“Persistently high unemployment is a problem here and throughout much of the world, and yet no capitalist government is putting forward a real jobs program of any kind,” Harris told participants at a campaign meeting here Sept. 28.
“The rulers don’t see the unemployment crisis as their crisis—for them it’s a profit crisis. That’s why we need to fight for a massive jobs program, funded by the government, that could put millions back to work at union scale wages, to build the homes, schools, hospitals and roads that workers need.”
Demonstrations had recently taken place in Greece and Spain—where unemployment for youth is more than 50 percent—demanding an end to government “austerity” programs.
“Workers in the U.K. face the longest slump in over a century with rising competition for jobs,” said Paul Davies, a member of the Communist League, who joined Harris on the platform. “Unemployment across the eurozone countries rose to a fresh high of 18.2 million in August. In the U.K. a record number work part time because they cannot find full-time jobs.”
Manufacturing in the U.K. contracted in September for the third month in a row, with orders falling from both Asia and the European Union.
“We represent a family fighting for justice,” Justin Waldron, a relative of Roger Sylvester, who was killed in police custody in 1999, told the meeting. Waldron came along with Sylvester’s father and uncle. “I suspect the same thing that happened to Roger happens in the U.S.”
“Yes, exactly the same happens in the U.S.,” Harris replied. “The police just shot dead a wheelchair-bound double amputee, Brian Claunch, in Texas. They said he threatened them with a pen.”
“Faced with all this, how do you mobilize people?” asked Waldron. “There is so much in our way to stop us. It’s an immense task, for the working class to elevate ourselves to that level.”
“You’re right, it will take millions of us to do it,” Harris responded. “Fights by working people will occur because of what capitalism itself brings on us. Cops exist to protect the interests of the capitalist class, to keep you in fear and ensure you don’t fight back. That’s why they get away with murder.
“Ultimately, the working class has to take political power, make a revolution. Because all steps forward will be pushed back without doing that.”
Earlier the same day, Harris met with 15 workers at a café during the shift change at the McVities biscuit factory in Harlesden in West London.
“The only people who are going to change things for us is us. The biggest obstacle we face is that we don’t believe we can do it,” Emmanuel Nyugap told Harris.
“That’s right,’” replied Harris. “Like the South African miners. They went on strike, 34 of them were shot down. They carried on fighting despite the fact that officials of both trade unions, the National Union of Mineworkers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, told them to go back to work. And they won. They showed us that the miners are the union.
“This is a glimpse of how real political change happens,” Harris added. “Not from the benevolence of the bosses and their government, but because working people begin to organize to push forward together. This is the biggest thing our campaign explains.”
“People around the world have common values, but without being organized this crisis will go on forever,” Teame Berne, who has worked at the plant for eight years, noted. “So what would you do if you were elected?”
“We make no promises,” replied Harris. “Any politician who does is lying to you. The only thing that makes change is mass struggle. For example, when Nelson Mandela was elected it was a great thing. But that election was only significant because masses of workers made a revolution first, they overthrew apartheid.”
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