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From The Socialist newspaper, 3 November 2010

Don't destroy our sickness benefits

When the Con-Dem government announced its cuts, Steve Spreadborough of Coventry appeared on the BBC News, speaking emotionally of his fears of losing his home and more. Here Steve talks to The Socialist.

I AM a married man with four children. I'll say this the way the Conservatives would: 'Following an accident at work I've been sitting at home, scrounging off the system, letting my children run riot and letting taxpayers bring us up'.

Right, that's the lies out of the way. I now have health problems, but I have not sat on my backside and let my illness dictate to me, as that would send the wrong message to my children.

My eldest daughter works in a home with special needs adults and is on call 24 hours a day. My eldest son has autism and dyspraxia, but is in full time college. The youngest son left school four years ago and has not had a job, though not through lack of trying. But he works in the community doing gardens for the elderly. My youngest daughter has devoted her life to becoming a vet.

I would like to say sorry to all the politicians for taking 4,000 milligrams of painkillers every day, aspirin to keep my heart going, and eight tablets for diabetes. I'd also like to say sorry for the stroke I had four years ago, the three weeks I was in hospital learning to walk and talk again, and the burden I was on the NHS.

During the Labour government a coffin was being built for public services. The Tory-Liberal cuts are an attempt to finish that coffin. You're OK if you're rich but if you're low paid and in the public sector you are about to lose everything unless you go to where the work is. And that means getting on your bike and going to live in India or China because that is where our factories have gone.

It's not easy being on benefits. I've survived on one meal a day for many years. I have served on 30 local and council committees to help people worse off than me. I don't believe in getting something for nothing, so I try to put back what I can.

A big nail in the coffin of our living standards will come in January with the VAT rise.

Today, I live in social housing in Coventry. In a couple of years, because of benefit cuts and rent rises, I could be living on a street or in a field.

So I say to working people when you are facing a decision about whether to fight back against the government onslaught, go home and look at all you have got and think about what you will lose if you don't fight for it.

To trade unions, I say get together and act as one. Don't be blackmailed because politicians are like wolves and they will try to divide and conquer. Probably not one Labour, not one Tory, not one Lib Dem MP will lose their jobs and the bankers will still get their bonuses at the cost of the public sector. We have no option but to fight back.

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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.
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In The Socialist 3 November 2010:


Anti-cuts campaign

Con-Dems' cuts can be stopped

Anti-cuts movement continues to grow

Model motion for a national demonstration in 2010


Firefighters' strike

Pickets injured: Solidarity with London firefighters

Solidarity with London firefighters


Anti-racism

We need jobs, homes and services - not racism

Defend the right to asylum


Socialist Party editorial

Con-Dem shock therapy - midwife to a double dip?


Socialism 2010

Socialism 2010

Fund the fight for socialism


Socialist Party news and analysis

Housing: Rent caps, not benefit caps

India - no voice for Kashmiri struggle

Graduate unemployment: We will not be a lost generation!

News in brief

Cable is a coward!

Don't destroy our sickness benefits


Socialist Party youth and students

100 students march against cuts and fees in Leeds

Students challenge Willetts

Birmingham youth protest


Socialist Party workplace news

Nottingham school staff force council retreat over pay cuts

Tube workers take more action for safety

BBC strike over pensions

UCU: No education cuts, no fees!

National Shop Stewards Network: Anti-cuts conference


International socialist news and analysis

USA elections: What the Tea Party really represents


 

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Related links:

Benefits:

triangleUniversal Basic Income: not a solution to insecurity and poverty under capitalism

triangleFight for safety, staffing and services - Covid chaos for benefits claimants

trianglePCS union demands better deal for benefits claimants

triangleCoronavirus - a workers charter 2020

triangleNew BBC series - Insight or whitewash?

Cuts:

triangleStrong union response needed against job cuts

triangleSafe protests against Tory corona chaos continue

triangleJohnson's plan terrifies me - readers react to lifting lockdown

triangleSafe social-distancing car-cavalcade protests

Coventry:

triangleCoventry socialist candidate wins votes against austerity

triangleCoventry: A socialist councillor who will vote against cuts

triangleNHS: Save stroke beds in Coventry and Warwickshire

Children:

triangleSchools aren't safe

triangleJohnson's reckless 'back to school' plans threaten everyone's safety

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