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Kent International Socialists
Bulletin 2 2014 £1
NO JOBS... BAD HOUSING...
HOSPITAL CUTS ...
iSSue 1 (expanded edition) 2014
Printed and published by Kent International Socialists
‘Solidarity’ is the new, regular
bulletin of a new organisation: Kent
international Socialists (KiS). We aim
to join the fight for a fair, peaceful,
Solidarity is, of course, a very old word. It
describes what happens when working
class people, of all ages, women and men,
working and not, stand together to face a
The Coalition Government is using
‘austerity’ to undermine the reforms, and
rights we have fought for, and won, over
We need ‘solidarity’ now more than ever to
challenge the racism that says profits can
move around the world unhindered, but
We need ‘solidarity’ to stand together to
defend our NHS, to protect the
environment, and to stop further attacks on
Solidarity also means strong trade unions,
and we will throw ourselves into supporting
workers fighting back around the world.
In future issues, we will discuss some of the
ideas behind the formation of KIS. And we
will bring you local news of people fighting
back with all the information activists need,
and optimistically, hope that together we
can fight back, and sometimes even win.
We will be holding meetings in a number of
towns in the County, and welcome many
more people to come and discuss how we
can organise locally to be part of a global
neW Year'S DaY, we were told
by the right wing politicians and
press, would be the day the
floodgates opened. romanians
and Bulgarians, free at last to
work in Britain without
restrictions, would come in their
hordes. Beggars and benefit
scroungers would be battering
on our doors. Britain would be
“swamped”. But when it came to
it, there was no sign of them.
For months, we have been
subjected to a constant mantra of
racist hysteria, as the Tories
competed with the nationalist UK
Independence Party into frightening
us about the coming onslaught, and
promising toxic crackdowns on
migrants, encouraged by a
Cameron claimed he was going to
clamp down on “benefit tourism”, for
which the government conceded
there was in fact no “quantitative
evidence”. He then announced
migrants would no longer be able to
claim out-of-work benefits for three
months – which is effectively
already the case.
In reality, politicians need a
scapegoat for falling living
standards, dwindling public
services and housing shortages.
Faced with an electoral threat
from UKIP, the Tories and their
friends in the media have again
reached for the race card to blame
foreigners instead. This will only
strengthen Ukip's appeal.
Abuse and scapegoating of the
Roma people - Europe's most
shamefully treated minority – will
be ratcheted up instead.
This is a perfect solution for the
government and its supporters,
which detracts from dealing with a
financial crisis caused by the
insatiable drive for profits by the
bankers and the bosses. As Damian
Drăghici, Roma adviser to the
Romanian prime minister, put it this
week, Britain should be more
worried about bankers “stealing
billions” than “Roma begging in the
In the past decade, the bosses
have tried to ruthlessly hold down
wages – which have since been cut
in real terms for four years in a row
as a result of the financial crisis. It is
globalised trade, technology and the
decline of the unions, which has led
to the stagnation of wages.
This is why we have to fight for a
decent system for all. We need a
higher minimum wage and an end
to state-subsidised low pay and a
stronger unionised workforce to
protect all workers from needless
exploitation. We also need a
massive housing investment
programme, an end to the cutting of
public services, and to cease the
outsourced race to the bottom in
the majority of us are exploited
by the bosses and the bankers,
wherever we come from. this we
share in common. We need to
link arms and unite with our
brothers and sisters and take our
fight to the bosses instead.
the resistable rise of ukip
WHen ukip started life in
1994 its language was
largely anti eu and its
But the racists were still there in the background.
Ukip’s 1997 general election manifesto contained
anti immigrant passages. One of their candidates in
Penge, after being told that his backing came from
Monday Club Tories and 1970’s NF supporters,
reacted by saying “Some of our members are Jewish.”
Ukip won a strong vote in the 2004 European
elections, and one of their new high profile MEPs was
Robert Kilroy Silk, the TV personality and former
Labour MP. But he resigned from the party shortly
afterwards. Until recently they have since been
treading water in the polls and were dismissed by
many: David Cameron called them “fruitcakes,
loonies and closet racists” in 2006.
But in recent years Ukip has sharpened up its anti
migrant rhetoric, which has proved popular in areas
such as Thanet where many Eastern European people
live and work. In the KCC elections in May 2013, Ukip
gained 7 out of 8 seats and now have one Councillor in
Thanet due to a by election.
People give various reasons for the increase in
Ukip votes. ‘Rebelling against the established parties’
is frequently trotted out. There may well be some
truth to this statement, where the established parties
are seen to have irrevocably tarnished their
reputations. But, we have to be clear about what
sentiments really drive people to vote for Ukip: The
anti EU and anti migrant rhetoric is the dominant
However, it’s not just racism – Ukip’s party
literature features a lot of homophobic material too.
They came out against gay marriage, which brought
them more support from old Tories and rabid
Christian groups. Ironically the party’s founder Alan
Sked (who has long since left them) is an openly gay
man. He says the party has moved too far to the right
and is now thinking of setting up a new “left of
centre” anti EU party.
Nigel Farage, Ukip’s current leader, likes to
promote himself as a sort of ‘good bloke you’d meet in
the pub’. In reality he’s a millionaire and former
stockbroker who left the Tory party when the EU’s
Maastricht Treaty was signed. He’s a frequent guest
on TV and radio panels where he gets to peddle the
usual half-truths and lies that you hear from pub
bores. On a recent Question Time he started to mouth
off about migrants jumping the queue for council
A housing worker in the audience confronted him
over this, but Farage just ignored him and continued
his anti migrant prattle regardless of the facts
presented to him. Just recently, he has said he agrees
with the now notorious “Rivers of Blood” speech
made by disgraced racist Tory MP Enoch Powell in
Farage can get away with this partly because the
British press is so keen on pandering to and stoking
up public fears about migrants. It also helps that
there is some justification for the feeling that the EU
is a problem. It is, after all, a bosses’ club and it’s no
coincidence that the most vocal in support for EU
Nasty Little Nigel
membership comes from the CBI. But for most Ukip
supporters suspicion of the EU is blended in with a
bigoted “Little Englander” mentality that opposes
Europe because it’s foreign. But recently there have
been signs that Ukip wants to exploit an anti bosses
Ukip’s focus has evolved recently in a more
explicitly populist direction. One of their councillors
wrote to a local Cambrige paper, arguing vehemently
against the Bedroom Tax, pointing out Tories who
live in mansions with many spare bedrooms.
However, it’s important not to exaggerate these
trends. Ukip are still mostly railing about
immigration, aiming their bile against Bulgarians
and Romanians. But to counter this bile, we have to
be prepared to talk to potential Ukip voters. Many of
them are people who take little or no interest in
mainstream politics. We need to ensure that these
people are aware of what Ukip’s real agenda is and
who they actually are. We need a concerted
campaign, involving all who hate bigotry and racism
to come together to fight.
We must make sure that voting or supporting Ukip
becomes as ‘unfashionable’ as support for the
National Front or BNP. Ukip are not fascists (far
right groups who aim to destroy democratic rights)
but their racist politics are a danger to the safety of all
in our community.
Campaigners are planning a Freedom Festival in
Thanet this summer. It will aim to involve progressive
groups and trades unions, colleges and schools, as
well as local and national performers and artists.
It is events like these which help to break down
barriers and bring people together to fight racism and
put the blame for cuts in our services where it should
lay: with the bosses and their rich politician frien
l nigel Farage is due to host a
meeting for supporters in Margate on
Monday 20 January. a protest has been
called by activists at the Walpole Bay
Hotel, Cliftonville, from 2pm.’
ROYAL MAIL: Reject the deal
roYal Mail was privatised in october 2013. the only people
who wanted it to happen were bankers and ‘city types’ who saw
another chance for a rip-off .
royal Mail management were also looking forward to guzzling
in the money trough. the government wanted it to happen
because 'public is bad, private is good' and the free market is
the new religion.
the CWu (postal workers union) had voted for strike action to
defend pay and working conditions but the union leadership
called this off at the last minute and decided to negotiate.
a deal has been reached with royal Mail and the union
executive are calling for a YeS vote this month. the agreement
includes a three year pay deal and five years protection on pay
and job security.
However it locks the union into a framework of ‘co-operation’
and ‘mediation’ in the workplace which will open the door to
management bullying and the increasing the workloads of
already overloaded employees. there is also a clause that
allows royal Mail to rip up the agreement if there are
‘exceptional circumstances’ or a national strike.
the agreement will compromise the union and weaken the
workers. it should be rejected.
Mark Duggan’s Vigil,
tottenham, 11th January
tWo and half years ago
Mark Duggan died at the
hands of the Met Police
Firearms unit, and an
inquest earlier this month
returned a verdict of ‘lawful
killing’ to widespread
bafflement and anger.
On a cold January morning, up
to two thousand people, including
family, friends, local people, union
members, students, activists and
many others came together to
remember Mark’s life and to
demonstrate their support and
solidarity for those close to him.
The atmosphere was respectful,
yet quietly angry and defiant, and
the vigil began with a minute’s
silence for Mark. Carole Duggan,
Mark’s aunt, made a point of
thanking those witnesses who had
come forward in the inquest, and
mentioned those who wanted to
waive anonymity, such was their
desire to see justice for the family
Stafford Scott talked of the
‘different generations of pain’
created by police violence, and
many of those who had been killed
by the police over the past thirty
years were represented today by
Rupert Sylvester spoke about
the death of his son, Roger, who
had been killed in Tottenham by
police exactly 15 years ago today.
Marcia Rigg spoke about the
murder of her brother Sean in
Brixton police station, Stephanie
UFFC) talked about the murder of
her twin brother Leon Patterson
and the three inquests into his
death – the first one having to be
aborted because the wife of the
custody sergeant was on the jury.
Other people who spoke
included Leon Briggs’ best friend,
who died only a few months ago at
the hands of Luton police, a
campaigner from Hillsborough
Justice for the 96, a member of
the Kurdish Turkish community,
friends of Mark Duggan’s family
and the vicar, Rev Nims Obunge,
who had buried both Mark and
Mark’s father and spoke of the
tragedy that a parent should ever
have to bury their child.
David Lammy MP was
noticeably absent, but Diane
Abbott MP spoke briefly at the
end. John McDonnell MP had
previously sent his support for the
Duggan family. Unions
represented included the NUT and
At the end of the vigil, as the
crowd sang ‘We Shall Overcome’,
the family released several doves
into the air: but as Stafford Scott
reminded, without justice there
can be no peace.
a Justice for Mark Duggan
public meeting has been called
for the 30 January, 7pm, at the
Bruce Grove community house,
Stand up to RACISM and fASCISM Rally
and Demonstration • 22 MARCH
Rally and Demo marking UN Anti-Racism Day •11am,
Saturday 22nd March 2014
Central London • Backed by TUC, Unite Against fascism
and many others
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Where do you go
cupboard is bare?
In December last year, the ‘nasty Party’ again
showed their true colours during the debate in the
Commons on the use of Food Banks.
Laughing at stories of hungry families who are forced into
relying on Food Banks, the Tories have really shown how
contemptuous and out of touch they are towards ordinary
people now facing the Coalition’s ‘Austerity’ measures.
The Daily Mirror reports: “In one of the most shameful
episodes ever witnessed in Parliament, Tory backbenchers
sniggered and hooted as Labour MP Fiona MacTaggart told of
shocking scenes at her local Tesco in Slough, Berkshire, as
people battled over cut-price fruit and veg.”
Labour MP Barry Gardiner, said it was shocking that Ian
Duncan-Smith, Secretary of State for the DWP, ‘smirked’ when
told that half a million families are now using Food Banks.
The leading provider of this service – the Trussell Trust – said
it was disappointed by those who had ‘jeered’ in the Commons.
Duncan-Smith, however, refused to answer questions and
instead his deputy Esther McVey was called to speak for the
She provoked outrage when claiming, “it was a good thing
that more people were turning to Food Banks! In the UK it is
right that more people are going to Food Banks because as times
are tough, we all have to pay back this £1.5 trillion debt
We are all trying to live within our means, change gear and
make sure that we pay back all our debt.” This is laughable
when we consider that MP’s have just received an 11 percent
pay rise and are able to claim expenses for their food.
Stella, a resident from Thanet tells her story:
“Just recently, I got into financial problems that were beyond
my control, and without any other support from my family I had
to find means of food and heating as I was unable to eat due to
having no money. A friend gave me a phone number for Kent
Support, and said that this number may be able to help.
“After a bit of thought I gave them a ring. To be honest I don't
like asking for help especially when the help is from people I
don't know. It seemed strange - like begging, but having no
other options I gave them a ring.
“They were quite helpful on the end of the phone line. They
asked me where I obtained their phone number from. I
explained the amount of expenses I had going out from my ESA
payment, which left me with £2, and no way to get any
shopping and other essential items.
“They said that they were “usually a referral service from the
Job Centre” and explained that it would have to go through the
system and after a decision, that I would receive a phone call
back. I said fine. I did not think that I would hear back, but they
rang me back in the afternoon and explained that I would
receive so many days food and get help
with my heating. I was more than
grateful that I was going to be getting a
bit of help.
“They rang me back the next day with
the details of the food delivery, and sent
me an email to get gas and electric via a
credit voucher to take to a shop.
“Getting the voucher via email was a
bit of a headache: waiting for it to
happen, then having to get help to print
it out. However, to my amazement the
food parcel was a lot more than I would
be able to get normally with what money
I receive. The food was basic supplies
with cleaning and personal hygiene
“They asked me about my dietary
needs and of others who I had living
with me, and explained that I could be
prosecuted for giving false information.
“Kent Support also explained that
they are only able to provide this
service three times a year.
“ I was also asked what would
be the outcome if I didn't receive
help. I described the expenses I
had going out and the fact that I
have no other means of support,
and that I was not well enough
to sort anything else out due to
being unwell, meant I would go
days without food and heating.”
In Thanet there are now many
charities and faith groups
offering this service: St Pauls
Church and the Salvation Army.
The Catholic Church in Margate and
the Methodist church in Broadstairs
provide a small scale service for those
unable to afford to eat. However, all of
the providers, including Kent Support,
only deliver this service on alternative
days of the week; nothing in the area is
open over the weekend for
Poverty on this scale has not been seen
in this country since the Great
Depression of the thirties. The
government has decided that the
banker’s crisis of 2008, which has seen
inordinate national debts accrue, is to be
paid for by us. The bankers and the
bosses and their friends in government
are trying to use the crisis to slash our
services, wages, jobs and benefits.
But, all over the country resistance to
the Tory cuts are being led by people like
Stella spoke to Bunny La Roche
NO LOVE HERE fOR
SoMe 60 people demonstrated
outside the office of tV firm love
Productions in central london
earlier this month to call for an end
to biased media portrayal of welfare
love Productions is responsible for
Channel 4’s Benefits Street
programme. one protester said: “all
they’re showing you is a few
snapshots taken out of focus, and
served to a public who are, sadly, all
too ready to eat up what they’re
Benefits Street fits right into a wider
agenda of scapegoating welfare
claimants. it comes against a
backdrop of cuts in services and in
provisions for disabled people, as
well as renewed attacks on
romanian and Bulgarian migrant
another protester highlighted how
the media helps create myths that
target the poorest:
“What is the role of the mainstream
media? Where is the balance?
Where are the shows about the
couples who are out working 50 to
60 hours a week, both of them, who
are having to leave their kids in
“Where are those shows? Where
are the shows about the bankers
who put this country on the edge
and who took our money, over and
over and over again?”
those present included community
members of the unite union and
campaigners against the bedroom
kent’s rotten MPs
Julian Brazier has been the
Conservative MP for Canterbury and
Whitstable since 1987.
Local press, especially the Canterbury Times
which gives him his own column, tends to treat him
like a glowing, committed public servant, working
hard for the interests of his constituents. So for
balance let’s look at his voting record and offer a
different view of him: namely, that he is a sexist
goon, working exclusively for the ruling class.
He voted against the recent Equal Marriage Bill,
the lowering of the age of consent to gay sex to 16
(1998), and the Gender Recognition Bill 2004, which
gives transgender people the right to change their
legally recognised gender. He has been President of
the Conservative Family Campaign since 1996.
Brazier would like to see abortion made totally
illegal, and ground-breaking, life-saving research into
Like most pro-lifers in the UK he has mostly
resigned to the fact that women won’t simply give up
their reproductive rights, as this would mean a return
to dangerous illegal abortions common in the 1960s.
Instead he focuses more on eroding these rights
incrementally, for example by supporting an
amendment to reduce the upper limit for abortions to
Of course he cannot seriously take the label of
‘pro-life’ given that he cheers on every British
imperialist adventure, from Afghanistan to Iraq.
He has shown himself to be more Thatcherite than
Thatcher by supporting the privatisation of the Royal
Mail. In doing so he is going against public opinion
and more sharply against the opinion of the people
who make it all function, the postal workers
themselves. He received an MA from Oxford
University but apparently does not feel that people
today deserve the same opportunity: his party
pushed the raising of the tuition fee cap to £9000.
Once again, this goes against the opinions of the
workers who matter most.
Stealing from the public is of course in his nature.
He never apologised or even attempted to clarify his
part in the ‘expenses scandal’, he took £134,800. At
the same time he has defended the hated Bedroom
Tax and said that it should extend to OAPs, who
account for 40% of housing benefit claimants. In a
letter to a constituent he claimed, “It is unacceptable
for the government to subsidise people to live in
accommodation that is too big for their needs.”
a second home is apparently not too big for
Brazier’s needs – £15,071 of his expenses went
towards this. and yet we’re expected to believe
that people on housing benefits are the parasitic
Euro nforced a ng, or
Hydr g’, as it d a
mor e of frac plete
ban t ned
IN FRANCE, fears had emerged of earthquakes being caused and
the potential for underground aquifer water supply pollution and
air pollution. This led to an outright ban, which was challenged
but upheld by the French Constitutional Council, making any
further legal challenges impossible. Bulgaria, Germany and
Ireland have also banned the practice whilst the Czech Republic is
also moving towards a ban.
An extensive study of fracking commissioned
by the European Union revealed, “Risks of
surface and groundwater contamination, water
resource depletion, air and noise emissions,
land take, disturbance to biodiversity and
impacts related to traffic are deemed to be high
in the case of cumulative projects.” The 292page study recommended that no fracking be
allowed near areas where water is used for
However, David Cameron is railroading
fracking, most probably because his adviser,
Lynton Crosby, has advised him this is ‘a good
option for the country’. Crosby's firm, Crosby
Textor, represents the Australian Petroleum and
Exploration Association, a powerful group that
campaigns for fracking. This is an obvious
vested interest and one that concerns citizens,
such as us living in Thanet, who will be directly
affected by this environmental travesty on our
doorsteps. Cameron’s advisor has already
overseen the change to plain packaging for
cigarette packets deferred. It has emerged that
Crosby’s firm also represents tobacco giant,
Philip Morris. The possibility of corruption cannot be
dismissed: Chancellor George Osborne has recently
unveiled the "most generous tax breaks in the world" for
shale gas producers. Fracking bosses will benefit from a
30% tax rate whilst new North Sea oil operations are taxed at
Cameron has promised huge reductions in the cost of gas in
this country, similar to what has been seen in the United States,
but he has not factored in some of the basics when making his
assumptions. The USA has a much larger land mass and
subsequent geology that can make for a protracted operation
that has taken decades for it to encroach on society’s living
space. The effects are now being felt. The impact of
fracking has had an immediate effect on people in the UK
already. In Balcombe, Sussex, the village saw a massive
influx of heavy vehicles as well as documented cases of
However, Cameron also faces increasing isolation within his
own government over fracking after it emerged the Department
L BILLS FALL
for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is avoiding backing his
claim that gas prices will fall as a result of shale gas development.
Former Chief Executive of BP and current CEO of Cuadrilla, one
of the leading fracking companies in the UK has added to the
controversy by saying, "We are part of a well-connected European
gas market and, unless it is a gigantic amount of gas, it is not
going to have material impact on price." We already know
that the big six energy
gas traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange hit a record low
of $1.82 per million British thermal units (MMBTU) last April 20
—down 86 percent from a high of $12.69 in June 2008.
Whereas the break-even price for profitable extraction of natural
gas from a dry shale well is estimated at about $5/MMBTU—
about one and a half times the spot-market price” It is a case of
supply and demand against profitability. In the UK we cannot
extract similar quantities and so it stands to reason that we could
only break even, at best, as Lord Brown has pointed out.
Nevertheless, we cannot forget the environmental impact of
fracking. Millions of gallons of fresh water needs to be pumped
into the ground along with toxic fracking materials, making it
difficult and costly to recycle this water, most of which goes to
waste. Locally, we source our water from underground aquifers.
The fracking process requires drilling through these, extracting
gases and highly toxic waste materials through concrete
casements which could fail. This has happened already at
fracking sites across the globe.
Thanet and north east Kent has a high water demand.
Newly built houses increase the pressure on our supply.
Where is all the water going to come from that is required to
frack? In the event of water supply pollution we could
potentially lose our water supply altogether.
companies buy in
gas at variable rates and whilst it always goes up we
never see a reduction in our bills, even when their costs fall. Can
we really imagine the ‘big six’ will bring domestic bills down when
fracking is in operation?
In a blatant attempt to bribe local Councils across the country
to support fracking, hard pressed councils are being offered 100%
of Business Tax revenue from fracking corporations, instead of the
normal 50%. "Cameron is effectively telling councils to ignore the
risks and threat of large-scale industrialisation in exchange for
cold hard cash. Having had their claims that fracking will bring
down energy bills and create jobs thoroughly discredited, the
Government is now resorting to straight up bribery to sell their
deeply unpopular fracking policy." said Lawrence Carter of
In the United States, partly as a result of a surge in supply,
domestic natural-gas prices are now lower than at any time in the
recent past. Harvard Magazine reports: “The spot price for natural
Any purchased replacement such as bottled water could
cost 5,000 times more than our current supply. Further
damage is inflicted on livestock, as they ingest waste
materials at the surface. Air pollution happens as a matter of
course in the fracking process. Prevailing south-westerly
winds would cause air pollution to drift over Thanet from
nearby to Cliffs End at the Woodnesborough site, as well as
from other potential fracking sites further south in
Shepherdswell, Guston and Tilmanstone.
Your permission is no longer required for companies to frack –
horizontally - under your property.
There is a huge potential for property damage, with insurance
companies refusing to insure properties affected by fracking,
except at extortionate rates. Property values would suffer.
However, there has been widespread support for the anti-fracking
campaign. A packed public meeting in November 2013, at which
over 200 people attended, demanding that Kent County Council
rescind the licences to fracking companies. The meeting reported
that Shepherdswell and Guston Parish Councillors and Dover
District Councillors voted almost unanimously to oppose fracking
in our area. Unfortunately Cameron is still pushing for fracking.
The campaign continues.
For more info contact:
Housing BEDROOM TAX NEWS
the Government are in real trouble with the Bedroom tax. not
only has it been exposed by campaigners as a huge attack on
many of the poorest in society, but the legislation is falling
apart after a number of court rulings show it to be ‘bad law’.
A useful guide from theguardian.com
The bedroom tax
What is the bedroom tax loophole?
The implementation of the bedroom tax has accidentally left a number of
tenants exempt from the policy. There are a number of residents who have
been wrongly affected by the bedroom tax who have seen their benefit
payments reduced since April 2013. These people are now entitled to be
reimbursed the reductions and exempted from reductions in future (until the
loophole is closed).
By Shirley Marchant - thanet Benefit Justice
Campaign/ thanet People’s assembly
WHat can i say, but it only takes a small
group of people working week in, week
out to make a difference, it may only be
a small difference but it counts.
as a small group without outside help we
have not just managed to secure over 1000
signatures against the Bedroom tax, but we
have also managed to put questions to the
council in person, to find out what help
people can get.
those people that are only in debt as far as
the bedroom tax is concerned can get help.
We have campaigned so hard and reached a
point that the petition against the Bedroom
tax can now be passed over to the council to
be debated. this should happen on the 6th
February 2014, so hopefully the outcome will
be that there will not be any evictions due to
debt from the Bedroom tax and those that
are willing to move to smaller properties can
do so without any worry as they will get the
help that they need.
this was our goal and hopefully we will
score big time!
once the petition has been debated in
council there will be more information to
l the next national Bedroom tax and
Benefit Justice Federation steering
committee meeting is Sat 18 January, 12-4.30pm
in Birmingham .
For more details email email@example.com
Who is affected?
Social housing tenants affected by the bedroom tax who have been living at
the same address and entitled to claim housing benefit continuously since 1
are there any exceptions?
Tenants who were not entitled to claim housing benefit for a period of less
than four weeks (or 52 weeks if the claimant is a welfare to work beneficiary)
but otherwise claimed continuously will also qualify as exempt.
Tenants who were unable to live in their property during that period because
of damage caused by fires, flooding, explosions or a natural catastrophe will
also be exempted.
What are they entitled to?
A refund of housing benefit reductions caused by the bedroom tax since it
was implemented in April 2013, and an exemption from future reductions.
How much can they expect to receive?
The bedroom tax has cost affected tenants £16 a week on average and has
run for 40 weeks. Affected claimants eligible for a refund would be credited
around £640 if it were awarded today.
are tenants who qualify for this exempted from the bedroom tax
This is unlikely. While tenants are entitled to have their previous bedroom tax
reductions refunded and are exempt from future reductions for now,
guidance issued by the DWP to councils on 8 January 2014 said the
department will be taking steps to close the loophole shortly.
Will local councils inform affected tenants?
Not necessarily. The Department for Work & Pensions has suggested it is up
to councils to seek out affected residents, but advised them to consider
"whether [they] are reasonably able to identify potentially affected claimants
from your own records".
Some councils may not hold records dating back as far as 1996 and will be
unable to identify eligible residents or verify appeals.
What if tenants have already qualified for council crisis
payments to cover the shortfall?
Residents who have already been awarded money from a council's
discretionary housing payment fund to cover their bedroom tax reductions
will still be eligible for a full refund. Residents are also under no obligation to
return these crisis fund payments.
i'm a tenant who meets the criteria. What do i do now?
You can wait for your council's housing benefit department to contact you or
you can appeal directly to it.
SCUM LANDLORDS Solidarity
tWo of Britain's leading
‘Buy to let’ landlords,
Fergus and Judith
Wilson, have issued
eviction notices to every
tenant who is on benefits.
Furthermore, they have told letting agents
that they will no longer accept tenants on
The Wilson’s, based in Ashford, own
nearly 1000 properties, and 200 notices have
been sent to their tenants. Fergus Wilson
claimed the decision was “purely economic”
as those tenants who work were not in
arrears. He claims that many other private
landlords are doing the same. Rent
guarantee insurance, which is sold to
landlords to cover the rent should a tenant
default, no longer covers tenants on Housing
Benefit. This, claims Wilson, is one of a
number of factors why he has made this
Wilson told the The Guardian, “Tenants on
benefits who default outnumber the ones
who pay on time. Single mothers on benefits
have been displaced to the bottom of the
pile; sympathy for this group is disappearing.
There aren't enough places for people to
The National Landlord Association figures,
published in December, show that landlords
now only rent to one in five tenants on
housing benefit in comparison to half of their
properties a year ago.
‘Right To Buy’
The housing crisis now facing us began
long ago but was accelerated by Thatcher’s
Tory government under the ‘Right to Buy’
scheme, which oversaw the mass selling of
council houses and rent controls scrapped.
Defend Council Housing (DCH) reports: “By
1990 housing stock was sold at 52 percent of
its market value.
“This privatisation was bigger than even
the gas and rail sell off. Expenditure on
housing fell from 1979 to 1985 by 55 percent
and rents increased from an average of
£6.20 in 1979 to £23.72 in 1990. Subsidies to
council tenants were cut by 31 percent from
1979 to 1985, whereas subsidies to owner
occupiers increased by 212 percent.”
Councils were not allowed to build more
houses with the monies collected from the
sale of their properties.
Today, half of former council houses are
owned by private landlords. They have
provided rich pickings for investors. One of
them, millionaire Charles Gow, whose father
oversaw the Right to Buy scheme, owns forty
ex council properties on a south London
Other wealthy investors, including offshore companies, also own former council
properties, which are rented to private
tenants at exorbitant rates.
In London, 36 percent of former council
properties are now rented to private tenants,
but in poorer areas the proportion is higher.
Rents in these areas average £230 a week
more than council rents, often paid for by
housing benefit. The Right to Buy scheme,
heralded by David Cameron as one of
Thatcher’s successes, is in reality “"possibly
unrivalled" in providing poor value for money
to both taxpayers and local authorities.” Right
to Buy has been ruthlessly exploited by
landlords such as the Wilsons.
Tom Copley, a Labour London assembly
member, said "Not only did taxpayers fund
the initial building of the council homes, they
subsidised the substantial discounts offered
to tenants and then – once the homes were
sold – missed out on the rental income that
would have covered the build costs.”
Five million people are waiting for social
housing in Britain and house building cannot
keep up with demand. In the last ten years
the private rented sector has doubled. One in
six households now rent.
The housing crisis is a defining
moment for millions of tenants who see
their landlords often pocket half of their
wages. Again and again, eviction is
threatened if the tenants refuse to cough
up inflation busting rent rises.
But the Tory’s refuse to do anything to
help. They are usually recipients of rent
rather than payers of it. They become
‘apoplectic’ at the mere suggestion of rent
controls. However, for many it would be a
step in the right direction.
But in order to end the obscene rents paid
to landlords such as the Wilson’s we need a
comprehensive social housing programme;
enough to house all those on waiting lists. An
end to the Right to Buy scheme. Rent caps
enforceable by law and prosecutions for
landlords who refuse to carry out repairs. We
need rights for tenants to ensure that they
can live as long as they wish in their
properties without fear of losing their homes
when the landlord decides the price is right to
Bunny La Roche
two years in
reVolutionarY activists from
alexandria have become the
latest to face harsh jail terms
and large fines for defying the
Lu’ay Al-Qahwagi, Amr Hafez, Nasir Abu-alHamd and Islam Muhamadein were sentenced
to two years hard labour in prison and ordered
to pay a 50,000 LE fine (£4,000) on 2 January.
Mahienour el-Masry and Hassan Moustafa,
both leading activists with the Revolutionary
Socialists movement received the same
sentence but were not present in court.
Their ‘crime’ was to organise a
demonstration without police permission in
violation of the new anti-protest laws which
came into force late in 2013.
Mahienour and Hassan have long histories
as activists – both played leading roles in
building the campaign to expose the role of the
security forces in the horrific murder of Khaled
Sa’id, battered to death outside an internet
cafe in 2010. The protests which followed
Sa’id’s murder played a key role in galvanising
opposition to Mubarak in the run-up to the
uprising of 2011 which toppled the dictator.
Hassan was also prosecuted during
Mohamed Morsi’s period in power. After he
attempted to file a complaint about the lack of
legal representation for dozens of protestors
arrested on 20 January 2013, he faced a string
of accusations including assaulting an officer
and inciting detainees to flee. He was cleared
of these charges in November 2013, only to be
charged again under the anti-protest law.
Mahienour, a qualified lawyer, was arrested
and beaten by the police in March 2013, after
she went with a group of lawyers to represent
arrested demonstrators at a police station in
The sentences against the Alexandrian
activists come after leaders of the 6th April
Youth Movement were given three year jail
terms by a Cairo court in December.
Join the protest at the egyptian
embassy in london at 2pm on 25
January in solidarity with
The dead horse peddlers
2014 already marked a first for
protest: the first time in history that
lawyers and solicitors had taken
action together with the relatively
modest step of refusing to attend
court for half a day.
For a total of around
nine years i’ve worked in
three of the of the ‘big 4’
supermarkets - tesco,
asda, Sainsbury’s and
The income disparity between those at
top of these companies, and that of the
majority of people they employ is huge.
CEOs receive seven figure salaries
while most staff are struggling to get by
on wages a few pence above the
minimum wage. Many of the lowest paid
workers are forced to claim Working Tax
Credits and Housing Benefit to get by.
Hundreds of thousands of workers at
Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrison’s
are not paid a ‘living wage’ according to a
2012 Fair Pay Network report. A Tesco
spokesperson might be able boast that
their "staff receive a higher level of basic
pay than any other supermarket, without
exception" including poverty wages
across the sector, in reality this means
that even at the high end of the scale you
can expect the princely sum of just under
£7.00 per hour.
Supermarket bosses like to claim they
offer generous performance related
bonuses and store discount cards on top
of basic salaries. However, it has little
impact in improving the lives of workers.
During my time working for one of the ‘4’,
I’ve seen the standards of living of those
employed by them worsen every year.
The ‘Big 4’ supermarkets in the UK
currently have just over 75% of the
market share, making around £6 billion
profit in 2012. In stark contrast to the
900,000 workers employed by them, the
kingpins of these giants are handsomely
rewarded. Justin King, the CEO of
Sainsbury’s, receives £3.2m a year; Philip
Clarke of Tesco, £6.9m; Dalton Philips, of
Wages are only part of the story. Where
I currently work, longer serving members
of staff tell me that in the last 10 years
staff levels have halved. "Doing more
with less" is what the chains might urge,
but what that means for those working for
them is an unrelenting pressure to meet
impossible targets and genuine bullying.
Management will target those
considered ‘soft’ to ‘finish their aisle’ after
their shift ends. They play on people’s
fear of losing their job by telling them ‘we
have hundreds of people ready to replace
you’ in front of the whole store.
If you have the temerity to be off sick
for more than a tiny percentage of your
contracted hours, you will be formally
disciplined, even if that sickness directly
arises from an accident at work.
Everyone knows the work is killing us.
Chronic back pain, knackered knees and
high stress are commonplace. Everyone
knows that we’re being screwed by the
bosses, but there is a level of benign
acceptance: ‘What can we do?’, ‘They
have us over a barrel’. But do they really?
Last year across the USA, there were
100 strikes by fast food workers
demanding a living wage. The campaign
attracted widespread public support and
the backing of 60 members of Congress.
Action in the States shows the
possibilities for organising in workplaces
Although the level of union membership
in supermarkets is low, USDAW (the shop
workers’ union) does have a membership
of almost 500,000, and has seen it grow
by 17 percent in the last 5 years. It is the
4th largest and fastest growing union in
the UK. This shows there is a desire for
workers’ solidarity among shop workers.
But members need to push their reps and
local branches to be more radical.
We need to recruit our workmates
into the union, and build a rank and file
movement that can fight back.
Organised by Justice Alliance, the
action and the rally brought together
diverse representatives of those targeted
by cuts to legal aid: from victims of
domestic violence to campaigners against
the closure of Lewisham hospital, the
Howard League for Prison Reform
protecting children and young people in
prison and the Probation Service – faced
by the prospect of fragmentation and
The Ministry of Justice has painted the
campaign as ‘fat cat’ lawyers protecting
exorbitant fees. Instead it is a campaign to
protect access to justice for all
independent of wealth and to save from
attrition a key part of the post war
settlement of 1949. Janis Sharp, who
fought to save her son Gary McKinnon
from extradition to the US (and, she
believes, likely suicide) passionately
argued that legal aid protects the most
vulnerable in society from the assault of
the powerful, underpinning the framework
of law that protects basic human rights.
Patrick Maguire, the subject of a
miscarriage of justice at the age of 13, told
how a local solicitor fought to free him
from prison. Direct action comes with
difficulty to lawyers and the cause has to
be a powerful one. But it is one that
resonates with the public as supportive
toots from passing traffic made clear. The
battle against ‘price competitive tendering’
that would have removed the right to
choose a solicitor was won after over
100,000 signed a petition and 16,000
returned individual responses to the
Ministry of Justice’s consultation.
But cuts from a legal aid system already
cut to the bone are going ahead with fees
paid to legal aid lawyers reduced by
17.5%, access to judicial review reduced,
prisoners denied access to lawyers, and
vulnerable groups faced with additional
hurdles and blocks to the legal support
they desperately need.
Assembled lawyers were sent on their
way to a training session – appropriately
on protest law – with a call from Justice
Alliance founder, solicitor Matt Foot, to
emulate ‘the greatest lawyer of them all,
Nelson Mandela’ in their refusal to give up
the struggle against injustice in all its
going on ?
Jan / Feb: Hands off our Unions –
defend the right to resist
National speaking tour starting with
rally in Central London.
3 Feb – 7 Feb: Student week of
action – 'No sell off of the student loan
book' Actions on campuses across the
22 February: Women's Assembly
15 March: People's assembly
emanuel Centre, london .
19 March: Budget Day – 'Britain
needs a pay rise'
Demonstrations, protests and actions
across the country
Stand up to racism and fascism
rally and demo 22 March 2014
marking un anti-racism Day
■ No to scapegoating of immigrants
■ No to Islamophobia
■ Yes to diversity
Rally and Demo marking UN Anti-Racism
11am, Saturday 22nd March 2014
Central London • Demonstration assembly
A day of action against racism has been
called for across Europe to coincide with
the marking of UN Anti-Racism Day in
2014, with eyes on the European elections
Already in most European countries
parties of the right, centre and even the
traditional left are allowing the terrain of
these elections to be dominated by
racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and
the scapegoating of minorities – Muslims,
immigrants, Roma, Black and Asian
Across Europe the fascist and populist
racist right are on the rise. From the
violent Golden Dawn in Greece, the antiRoma Jobbik in Hungary, the
Islamophobic Freedom Party of Geert
Wilders in the Netherlands to the success
of the Front National in France, these
currents are encouraging hatred, fear and
prejudice in a frightening wave across the
In Britain the far right is hoping for gains
in the Euro elections. The British National
Party (BNP) is seeking the re-election of
Nick Griffin in the North West and Andrew
Brons is seeking re-election in Yorkshire
and the Humber. The mainstream political
parties look set to capitulate to UKIP in
their calls for draconian ‘anti-immigration’
policies and promoting a ‘Little Englander’
anti-foreign, anti-Europe mentality.
The ‘go-home’ vans sent out by the
Home Office over the summer are a sign
of things to come. Hostility is already
being stirred up towards Bulgarian and
Romanian migrant workers who will be
able to work here from January.
Such campaigns simply whip up racism
in general and induce a ‘blame game’ for
falling living standards and squeezed
incomes that falls on visible minorities in
stepped up discrimination, institutional
racism, abuse and violence.
This all encourages currents like the
English Defence League, which turn their
Islamophobic prejudices into real attempts
to terrorise the Muslim population –
attacking Mosques, assaulting veiled
women, insulting religious sensitivities with
vile slogans and throwing pigs’ heads, and
organising intimidating marches into
Following the rising violence of Golden
Dawn and the murder of anti-fascist
rapper Pavlos Fyssas, (also known as
Killah P), the Greek anti-fascist and antiracist movement has proposed that next
year’s UN Day Against Race
Discrimination on March 21/22 should be
the focus for actions against racism and
fascism across Europe.
While there is a real threat that openly
racist parties may win the 2014 Euroelections in some countries, this can be
prevented by the widest possible unity
against them and the mobilisation of the
broadest progressive forces.
Unite Against Fascism has therefore
initiated this call for a demonstration and
rally to Stand Up to Racism in London on
Saturday 22nd March. We endorse this
proposal and call on all those of goodwill
to join us in a riposte to the rise of racism,
to show that migrants are welcome and
demonstrate our confidence in a future
free of scapegoating and hatred.
tHanet PeoPleS aSSeMBlY
thurs 30 January, 6pm
SaVe CHilDren'S Centre'S
March and rally
Saturday 15th February, 12 noon
Clocktower (near Wilkinsons)
atoS national DaY oF
Canterbury assessment Centre
Canterbury Ct1 1ZZ
GET IN TOUCH
Text or phone: 07947 424505
Kent International Socialists
Save kent’s Children’s Centres March and Rally • 12 noon
Saturday 15 february
torY leD Kent County
Council (KCC) recently
(by Wilkinsons) Canterbury
announced cuts of £273
month consultation on the proposed plan saw
million over the next three three
6000 people respond with many criticising the cuts to
services for children and parents.
years which includes £24.8 essential
Demonstrations at County Hall, Maidstone and
solidarity from trade unions, pressurised KCC
million in staffing costs.
Councillors into backing off from their original plan.
l Public services and an
The Coalition’s ‘austerity’ agenda has thus far had a
estimated 600 jobs will be negative impact on local authorities.
This is set to continue and in fact worsen if the Tories
are re-elected in 2015. However, campaigning to
defend services and jobs can win. Canterbury and
l 1500 jobs have already
Whitstable Stop the Cuts group revealed that a further
£2.5 million is to be cut from the centres.
Campaigners are determined to step up the action.
KCC had earmarked 23 children’s centres for closure
as part of the budget cuts. But the closures proved
Parents, trades unionists, labour Councillors and
anti-cuts activists organised resistance to the cuts. A
They have vowed to continue the campaign to ensure
that the 12 children’s centres designated for closure,
a march has been announced by parents and
activists for February in Canterbury. Join us.
Stand up to RACISM and fASCISM Rally and
Demonstration • 22 MARCH
Rally and Demo marking UN Anti-Racism Day •11am, Saturday 22nd March 2014
Central London • Backed by TUC, Unite Against fascism and many others
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
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