Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/12578
'Youth Fight for Jobs' organises in Tottenham
A week on from the riots, 'Youth Fight for Jobs' and 'Day-Mer Youth' organised an excellent meeting in Tottenham attended by 90 people on Tuesday evening (16.8.11) to discuss the way forward for local youth.
The meeting was chaired by London YFJ organiser Suzanne Beishon and introduced by Steve Hedley from the RMT and Vik Chechi from Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ), but most time was left for those in the audience to give their own opinions.
Contributions from a wide range of ages and backgrounds all reached a similar conclusion - that youth had every reason to be angry but that rioting helped nobody.
However, unlike the hypocritical condemnation being spouted by the press and politicians, everyone who spoke wanted to seriously reflect on why the riots had broken out and, crucially, suggest ways to help the youth and community productively organise action over the many grievances facing working people across all of London's communities.
Before the meeting, YFJ had held a protest against the closure of youth services by Haringey's Labour council. Plans were outlined to organise further demonstrations to oppose council cuts.
David Lammy, Tottenham's Labour MP, came in for strong criticism for his failure to explain the real grievances facing local people and for not speaking out against the cuts and the stop-and-search harassment suffered by local youth.
Calls for community campaigns and trade unions to stand their own anti-cuts candidates in the London Assembly elections were applauded, as were calls for the building of a new workers' party.
The vindictive sentences being handed out on rioters were contrasted with the 'looting' of our services and taxes by the wealthy - with the chancellor, Osborne, now suggesting he will even abolish the 50p tax rate for the wealthy.
A local youth, Young Deacon, performed "Failed by the System" that has so much more to say about the riots than the demonisation of black youth being spouted by many of the tabloids (http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/ourkingdom/young-deacon-failed-by-system).
Zoe, a young teacher, spoke about her anger about the way that youth were being scapegoated in the media and for the way many pupils were labelled as 'failures' at an early age.
Others pointed out that the killing of Mark Duggan by the police, the incident that had sparked the riots in the first place, must not be forgotten. Youth Fight for Jobs have been calling for an independent trade union and community led enquiry into his death.
Trade unionists also spoke about the need for unions to show a way forward by taking strike action against cuts and austerity - especially by continuing and extending the action against pensions in the autumn.
Many present said they would be be attending the NSSN rally and lobby on September 11th to call on the TUC to organise coordinated strike action across the public sector.
Nina Franklin, NUT President, will be speaking as well as Bob Crow from the RMT and Mark Serwotka from the PCS.