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21 September 2016

The Socialist inbox

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 editors@socialistparty.org.uk.

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.


Featured letter: refugee rescue

Every day - if not on mainstream media, then on social media - there are stories of bombings of civilians in Syria. In fact Britain has been responsible for over 1,000 of these bombings.

Is it any surprise there are thousands of refugees looking for safety in Europe and in Britain? Over half the world's displaced people are from three countries: Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

Will Theresa May take responsibility for the consequences of her and previous governments' unjust wars?

No, they would rather spend 17 million of our supposedly cash-strapped government's money keeping people out with a wall in Calais. Imprisoning thousands of people, including over 700 unaccompanied children, in the so-called Jungle, at the hands of French police violence.

Everyone deserves a home free from war, oppression and poverty. What can be done to give people sanctuary from the violence they have faced?

Refugees should be welcomed on the basis of a programme of mass council house building, massive investment in public services including the NHS, and the creation of jobs for all - workers already here as well as refugees.

These demands are only possible by bringing in socialist measures in Britain and the rest of Europe.

This could raise the possibility of socialism as the means to bring about peace worldwide.

Josh Asker, Southampton

Meadow Well riots

This year is the 25th anniversary of the Meadow Well riots in Tyneside. Formerly known as the Ridges Estate, the area was stalked by record historic levels of deprivation. Poor-quality housing and low incomes were facts of life for most residents.

After a growing pattern of police antagonism and resulting period of tension between youths and authorities, two young men, Dale Robins and Collins Atkins, were killed during a police pursuit gone wrong on the Coast Road. Employing the rotten tactics of the miners' strike era, the police would largely fail to contain a week of full-scale unrest that spread to Newcastle's west end.

After the matter became a national controversy, lessons went unlearned. Authorities threw money at the problems, opening a mini police facility on the estate, renovating and rebuilding housing, and attempting to tackle chronic unemployment. The memories of the event are still prevalent in people's perception of the community, even after all these years.

The structural problems associated with endemic poverty cannot be rectified with temporary measures. Only the abolition of capitalism is able to serve the interests of the 99%, those in society struggling.

Poverty is still our reality. People are again beginning to ask difficult questions about the governance of our region, and this broken system. Councils be warned: continue to implement austerity at your and our peril.

William Jarrett, Tyne and Wear

Voter preventer?

Eric Pickles has recommended that the government introduce identification checks for voters at polling stations to prevent electoral fraud.

Should we be suspicious of these proposals? Pickles talks about postal-vote fraud, and illegal 'intimidation' of voters, but ID checks at polling stations will do nothing to stop these.

In the US, strict voter ID requirements were introduced by some Republican governed states after Obama's election in 2008, ostensibly to combat electoral fraud. In reality, their purpose has been to reduce the turnout among groups who traditionally vote Democrat, particularly the African-American and Latino communities.

Research by academics at the University of California, San Diego found "substantial drops in turnout for minorities under strict voter ID laws." People from minority groups are on average poorer, and therefore less likely to possess required photo ID, a driver's licence or passport for instance.

Are the Tories taking a leaf out of the Republicans' book?

TJ Shaw, Hampshire

Boot out Blairites

The conniving, dishonourable, treacherous New Labour collaborators in and outside of Progress - a cancerous tumour within the Labour Party - need to come out of the closet and declare themselves to be Tories at heart.

They can go join Ukip, the Tory party or the Lib Dems; but get out of the Labour Party.

These untrustworthy, despicable, backstabbing, right-wing career politicos, timewasters and opportunistic chancers, are the ones responsible for bringing the Labour Party into disrepute. They would rather have the Tories in than a left Labour government.

By their actions and non-actions over the years, ignoring and taking for granted the membership and the voters, they show themselves to be not interested in our welfare.

They are more interested in their own careers, in lining their own pockets with generous wages and conditions, pensions, expenses, other jobs, directorships and shares in private companies, while voting to run down public services, as directed by their Tory masters.

W Laws, Sunderland

Greedy grammars

In Theresa May's first speech as prime minister, she pledged to support "ordinary working class" families instead of the "privileged few."

Just a few months later, however, and her government has announced new plans to enable the creation of new grammar schools. Fortunately, you don't need a grammar school education to spot the irony.

While Corbyn's anti-grammar school crusade is encouraging, this renewed interest in selective education is worrying. Surely the government's focus should be on raising academic standards in all schools across the country.

The claim that a grammar school education improves social mobility has been discredited. Even if such claims were true, is it really fair to only allow a tiny percentage of our children to advance? I was under the impression that all children matter, regardless of their background and ability.

However the Tories choose to justify this decision, the rebirth of the grammar school system sends the message that the education of all children matters - but that some matter more than others.

Kaye Jones, Andover

Usdaw Activist

I have recently come back from Usdaw's 'Summer School One' in Yorkshire, attended by a cross-section of reps and union activists from across the country.

Despite our union leadership backing Owen Smith in a 'phone ballot', it was clear to me the majority of those there liked Corbyn, several saying they hadn't been 'political' until he stood to be Labour leader.

One rep from Devon mentioned how there, quite a few Tory voters - who might not support Corbyn - still admired his principled stand, and felt that set him apart from other politicians.

But there was real anger when people saw via Facebook an advert for Usdaw general secretary John Hannett speaking at a Progress fringe meeting at Labour Party conference. He will be appearing alongside a rogues' gallery of anti-Corbynites, including Hilary Benn, Liz Kendall, Wes Streeting and other right-wing Labour MPs.

Increasingly, members are coming into opposition with Hannett's disastrous leadership, which recently saw most shop workers lose unsocial hours premiums. Corbyn supporters should join the union's Broad Left and subscribe to the Socialist Party supporters' e-bulletin, the Activist.

An Usdaw member



http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/23598