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Thursday, 12 September 2013

Today we handed in a petition to Riverside calling on the association not to evict tenants who
fall into arrears specifically due to the bedroom tax. At the handover we organised a protest against the tax outside of their Botchergate office with a core of four people joined spontaneously by at least three members of the public. Passing cars peeped their horns and members of the public called out in support after reading our banner and placards. This response and the hundreds who have signed our petition makes clear the growing opposition to the policy which aims to extract money for the most vulnerable to make them pay for a crisis they never caused. Riverside would not take the position of opposing evictions for those unable to pay the tax, however the protest will help gain publicity for the fightback against an unjust unfair attack on the poor and vulnerable.

Previously we got a write-up in the News and Star in anticipation of the protest. Links to other news reports will be made as they appear online.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The Bedroom Tax, the Government policy whereby people in social housing who the Government deems to be underoccupying their homes have to pay up 14% to 25% of their housing benefit - which amounts to picking the pockets of the poorest and most vulnerable every week - has been denounced by a UN investigator. Raquel Rolnik claims that she is "shocked" by the tax and stated "My immediate recommendation is that the bedroom tax is abolished".

The Independent reports her as saying: “I was very shocked to hear how people really feel abused in their human rights by this decision and why - being so vulnerable - they should pay for the cost of the economic downturn, which was brought about by the financial crisis. "People in testimonies were crying, saying 'I have nowhere to go', 'I will commit suicide'".

The article states that Ministers expect to save £500 million annually. Even if that's true it amounts to less than half a percent of the £120bn tax gap due to tax avoidance, evasion and non-collection of earnings of the super rich every year. In reality many if not most of these spare rooms are fictitious. If two children occupy two seperate bedrooms by the government's standards this is seen as a spare room and that's just one of many examples of the arbitrary character of the charge. This tax shows the class basis of the current Government (why arn't they taxing the spacious homes of the rich?) and also how disconected the Governemnt is from ordinary people's lives. It is wrong to expect the poorest to pay for the crisis created by the bankers.

Carlisle Socialist Party has been very active locally fighting the tax as part of the Axe the Bedroom Tax group, getting together petitions against the tax on the estates and helping to organise an open air meeting against the tax outside the block of one bedroom flats in Botcherby that were being knocked down by Riverside. We think that instead of punishing the poor, two million new council houses should be built to tackle the lack of affordable housing. Cap rents, not benefits.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

In a recent article in the Mirror, Helen Pattison, a young worker talks about the scandal of zero-hour contracts and her own experience doing pub work. These contracts allow bosses to mess about with their workers hours at will as suits their own needs. People stuck on these contracts can't plan their lives because they can be called in or sent home at a moments notice. It also masks the scandal of underemployment which greatly exceeds the official figure for youth unemployment which itself is over a million!

John Harris at the Guardian has written an article on leftwing alternatives to Labour. I wouldn't quite agree with everything he says but at least it gives TUSC a plug in a national newspaper. Bob Crow is quoted:

"Over 100 years ago, my union and most unions supported the Liberal party, and they were told: 'You've got to stay in the Liberal party and turn it around,'" he tells me. "They broke with that and formed the Independent Labour party, because the Liberals weren't representing people that were working, unemployed, and in social deprivation. They set up the Labour party. And I think, 100 years later, what trade unions are realising is that the three main parties all support privatisation, all support anti-trade union laws, and all support, from time to time, illegal wars around the world."

TUSC is a step towards the formation of a new workers party that will act in the interests of the 99% and not the 1% in whose interests the three main parties act. The bosses have three parties, why not build one of our own!

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