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Jailed TUSC agent released
By the time you print this letter I will be released on tag on 7 June. I will be on a home curfew from 7pm till 7am till 27 September. Sadly it does not include my garden.
I was moved from HMP Nottingham, which I found out once inside is Britain's second most violent prison, to Sudbury open prison after ten and a half weeks.
I have met prisoners here that I know who arrived in Nottingham after me, but were transferred to Sudbury before me. Yet they're doing the same sentence as me!
I was investigated by the immigration department and Border Agency and their report came back 'all clear'.
I was stopped from reading the Socialist as it was not on the approved reading list. However, after complaining, they let me read it - then stopped it - and now at Sudbury I am reading it but it arrives late.
All the above games were to wear me down, but they had the opposite effect. Also people's letters and cards kept my spirits up. I have received, as of 16 May, 90 letters and 15 cards.
One thing I have learnt in prison is that it should be named a labour camp. The stories that other inmates have told me, how prisons all over the country exploit prisoners.
One prisoner told me of a prison which transports prisoners to a chicken factory. Once all the work is done - and it's hard work - the factory owners transport the chickens to Asda, Sainsbury's, and so on. The prisoners get paid well below the minimum wage.
I like Sudbury better than Nottingham as I have more freedom. I work in the market garden here, inside and outside the polytunnels. They have customers arriving in coaches to buy flowers, veg and fruit.
The prisoners - and there are a lot working in the market garden - work six hours a day, Monday to Friday, and we are on 25p an hour! You can imagine - there are 83,000 prisoners in Britain, and the majority who work are working for such a slave-labour wage, no matter what job it is.
Each prisoner - and there's two to a cell - has to pay 50p a week for their TV, which goes to the TV owners, which must bring in millions of pounds. It's the same with the phone companies as prisoners pay so much to use the phones.
The prison limits prisoners on how much they can spend! The prison food you get, portion-wise, is not enough. Prisoners then have to make a choice between food or credit to phone their family. There has been a lot of angry letters in the prison newspaper from prisoners on that issue.
There are many people I have observed who should not be in prison. People with mental health issues and homeless people.
The staffing issues are a health and safety issue in all prisons. I have heard this and have seen it myself in Nottingham, which some prisoners have told me is like a volcano waiting to go off. I could feel the heat myself when I was there. Most of the media portray prison as a holiday camp. I can assure you it is not.
At the age of 60, my first time ever in trouble with the law, I was sent to prison. I went there with my head held high and will leave with my head held high.
I don't regret showing people an old petition from TUSC's campaign against Moorways swimming pool closing. Labour in Derby later closed it, and then recently lost control of the council. I was proud of Derby TUSC's campaign.
I am not broken by my incarceration and will still campaign against cuts. Once again, thank you all for your support.
Chris Fernandez, Derby
Liberal press shallow
Reporting from across the pond, the liberal New York Times published a lengthy article on 28 May on the horrors the Tories have inflicted on working and middle class people in Britain.
"After eight years of budget cutting," it begins, "Britain is looking less like the rest of Europe and more like the United States, with a shrinking welfare state and spreading poverty."
It speaks volumes about the shallow politics of liberalism that newspapers like the NYT - and the Guardian in this country - are capable of producing such withering criticisms of austerity, while failing to support - even smearing and attacking - those fighting against it.
The NYT was a constant champion of the pro-austerity warmonger Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic leadership in 2016. Similarly, the Guardian has relentlessly sought to undermine Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the Labour Party - at the same time as lamenting the horrors of austerity. Bernie Sanders received similar treatment in the US.
But the liberal press does not just attack socialists. They also write us out of history altogether! In this 4,000-word study professing to be about austerity, the NYT did not once mention the fact that the Labour Party now has an anti-austerity leader!
This sentiment was reinforced by their characterisation of poverty-stricken workers living in Britain passively accepting the cuts:
"A wave of austerity has yielded a country that has grown accustomed to living with less, even as many measures of social wellbeing - crime rates, opioid addiction, infant mortality, childhood poverty and homelessness - point to a deteriorating quality of life."
No mention of the unprecedented NHS demonstration that took place last year, which the Socialist Party had a key role in achieving, or the one upcoming on 30 June. Or the spate of campaigns that are currently forcing the government into retreats. Or the massive gains made by Corbyn in the 2017 election.
The truth is that the liberal establishment may shed a tear over the effects of austerity - but as they are so completely wedded to the interests of big business, for them there is no real alternative.
As for the rest of us: If capitalism cannot afford to give us a decent standard of living, then we cannot afford capitalism!
Tom Barker, Leicester
In The Socialist 6 June 2018:
Labour and the unions
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
'Made in Dagenham' strike 50 years on
Socialist Party reports and campaigns