Socialist Worker

Wanted for Anti-social behaviour

by JOHN REES, Respect national secretary
Issue No. 1916

WORKING CLASS communities are under siege by the New Labour government.

Instead of more secure and better paid jobs, Tony Blair is sacking public sector workers, undermining firefighters’ conditions, privatising the work of NHS staff and attacking trade unions.

Instead of better, cheaper housing, New Labour is continuing to sell off council housing and so pushing the price of a house beyond the reach of many workers, especially first time buyers.

And when it all goes wrong, when communities become more desperate and life becomes more brutal, New Labour blames the very people it is victimising.

Asylum seekers, young “yobs”, noisy neighbours, dinosaur trade unionists, teachers, parents, 1960s liberals—New Labour is quick to blame anyone but it itself.

Then comes the punishment—deportation, on the spot fines, Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, more and longer prison sentences, tagging, testing, “alcohol-free zones” and the rest of New Labour’s new authoritarian moralism.

Respect: The Unity Coalition is demanding a different approach.

We want more public provision of services, not less. We want more caretakers in flats, park-keepers in parks, station staff on the platforms night and day, bus conductors on buses.

We don’t need more police, but we do need more youth club workers, more care for the elderly, and less financial burdens heaped on the shoulders of young people going to college.

Working class people have always been capable of caring for the places where they live, of keeping their areas clean and orderly—but only when there is a wider framework of secure, well paid jobs and good social services.

Without these life becomes brutal and mean. New Labour is promoting dog eat dog economics, denigrating public services and moralising at those who its policies hurt most.

It has to stop. Britain can afford to use the wealth that working people create to make life better for the majority, not just to make profits for the minority.

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Article information

Sat 28 Aug 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1916
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