Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2326

Beat repression by turning to our class

After attending the Defend the Right to Protest conference earlier this month I find Alfie Meadows’ courage to be an inspiration.

Alfie, a student protester, faces the full weight of the law and a second trial because the state couldn’t get the decision they wanted the first time around. Yet he still remains defiant.

The state rules over us by ideology and violence. When the students took to the streets in 2010, it was evident that they were no longer going to accept the state’s ideology.

And so of course they were met with violence. Alfie and other brave young people were attacked with truncheons and the ruling class propaganda machine.

I and others from Essex were faced with similar tactics from “the powers that should not be” during the poll tax revolt in the early 1990s. We formed the Colchester 15 Defence Campaign.

Our campaign turned to our class. I remain convinced that we beat the state when it came to the jury trial because we had asked for solidarity from the organised working class.

Our campaign collected thousands of pounds from the trade unions. The best day was when 200 people showed up outside Norwich Crown Court. There were many trade union banners flying that day.

The look on the judge’s face lifted my heart. He was not happy. I know there were trade union members and sympathisers on the jury. That day influenced the outcome more than anything else the campaign did. None of us charged with riot or incitement to riot were found guilty.

That is what is needed on the 29 October at Woolwich Crown Court when Alfie faces his retrial. We must turn to our class and help to organise a public show of that class solidarity. It will influence the outcome.

John Tipple, legal caseworker, Harwich, Essex

No energy in market

David Cameron’s recognition that government intervention is required to control the greed of gas and electricity companies is another nail in the coffin of neoliberalism.

But what conclusions have the Labour Party reached over the affair? Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint has been moved to opine that, “We need a more competitive market. Six companies dominate 99 percent of the customer base in the UK.”

She’s wrong. We don’t need “a more competitive market” in energy—we don’t need a “market” in energy at all. Neoliberalism is a discredited ideology which has failed the vast majority.

Our public services should be run on the basis of need not profit. It’s time to renationalise the utilities—and without paying a penny in compensation to their current owners.

Sasha Simic, east London

Bored of ‘pleb-gate’

Whether Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell used the word “pleb” or not, he’s clearly a quintessential Tory.

But by concentrating on a single Tory’s alleged attitude over social class, it lets all the other Tories off the hook. They should be assessed on their failed economic policies which create so much inequality.

Nick Vinehill, Norfolk

Work programme is a sham for unemployed

The Tory party conference made a fuss about how “welfare to work” was supposed to be getting people back to work. But that’s not my experience of the programme.

Workinglinks, my provider, failed to do a basic induction because their computer system crashed. They cancelled one appointment and failed to contact me to make another for ten days.

There is no proper complaints procedure and the initial complaint had to go to the very provider that I had an issue with. I have to wait eight weeks to complain to an independent examiner. The job centre can do nothing.

If I fail to turn up, even once, they can implement sanctions to stop my benefit for two weeks. Two sanctions will stop my benefit for six months.

Over four weeks Workinglinks has failed five times. I wonder if anyone will stop their money?

Mark Porciani, Glasgow

One rule for politicians, another for us

You couldn’t make it up, could you? The Sun on Sunday reported that Tory MPs unveiled a crackdown on “Whitehall militants” doing union work in office hours. They claim that this is outrageous.

Yet on the same page the very same Tories are bleating that calls for them to be stopped from taking second jobs are “totally unacceptable”. What is outrageous is that they’re taking second jobs while they should be doing their work as MPs.

Trade union stewards work to help others in the workplace. They resolve issues at a low level and save the employers millions of pounds, while these MPs swan around writing books (Elizabeth Truss), or holding company directorships (Henry Bellingham).

They rake in extra cash for themselves but help no one. This is rank hypocrisy from an out of touch government of millionaires. Typical Tories.

Jo Rust, Norfolk

MPs on the fiddle

Looks like MPs are on the fiddle again with their housing costs. They have never stopped lying about their expenses, just tried to hide their corruption.

Linda Hope, Kent

Their guilt, our anger

So David Cameron has decided to spend £50 million on commemorating the start of the First World War. For three separate days in 2014 we will be expected to stand around solemnly and remember the fallen.

Yes we should remember—and then be angry at the millions killed in legalised state murder by the ruling class. No amount of money spent by Cameron and his ilk can ever ease their conscience.

Roger Wellman by email

Fighting fire with what?

It’s a disgrace that they want to sack 600 firefighters. Personally I think David Cameron has lost the entire plot. What are people meant to do, put out their own fires?

Audrey by email

Blacklisted by the state

I was on a Special Branch blacklist way back in the 1950s—I’m very proud of that. To be on a blacklist means you are not one of those who just roll over. Always distrust authority, which means anyone who is powerful, privileged and/or rich.

Derrick Gaskin on Facebook

Six months for swimming

It’s a disgrace that Trenton Oldfield has been given six months in prison for disrupting the Oxford-Cambridge boat race.

He was trying to draw attention to class inequality and privilege in Britain today. The judge has simply reaffirmed the righteous anger of Trenton and the rest of us.

Denise Clinton, Merseyside

More than just a strike

It’s not a strike we need, it’s a revolution. The rich have trod the worker and the poor into the mud for long enough.

James Smith, Kirknewton

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Article information

Tue 23 Oct 2012, 17:13 BST
Issue No. 2326
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