Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2324

Scottish Labour attacks the welfare state

Many people listening recently to the leader of the Scottish Labour party, Johann Lamont, will have been filled with incredulity and anger.

Lamont announced the party’s intention to destroy the foundations of the welfare state. She confirmed that Scottish Labour in power would continue the Tories’ unprecedented cuts.

She accused thousands of clinging to a “something for nothing culture”. She then vowed to bring in means testing to end free prescriptions, bus passes and personal care for elderly and disabled people.

Despite long waiting lists for Scottish colleges and soaring youth unemployment, Lamont now wants to axe free university education for Scottish students.

Embarrassingly for Lamont the Scottish Tories welcomed her conversion to austerity. Now she is backtracking, but the contempt the Labour Party leadership feels for ordinary Scots has been well and truly exposed.

People are desperate for help for themselves and their families. But all Lamont and her cronies can offer is more of the same bankrupt policies that are now tearing into the fabric of Scottish society.

Anyone looking to Alex Salmond and independence for an alternative to austerity will also be disappointed. The Scottish National Party is just as committed to neoliberalism as any of its mainstream political rivals.

None of them have any answers to the economic crisis. So now in Edinburgh there are four food banks trying to help people on the brink of a financial abyss.

Scotland prides itself on its tradition of radicalism. Well now there is a desperate need for a radical resistance movement to confront austerity and bring hope to the people of Scotland.

Sasha Callaghan, Edinburgh

Anger is not racism

Saying that black people cannot be racist does not mean giving them “a free pass to be bigoted”. It is the conclusion that must be drawn from understanding what racism is.

Racism is the systematic oppression of black people backed by the state, the capitalist system we live in and the media. It is far more than the espousal of bigoted views.

So the woman featured in the video may have been prejudiced but was not racist. Her individual anger was not part of any wider system that oppresses white people.

Sundara Jerome, Birmingham

Cuts by any other name

It isn’t clear whether the Tories’ new proposed universal credit benefit will cover tenant service charges, as the housing benefit it replaces does. If it doesn’t the impact will be devastating.

We estimate the changes would cut the income of single unemployed tenants from £64.87 to £42.97 a week. That’s on top of the other benefit changes like the “bedroom tax”.

Councils and housing associations are considering cutting services because tenants cannot afford to pay out of their benefits. We must campaign until this latest attack on benefits is withdrawn. Together, we can win.

Paul Burnham, Haringey Defend Council Housing

BBC tax row shows Murdoch’s hypocrisy

BBC workers are angry that top presenters pocket massive fees while the rest of us get a 1 percent “pay rise” this year.

We were told high earners had to accept big pay cuts. But it turns out that some have made up for this with a tax dodge by being paid through a separate company.

The Murdoch press love this—but it wasn’t the BBC that was found to have hacked phones. The lies Murdoch’s Sun told about Liverpool football fans after the Hillsborough disaster was one of the most shameful episodes in the history of Britain’s mass media.

The best way to defend public service broadcasting is to fight for proper funding then all who work for it can be paid fairly.

If top management and presenters stop paying themselves whopping salaries, there would still be plenty to fund high quality TV and radio.

BBC worker

First the fascists come for the Muslims…

When French legislators banned the public wearing of the Islamic veil in 2010 they said it was to protect human rights and combat women’s oppression.

Anti-racists here and in France argued that this racist law would open the door to more racism and more attacks on minorities in France. Muslim women in France have since been assaulted in the street. Others have been targeted by the police.

Now we hear that Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s fascist Front National, is calling for the wearing of the Jewish kippah to be banned from shops, public transport and the streets of France.

State discrimination against one minority has opened the door to discrimination against another. This lesson is best articulated by Pastor Martin Niemöller’s famous anti-Nazi statement.

It begins, “First they came for the communists but I didn’t speak out… then they came for the Jews and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.”

Unity in action is the antidote to racist poison. That is why it is so important anti-racists mobilise to stop the racist English Defence League in Walthamstow on 27 October.

Sasha Simic, east London

Our website needs you

Downloads of Marxism meetings are available free at the Resistance MP3 website These include Tony Cliff, Duncan Hallas and Paul Foot—and topics from anarchism to Zionism.

We can offer an opportunity to a computing undergraduate to get some practical experience in programming and design. If you can help please contact me.

Mark Swindells, [email protected]

20 reasons for 20 Oct

On your poster for 20 reasons to march on 20 October, I feel the numbers could have corresponded to actual positions on a dartboard.

Perhaps it could have had relevant cabinet ministers in the doubles and triples. I’d quite like to throw darts at them.

Jake on Facebook

A railway for the rich

It’s time to notice that the HS2 high speed rail link will cost £32 billion. Yet only 1 percent of people will ever use it.

Keri Brennan on Facebook

Future needn’t cost the earth

The 20 reasons to march poster missed the fight to tackle climate change. The Tories are undermining emissions regulations and renewable energy. They are backing their friends in fossil fuel industries.

We will be marching as a climate bloc with organisations which have signed the statement calling for action to tackle climate change including creating climate jobs.

We will be marching under the slogan, “For a future that doesn’t cost the earth, against austerity and for climate justice.”

Suzanne Jeffery, chair, Campaign Against Climate Change trade union group

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Article information

Tue 9 Oct 2012, 17:25 BST
Issue No. 2324
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