Nuits Debout started in Manchester on May 15th 2016 as part of the international call ‘Nuits Debout Partout.’
There is a young libertarian anarchist movement in Manchester which was at the heart of the small group who respond to the call. It is hard to say how that movement spreads but certainly now some of it is enabled though Facebook and Twitter as well as through chalking on the paving stones and cobble stones of Albert Square.
Albert Square is outside the great Town Hall of Manchester, a place which represents the early challenges of democratic power when the newly enfranchised middle class built a building of great civic dignity to represent the newly powerful business class. Across the road the Friends Meeting House still stands as it did then on the edge of St Peters Fields, site of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, where 15 people were killed and several hundred badly injured as they peacefully assembled to demand democratic reform. Across the road is the Free Trade Hall (now a hotel) where the disruption of Liberal Party meetings with the shout: ‘Will the Liberal Party give Votes to Women’ began. So this is the right Manchester square for ‘Nuits Debout.’ We will see how it develops. Up till now the movements such as ‘Occupy!’ have found it difficult to establish a clear focus for actions in Manchester.
However the direct action activists associated with The Ark have made a huge difference to the life of the city since Partispace began. A small tent city is now present as a seemingly permanent feature of city life, despite the City Council and Manchester Metropolitan University making injunctions against their presence from July 2016 onwards. The largest site is currently near the Railway station. For some young people living there it seems they feel safer there than in a hostel. There is a significant presence of young homeless Eastern Europeans in the tents also. Another cross-European event, that we can perhaps experience as shadowing the Partispace project?