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Ray Apps

One Law for the Rich, Another for the Poor

(March 1979)

From Militant, No. 449, 30 March 1979, p. 5.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“It’s no excuse for stealing, but my mum has had a hard life. She has a mortgage to pay and only social security to live on.

“My dad has had three heart attacks; my brother who lives at home has been out of work for over a year and is receiving treatment for severe depression.

“She gave the sweets to our kids, she feels guilty because she can’t give them much. I told her they understand.”

The mum in question was appearing at Brighton Magistrates’ Court charged with stealing £2.79 worth of groceries.

When asked if she had anything to say in answer to the charge she could only manage to say in a barely audible whisper, “I’m sorry, Sir.”

Her married son was speaking on her behalf. You could feel the air potent with suppressed anger, as if everyone wanted to cry out, “Let her go.”

The G&MWU shop steward sitting next to me exclaimed, “How on earth has anyone the right to sit in judgement on that woman.”

There were about 50 dustmen and roadsweepers in the public gallery to support three of their mates, who were next on the list charged with offences arising from their activities on the picket line.

They were fined a total of £100 for fighting to end low pay. One young dustman summed up how most of us felt:

“That could have been any one of our wives or mums. We have got to do something about this bloody lousy world.”

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