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On 8 October, two people walking in the residential area of Coxford, Southampton, were surrounded by six people on mopeds who taunted them with racist abuse, stole the woman's phone and injured her, and then stabbed the man. Fortunately he survived.
Coxford Labour councillors, Tammy Thomas and Barrie Margetts, organised an anti-racist rally at short notice in the local shopping centre. 40 people attended.
Tammy Thomas said: "It was important to us as ward councillors to send a clear message to the family: we support you and walk with you. And to the perpetrators: we will not tolerate racial hatred in our community.
"We acknowledge the underfunding and overstretched police, the lack of youth services and provisions, we want to create community cohesion."
The Socialist Party believes that 'community cohesion' between all sections of the working class can be forged by fighting for decent jobs and pay, affordable and secure housing, fully funded healthcare and free education. When these basics are denied, it opens the door to racist division.
This is not an isolated incident. Serious knife crime has more than doubled in Southampton since 2013. We're experiencing in sharp relief the effects of ten years of austerity.
The only youth club in the area is no longer supported by the council, but was handed over to a charity 20 years ago. In April, its funding will come to an end and the youth centre will close. 35% of Southampton children are growing up in poverty.
Tammy and Barrie rightly point to the cuts imposed by Tory governments, but they are part of the local administration that has cut 1,000 jobs and £124 million from the budget since Labour came to power in Southampton. The Labour council has 'saved money' by handing over local services to the precarious world of volunteers and charities.
If Tammy and Barrie are serious about their opposition to the further cuts, they should join forces with the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in demanding that the council use its reserves and borrowing powers to provide the services we need, while building a campaign to demand the return of the millions stolen by the government. This would gain them unstinting support in our community and help cut across racist divisions that arise.
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Article dated 21 October 2020
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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