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Copeland - the reasons
Tony Mulhearn, former Liverpool socialist councillor, sent this letter to the Liverpool Echo following the Copeland byelection.
The outpouring of bile against Jeremy Corbyn since the loss of Copeland is designed to mask the real reasons for that defeat. Under the Blairites, Labour's majority in Copeland had declined from nearly 12,000 in 1997 to 2,564 in 2015.
Factors in the Copeland result were the wrecking intervention by Mandelson and Blair who slandered Corbyn days before the election, and the continuous sniping by Blairite MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Corbyn's policy on nuclear power was distorted. He has categorically stated that no nuclear industry worker will lose their jobs under a Corbyn-led Labour government.
May's triumphalist government is determined to continue with its attacks on working class living standards, the NHS and the trade unions. Support for Jeremy Corbyn and the policies he represents should be reaffirmed and the fight stepped up to force the government to retreat.
But to be successful the saboteurs opposed to Corbyn should be replaced by Labour MPs who are prepared to implement the policies which propelled Corbyn to the leadership, and for Labour councillors to fight any further butchery of social provision.
Them and us
I went to sign-on today; as in 'I Daniel Blake'. Had filled in the form online and received a text, then a phone call, confirming my appointment for 9am.
I arrived at the dole office to sign on - all for £70 weekly benefit. At the same time elite members of the Lords would be taxiing into their state-funded luxury House each receiving £300 a day just for turning up. Signature done, they'd be on their way. But not me, no not for the working class!
I went to the first floor of Britannia House dole office as designated. Waited for ten minutes then was sent to the second floor. Waited another five mins then sent to the ground floor.
I was then told I had missed my appointment and will have to ring up to make another! Tory Britain 2017!
Keith Gibson, East Hull
Profiting from misery
Mica is used in numerous cosmetic products for its shimmer effect. Koderma District in India's Jharkhand state has the world's largest mica deposits.
It is mined extensively and yet the mining here is illegal and miners have no protection at all. Children as young as six work at these mines, despite child labour being prohibited.
While not all of mica is sourced illegally, these illegal mines are run by cartels that make huge profits while paying the miners a pittance for working in dangerous conditions with cave-ins a sad but regular tragedy.
According to an ITV news report, between five and ten children die in the mines every month. Adult fatalities are much higher but 90% of these deaths are never reported because the cartels do not want unwelcome attention from Indian government officials.
Many of these mines are deep in forests that are official conservation areas. Bureaucracy and competing laws prevent India's government from legalising these mines so there are no health and safety checks to regulate conditions.
Some claim Indian mica is environmentally friendly, but it's certainly not human friendly!
Calvin Fowler, Worcestershire Socialist Party
Frank Field, Labour MP and chair of the Commons' work and pensions committee, has called for the "triple lock" on pensions to be abolished. Under this scheme the government solemnly promised to raise pensions by the same rate as average earnings, the Consumer Price Index or 2.5%.
With breath-taking mendacity, Field argued that this would mean raising the pension age to 70.5 by 2060.
It would mean no such thing and Field knows this very well.
It would only mean that if there were no increase in expenditure on pensions. This would be a measure to save money.
Scrapping Trident would save money but Field is careful not to suggest that. An end to the prestige grammar school programme would save money, indeed stopping MP's expenses would also be a measure to save money - but hell would freeze over before Field would suggest that! What a disgrace.
Through the looking glass
In Adam Hochschild's masterful study of the First World War 'To end all wars', I found the perfect metaphor for capitalism.
In 1915 British forces were short of binoculars. In desperation they turned to the world's best manufacturers - Germany! The Germans were more than happy to help the British. In exchange the German military needed the British government to provide rubber from its colonies for the tyres of their military vehicles.
This 'devil's bargain' was conducted via the Swiss but there was no written record of how much rubber Britain provided to the country they would remain at war with another three years. However, Hochschild tells us that by August 1915 the British army had received 32,000 sets of binoculars from her so-called arch nemesis.
Over 17 million people died in World War One with another 20 million injured. How many of these occurred after this deal?
Nothing illustrates the short-sighted greed and stupidity of capitalism than this deal. The anonymous men unlamented by history never recorded their motives or rationale but socialists understand well enough.
Leon Wheddon, Wirral Socialist Party
In The Socialist 8 March 2017:
Save our NHS!
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