Bedroom Tax protests across Britain

Demonstrations have taken place across Britain this weekend in opposition to the hated “Bedroom Tax”.

Blaming the poor for poverty

When the Bedroom Tax comes into force on 1 April, 14 percent will be cut from housing benefit for households with one ‘spare’ bedroom and 25 percent from those with two or more.

An estimated 660,000 working-age social tenants across the country will be hit, losing an average of £14-16 per week, and facing the stark choice of moving home or being forced into even deeper poverty. Evictions and debt levels will skyrocket.

Bedroom Tax demo in Leeds
Bedroom Tax demo in Leeds

In order to justify this move, politicians and journalists have been spinning a fairy tale of housing ‘shortages’, but it is actually one- and two-bed flats that are in short supply, so where are people supposed to ‘downsize’ to?

If our rulers really want to do something about the affordable housing shortage, why not set rent controls in the private sector, build lots of new social homes and requisition all those empty ‘deluxe’ flats?

It’s a classic privatisation strategy – first reduce the amount and quality of a service, then blame the service users for the problem and use it to justify the next privatisation move! How many times have we been told that our NHS is under threat because poor people are suffering from diet- or smoking-related ailments, or that burdensome pensioners are ‘bed-blocking’?

The answer? Instead of creating new hospital wards and putting more nurses and doctors into them, more outsourcing to dodgy profiteers and more cuts in bed and frontline staff numbers to pay more PFI debts!

In reality, this tax has nothing to do with ‘freeing up social housing’; it is a callous scapegoating of Britain’s poorest people – after all, only those who are claiming benefits will have to pay, even though many of them are already impoverished to the point of malnutrition.

Disabled people, single parents who are not designated as the ‘main carer’ for their children, couples sleeping apart owing to medical conditions … all will be hit. Children of the same sex will be required to share a room until they reach 16, and of the opposite sex until the age of 10.

Demonstrations against the bedroom tax are on the rise
Demonstrations against the bedroom tax are on the rise

Labour party hypocrisy

Grassroots campaigns to oppose the tax have been launched by workers all over Britain. But a dangerous pattern is emerging as these campaigns take shape – their hijacking by Labour’s so-called ‘left’ wing and the exclusion and silencing of all non-Labour-affiliated organisations and individuals.

Many supposedly ‘non-aligned’ events have been seized and monopolised by a ‘committee’ that has censored anyone who tries to tell the truth about Labour’s support for and implementation of the capitalists’ cuts. Non-Labour people have been systematically blocked from Facebook event and campaign pages all over the country.

Demonstrators in Birmingham in April
Demonstrators in Birmingham in April

The hypocrisy is staggering. Labour, far from building new homes, recently oversaw 13 years of sell-offs and privatisation that massively accelerated the ghettoisation of Britain’s remaining social tenants, while ‘Red Ed’ Miliband, in whom we are asked to put our hopes of a ‘worker-friendly’ capitalist government next time around, has actually endorsed the bedroom tax.

When it comes to cuts, privatisation, and all other attacks on working people’s living standards, the Tories, Labour and LibDems are all as bad as each other, because they all serve the same capitalist interests. The ‘debate’ that they distract us with is only about how soon or how fast to make the cuts that capitalists demand – or who to blame, and where to wield the knife first.

What they are all agreed on is that British imperialism must at all costs be saved from the current crisis, which is the deepest ever seen – even worse than the fabled Great Depression of the 1930s, which led to WW2 and the deaths of millions of poor people all over the world.

Let us recall that the $20bn cuts ‘required’ to be made to our health service were first announced by the Labour government – and that all the parties agreed with them. They also all agreed that £1bn on bombing Libya’s hard-won infrastructure – health, education, housing, industry, electricity and water – into the dust was money well spent.

Desperate to stop workers drawing the obvious conclusion that no capitalist party can serve their interests, Labour has been working hard to rebrand itself as the ‘anti-cuts’ opposition. Glossy leaflets and online campaigns abound, but the concerted effort to remove all other voices from the bedroom tax campaign is proof that the party is not interested in uniting the opposition and defeating the tax, but only in getting a bit of free advertising. Labour’s fake ‘opposition’ to cuts is just a cynical PR exercise.

If more proof is still needed of this, let us look at the case of Newcastle’s Michael McDonald. As an anti-cuts organiser, he must be a thorn in the side of the Labour-led council that is busy implementing drastic cuts in the city.

Following an anti-cuts demo in February, where Mr McDonald told council-leader Nick Forbes what he thought about these attacks on Newcastle’s poorest, this Labour scoundrel sent police to drag McDonald out of his bed and charge him with a ‘public order’ offence!

The Labour party’s true role as policeman of the workers’ movement could not have been more clearly illustrated!

Red Youth organiser Austin on the mic!

To injure one is to injure us all

We need to understand that no representative of a capitalist party is on the side of the workers, however much (s)he may pretend to be. Nor is anyone who tries to incite us to blame each other for the poverty in which we find ourselves.

It is not immigrants, fat people, poor people, smokers, benefit claimers, council-house tenants, hoodies or pensioners who are ‘bleeding the country dry’ but the free-market-fundamentalist gangsters who rampage all over the globe in search of profit, profit and more profit.

Today, our forces are divided, not only by the racism and scapegoating that we are encouraged to indulge in, but by the pigeon-holing of struggles as ‘separate’ issues, each one of which is presented as being relevant only to a small minority of people.

We have lost sight of the fact that ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’, and so our forces are dispersed and our attention is diverted by every new media-created distraction.

If we unite, however, we can use our collective power to sabotage all attempts to make us pay for the capitalists’ crisis. A real tenants’ movement, instead of Almo-led eviction organisations, is needed to defend our homes.

If we join together we can refuse to be resettled or moved. We can patrol our estates and stop bailiffs from evicting our fellow tenants. We must defend ourselves – and our neighbours – from the thugs and hired servants of the rich.

And we must refuse to let our campaign groups be hijacked by Labour politicians who do nothing to defend the working class from the assaults of capitalist bloodsuckers. They are helping the state to rob the poor to pay the rich – kick them out of our communities!

60 years without Stalin

stalin

“In the so called mistakes of Stalin lies the difference between a revolutionary attitude and a revisionist attitude. You have to look at Stalin in the historical context in which he moves, you don’t have to look at him as some kind of brute, but in that particular historical context . . . I have come to communism because of daddy Stalin and nobody must come and tell me that I mustn’t read Stalin. I read him when it was very bad to read him. That was another time. And because I’m not very bright, and a hard-headed person, I keep on reading him. Especially in this new period, now that it is worse to read him. Then, as well as now, I still find a series of things that are very good.” – Che Guevara

“Congratulating Stalin is not a formality. Congratulating Stalin means supporting him and his cause, supporting the victory of socialism, and the way forward for mankind which he points out, it means supporting a dear friend. For the great majority of mankind today are suffering, and mankind can free itself from suffering only by the road pointed out by Stalin and with his help.” Mao Zedong

It’s 60 years since the world proletariat lost is great teacher and leader, Joseph Stalin. In the wake of his passing Khrushchevite revisionism brought defeat, humiliation and disaster for the world socialist movement. Since the tragic collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics it has become only clearer that Stalin’s life was one long struggle for Bolshevism, for the winning over of the masses to the marxist leninist position and a ceaseless fight against the agents of imperialism. What a catastrophe it has been for the people of the entire planet, not only the USSR, to have seen the triumph of revisionism and the collapse of the Soviet Union!

Red Youth raises high the banner of Josef Stalin!

Long live Marxism Leninism!
Death to imperialism!

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Labour, Tory same old story – fight all the cuts!

Red Youth and cpgb-ml comrades attended an anti-cuts demo outside the Labour Party Conference on Sunday. Comrades were there to highlight the role played by all the main parties who’re in service to big business, and to argue that a simple changing of the guard is not going to get us out of the mess we’re in.

In June, a 48-year-old man tied himself to the railings of a Jobcentre, doused himself in flammable liquid and set himself ablaze. (See Guardian, 29 June 2012)

This desperate act reveals, in the most brutal of terms, that poverty in Britain is not only material deprivation, in which sky scrapers are erected and social housing bulldozed, but a multi-dimensional assault – physical and psychological – on working-class people.

Indeed, research published last month by the Centre for the Modern Family showed that one in five British families are ‘living on the edge’. (See Independent, 26 June 2012)

As retail food prices have increased by 25 percent since 2008, and the price of child care and average household bills have sky-rocketed, so too have levels of stress and mental ill health. (See Economist, 23 June 2012)

This reality is worse still in the north of England, Wales and Scotland. And, throughout the country, young people are bearing the brunt of British austerity.

Since last year’s youth uprisings, dubbed criminal rioting by bourgeois commentators, no serious attempt to tackle youth poverty has occurred. In fact, changes to benefit entitlement have pushed thousands more into deprivation; implanting feelings of failure, shame and psychological distress upon an entire generation of young people. (See BBC News Online, 11 October 2011)

It is only logical, therefore, that – with a diminutive job market, an education system that is being progressively commodified, and a vanishing NHS – class antagonisms will intensify and uprisings may become as much a part of the British summertime as corporate-sponsored sporting events.

From the student activist to the unemployed youth, in the classroom and in the street, young people are awakening to discover that our political and economic system is not designed to help realise their potential but only to exploit the labour of some and utterly discard the rest.

They are also discovering that our system is designed to enrich a tiny handful of financiers. It was revealed this month that the super-rich have between $21tr and $32tr stashed away in tax havens. (Seecnn.com, 25 July 2012)

This is not a charge from radical opponents of capitalism, but the findings of bourgeois investigation. Nor are these the dealings of shadowy businesses but the recognised and admitted practice of the world’s largest financial institutions. It is an astonishing figure, greater than the GDP of any imperialist nation, and it is the kind of wealth that could eradicate poverty for vast swathes of humanity.

There could not be a clearer example of how income disparity and material and psychological deprivation is becoming more acute in modern Britain. As welfare safety nets disappear, and government oppression increases, we should not only expect greater incidence of civil unrest but prepare to inject it with ideological direction.

Communists must seek to build and lead popular mass movements for real change; for a mere change of government will not suffice. Only an entirely new system can offer our youth a positive future.