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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 June 2018

The Socialist inbox

The Socialist inbox: letters to the editors, photo Suzanne Beishon

The Socialist inbox: letters to the editors, photo Suzanne Beishon   (Click to enlarge)

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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.


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

Jeremy Corbyn at Westminster, photo RevolutionBahrain/CC

Jeremy Corbyn at Westminster, photo RevolutionBahrain/CC   (Click to enlarge)

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

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

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In The Socialist 6 June 2018:


Labour and the unions

RMT rejects Labour affiliation - now step up the fight for workers' political representation

RMT special conference debates political strategy


Socialist Party news and analysis

Stop the Tory NHS wreckers

#NorthernFail: 250 rail services cancelled

Socialists defend Lush ad campaign against spy cops


International socialist news and analysis

Italy's political crisis is reverberating through Europe

No to Trump's trade war

Jordan: Workers and youth remove prime minister and demand end to austerity


Workplace news

Congress shut down by staff walkouts

PCS union launches strike ballot on pay

West Midlands firefighters vote to strike in massive numbers

East London housing workers fight privatisation of pay


'Made in Dagenham' strike 50 years on

'Made in Dagenham' Ford machinists pay strike 50 years on


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Liverpool meeting remembers 47 councillors who fought and defeated Thatcher in 1980s

Yorkshire 1,000 for issue 1000

People's Assembly event lacks understanding of task facing Corbyn

200 years since the birth of Karl Marx - come and walk in his footsteps!


Opinion

Alt-right gains exposure - but tedious clichés betray lack of ideas

Rich, raw tale of financial crisis's impact on rural Ireland

The Socialist inbox


 

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