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From The Socialist newspaper, 25 May 2016

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Register to Remain?

Young people are more likely to vote to stay in the EU because they are rightly repulsed by the focus on immigration by the official Leave campaign. It comes as no surprise then that the media is pushing for the seven million predominantly young people who are not registered to vote to get registered. I bet they won't be so enthusiastic to get them to vote in the next general election.

Martin Reynolds, Waltham Forest, east London

Brexit bonfire?

Tory London Mayor Boris Johnson, photo Paul Mattsson

Tory London Mayor Boris Johnson, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Bumbling Boris Johnson, sanctimonious Iain Duncan-Smith, racist Nigel Farage, egged on by Rupert Murdoch and the Daily Express, and the grotesque spectacle of Ed Balls rubbing shoulders with Cable and Osborne, are equally repellent.

The Remainers fear that Brexit will lead to foreign capital relocating to the continent at the expense of the corrupt stock exchange. The Brexit capitalists dream of an even less regulated 'Square Mile'. Both groups favour continued austerity for the millions.

The bonfire of workers' rights flagged up by Remainers, unfortunately given legitimacy by Jeremy Corbyn, is a fiction; the bonfire has already happened. After decades of EU membership British unions are shackled by the most draconian anti-union laws in the developed world with the consequent nosedive in wages and conditions.

For socialists there can be no unity with either group. The voice for a socialist alternative may be drowned out by lurid headlines and vacuous debates in the media, but we will continue to campaign to replace the bureaucratic capitalist EU with a socialist Europe.

Tony Mulhearn, Liverpool

Mason's mistakes

The "radical social democrat" Paul Mason is correct that the Labour Party "has to make hard choices", but Labour's new leader can at least make such decisions from a position of strength, as Mason recognises: "Corbyn has the firm support of most unions, tens of thousands of new and active members." Mason concludes: "His enemies are isolated."

But if we recognise that the majority of Labour MPs actually stand firmly opposed to most of Corbyn's refreshingly socialist ideas, then, if anything, it is Corbyn who is isolated within his own party.

This is because the majority of Corbyn's supporters presently have next to no democratic means of redressing the Blairite domination of the parliamentary Labour Party. Although Labour's democratic deficit could be overcome quickly if Corbyn took a principled lead on this matter.

More accurately then, if Corbyn's enemies are isolated from anything it is from the democratic will of the majority of Labour Party supporters, and this is a major problem.

Having misidentified the issue, Mason's response is to propose that Corbyn must disown the decidedly anti-Blairite policies he campaigned on during last year's Labour leadership contest, and "make an explicit offer to the right and centre of his party". Mason calls this "an obvious solution," but it is not a new solution as Corbyn is already travelling down this route.

This leads Mason to suggest the need for Corbyn to make an about-turn on "urgent policy issues" like defence. Apparently, Labour "needs to bury its differences on Trident around a solution that involves both wings compromising on their principles."

Although Mason says no more about Trident in this Guardian article (March 21), he soon put more flesh onto the rotten bones of this argument in a nasty YouTube video, "The left-wing case for nuclear weapons" (Guardian, 6 April), which might alternatively be interpreted as Mason's debut into the world of satire.

Evidently Mason has no faith in the ability of the mood of the working class to change, and for the mass of humanity to swing behind the type of socialist politics that are necessary to bring an end to the violence of capitalism. This is a shame.

On the contrary, Mason seems ashamed of the long history of anti-war campaigning that has been and continues to be waged by the grass roots of the Labour movement.

Michael Barker, Leicester

Year of the underdog

Professional sports like football certainly mirror capitalism in the establishment of an elite who are 'rewarded' with 'pots of gold' while the less successful - without big money sponsorship - barely exist. In this sense Leicester City's success is more than a rags-to-riches story.

Yes, at the beginning of the 2015/16 season they were one of the favourites for relegation, yes they were 5,000-1 outsiders to win the Premiership, yes they were a team without any 'big stars' and a new manager who was dismissed by the press and pundits as the 'Tinkerman'.

But these were the ingredients of an anti-establishment candidate: Jeremy Corbyn struggling to get enough nominations for the Labour Party leadership election and Bernie Sanders 'crowd-funding' rather than corporate funding his campaign for the Democratic Party nomination for president.

When another Premiership manager championed Leicester's cause (Tony Pulis of West Bromwich Albion), when home supporters applauded the away team Leicester City, and when over 200,000 thronged the streets of Leicester to cheer their champions, this is the rejection of the 'elite' ethos. With Leicester's success, Bernie Sanders' campaign and Jeremy Corbyn's hold of the Labour Party, in 2015/16 we have witnessed the beginning of the 99% finding its voice.

John Merrell, Leicester

Board lord

Pandemic is probably the most popular cooperative board game around. Players act as agents of the US Centre for Disease Control, to work together to try to cure four diseases while the game mechanics spawn new outbreaks across the world.

Its latest iteration is in a legacy format where previous games alter the board and even some of the rules themselves. Secret packages contain new game elements that are opened after a certain number of plays.

Pandemic Legacy simulates the outbreak of a super-disease in a capitalist world. Just like the emergency services have faced recently, every time you seem to have situations under control your funding gets cut (as clearly there are 'efficiencies' to be made), whereas when you are overwhelmed you belatedly get the funding you desperately needed.

The game probably wasn't designed as a critique of the capitalist system (as the game Monopoly was based on was), but you cannot help seeing the parallels as you play, including an object lesson in the role of the state. This follows a trend of recent films which have had increasingly revolutionary or anti-capitalist themes.

Pandemic Legacy is not the cheapest board game, but there are reasons why in reviews it is being called the best board game ever!

Iain Dalton, Leeds

Michelle Bridge, 1973-2016

Socialists and campaigners in Warrington and St Helens were stunned and saddened by the premature death on 16 May of Michelle Bridge, a leading campaigner against welfare cuts from Runcorn.

I first met Michelle in 2013 at the anti-bedroom tax protest she organised outside Runcorn Town Hall, where 150 people seemed to come from nowhere in a rebirth of working class activity in the town.

I vividly remember her speaking to the crowd saying that it was the first time she had spoken in public "Except for singing 'I Will Survive' at the karaoke". Nevertheless she gave a great speech, denouncing the inhumanity of the Tories latest attack on working class people. Her words seemed to me to show the entry of fresh voices into the movement.

Michelle continued with her activities against the bedroom tax and benefit cuts and sanctions, which made her a well-known figure across Merseyside. She was also a staunch supporter of anti-cuts Warrington councillor Kevin Bennett.

Michelle was only 43 when she died and her sudden death was a terrible shock to campaigners across the region. She really cared. She will be greatly missed.

Andy Ford, Warrington

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In The Socialist 25 May 2016:


International socialist news and analysis

Brazil: Fall of Rousseff unleashes offensive against working class

Venezuela - on the brink of collapse?

Austria - Hofer defeated, but far-right threat remains

Mass protests against regime take on Kazakhstan cops

Canada: fire devastates Fort McMurray


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories forced back in junior doctors' dispute

'Socialist case against the EU' TUSC tour kicks off

Boris hid killer air report

Them & us

What we saw: 'I, Daniel Blake' and Hunt/'Thick of It' remix


What we think

EU referendum can bring the Tories down


Workplace news and analysis

Link the strikes - come to the NSSN conference

PCS BIS staff strike against office closure

Pennine Foods - Strikers persuade delivery lorries to turn away

Train conductors strike to keep their role

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Fight to win: join the Socialists!

We won't move! Mass resistance can defeat the Tories' housing act

Leicester drives out Britain First

Coventry sees off EDL

Campaigning for a people's plan for Waltham Forest

Chorley A&E battle


Socialist readers' comments and obituaries

Greece crisis - please vote Leave

Socialist inbox

Obituary: Jenny O'Sullivan (1988-2016)


 

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