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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 January 2010

Youth Fight for Jobs - demonstrate on 13 March

Marching for our future

Youth Fight for Jobs demonstration 28 November 2009, photo Dave Carr

Youth Fight for Jobs demonstration 28 November 2009, photo Dave Carr   (Click to enlarge)

Barking in east London is a deprived area by most measures, consistently facing attacks on services, jobs and homes. Unemployment in Barking and Dagenham has risen from 5.2% in July 2008 to 8.6% in July 2009 and has continued to rise.

Suzanne Beishon, Youth Fight for Jobs, London organiser
Youth Fight for Jobs  campaigns against unemployment

Youth Fight for Jobs campaigns against unemployment

Attacks on education have led to 39.5% of the population aged 16 to 74 having no qualifications. Cuts to the health service come alongside the fact that 19.9% of the borough's population have a limiting long-term illness.

However, Barking is no stranger to attacks. The borough once thrived off the skilled employment offered by the Dagenham Ford plant. At its height, the plant had 40,000 workers, and thousands were in subsidiary industries, which provided a future for many working class young people. Now that workforce has shrunk to 4,000, as Ford gradually scale back the plant to protect their profits.

Local council housing reached 40,000 at the height of Ford's employment and the massive Becontree estate was expanded to house the workers of the plant.

Within 20 years that figure dropped to 20,000, despite a housing waiting list today that would take eight years to clear at the current rate of provision. Now the Becontree estate is the far-right BNP's strongest base of support in the area.

The skilled work offered by Ford has virtually gone and now people in Barking have the lowest average income in London. Over 10% of families are single parent families and 55% of children grow up in poverty.

Failed by Labour policies on employment, housing, education and health it is possible for the BNP's anti-immigration rhetoric to gain an echo where no alternative is offered to the problems faced by the working class of the area.

Local Labour MP Margaret Hodge, embroiled in the MPs' expenses scandal, voted for introducing ID cards, foundation hospitals, student top-up fees and Labour's 'anti-terrorism' laws. She also supports the Iraq war and opposed an investigation into it. It is no wonder the people of Barking are fed up with their millionaire MP.

The BNP have no solutions to the problems faced by workers and young people. In a borough where class unity needs rebuilding, the BNP's divisive tactics are no cure. BNP leader Nick Griffin is standing here in the general election but this very rich, Cambridge educated landowner is far removed from the working class of Barking. The BNP, with its 12 local councillors, have failed in their role as the official opposition on the council to New Labour and have voted through cuts like all the other political parties.

Youth Fight for Jobs will be campaigning at schools, colleges and jobcentres in Barking against attacks on young people and to build a united fightback against cuts. Neither Labour, Tories, LibDems or the BNP can represent unemployed young people, and none of them will solve our problems.

Youth Fight for Jobs campaign against unemployment - marching in Barking

Youth Fight for Jobs campaign against unemployment - marching in Barking

Click here for YF4J leaflet

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