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From The Socialist newspaper, 28 August 2019

Knife and gun crime a product of poverty and austerity

Young people see their families struggling in low-wage, precarious work, often taking more than one job to survive. Benefits are being slashed with the introduction of Universal Credit, photo Aaron Escobar/CC, composite by James Ivens

Young people see their families struggling in low-wage, precarious work, often taking more than one job to survive. Benefits are being slashed with the introduction of Universal Credit, photo Aaron Escobar/CC, composite by James Ivens   (Click to enlarge)

A rise in recorded knife attacks in Coventry mirrors growing concerns about violent crime across the country.
Jane Nellist from Coventry Socialist Party looks at what is behind it and how we can stop it.

Incidents in Coventry involving knives and guns seem to be on the increase. There have been several fatalities and serious injuries. The most recent attack in The Burges, where a 15-year-old was shot and seriously wounded in a drive-by attack, has left people horrified.

The deaths of Emmanuel Lukenga from a knife attack in Tile Hill, and Patrick Hill in Earlsdon, are just two of the 28 knife attacks in Coventry in the first seven months of 2019. In the whole of 2018, official statistics recorded 16. Parents understandably fear for their children.

The response by the police was to state that they would put more armed officers on the streets. Increasing the number of armed police will not deal with the underlying causes of gun and knife crime, and risks raising tensions.

We need a much more holistic response to get to the root cause of this. Policies to deal with growing poverty and alienation must be prioritised.

For the last nine years, austerity cuts have hit our city hard. Local politicians have failed to mount a serious campaign to win more resources for our communities. Instead, youth clubs, Sure Start centres, community wardens, and other services that we relied on, have been slashed or disappeared altogether.

Young people see their families struggling in low-wage, precarious work, often taking more than one job to survive. Benefits are being slashed with the introduction of Universal Credit. Reliance on food banks is growing. Food and fuel poverty affect thousands.

Add homelessness and overcrowding with the lack of affordable homes, and you have a toxic cocktail where young people feel increasingly alienated.

If young people feel that they don't have a future, a small number will find gangs more attractive. As we know only too well, this can ensnare them in a life of misery and violence, exploited by others.

Measures like extra police on the streets can have a contradictory impact - sometimes making whole communities feel criminalised rather than protected - especially with powers like 'stop and search' which disproportionately target black people and create more tensions. Democratic community control of police policy and hiring could start to address this - but much more is required.

Our younger generation must feel they have a future. They need a guarantee of free education or high-quality training, and a job at the end with living rates of pay.

We desperately need a huge injection of resources into our city. The money is there - it's just that it's in the wrong hands. While the rich are getting richer, squirrelling away their money in offshore accounts and refusing to pay their contributions in taxation, our city is being squeezed.

Instead of investing millions of pounds of our money into a luxury hotel, councillors should be fighting for resources for the city's residents and workers:

If young people in Coventry are to have a decent future, we need a socialist society that values the lives of young people. One where the resources of this wealthy country are democratically planned to provide for the majority, not spent on the billionaires.

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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 28 August 2019:


What we think

Workers' movement must launch a campaign for a general election


News

Amazon fires: Big business is destroying the environment

Stop the latest Tory attack on our pensions

Notts child abuse scandal: Socialist Party demands action programme to prevent future cases

Knife and gun crime a product of poverty and austerity


International socialist news and analysis

Imperialist tensions escalate as world economy teeters

Italy: Governing coalition fractures as Salvini looks to capitalise on crisis


Workplace news

Interview with Sean Hoyle - left candidate in RMT general secretary election

Postal union ballots 100,000 workers for strike action

Strike action wins privatisation reprieve at Bradford hospitals

Barry Hospital workers fight to save ward from closure

Retail workers fight back against Scrooge bosses

DVSA workers strike for four weeks over conditions and workload

Merseyside Matalan workers walk out over pay deal

Liverpool RMT seafarers protest against super-exploitation

Probation hostel rest room win

Harland and Wolff occupation

BEIS strike


Northern Ireland

Brexit and the border in Northern Ireland- will there be a return to the 'Troubles'?


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Lincolnshire health visitors' solidarity rally

Worcestershire: Stop the fire cuts!

Bangladeshi campaigners fight mining giant for justice


Opinion

The Socialist Inbox


 

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