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From: The Socialist issue 881, 2 December 2015: Don't bomb Syria

Search site for keywords: The Socialist - Letters - Cuts - Rail - Tax - Pay - Labour - Elections - Aslef - Schools - Welfare - Teachers - Parents - Austerity - Bristol - TUSC - Reading - Tax credits - Welfare state - Privatisation - Train drivers - Conservative party - Election - Drivers - General election - Labour Party - Gloucestershire - Hillingdon


Do you have something to say?

Send your news, views and criticism in not more than 150 words to Socialist Postbox, PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD, phone 020 8988 8771 or email

We reserve the right to shorten and edit letters. Don't forget to give your name, address and phone number. Confidentiality will be respected if requested.

Views of letter writers do not necessarily match those of the Socialist Party.

Tax attacks

Recently everyone in work received an income tax statement for 2014-15. On the reverse side was government propaganda attempting to justify their dismantling of the welfare state. It was a breakdown of "how your tax was spent".

By far the largest section was on welfare. In reality this does nothing more than illustrate the failure of a system which allows the super-rich to place so many people in poverty - through mass exploitation, making themselves even richer. Meanwhile, ironically, many of them pay no income tax whatsoever.

Jon Elvin, Hillingdon

Classroom cuts

At a local state school near Bristol, the headteacher has sent a letter to all parents asking them to donate money to pay for three teachers and other shortfalls due to cuts.

The parent-teacher association is used to being asked to help fund one-off projects, but never to pay for teachers and general running costs. Is this the way things will go under austerity?

We should demand all schools are properly funded by the government and parents should not be asked to contribute to running costs. All schools should be brought back into local authority control and democratically run. Jeremy Corbyn must make this commitment loudly and clearly.

Alan Marshfield, Bristol

Rail fail

Aslef, the train drivers' union, has produced the 'Rail Franchise Handbook 2015'. It's essential reading for trade unionists and campaigners to get some facts and figures about the effects of privatisation.

The booklet includes details of which companies are involved, subsidies received and profits. "But," I hear you ask, "what about the pay for directors? Do they get enough to scrape by on?"

Well, just about. The highest paid director would appear to work for Southern, and in 2014 got "emoluments" of £485,000. That is a lot of overtime even by rail industry standards.

Further info on

An Aslef member

Pressure power

The recent tax credits u-turn of sorts from Gideon the Greedy proves that the seemingly inevitable does not have be so. So how can we mobilise working people to stand up for themselves?

It cannot simply be about winning elections. This is not to say that giving people an alternative on ballot papers is not important. Indeed, it is why I hope to stand as a Trade Unuionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate in next May's local elections where Labour cannot give assurances they will actually oppose austerity in both word and deed.

This is hardly asking much of them - it was, after all, the platform upon which Jeremy Corbyn was overwhelmingly elected as their leader.

The Labour Party is all about fighting elections. As a recent ex-member before joining the Socialist Party, I know this only too well. They are convinced that if you knock on enough doors, and deliver enough leaflets, then you will win.

However, "we're not the Tories" is not an alternative when you have accepted their political narrative. Aligning themselves with measures started by Thatcher, continued under Blair and Brown, and accelerated by the Con-Dems, has ended up with two general election defeats against a very unpopular Conservative Party.

Our fight must also be on the ground - taking our message to working people in workplaces and local trade union branches.

Tax credit cuts were not a fait accompli. The House of Lords would never have voted against the bill without pressure and opposition from below. Proof to Labour - if ever it were needed - that you do not have to be in power to effect change.

Richard Price, Gloucestershire

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