Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2208

Anger at the Lib Dem leader in Sheffield on budget day (Pic: Julia Armstrong)

Anger at the Lib Dem leader in Sheffield on budget day (Pic: Julia Armstrong)

Lib Dems betrayed us

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Sheffield city centre on Tuesday of last week to protest at the Con-Dem government’s emergency budget and its attacks on working class people.

A lot of bitterness was directed towards Lib Dem deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, who is an MP in the city. The Lib Dems are also the biggest party in the council, although they lost overall control in the elections.

One speaker called for a collection for “30 pieces of silver for Mr Clegg” after the Con-Dems scrapped an £80 million loan for city company Forgemasters to develop steel components for the nuclear industry.

No matter what their views on nuclear power, people in the city see this as a massive betrayal which will cost more jobs. Big schemes to revamp city centre shops and to build an industrial park were also scrapped.

Protesters who turned up with placards that simply said “Liberal DemocRATS” caught the popular mood.

Ironically, on election day the polling stations in Clegg’s Hallam constituency couldn’t cope with demand. Many in the queue were young and it’s probable that a lot liked the Lib Dems’ left-leaning rhetoric.

Clegg’s self-seeking double act with David Cameron and his nauseating defence of a budget that attacks the poor will have left many voters feeling they made a mistake they will never repeat.

The protest was initiated by the Right to Work campaign and Sheffield Trades Council. It was supported by a long list of trade unions and political parties.

The Labour Party strongly supported the protest but it was noticeable that their speakers were heckled by some protesters who were angry that Labour had betrayed them too.

NUT teachers’ union speaker Ben Morris got a big response when he said, “If we fight together we can beat this weak and nasty government.

“We need to take inspiration from Greece and Spain. We’ve got the weather, now we need the fight to come here soon.”

Anyone who puts the case for a real fightback may find an audience ready to listen.

Julia Armstrong, Sheffield

What we have seen in the budget will pale into insignificance when George Osborne and his ultra right wing allies take their second bite of the cherry in the October spending review.

They will deliberately throw a million or more into unemployment, then accuse them of being spongers off the state. Together with their beloved Daily Mail they will start a campaign to force them to work for a pittance.

So much for Clegg who says he joined the coalition to protect the poor.

Colin Avey, Brighton

Peace for victims

The release of the Saville inquiry into Bloody Sunday (» Murder by British state , 19 June) was historic for the people of Derry, especially the families of those who were murdered on that awful day in 1972.

I am from Derry and I was living in there at that time. I was 11 years old and will never forget it.

I will never forget standing outside St Mary’s church in Creggan listening to the mass funeral.

My mammy and seven siblings and thousands of people stood in the pouring rain in stunned silence and grief.

As they say, even the sky cried that day.

They and their families will be able to be in peace at last.

Maggie Page, Chesterfield

Benefits not charity

The coalition of the toffs peddle the myth that it would be fairer if more benefits were means tested.

Why, they ask, should the rich receive benefits they don’t need like child benefit, freedom passes, or winter fuel payments?

Sounds reasonable? The fact is that means testing does not bring fairness.

It transforms benefits from entitlement to charity and the people most in need are the ones who lose out.

Millions of pounds in means tested benefits remain unclaimed either because people are too proud to claim or because claiming is impossibly complicated.

In the 1930s unemployment benefits were so severely means tested that a family of three with four chairs would have to sell one before they could get the dole.

As the means test man came down working class streets, surplus furniture was passed from one back garden to the next.

Means testing is not fair, very expensive and inefficient. Fairness demands universal benefits and higher taxes for the rich.

Sarah Cox, West London

Revolutionary violence is morally justified

Edmund Potts asserts that socialists who advocate force during revolutionary upheavals are both “despicable” and “inhuman” (» Letters, 19 June).

But capitalism is the most barbaric system humankind has ever witnessed.

You need only look at the recent attack on the aid flotilla by the Israeli army or Bloody Sunday in 1972 to see the cold blooded logic of a system that seeks to perpetuate the exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few.

Radical movements of working people, in contrast, have always been built on the foundation of peace, equality and freedom.

However, the capitalist class would prefer to drag the whole of society into the abyss rather than relinquish its own power over society. To deny the use of violence in pursuit of a socialist society would be folly.

The whole concept of the “sanctity of human life” leads us to the idea that all violence is in essence the same and therefore equally reprehensible.

But would we consider a slave rising against their oppressive master impermissible on the basis of the sacredness of human life?

Those who reject the violence of the oppressed against the oppressors, must ultimately reject revolution, and consequently achieve nothing but the burial of socialism.

Paris Thompson, Leeds

Oxford Right to Work has impact

At short notice Oxford Right to Work campaign organised a street meeting on the day of the budget.

Numbers swelled to 100 as shoppers and people leaving work stopped and joined in.

There were speakers and delegations from Oxford City Unison, Oxfordshire Health Unison, Ruskin College student union, Stop the War, The People’s Charter and members of local campaigns such as Save Temple Cowley Pools.

There was lots of interest from passers-by with many people stopping to condemn the budget. As well as speeches by local trade unionists and campaigners, local rappers from Love Music Hate Racism also performed.

The media interest was excellent. There was an article in the local press the day before. And a Right to Work campaigner was interviewed live on the prime time BBC Radio Oxford show and appeared on two regional BBC TV evening news bulletins.

We are holding a follow up meeting to set up an organising committee and to plan local actions.

We will be in Birmingham on 3 October at the Tory Party conference to tell the coalition we won’t pay for the crisis!

Julie Simmons, Oxford Right to Work

Sun’s bus driver lies

It’s about time bus drivers were treated the same as train drivers.

They get more stress and abuse (both verbal and physical) than anyone can imagine, yet earn a pittance compared with train drivers.

They definitely get far less than the £34,000 a year quoted in the Sun.

Drivers’ hours are already far too long. The only way a driver could earn £34,000 is to work 12-hour days – and then work rest days as well!

It’s about time the mayor of London started supporting our buses and bus drivers.

Pauline Gosling, by email

Football: rich man’s game?

The article » Not flying the flag for England (19 June) was very perceptive.

I would also add the fact that “rich men” – the football players – are representing England in this tournament.

They earn disgusting amounts of money just for kicking a ball about.

And the English “national” anthem, “God Save the Queen”, represents the interests of the rich, not the ordinary worker who has to worry about their livelihood.

I don’t believe that I will ever be able to sing praise to the Queen.

Anna Lansley, Chichester

No gain from mineral wealth

The Afghan government says there are untapped minerals worth up to £2 trillion waiting to be dug up.

But who will benefit and will it bring peace?

This wealth could end poverty in one of the poorest countries in the world.

But It is more likely to increase conflict and war.

Hamid Karzai’s stooge government will be one warlord among others.

Each will be backed by different outside powers looking to grab the wealth for themselves.

Tragically the mineral wealth of the Congo has only resulted in war stoked by imperialist interference, leaving millions in suffering.

Marcia Thomas, East London

Good luck to Delphi strike

I wish the workers at Delphi Sudbury all the very best with their strike (Socialist Worker, 26 June).

I am a steward at Delphi Stonehouse and as we both share the same top management,

I hope that the other sites add their support.

Tony McClintock, by email

BP’s Victorian forerunners

History repeats itself and with devastating effect.

The greed and disregard for safety shown by 19th century pit owners is now repeating itself with BP management.

They are the flagbearers of 21st century greed and disregard for safety.

The managers of one of the world’s largest companies are showing how ineffective health and safety rules are.

The drive for greater profits and lower cost rides roughshod over workers’ right to a safe working environment.

As long as the bonus culture continues, and delivering increased “shareholder value” is placed before worker safety, lives will be sacrificed to fill the pockets of executives.

Ernie Valentine, Montrose

Fleeing pogroms

Your piece about the British Brothers League (Socialist Worker, 19 June) was very interesting.

My great grandparents came to Britain from Lithuania to escape Tsarist pogroms.

Strangely, one of the most vociferous opponents of the 1905 Aliens Act was Winston Churchill, then a Liberal MP.

I say this, not to exonerate him, but for the sake of historical accuracy

Mitch Mitchell, Cambridgeshire

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Article information

Tue 29 Jun 2010, 18:49 BST
Issue No. 2208
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