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LETTERS: Take up the fight against the Tories’ vindictive benefits regime

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Issue 2568
New work and pensions secretary David Gauke continues his predecessors war on the poor
New work and pensions secretary David Gauke continues his predecessors’ war on the poor (Pic: 10 Downing Street)

The Tories’ attack on unemployed and low paid workers is stepping up a gear with the further rolling out of Universal Credit in October.

Already half a million people are on this new computerised benefit from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

It is a savage attack on the working class.

Under the new benefit you have to wait for six weeks after signing on to get any money.

Any hardship payments received to stop you starving or becoming homeless will now be regarded as a loan to be paid back.

The really nasty part of Universal Credit (UC), and there are many, is that it replaces a number of “in work” benefits and will apply to low paid as well as unemployed workers.

Each UC claimant—including people receiving Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit—must sign a “Claimant Commitment” drawn up between them and a DWP “work coach”.

Any breach of that can get you sanctioned and mean the loss of all benefits for up to three years.

You can be deemed to be earning too low an amount and expected to ask for longer hours or find other work using Universal Jobmatch, the DWP’s dodgy recruitment website.

This “commitment” expects you to be available for work 365 days a year.

Outrageously, this regime includes sick and disabled people who have been declared too ill to work by their GP. But they could be declared fit enough to spend

35 hours a week looking for work.

Universal Credit can only make the explosion of food banks and homelessness on the streets of our cities far, far worse.

This is only the latest of many Tory attacks on the poor but it is one of the most vicious.

The left must take up this issue. This brutal and vindictive regime must be stopped.

With the Tories tearing themselves apart there’s never been a better time to fight back.

Duncan Brown, Glasgow

Confederate monuments must fall

Solidarity to those in the US countering Nazis and the racist “alt-right”—and to those who are bringing down the statues of Confederate generals and leaders across the US.

The “heritage” the Nazis defend represents genocide, slavery, colonisation, racism and war.

After the horrific events in Charlottesville it was incredible to see activists in North Carolina pull down a Confederate statue. There are still over 700 similar statues across the US.

Anti-fascists in the US can stop the fascists but it is going to take a mass united movement against fascism.

The potential is clear with workers, students and faith groups joining together in the US to say, “Never again!”

Emma Davis, North London

A cautious approach

The PCS union withdrew a strike ballot last week following a threatened legal challenge from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.

This means the ballot will be delayed for a week while the union provides further information on who it is balloting and why.

Union reps are confident that the ballot will be won. But it goes to show that the latest anti-union legislation is ensuring that unions are even more cautious than before.

Paul Williams, Nottingham

We won’t be intimidated

Immigrants made Glasgow’s Govanhill area the place it is today, whether from Donegal, Bengal, Russia or Romania. We’re proud of that history.

Govanhill Baths has always been a place for the whole community to share

—we reject discrimination in all forms.

We will not be intimidated by the racist graffiti by Britain First supporters that we have recently had to suffer.

We will celebrate the historic Rock Against Racism movement that took on and defeated the Nazi National Front with an anti-racist festival this weekend.

Music can bring people together and the festival gives us all a chance to stand up to racism and fascism. We can beat hate with love—and dancing.

Fatima Uygun, Glasgow

For more, go to

Racist scapegoating doesn’t help survivors of sexual abuse

People only tend to tell me about their experiences of rape and sexual abuse after I’ve talked about mine, sometimes years later.

It also means that when it happens, people have come to me to talk about it, knowing I understand, won’t be judgemental, won’t insist they report it.

For me, it means a further impetus to fight for an equal society where people aren’t viewed as sex objects. And for all men (it’s almost always men) to learn to understand and respect the wishes of others, and not decide their sexual gratification is the number one priority at all costs.

Also, by falsely claiming it’s specifically a “Muslim” or “Pakistani cultural issue”, you make it harder for victims whose abusers don’t fall under those categories to come forward.

Merlin Reader, Central London


A new train guard app

Northern Railway’s Facebook account asked us to “keep your eyes open for suspicious activity on our trains or at the station, and report it using our new mobile app feature #Eyewatch”.

Thank goodness there’s an app rather than a safety trained guard on every train—how reassuring!

Bev Smith, Durham

Bunch of Tory hypocrites

The Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson slammed Trump’s defence of Nazis. Did she forget her that own boss spent £1.5 billion buying the votes of the bigoted sectarians of the DUP? Hypocrite.

Russell Gallagher, Kirkintilloch

Pay tribute to Kent miners

I was at Clifton Rise in 1977 for the Battle of Lewisham and was a member of the Socialist Workers Party at the time.

We leafleted the Communist Party and churches’ peace march at the other end of Lewisham to urge people to go to Clifton Rise.

Tribute should be made to the very physically hard contingent of miners from the Kent coalfield who were there—and were also determined to break up the Nazi march.

Pete Ainsley, North London

Don’t watch Valerian film

Valerian (Socialist Worker, 8 August) is a teen movie masquerading as a spectacular event.

The acting is abysmal. The plot? Well, there really isn’t much.

Dave Patton, On Facebook

Who cares if Big Ben bongs?

It’s ridiculous that some MPs are criticising plans to mute Big Ben to protect workers’ hearing while they repair it.

I’m more angry that we’re wasting £26 million on Big Ben!

Kris Hodges, Nuneaton

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