Leading the class fight

THE CAMPAIGNING group Fuel Poverty Action staged a magnificent protest outside the Department of Energy in Whitehall last Saturday, supported by many people with disabilities, pensioners and other very low income people. These are people at the bottom of the income ladder for whom the profiteering of the six big energy companies and constantly rising costs for heating their homes really is a matter of life and death.

These are people for whom simply getting to a protest demonstration is immensely more difficult than it is for most people but they have been bearing the brunt of all the austerity measures. It was well attended but alas there was a shortage of those who should have been leading the charge on behalf of our class — trade union and Labour Party leaders. They have all come out with supportive statements once in a while but when the barricades go up in Whitehall it is the people in wheelchairs who are taking the lead.

The protesters, on the spur of the moment and out of anger and frustration, blocked the road with their wheelchairs, with the pensioners came out and backed them. That took a lot of courage. There were a lot of police about and in the past protesters in wheelchairs have been given no special concessions. Those who cannot get up and run or walk away are very vulnerable.

But many of these protesters are seasoned campaigners and know that peaceful demonstrations are not enough to attract the notice of the media.

It is a sign of shame on our trade union and Labour leaders that it is these wheelchair warriors, along with veterans of the Second World War, who are currently the vanguard troops of our class struggle.

And it is to the Labour Party leadership’s greatest shame that they have been so silent and over the horrendous attacks made by the Con-Dem Coalition on people who have to claim benefits and in particular on people with disabilities. There is a class war going on in this country with our most vulnerable comrades under heaviest attack but the labour leadership is afraid to engage.

It is allowing the divisive propaganda of the ruling class and its gutter press media about undeserving scroungers to prevail. The Nazi propaganda about “useless mouths” was not so very different.

Now, like the Tories, the philosophy at the top of the Labour Party is that the working class is something that people, with hard work and pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, should aspire to escape from.

And if some are unlucky enough to be born disabled or acquire a disability through accident (too often at work) or illness that is just tough luck and they must resign themselves to a short life of extreme poverty.

This attitude is not acceptable. We are the working class and an injury to one is an injury to all. We will not let the ruling class divide us; we will defend each other and we are all stronger and safer because we do not allow our comrades to be demonised or victimised.

And at the moment it is the disabled fighters who are leading the action that will defend all our class.