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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 July 2020

Defend free TV licences for pensioners!

The licence fee should be replaced by funding from general, progressive taxation

The licence fee should be replaced by funding from general, progressive taxation   (Click to enlarge)

Keith Dickinson, West London Socialist Party

The BBC has announced it will be knocking on pensioners' doors to collect 157.50 from 1 August, in pursuance of this Tory government's policy of withdrawing free TV licences for over-75s.

Most pensioners have worked all our lives creating the wealth now in the pockets of the billionaires who exploit the economy from their luxury yachts in some sunny climate. Tens of thousands of us have died in the pandemic, and millions are locked down fearing for our lives, with only the TV to give us an inkling of what's going on in the world outside.

It is clear that pensioners are pawns in this government's vicious campaign. Free licences for over-75s were introduced in 1999, with the government to pay the bill.

In 2015, Tory chancellor George Osborne passed responsibility for the costs onto the BBC from 2018. The corporation's bosses accepted this, providing they could increase everyone's licence fees in line with inflation from 2020.

Last year, the BBC announced the concession would be scrapped, except for those receiving pension credit benefits. Currently, 600,000 of those entitled don't claim. And BBC director of policy Clare Sumner immediately caused uproar, stating that "outreach" workers from infamous outsourcer Capita would visit pensioners at home to ensure we pay up!

This is part of the Tories' ideological determination to discredit public broadcasting - despite the BBC's value to capitalism as a state propaganda machine, proven once again during the coronavirus outbreak. At the same time, they want to whip the BBC even further to the right, and commercialise more of its profitable sections for their money-grubbing friends.

The Tories are even prepared to set a precedent of decriminalising non-payment of what is, in effect, a regressive tax. According to 'Culture Secretary' Oliver Dowden, they fear "it will be an own goal of epic proportions to start hauling people over 75 in front of the courts."

If the Tories themselves fear this issue blowing up, where are the trade union and Labour leaders? They should demand no fees for pensioners as a minimum. Really we need to end the licence fee for all, to be replaced with funding from general taxation - and genuine democratic control of the media.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 15 July 2020:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Workers and young people need planning for jobs, not handouts for bosses

Lockdown Leicester: trade unionists and parents fight for safety

Sexist dismissal of women's health: NHS needs democratic control

Palace letters show the monarchy is a weapon for capitalism

Defend free TV licences for pensioners!

Water shortage warning: nationalise now!

Hillingdon Hospital corona outbreak: workforce not to blame


No going back

A socialist programme for schools


Workplace news and analysis

A fighting programme for Unite

PCS executive majority cancels union democracy

'Hands off our pensions!' demand angry Nissan workers

Tower Hamlets council workers strike back

Ratcliffe rats on Bridgend workers


Socialist history

How capitalist restoration led to war and 'ethnic cleansing' in the Balkans


Black Lives Matter

How the FBI and Chicago police murdered a Black Panther

Will boosting the 'black pound' improve black workers' lives?

BLM protests - another injustice exposed


Readers' opinion

Books that inspired me: The Mother

TV: Ross Kemp - Living with Forced Out Families


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Jobs, homes, services and a future for all!

Socialism 2020 - ideas to change the world

Nottingham trans rights protest: Our demands are the same as everyone's

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Donations help us campaign and fight for socialism

Selling the Socialist in Swansea


 

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