Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2391

Join us in the fight to save legal aid from Tory attack

Solicitors and barristers might not seem likely class warriors.

However those who work in the criminal justice system deal with the most vulnerable in our society—those arrested and facing the weight of the state.

Increasingly we defend young people and people with mental health problems and addictions. As part of the Tory austerity cuts, legal aid is getting hit.

Legal aid, introduced in 1949, is a vital part of the British justice system. It ensures that access to justice is not just for the rich and that there is equal justice for all.

This would mean our clients are not popular with the Tories.  

Tory “Injustice” Secretary Chris Grayling does not have any problems denying legal aid to the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

In January solicitors and barristers took a half day of action. Now this is escalating.  

On Friday 7 March we will not go to court for a whole day.  

More importantly in a “go slow” barristers will refuse to cover “returns”. That means they won’t cover each other’s hearings, bringing the courts to a halt. This will be ongoing.

If the cuts go through we will be forced to cover more cases without proper time to help our clients. This could lead to miscarriages of justice.  

The police and the state loathe good defence lawyers and will welcome this attack.

The axing of legal aid is part of the wider cuts the government is wreaking everywhere.

Our fight is part of the general fight against austerity and a government that cares nothing for ordinary, working class people.

We need to start linking up the fightback over legal aid cuts to wider attacks on public services.

Add your support by signing the Justice Alliance petition at

Claire DissingtonSouth London

We can kill the bedroom tax

It’s excellent news that Scottish anti bedroom tax campaigners have forced politicians into putting aside £15 million to axe the tax in Scotland.

This is a boost for activists to finish off the bedroom tax completely.

Landlords are rushing to court seeking “repossession” of the homes of tenants who have rent arrears due to the bedroom tax.

Landlords are not, however, rushing to fix outstanding repairs.

They’re not rushing to inform tenants that they can apply for Discretionary Housing Payments from funds that have been “held back” by councils. 

We’re pushing back the bedroom tax in the courts through appeals and protests. Every tenant can appeal against the housing benefits department’s bedroom tax decision for the current year. 

Once the letters arrive for the bedroom tax for 2014/2015 every tenant should appeal again. 

It costs nothing, and ensures that any eviction procedures must wait for a tribunal hearing to look at the individual’s circumstances.

Labour councillors sit on the boards of almost every social landlord.

There’s nothing to stop them insisting that landlords stop the practice of issuing a summons first, then asking questions at court on the day.

Together we can end this degrading criminalisation of tenants whose only crime is to want to keep their homes. Let’s make the bedroom tax history.

Mark KrantzManchester

Whipping up racism over birth rate stories

I see that the right wing press has leapt on statistics that say migrant mothers are having more children in Britain.

Apparently figures say some migrants in Britain have an average of 2.13 children compared with the 1.30 level back home.

The likes of the Daily Mail have obviously jumped on this. They are using it in their usual programme to whip up racism with stories of “overpopulation” because of immigration in Britain.

The Office for National Statistics has had to respond and reject these conclusions.

Perhaps the figures are higher because of the age group of migrants who come over here, and are more likely to then have children?

These stories may seem like they have some sort of scientific cover, but we should be resisting them as another attempt to divide us.

Sinead QuinnNorth London

Don't close Barnsley Central Library

Councillors in Barnsley had a meeting at the town hall on Tuesday 6 February and they all voted for the central library to be demolished.

The library is a landmark and it has been there since 1973.

The closing date for this is 21 March so we need people to get together to make a final push to save our library.

We campaigned in town and got over 13,000 signatures to save it. None of the councillors would listen to the people of Barnsley. 

It is disgusting the way we have been treated. 

We have staged protests and even formed a human chain around the library last November in a bid to stop the closure. We rattled the council when we lobbied a meeting in December.

But we now desperately need more people to get involved to save this vital service.

Julie IngramBarnsley

Bombarded by TV news

I have lost count of the amount of times I have been subjected to TV screens showing either Sky or BBC News while out and about.

In Ray Bradbury’s book Fahrenheit 451 a malevolent TV-style device called the “Parlour Wall” is used by the state to pacify a sad and confused population.

Unless people reject the likes of News Corporation, even the most outlandish prophecies of Fahrenheit 451 are in danger of being realised.

Daniel JohnsonNewcastle

Being sick is not a crime

A recent report claims that Britain is in the midst of a sick note epidemic, with a million workers taking a month off ill at a cost to bosses.  

The report’s implication was that people calling in sick would face sanctions so they wouldn’t become dependent on welfare.   Welcome to 21st century Britain—where being sick is now a crime.

Jo RustKing’s Lynn

No let-up in war on poor

The news that a man had his benefits axed because he had a heart attack during the capability assessment is disgusting.

The bastards are still not letting up in the war on the poor.

Steve QuilterManchester

Reprint the war accounts

Harry Farr (Letters, 15 February) is right that The Monocled Mutineer is well worth reading.

But for a full account of mutiny and revolt during the First World War, read The Unknown Army by Douglas Gill and Gloden Dallas.

First printed by Verso in 1985 it contains accounts by those who survived. 

It’s long out of print, but copies can be dug up in libraries. Perhaps we could persuade Verso to reprint—or perhaps some bright young comrade could put it online.

Ian BirchallNorth London

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Article information

Tue 18 Feb 2014, 16:43 GMT
Issue No. 2391
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