|James Harris, right, Socialist Workers candidate for U.S. president, talks with Oliver Jones after campaign meeting in Manchester, England, Sept. 29. Harris said workers in U.S. and U.K. face similar attacks by bosses, including unemployment, speedup and use of temporary workers.|
We are the only campaign giving voice to the interests of the working class, Harris answered.
“None of the capitalist politicians are putting forward a jobs program here in the U.K. or in the U.S. And workers face massive unemployment,” Harris said. “We put forward the idea there should be a massive public works program, government financed, to provide the jobs that are needed.”
The SWP candidates explain that this would put those of us without jobs to work at union-scale pay, building public facilities workers need—housing, schools, medical, recreation and child care centers, and to replace crumbling infrastructure.
Harris was also interviewed on the BBC Radio Manchester program “The People.” “Workers here face the same things as we do: speedup on the job, unemployment, the casualization of the labor market,” Harris said.
Harris was joined by Peter Clifford, Communist League candidate in the Nov. 15 parliamentary by-election in Manchester Central, at a Militant Labor Forum Sept. 29.
“Who is elected president is not the central question workers face,” Harris said. “It is the massive movements of the working class that will change the world. That is where working people have their strength.
“Look at the miners in South Africa who won a wage raise despite the police crackdown that killed 34 of them,” Harris explained. “These miners are heroes, and they are the union. They stayed out despite the leadership of both unions urging them to go back. And now 75,000 miners are on strike.”
“There is caution among working people, who are a bit weighed down by fear of losing jobs and income,” Clifford said. “At the same time many know that the crisis is not going away, so they are open to getting a working-class view of developments in today’s world.
“We advance the need for a government-funded public works program here also,” Clifford added. “That’s needed to overcome divisions between employed and unemployed and to overcome fear.”
“What we are fighting for has nothing in common with the ‘big government socialism’ that makes decisions in the interests of the capitalists over the heads of the working class,” said Clifford, referring to the Labour Party conference taking place the same weekend in Manchester. “They say they want a ‘fairer Britain’ and claim electing them will mean less pain for working people. But pain is what they have in store for us as much as the Conservatives.”
The forum was attended by 29 people, including five who had subscribed to the Militant through sales efforts in working-class areas leading up to the meeting.
Two days later Harris met with Kelechi Nzeribe, 18, who along with his father Amodi Nzeribe and uncle Ikem Nzeribe, told Harris how he had been stopped by a police officer on the way to see his mother.
“I asked the police why do you stop me?” Kelechi Nzeribe said. “I don’t have any drugs. Then the police put his hands on me.”
In the shuffle that followed, more cops were called in, and Kelechi was arrested. He had just been convicted in court on trumped-up charges of assaulting two police officers.
“This is what the police do. It is the purpose of the police to put fear in working people. Crime and antisocial behavior is just an excuse,” Harris said. “They aim to break people who can become fighters, to teach you to know your place.”
“But what can we do about it?” Amodi asked. “What do Black politicians in the U.S. do about young Blacks being stopped on the street?”
“They don’t do anything, because they don’t represent the working class. That is why the Socialist Workers Party is standing candidates,” said Harris. “We need a political, working class organization to take these things up. As it is now it is up to the individual families. It was not until Trayvon Martin’s parents kept raising his case that it received wide attention.”
While in Manchester Harris also met with members of Anthony Grainger’s family. Grainger had been shot dead by the Manchester police on March 3. The family registered a small victory Sept. 22 when the Manchester Crown Court cleared Grainger and the three friends who were with him in the car when he was killed of the charge “conspiracy to rob.”
“I was asleep till they killed our Anthony,” Grainger’s cousin Wesley Ahmed told Harris, “Now I can see how the police act as judge, jury and executioner. I am determined to press for prosecution of the police who killed him.”
Peter Clifford contributed to this article.
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