The Leveller Issue 17 December 2014

Austerity? This Is Class War!

Executioner for the rich, George Osborne, has challenged ‘our’ local parties to fully implement welfare reform measures that will see even greater hardship, poverty and homelessness heaped upon poor and vulnerable working class people across the north.

In exchange the power to reduce corporation tax will be devolved. Despite the Sinn Fein “Stop Tory Cuts” all the parties in the Assembly are committed to imposing ‘austerity’ measures on us. The draft budget has exposed Sinn Fein’s ‘campaign’ as cynical bullshit, lies and attempted manipulation of those who still fall for their ‘socialism’.

The DUP and Sinn Fein, with no opposition from other parties at Stormont, are launching cuts of over £640 million in April 2015. At least 6,000 public sector jobs will be axed, 2,500 in education, more pay cuts are coming and this will mean less money to spend and resultant job losses in the private sector.

Despite having been forced to defer water charges water meters are being installed across the north. The Green Party are in favour of this charge!

Already there are announcements of job losses and the loss of services that working class communities depend on. Isolation and increased poverty will be the lot of many as local bus services are threatened.

Money is being taken out of our public services and, through privatisation, into the pockets of the wealthy. Decreasing corporation tax is part of the same process. This would take another £400 million out of public services. Driving us further into the dirt while the bosses pocket the money.

They aren’t alone. Politicians have had their hands in our pockets for as long as there have been politicians.

Fraudulent expenses claims totalling hundreds of thousands are being investigated at Stormont. Meanwhile the Lords are crying about cheaper champers!

Across the wee north we already suffer the lowest wages in the UK, if you are one of those ‘lucky’ enough to have a job, we have the highest claimant count with 21% of working age households workless in April-June 2014! In working class areas there are increased numbers dependent on welfare, suicide rates have doubled and the life expectancy of men has dropped! The so-called recovery is clearly only for the wealthy few.

So what in fact is austerity? Simply put it is an intensification of class warfare by the rich against the poor. The motivation – increased profit without any concern for the people and environment fucked over in the process.

We need to organise, to protest, to strike. Our methods – workers control of our struggles and direct action. The rich are getting richer while we get poorer. Its time to stand up, organise and tell the rich and their lackeys to get to fuck. This escalation in class warfare can only be met in kind.

Smash Water Charges

The mobilisation, anger and direct action of working class people opposing water charges in the south has got the government on the run. Much is made of a brick thrown at Garda and Joan Burton being trapped by a ‘mob’ in her car during a water charges protest. Little to nothing is said about police violence against protestors or the devastating impact this charge will have on poor working class families. Families already devastated by attack after attack upon them by bosses and government in the name of ‘austerity’.

Tens of thousands took to the streets on 10th December. making it clear that they will not pay water charges. They were prevented from reaching the Dail by a government that cowered behind barricades and police. The government, unsurprisingly, has shown itself to be not only completely out of touch with working class people but also extremely callous in regard to their plight. A plight that has gotten worse and worse in the name of ‘austerity’ as the rich have got richer.

The government and media have, largely without success, resorted to a smear campaign.

On the same day in Belfast a solidarity demo was organised in support of our fellow workers in the Republic of Ireland. We were also showing that resistance to water charges in the north has not gone away.

Around 35,000 water meters have been installed here since 2007. People have mobilised to face down the threat of water charges in the past. The building of mass campaigns of non-payment, such as the We Won’t Pay Campaign mobilised working class people from all across Northern Ireland. It was the growing strength of working class resistance, based on mass non-payment and organised street by street, community by community, that forced Stormont to back off then. It will defeat them again.

We need to take a lesson from working class people in the south and our own recent experience. Water charges are unjust, water should not be a commodity, privatised for the rich to make even more money at our expense. A mass campaign based on direct action and non-payment will defeat water charges in the south. Just such a campaign will defeat water charges in the north.

But more than this, more than ever, we need to smash the rotten capitalist system. Stormont, the Dail and Westminster are ruling on behalf of the rich, its time to organise and fight back.

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