Another day, another Tesco
To recap: Tesco bought the site of a former comedy club on Bristol’s Cheltenham Road, a sort of rough/boho part of town next to an even rougher area that’s being sort of turned around thanks to the efforts of the local community and a stupendous amount of street art.
So really, it’s the mark of a place going up in the world if Tesco want to build one of their small convenience store type outlets there, right?
Not if you happen to believe that Tesco something dreamed up by Satan on a day he was in an especially bad mood. The site got squatted six weeks ago, and the bailiffs and cops moved in to evict them this morning. The road, a major artery through Bristol, and part of the A38, was closed for much of the day while the cherrypicker dislodged people who’d tried to lodge themselves with superglue and concrete. That takes commitment; I mean, what do you do if you have one or more limbs in a barrel of quick-drying cement and you need a toilet-break?
Modern journalist what I am, I followed it all on Twitter in the morning (“’this is a listed building you know’ quote from stokes croft squatter just audible over the angle grinders” said James Barlow) before turning up in the afternoon as the rather predictable final act was being played out – the bit where some protestors sit down in the middle of the road and are plucked off one at a time by the coppers.
It was like most other oppositional actions ever, comprising some residents and community activists, plus assorted soap-dodgers, trustafarians and exponents of the circus skills which are so essential to these occasions.
This doesn’t make them wrong, but it does make them a shambles, and the sound system blaring out from a nearby house just annoys the neighbours. I chatted with one woman in her 30s who said she lived nearby and was glad the squatters were being driven out.
Avon & Somerset’s finest were all smiles and charm. So would you be if you had a day out in the spring sunshine away from the usual round of form-filling and sweeping up society’s losers from the streets.
“Nah, it won’t kick off later,” one of them said when I asked about rumours of further action. “They’ve got security guards in there now.”
Tesco will have another store. It’ll get the odd brick or tin of paint chucked at its windows, and that’ll be it. The activists will move on to something else, and Tesco can get on with what it does best – destroying local traders and enslaving the middle classes by running their own estate agency, banking, pharmacies and whatever else looks likely to turn a profit.
Tesco is not evil. Tesco is a machine which for the most part runs on binary code, programmed to maximise profits, but it does need stopping. A single firm with such a powerful grip on food production and supply is in nobody’s interests. Remember that lovely phrase “too big to fail”?
The hairies failed in Bristol today, but every time it happens it maybe gets a few people more to talk about and think about the price of Every Little Helps. See http://www.tescopoly.org/
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