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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 February 2017

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Passport checks a backdoor to treatment charges

Overseas visitors' treatments account for about 1 in every 300 of the NHS budget. As Aislinn Macklin-Doherty rightly says in the last Socialist, after charging and collecting costs are included, less than 0.05% of the NHS budget (1 in every 2,000) would be recovered.

Once the expensive charging machinery is introduced, it would soon be used for other charges too. Maybe starting with a charge for a missed out-patient appointment, then single rooms, 'hotel charges' for in-patients, queue-hopping investigations and eventually certain treatments.

The Tories hope public opposition would be reduced by this gradual approach, with overseas visitors a soft first step.

All this would be great for private companies (many US-based) who greedily eye the NHS's annual 120 billion, want to take a slice and then maximise their profits.

Jon Dale, Bolsover

White paper whitewash

photo Vieve Forward/Creative Commons

photo Vieve Forward/Creative Commons   (Click to enlarge)

'Councils will be ordered to build thousands more homes' is the message around the new housing white paper. I immediately thought I'd missed the election of a Corbyn-led government which was implementing a basic socialist policy.

No. It came from Sajid Javid, one of the more myopic ministers in a government whose eyes are fixed rigidly on the bottom line, and whose hostility to council housing is only exceeded by its hostility to trade unions.

I recall the denunciation of the Liverpool 47 Labour councillors in the 1980s: building council houses is 'irresponsible' screamed the media; 'impossibilism' thundered Neil Kinnock, as he grovelled before Murdoch and Maxwell.

These were just a couple of the epithets which were hurled at Liverpool's socialist council in response to our proud programme of, in our short period in office, building 5,000 houses and flats, plus converting a further 2,000 uninhabitable flats into beautiful apartments.

However, not surprisingly, there is no information on how cash-strapped councils would get the finance to translate Javid's fine words into reality. In short, it's yet another empty promise from a government committed to enriching its rich friends. If every council had emulated the example of the Liverpool 47, today's housing crisis would not exist.

Tony Mulhearn, Liverpool

BBC blame game

So the BBC has released an article on how to become a homeowner by the age of 25. They had four examples of how scrimping and saving can mean you can save up enough for a deposit and be able to afford the mortgage. It assumes a few things:

1. You are in a heterosexual relationship.

2. You both have above-minimum wage jobs.

3. You don't have kids.

4. You can live rent-free at your parents' for a few years.

I consider myself well off: at 24 I have a partner, a decent job and live in a reasonably affordable area. And yet to fit into these narrow criteria I would have to leave my low-paid partner and share a room at my mum's with my 18-year-old little brother. Even then, I couldn't afford to live in my hometown.

Instead of putting the blame on individuals, why don't they look at low pay, lack of council housing and high rents?

Tanis Belsham-Wray, Leeds

Strike screed

On 14 January in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Robert Sutcliffe, in his Saturday column, treated us to a raving right rant about working people taking industrial action. In this case about safety on the railways. I nearly fell off my chair laughing!

Seriously, the fact that people's lives and safety are being put at risk by Southern Rail's actions to remove guards is ignored by Robert.

He followed up with puerile 1980s-style rubbish about printers holding the country to ransom. Many printers, who were skilled men and women, were sacked and ended up doing menial jobs. Tory heaven!

And what happened to Thatcher who helped this happen? She was crushed by a movement of 18 million people refusing to pay their poll tax, led by Militant, now the Socialist Party.

Cormac Kelly, Marsh

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In The Socialist 15 February 2017:


What we think

Council cuts can be fought - and they must be

Corbyn needs to stand up to Brexit rebels


Socialist Party news and analysis

March to save #OurNHS

Resist Trump and his rotten policies: why I'm walking out on 'Day X'

Socialist Students: growing, brimming with confidence

Thousands march to defend Glenfield heart centre

Save child refugees, fight the cuts

Prison deaths scandal

Super-rich subsidised


International socialist news and analysis

Spain: clear win for left at Podemos conference!

CWI and Izquierda Revolucionaria - towards unification

Izquierda Revolucionaria central committee meeting

French presidential election

France: police attack triggers protests

Yemen solidarity


Workplace news and analysis

United fightback needed as entire grade of rail worker is at stake

"Disgraceful" treatment of sacked EHRC workers

Vibrant Picturehouse pickets in continued living wage strike

Ultimatum as Deliveroo drivers down tools in Brighton

Solidarity with Tesco Ireland Valentine's Day strike

PCS union pledges to fight Jobcentre job losses

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Anti-trade union laws used against 'Trees Action' protesters

Support floods in for the Cardiff no-cuts three

The Socialist: 20 years old and more important than ever

Toxic fracking could start in England in 2017

May Day greetings in the Socialist

New Socialist Party press


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

No, Trumpism is nothing like Leninism

Foreign aid's not the problem - it's capitalist thieves

Vivid visual account of the Paris Commune

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