Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 7 October 2015

Anger after violent youth deaths

Communities under pressure need public services - not council cuts

Martin Powell-Davies, Secretary, Lewisham National Union of Teachers

Hundreds of angry residents packed into the Honor Oak Community Centre on 1 October to discuss the recent violent deaths of two teenagers on the Turnham estate in Lewisham, south London.

There was plenty of emotion on display, as well as anger - anger at the loss of life, at the lack of support for the family of local victim Shaquan, and at the pressures facing the local community as a whole.

Many different contributions were made from both invited speakers and from people in the audience. Concerns about racism and about knife-crime among black youth in particular featured significantly throughout the evening.


Lee Jasper, opening the meeting, pointed to the racism still ingrained in our society evidenced by the disproportionately high levels of poverty and unemployment facing black communities.

The mother of a black teenager shot at Streatham Ice Rink back in 2007 talked tearfully of the wasted lives of both the victims and the youth behind bars facing indeterminate sentences for 'joint enterprise'.

A common theme raised was the decline in 'social solidarity', in opportunities for communities to work together, of the need for fathers to engage with their sons. However, some of the most powerful contributions focused on the collective pressures on families struggling to make a living and to support their children while services were cut and real incomes were falling.

A young man, Marlon, delivered an angry diatribe to the local politicians on the panel, pointing to the cuts to Sure Start, Connexions and youth services. He complained about 'gentrification' and plans to build more housing on the estate, supposedly social housing but, as a young woman behind me shouted out, "it's not affordable!"

A young woman speaking on behalf of Shaquan's mother Sharon, pointed to the reality facing so many working parents, not least Sharon herself.

Sharon hadn't been able to stop to grieve; she had no choice but to carry on working at her local hairdressers to pay her rent. This is an estate where most people are in work, but where too many have to rely on food banks because of low pay.

Turning to Lewisham cabinet member Janet Daby, who had offered little more than the need to 'give youth wisdom' and the importance of 'Operation Black Vote', the young woman said pointedly: "Why should we vote, when we don't trust you?" adding, "why should youth talk to the police when they don't trust them either?"

Change needed

Alienated and angry communities like this urgently need a party that can earn their trust by showing that it is genuinely prepared to fight poverty and racism. Such a party would refuse to carry out Tory cuts, fight for a 10 an hour minimum wage and end the housing policies that are leading to the 'social cleansing' of working class communities across London.

Will a Corbyn-led Labour provide that party? As things stand locally, it appears not. Councillors offered condolences and fine words but little more.

Newly-elected local Labour MP Vicky Foxcroft offered even less, replying to the young residents with the excuse that "the political reality is that it's the Conservative government's cuts". That was met with shouts of derision and the MP sat down silently for the rest of the meeting.

A Lewisham council officer had earlier spoken to the meeting about what the council was doing to help with 'crime reduction'. Yet, as part of the 40 million of cuts made last year, Lewisham council chopped 1 million from its crime reduction budget!

Worse, its report on one of those cuts spelt out bluntly what such a cut would mean to black youth in particular: "As young men from black and minority ethnic communities are over represented in the criminal justice system the impact there is likely to be increased."

Not surprisingly, the officer also didn't reveal the further 'savings proposal' to her service discussed at the previous night's Mayor and cabinet meeting. It suggested a further 2.5 million cut in the 'Crime Reduction and Supporting People' budget that will mean "reduced support for mental health, learning disability and single homeless clients" which might lead to "a rise in anti-social behaviour on the streets". Their words, not mine!

That's just one cut among a further 45 million planned over the next two years - from a council budget that has already been slashed by 120 million (one-third) since 2010. That could include 300,000 further cuts to youth services.

However, it's clear that trade unionists and communities are getting prepared to fight those cuts. A lobby of the next Mayor and cabinet meeting discussing the budget, on 9 December, is being planned.

Fight the cuts

I hope the anger shown at the meeting sent the politicians who attended home to think again about their role in passing on Tory cuts.

Labour councillors can't claim to stand against racism and poverty while they preside over cuts to communities that already have their backs to the wall.

As the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and the Socialist Party have explained, Labour councillors could choose to lead a fight, instead of just meekly passing on cuts. If they did, they would get massive support - including from embittered and embattled communities like those on the Turnham estate.

Until 2010 the area was represented by Socialist Party councillors who voted against cuts and would have helped local people organise a campaign to fight for the resources necessary. TUSC reps have now written to the local councillors to open up a discussion about a needs budget for Lewisham.

Former Honor Oak (Telegraph Hill ward) Socialist Party councillor Chris Flood said:

"Ian Page (fellow Socialist Party councillor) and I got to know Sharon (the victim's mother) as we did some case work for her after the council had overcharged her for leasing her shop. Cheryl McLeod (TUSC candidate) and I went to see her after her son had been killed.

The Labour administration has axed many important local services that have helped to reduce crime, especially youth crime, in our inner cities.

Our councillors should be fighting and resisting these cuts to key services that hold communities together, instead of passing the government cuts on to poor communities and saying there is nothing they can do.

Jeremy (Corbyn) - you will have to go over the heads of some of these politicians who, unlike you, don't see a need to resist austerity. Work, I say, directly with the communities, like the residents of the Honor Oak estate, that are desperate to fight for their communities and oppose austerity."

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

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.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • 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.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 7 October 2015:

Socialist Party news and analysis

'No time to lose' to organise against austerity

Kick out the Tories!

Back our doctors and nurses

NHS cutters pay doctors not to refer sick patients to hospitals

Tories: let pensioners freeze to death, they can't vote us out then

Them & Us

Socialist Party feature

The housing crisis - a crisis of the profit system

International socialist news and analysis


International news in brief

Workplace news and analysis

Emotional and inspiring strikers secure victory

Junior doctors campaign

RMT president election: back Sean Hoyle

Steely anger in Redcar as plant is mothballed

No wage cuts! Fund equal pay in Derby

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

100,000 march against Tory cuts

Kick out the Tory entryists

Anger after violent youth deaths in south London

Enthusiasm for socialism at freshers fairs

Leeds to get 'ethical' letting agency

Cuts to school crossing supervision in Derbyshire


Home   |   The Socialist 7 October 2015   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleISS workers' pay victory

triangleWorkers at Lewisham coronavirus hospital walk out after not being paid

triangleSouth east London Socialist Party: Fight the anti-trade union laws!

triangleSouth east London Socialist Party: World in Turmoil

triangleSouth East London Socialist Students & Socialist Party: After the election - perspectives for 2020


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


triangle'Roses are red, violets are blue, BP and Shell - we're coming for you'

triangleBuilding Tamil Solidarity with youth and the unions

triangleNottingham: Youth protest against Barclays 64 million fossil-fuel investments


triangleTV: Crime and Punishment - this brutal watch is a damning indictment of cuts and capitalism

triangleKnife and gun crime a product of poverty and austerity


triangleBlack and Asian Covid-19 deaths: an indictment of capitalist inequality


triangleTV: Noughts and Crosses

Black youth:

triangleThe life and legacy of Martin Luther King


triangleCovid crisis boosts union membership but TUC leaders want to cosy up to the bosses!

Chris Flood:

triangleGaining momentum in Lewisham


triangleSchools: union oversight needed to end chaos in provision under coronavirus


triangleNottingham uni occupation ends


triangleIrish police use Covid-19 emergency powers to disperse Dublin shop workers' protest

Martin Powell-Davies:

triangleTest and trace: workers need a real plan

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition:

triangleNew twist in Derby TUSC election agent case

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns


Fighting Fund

We need readers' support to fight capitalist crisis



Fight P&O's billionaire bosses' jobs cut plan



Energy firm plans to make 2,600 redundant



Hull Trades Council debates workers' political representation



Schools aren't safe



Eerily quiet before second wave - don't reopen schools!



No return to unsafe construction sites



Mick Cotter 21-9-57 to 20-5-20


Rolls Royce

Strong union response needed against job cuts



Postal workers' action results in double victory for union



Organising to fight for workplace safety



Posties walk out in Peterborough after manager tests positive



Johnson claims workplaces safe but HSE cancels inspections



Safe protests against Tory corona chaos continue



Trades council debates workers' political representation

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020