Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/766/16711
End this 'evil bedroom tax'
Tony Mulhearn, Liverpool Socialist Party
'How can the person responsible for driving through this evil bedroom tax look at himself in the mirror every day?'
This question was asked, not by a campaigning activist, but by the Radio Merseyside presenter of a popular day-time music and chat programme, not noted for its radicalism.
It underlines the growing revulsion with the Con-Dems' attempt to cut housing benefit and force people to move to smaller properties, often outside the social housing sector. The bedroom tax is proving to be the most repellent symbol of this government of millionaire sociopaths*.
Hostility is deep and wide-ranging: at a stall held every Saturday outside Great Homer Street Market in Liverpool, working class people queue up to sign the anti-tax petition; at meetings of the Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation people who have never been involved in any political activity show their willingness to fight.
The fear of people, already struggling to eke out an existence, is palpable as story after story shows how the tax is wrecking lives. But the 'can't pay - will stay' slogan is being taken up across the country, by both those affected and those not directly hit but disgusted by the cold cruelty of the bedroom tax.
Tory hatchet man Iain Duncan Smith, the tax's architect, has tried to blunt the natural sympathy of those not affected by the tax by spewing out the 'scrounger' distortion of claimants receiving excessive benefits. His echoes in the right-wing press never explain that if people want to move to a smaller property in their area, rarely are any available.
At what stage does a distortion become a rank lie? The answer is when it drips from the poisoned tongue of Duncan Smith pontificating from the comfort of his Buckinghamshire estate, worth an estimated £2 million, where he resides in opulent comfort with his millionaire wife Betsy Fremantle, daughter of the Fifth Baron Cottesloe.
But this tax can be defeated by solidarity, based on the traditional slogan of the working class movement: 'a hurt against one is a hurt against all.' Stick together in a mass campaign and this politically corrupt government, mired in sleaze and split from top to bottom can be forced to retreat.
* Sociopath: Manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behaviour; lacking compassion and empathy.
The Socialist Party says:
- No evictions of tenants who fall into rent arrears as a result of austerity cuts. Organise local campaigns to oppose the tax and defend our homes, and link them to existing anti-cuts groups. Build anti-eviction armies in every area to protect people's homes.
- Stand candidates against councillors who try to evict us. Build a new mass workers' party that draws together workers, young people and activists from workplaces and anti-cuts campaigns, to provide a fighting, political alternative to the pro-cuts parties.
- Cap rents and build homes. Invest in a major programme of council house building and refurbishment to provide affordable homes for all and decent jobs.
- End low pay! If workers are paid a genuinely living wage they would not need to claim housing benefit.
- Boardroom tax not bedroom tax. Make the rich pay for their crisis including nationalisation of the banking system, major corporations and utilities under democratic control with compensation paid only on the basis of proven need.
- Fight all the cuts. Trade unions must build for a 24-hour general strike as the next major step in the campaign against austerity.
- For a socialist alternative to cuts and capitalism with a democratic socialist plan of production based on the interests of the overwhelming majority of people - not the 1%.
National Shop Stewards Network conference
The 7th annual NSSN conference is open to everyone in the unions and all those fighting these brutal cuts.
29 June 2013 11am - 5pm in the Camden Centre, Judd Street, London WC1H 9JE
"The trade union movement must stand side by side with people affected by the bedroom tax and other benefit cuts. Unite's Community campaign aims to organise students, unemployed and retired people.
"The NSSN supports Unite's calls for the formation of local groups to lobby councils against evictions and the organisation of mass community-led direct action to defend homes and stop the bailiffs."
Nick Parker, PCS DWP rep (personal capacity)
PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE
In The Socialist 22 May 2013:
Fight the bedroom tax
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news