Issue section: 

Disability - Berlusconi - Coalition cuts

Disability and the cuts

The cuts in disability benefits described by Sasha Callaghan are certainly vicious (In my opinion, Socialist Review, September 2010). It is estimated that the restrictions she outlines on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will lead to 20 percent of existing recipients losing their entitlement.

The smear campaign against "fraudsters" is now being widened to include DLA. In confusing incapacity for work with disability, George Osborne and co want us to believe that only the "genuinely disabled" are unable to work. But DLA is not an "out of work" benefit. It was a reform campaigned for and won under the Tories almost 20 years ago. It constitutes legal recognition of the extra costs of disability, payable whether those eligible are working or not.

However, I think Sasha overstates the level of "open hostility towards disabled people". The Treasury's "Spending Challenge" website certainly includes some deeply reactionary comments among the 45,000 "submissions". After all, its purpose is to enlist popular support for spending cuts by suggesting where and how to make them. Among only 22 entries in the disability category, most were from disabled people, largely comprising fairly progressive comments.

A recent survey by Scope found that 91 percent of people believe disabled people should have the same opportunities as everyone else. Its second main finding, that 90 percent of Britons have never had a disabled person in their house for a social occasion, contradicts the first, and received greater media emphasis.

Disability is a complex issue which can often be highly subjective. It is rooted in the way society is organised - to prioritise profit above all else. When profits are squeezed, spending on disabled people is often the first to be slashed. What matters now is building the widest possible resistance to all the cuts.

Roddy Slorach, London

Darth Berlusconi

The exclusive emphasis on Silvio Berlusconi as the Darth Vader of the situation in Italy lets the reformist left off the hook (Interview, Socialist Review, September 2010). It also ignores the real mobilisations - like the metal workers and the campaign against water privatisation - that are taking place despite the lack of a lead at a national level by any of the reformist parties or the national leadership of the CGIL union federation.

These two struggles are also trying to link up with each other. For example, the FIOM engineering union is writing open letters to appeal for a common struggle with joint aims.

Philip Rushton, Italy

Careful, comrades!

Erik Gandini's documentary, Videocracy, is a brave and educational work (Interview, Socialist Review, September 2010). It contradicts a system run by the most powerful men in the country (it is not a coincidence that Gandini lives and works outside Italy).

The power of Videocracy is that it's just the truth, nothing more or less. In Italy we live against our will under a strange mixture of lies, ephemeral dreams and daily uncertainty. Riccardo, the documentary's protagonist who wants to become famous, reflects the desperation that many young people feel in Italy.

Above all the responsibility lies with the opposition forces - first of all the former Italian Communist Party (now the Democratic Party) and Rifondazione Comunista, which facilitated the rise of Silvio Berlusconi - for convenience and personal interests, with the policy of the typical Italian "exchange of favours". Pretend you don't see; pretend you don't know. Just like the Mafia.

Italy is a warning to all democratic countries: "Videocracy" is the truth for us today, but it could be your future tomorrow! Be careful, comrades!

J J Berco, Italy

Necessary resistance

We are bombarded with Tory propaganda which tries to convince working class people that we must accept cuts to our wages, services, jobs and living standards. Yet the greedy bankers continue to collect their huge bonuses and make profits from our misery. The Tories want working people to pay for a crisis that was never created by them. We need to reject the idea that these cuts are in any way necessary to tackle the deficit (Feature, Socialist Review, September 2010).

We need a fightback which unites every person who wants to resist. In Glasgow the Right to Work Campaign has been working alongside trade unionists, refugee and asylum seeker groups, disability activists, anti-war campaigners, students, pensioners, the unemployed and a whole series of different protest groups to organise the largest possible delegation to Birmingham on 3 October.

This is an opportunity to show the Tories that we plan to resist their cuts to our livelihoods and can provide confidence to workers across the country that resistance is both possible and necessary.

Suki Sangha, Glasgow