Sunderland People’s Assembly
A Democratic and Inclusive Anti-austerity Campaign Group
Sunderland People’s Assembly Against Austerity (Sunderland PAAA) strives to be a democratic, friendly and inclusive campaign group, so it is with regret that we are issuing the following statement in response to a number of slanderous comments made by one individual about Sunderland People’s Assembly.
The individual in question is Gary Duncan, who manages the ‘People’s Assembly Sunderland’ and the ‘Save Sunderland Fire-Station’ Facebook pages. His public comments on Facebook centre around the decision made at our latest public organising meeting to ban him from representing our group in any capacity.
On Tuesday 12 November, we held one of our fortnightly public organising meetings. Amongst other business, the 17 people present at that meeting discussed the behaviour of our then Facebook Page manager, Gary Duncan, and noted that over the past two months he had:
- sent intimidating and bullying text messages and personal Facebook messages to a number of people present at the meeting;
- regularly used the Sunderland People’s Assembly Facebook page to publicly criticise and undermine democratic decisions made at meetings and to belittle anybody who disagreed with his comments;
- consistently used his personal profile page to explicitly attack individuals and organisations active in Sunderland People’s Assembly;
- and, inexplicably banned a number of people from the Sunderland People’s Assembly Internal Facebook Forum.
The meeting unanimously agreed that Gary Duncan’s aforementioned behaviour had deterred many people from getting involved in Sunderland PAAA, made many of those involved in Sunderland PAAA feel unwelcome and threatened, publicly undermined the work of Sunderland PAAA and was thoroughly undemocratic and unaccountable.
Gary Duncan was invited to and expected to attend the meeting, but before the meeting took place, he informed one supporter of Sunderland PAAA that he had made the decision to no longer participate in Sunderland People’s Assembly. However upon learning about the above decision made in the meeting, he has spent the last few days on his Facebook pages issuing a string of lies and slander about the meeting and Sunderland People’s Assembly in general.
Firstly, he has claimed that Sunderland People’s Assembly have expelled him. This is not the case; Gary Duncan is allowed to participate in Sunderland People’s Assembly activities but is not allowed to represent Sunderland People’s Assembly in any capacity
Secondly, Gary believes Sunderland People’s Assembly is controlled by Counterfire and the Socialist Workers Party. The truth is that Sunderland People’s Assembly involves a considerable number of persons from a wide array of backgrounds and organisations including 1 Counterfire member and 1 member of the Socialist Workers Party.
Thirdly, he repeatedly describes the 12 November meeting as a poorly attended,’show trial’, packed out with Counterfire and Socialist Worker Party members. He is mistaken; it was well attended with 17 people present, including 1 Counterfire member and 1 SWP member. Numerous points were discussed; including reports from recent anti-austerity actions, FBU strike solidarity, decision making processes and others – a discussion about his conduct was just one point amongst many.