Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2259

‘Every claimant is seen as a potential criminal’

The case of disabled man Paul Willcoxson, who killed himself after his benefits were cut (Socialist Worker, 2 July), is sadly just one more example of an increasing number of such tragic incidents.

Disabled people are being literally hounded to death by the vicious cocktail of cuts being imposed by the Con-Dem government.

Benefit cuts often result in disabled claimants losing at least a third of their incomes.

On top of this, cuts to local council budgets mean disabled people find it harder to continue to get funding for essential care and support.

Disabled people and others are asking themselves why they paid tax and national insurance contributions while they were able to work. Many question why there is always money for wars and weapons but never enough to meet their needs.

Resistance is growing. Disabled people are determined to oppose the destruction of their lives—using whatever means they can.

Disabled People Against Cuts and their sister campaign group, Black Triangle, will work together over the summer to escalate their campaigns against the Con-Dems once the summer recess is over.

We’ll also continue our campaign against ATOS, the firm raking in over £100 million a year for carrying out discredited Work Capability Assessments.

Linda Burnip, Disabled People Against Cuts

The welfare state was rightly heralded as “an end to fear”, providing basic security for all in return for national insurance payments.

Everyone assumed that support for older people, disabled people and for those who become unemployed, would be available.

If the Tories get their way all this will be gone by 2014.

The only remaining support will be strictly means tested. Benefits will be lower. There will be fines for any errors you make in your claim.

Privatised medical assessments will impose impossible criteria and we’ll have privatised “work for your benefits” programmes.

From April 2012 hundreds of thousands forced to leave work due to long-term health conditions will lose all their benefit payments.

People with a working partner or with any other significant income or savings will get no extra help after their first 12 months of illness. 

From April 2013, even people who are blind, deaf or paralysed will only qualify for reduced help—if any at all. 

All that will be left is a miserly system, administered distantly without human contact, working on the assumption that anyone who tries to claim benefits is a potential criminal.

Meanwhile the rich grow richer. Top executive pay and bankers’ bonuses are rising without restriction and companies get away with billion pound tax dodges.

Richard Atkinson, Cheshire

Education: it’s not just for bankers

The government’s latest “shake-up” of higher education is typical of the Tories.

Their plan to make universities compete with each other for money is ruthless and perverse.

Students could be so bombarded by the advertising thrown at them that they may start a course for the wrong reason.

Even worse, they could be put off entirely.

The government thinks that the only point in having a degree is to find a job and become part of the capitalist hierarchy.

But I am a firm believer in education for knowledge’s sake.

Students should be able to study the subjects they’re passionate about.

The pressure to take a course that can land you a “high salary” will lead to a lack of students taking arts courses.

This will create a country filled with bankers and accountants.

When David Cameron said that the tuition fee increase would allow more people from different backgrounds to become educated to a degree level, he lied.

What is really happening is that students from less well off backgrounds will do cheaper courses.

Students from richer backgrounds will take more costly courses, which will be better run with more facilities and better quality teaching.

Money will determine the quality of education that students receive.

These plans help to feed into the ordered system that the government defends—with the working class at the bottom and the upper class at the top.

Surely we should give every student, regardless of background, an equal opportunity to be educated and to pursue whatever future they wish.

The government is taking this right away from generations of working class people in Britain.

This is not a “big society”. This is a society for the big.

Charlotte Groves, Leeds

Bahrainis must have the right to protest

The sentencing of people in Bahrain in military courts to long prison sentences is absolutely unfair (Socialist Worker, 2 July).

Doctors, nurses and teachers are the ones who are building up the country.

There is no evidence for what the government claims about these people.

They have been charged only because they are Shia or because they have protested.

If the government really wants a dialogue they must release the prisoners. You can not have a dialogue if they are in prison.

People should have every right to protest for change.And, we should also be allowed to protest in Britain.

Instead, we are spied on here and the regime in Bahrain has threatened our families at home.

Why should we have to sign a pledge of silence and loyalty to the king?

We recently had a conference in Manchester to organise solidarity with the struggle in Bahrain.

It was supported by the students’ union and the trade unions here.

As well as students, there were also doctors and journalists who have had to flee Bahrain to seek asylum here with their families.

My country needs real change.

A Bahraini student, Manchester

Spain’s movement has inspired me

I was inspired by the massive “indignados” protest which took place recently in Barcelona (Socialist Worker, 25 June).

I’m a former union activist from Manchester now living in southern Catalunya.

I marched with around 1,000 people—mostly young but including over 65s like me—in my adopted town of Tortosa.

A lively meeting outside the town hall condemned the sham of the recent local elections.

This is significant because Tortosa is a fairly conservative place where the right wing Popular Party gained seats.

But cuts in the local education budget are controversial—particularly against a background of over 40 percent youth unemployment.

There was one depressing note—it was an exclusively white, hispanic affair.

The Morrocan and African population chose to hide away.

I am sure they were fearful of the passive but nonetheless intimidating police presence.

It will be interesting to see if this movement, unique in post-Franco politics, can regain momentum in the run-up to the 2012 general election.

Jim Calhoun, Spain

Thanks to SW for EDL story

Socialist Worker was correct to highlight racist attacks that followed an English Defence League (EDL) march in east London (Socialist Worker, 25 June).

The fascists have lost the argument at the ballot box and are returning to the streets with boots and fists.

An anti-racist concert in Leeds recently was attacked by EDL supporters throwing rocks and bottles into a 150-strong crowd of music fans.

They failed to stop the event—and money raised went to Unite Against Fascism and local projects.

John Appleyard, West Yorkshire

Parents back school strikes

The teachers’ strikes on 30 June did not hit parents.

But being forced to take two days off for the royal wedding did.

Tory education secretary Michael Gove seems to be using the media to create hatred towards teachers.

There are 22 millionaires in the Con-Dem cabinet.

I doubt they understand how little teachers get paid or the long hours and dedication they give to their profession.

Teachers’ pensions are not grand—they are just enough to get by.

I and other parents were on the picket lines alongside and in support of the teachers.

Leila Galloway, Chelmsford, Essex

More than just a chick flick?

Bridesmaids sounds like a pretty good film from your review (Socialist Worker, 2 July).

I’m a bit surprised you don’t mention Tina Fey though—a fellow Saturday Night Live-er.

And, maybe you’re a bit unfair on Sex and the City too—at least the TV series—which wasn’t really all about shoes and clothes and hair.

After all, the initial premise was whether women really could behave like men sexually.

And I think the melodramas of the 1950s deserve a less dismissive view.

The women in Douglas Sirk’s movies, for example, are far from being passive sufferers.

But it’s good to find someone else who liked Miss Congeniality 2!

Sue Sparks, North London

Death makes a great advert

Posters adorn London buses trying to sell holidays in Tunisia.

Alongside a picture of a woman being massaged are the words: “They say that in Tunisia some people receive heavy-handed treatment.”

This “heavy-handed treatment” was actually a regime murdering hundreds of people when they rose up in revolt.

You might have been upset and angry about that.

But look on the bright side—at least it gave some marketing tossers a fresh angle.

Maggie Small, East London

Here’s a right royal racist…

True to form, the Daily Mail recently ran an article about immigrants.

Apparently they don’t do any work, sleep with “our” women and live on benefits paid for by our taxes.

Just after this the paper congratulated Prince Philip on his 90th birthday.

Perhaps there is a link between these articles, but I can’t think of one.

Jim Purtill, Chelmsford, Essex

…and a royal moneygrabber

Are you wondering where all our money is going?

Well, lots of it is going on things like war and bankers’ bonuses.

But the royal family has ended up with… some of our cash too.

Prince Charles got nearly 18 percent more money from us last year.

If we got rid of these parasites, we’d be much better off.

Sharon Bryant, Luton

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Article information

Tue 5 Jul 2011, 16:31 BST
Issue No. 2259
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