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From The Socialist newspaper, 26 May 2021

Young people and workers unite

Fight for the right to protest

Fight the capitalist profit system

Demonstrating for the right to protest, Newcastle, April 2021, photo Elaine Brunskill

Demonstrating for the right to protest, Newcastle, April 2021, photo Elaine Brunskill   (Click to enlarge)

Helen Pattison, West London Socialist Party

The Tory government is preparing to recoup the billions of pounds it has been forced to spend during the Covid crisis. Step one is the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Step two will be a fresh round of mass austerity, from the NHS to poverty wages, cuts to local services to benefits, and more.

The government knows its attacks will provoke mass protests and struggle, so it is laying down its defences now with the biggest curtailment of the right to protest in a generation.

It's not a coincidence that the last time this bill was amended, was under Margaret Thatcher, who made the organised working class her enemy and pushed millions into poverty.

That said - the growing anger that already exists in society will not be so easily stopped. Covid has helped expose the rottenness of capitalism, which means misery for millions of ordinary people.

There has been mass protest already, against inequality, oppression and poverty. From all those who took a stand against the bombardment of Gaza by the Israeli government and their move towards a new war, to the protests last year as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, where working-class youth flowed onto the streets to protest racism from both the US and UK governments, and for a real alternative. As well as this, there has been a wave of strong and combative strikes against workplace victimisation and 'fire-and-rehire' tactics. And the movement against sexism and women's oppression.

While these movements might remain unfinished, they have also shown the strength of working-class people when we organise on a mass scale.

Black Lives Matter gave confidence to the students at Pimlico Academy to protest against a racist uniform policy and bullying headteacher. They have changed the uniform policy and the headteacher has left.

The National Education Union forced the closure of the schools at the beginning of the year, keeping staff and students safe from growing Covid rates. Last year, the weak Tory government was forced to U-turn on its disastrous A-level algorithm.

The right to organise and protest links all of these struggles. As does the need to stand up to capitalism, a system which whips up and relies on oppression at every turn.

Throughout the last year, capitalism has shown how little it has to offer. It failed to stop the spread of Covid, provide PPE, and the NHS struggled to cope on its shoestring budget. It failed to adequately support people during the lockdowns and let the virus surge through overcrowded neighbourhoods. We need a socialist system which puts the needs of ordinary people before the profits of a few.

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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.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 26 May 2021:

What we think

Palestinians need a new socialist intifada


Our lives, our jobs, our future - Not safe in Tory hands

Fight for the right to protest

Great British Railways shake-up offers no end to profiteering

Organise to oppose Tory academisation plans

Lancaster Greens do deal with Tories

News in brief


Organise for 3 July NHS pay protests

Scottish Independence

Where now for the Scottish independence movement?


Metroline London bus workers win huge victory

Goodlord sacks strikers - fight the penny-pinching, bullying bosses!

Thurrock refuse workers beat council and bin pay cut

RMT: Support Alan Pottage for assistant general secretary

NUJ leadership pushes through subs increase but left lands blows at conference

CWU elections: Vote for a fighting, campaigning, socialist EC member

'Fire and rehire' attempts spread - coordinated fightback needed

Cadent Gas plans 200 job losses


Mexico City subway train collapse - negligence, corruption and capitalism

US right to abortion under threat: Mass campaign to support the right to choose must be built


Stop Israeli state terror against Palestinians

Leicester protest against arms supplies to Israel

Palestine protesters donate to fund socialist material

Cladding anger builds - protest on 5 June

Readers' Opinion

Get up, stand up - don't give up the fight!

Film review: Nomadland

TV review: Three Families is excellent. But protest movement is missing

The Socialist Inbox


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