are invaluable.

      As I said to Philippa (above), this was a team effort – a community effort. The very community we want to protect from soulless profit-driven supermarkets: unique, vibrant, fun, caring and lively.

      Chain supermarkets pretend to offer community. We are the real thing!

  10. Thanks for a positive, peaceful campaign. A big step to letting other communities know that yes, using peaceful innovative strategies can be successful in combating insensitive big business.

  11. Hi Kevin – many thanks for your encouragement.

    What has happened in Stokes Croft is I believe a beacon to others.

    Innovative is a good word: we need to think laterally, come up with creative strategies suited for our David status against the Goliath of big business.

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