Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2383

Malnutrition is all we can afford with the bedroom tax

I am affected by bedroom tax for the second time this year and it scares the hell out of me. Last time I lost a stone in weight because I could not afford to eat properly.

I have lived in a two bedroom home since 1978 and gave up my job when I was nearly 40 to care for my mum who had a stroke. I thought I’d get a job easy but two years on with my savings gone, I was still out of work and hit by the bedroom tax.

To survive I treated it as a war situation—by rationing food and heating. That’s what people in our situation have to do. This government has declared war on its own people. I’ve spoken at the Benefits for Justice Summit in London, the People’s Assembly, Manchester TUC, and local bedroom tax group meetings.  

One lady told me that she ate one meal a day because she would rather her disabled husband had the food. This was because she had to pay bedroom tax. It is a diet of malnutrition.

In July I was lucky enough to get a full-time job. This didn’t stop me campaigning because I knew I was one of the lucky ones. I was earning enough to buy decent food and last month I was back to my fighting fit weight of 8 stone.

But on 22 November I was made redundant suddenly without warning and thrown out of work with the rest of my colleagues. I have my heating off as I am scared to put it on. I haven’t yet started rationing my food again but know I will have to soon. 

I never thought I’d see any legislation worse than the Poll Tax.  The bedroom tax is the nastiest legislation ever. Even the Poll Tax had exemptions for the unemployed and sick whereas the bedroom tax deliberately targets the vulnerable, sick and disabled.

I am scared to death. But I am determined to survive, and survive I must because I am that inspiration to others to fight back.  

Maria Brabiner


Derry murals take on the Turner Prize

Our Turner mural is a printed banner of our painting on freedom of speech targeted by power elites in need for secrecy. We use art as a critical weapon against hypocrisy and exploitation.

Our Turner banner is not sour grapes. The elitest competition, held in Derry, Northern Ireland this year, is one of the more insidious forms of cultural control. 

Since the 1998 peace accord Sinn Fein and DUP Unionists have tried to rob the world famous murals of Bogside Artists, Tom Kelly, William Kelly and Kevin Hasson of all historical and artistic significance.

Thousands come here from all over the world to see our art work. The Turner Prize cannot claim to support freedom of expression while supporting the outright state-controlled suppression of the Bogside Artists.

Bogside Artists

Law Society must fight criminal legal aid cuts 

The Law Society has been forced to call a special general meeting. It faces a motion of no confidence tabled by over 100 solicitors angry at the Society’s handling of opposition to the proposed cuts to criminal legal aid.

The Law Society struck a rotten deal while the opposition to the cuts was growing, without discussing it with the solicitors. 

One solicitor said, “Solicitors are fed up of the Law Society. We have been bashed for years by the government and instead of defending us they only seem to care about giving us more regulation. The latest sellout was the final straw.”

The meeting will be held on Tuesday 17 December, 10.30am at the Law Society’s Hall, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL 

Name withheld

South London

Breaking up solidarity? 

I agreed with most of your article, “Down with the union—support Scottish independence” (Socialist Worker, 17 Sept).

However, I was under the impression that socialism meant solidarity of the working class and that the Scottish working class would be walking away from their fellow working class in the rest of Britain.

The article says, “But the break up of Britain would be a small victory.” I am confused as to how breaking up Britain would therefore be a small victory for the working class? 

Name withheld

by email

Union can beat Ineos

Ineos’ billionaire owner Jim Ratcliffe is now looking to make 200 workers at Grangemouth redundant. Len McCluskey and the Unite leadership have seen where industrial passivity has got them. 

They must now fight for every job at Grangemouth. The refinery provides Scotland with 70 percent of its fuel. That gives the workers enormous power should they occupy the refinery and negotiate from a position of strength.

The Grangemouth experience proves that submission to the bosses’ demands brings workers nothing but more attacks. Unite must lead a fight at Grangemouth. There IS power in a union—but only if that power is used.

Sasha Simic

East London

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Article information

Tue 10 Dec 2013, 17:47 GMT
Issue No. 2383
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