Letters to The Socialist

Measles – the preventable epidemic

Measles is now epidemic in South-West Wales, with nearly 700 cases reported this year. Vaccination rates across Britain and the US have tumbled in recent years largely due to the pseudo-scientific “antivax” movement, which encourages parents not to vaccinate their children against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).

It still gets widespread media attention, despite 2011 revelations that studies linking the MMR vaccine with autism were fraud.

Antivax led to a 15-year neglect of MMR. Many of those unvaccinated are now themselves parents of small children, creating particular risk.

Public Health Wales (PHW), the agency responsible for promoting vaccination, have a target of 95% of all children vaccinated against MMR, but Welsh government-imposed budget cuts slashed PHW’s disease prevention and vaccination awareness programmes by 5% in 2012.

PHW anticipate at least 20% cuts to all programmes over the next four years as Labour and Tories risk children’s lives to pay for the austerity agenda.

Outbreaks of measles, mumps and rubella have become far more common as the children of antivax parents enter school.

Failure to vaccinate puts at risk not only one’s own children but also other children who may not have been vaccinated due to age or allergy or for whom the vaccine was ineffective.

Measles, which until MMR was introduced in the 1960s was epidemic worldwide, can cause life-long disabilities, such as deafness, or even kill.

Cutbacks cost lives. A socialist government would give the NHS enough money and resources to properly meet the health needs of people in Britain, and would ensure doctors, nurses and public health workers had control over an evidence-based public health policy.

A world-wide, coordinated public health policy would guarantee measles, mumps and rubella would face the fate of smallpox: confinement to a laboratory as a scientific curiosity.

Edmund Schluessel

Poll tax protests ‘turned’ Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher’s advisers in the late 80s tried to explain that every political and financial expert opposed her plans for the poll tax.

It was unfair but she thought if she called it a ‘community charge’ not a ‘poll tax’ all would be well. The lady was not for turning.

You cannot tax people who have no money so she tried to imprison non-payers. At the height of the campaign against the poll tax there were 18 million non-payers, people of principle who wouldn’t pay and people in poverty who couldn’t pay.

The most arrogant megalomaniac would pause before imprisoning that many – the sheer logistics defeated her.

She was not for turning but her own party turned her out and the poll tax was a major factor in her ignominious defeat.

Derek McMillan

Standing for the many…

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) had a letter (below) published in the Hampshire Chronicle about May’s county council elections.

“The nation needs a ‘UKIP of the Left’ was how Ken Loach described the situation in a recent televised debate.

“This is true and TUSC will be fielding a number of candidates in the upcoming county council elections.

“TUSC’s aim is to [build] the mass workers’ party, crucially representing the needs of the poorest sections of society, not the richest and select few the top three parties support.

“We promise all our candidates will oppose all the vicious cuts that are handed down from government. We will stand up for the many not the few.

We oppose the bedroom tax, and attacks on pensions and wages and say no to bonuses to wealthy bankers and other sectors.”

Adam Freeman, deputy Hampshire branch secretary, TUSC

… not the few

We no longer have a party that represents ordinary people in mainstream politics so I am with you as your organisation represents almost everything I believe in. I used to be old Labour.

Teresa Stuart, Plymouth

Apprenticeships not ….

There’s much to admire about the football team I support, Swansea City. Flying high in the Premier League, having just won the League Cup, in a new stadium, built in partnership with the council, on a sound financial basis and 20% fan-owned, through the supporters’ trust.

However, according to the Guardian the club “recently advertised for a highly qualified, unpaid performance analyst to work for eleven months, shortly before announcing a £2 million dividend to its owners.”

The Guardian concentrates on Swansea, Reading and Wigan but suggests the practice may be widespread in football.

The internships are advertised on the website of a quango, UK Sport, that receives a lot of government money.

There are worse jobs than watching and analysing Swansea but that’s the point – it’s a job, one with hours of work, probably much unsocial time and requiring skills in data analysis, IT and knowledge of football.

Clubs are exploiting the love of football and the hint of future paid employment to get expertise for nothing. Working unpaid is slave labour whether it’s for a supermarket or a football club.

Ronnie Job

…. internships

Thatcher’s Tory government ripped apart Britain’s industry and millions of apprenticeships were done away with.

Today, capitalist firms use unpaid ‘interns’ as a substitute, including football clubs such as Wigan, Reading and Swansea City who all get a share of the £5.5 billion TV deal if they avoid relegation.

In the 1980s Militant, the Socialist party’s predecessor launched campaigns against youth unemployment, including demands for real apprenticeships.

And Liverpool city council used apprentices on union rates in their home-building plans. They gained £60 million from Thatcher’s government by their campaigning work. We need similar action to fight today’s Thatcherites!

Patrick Atkinson, Unite member

False perception

A problem that the campaign against bedroom tax faces is the perception that the people affected are ‘scroungers’. Someone posted the following comment underneath an article about the anti-bedroom tax protest:

“What does this country owe you? Why should the people that actually work hard and make a genuine living continue to be penalised? It’s disgusting….

“Maybe I should start protesting about having to pay for the bums of society all of my working life?”

I was fuming, but how could I blame this person for thinking this? They are manipulated by the capitalist system to hate those on benefits.

Making them believe that these people don’t work, don’t want to work, live luxurious lives and are happy to stay that way. How do we change this perception?

A Roberts

Rewarding failure

Once again the government are managing to reward bosses’ failures in the workplace, this time by extending the franchise contract of the London Midland train company. This is despite the fact that it had the worst performance of all with 100s (maybe 1,000s) of cancellations of trains over the last few months!

‘Angry commuter’, Worcester