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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 January 2019

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The Socialist inbox: letters to the editors   (Click to enlarge)

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Grayling fails history

The Peterloo massacre

The Peterloo massacre   (Click to enlarge)

Transport minister Chris 'Failing' Grayling was quoted on the front page of the Socialist on 24 January as saying: "The moderate politics we've had since the end of the English Civil War could be under threat".

The English Civil War ended in 1649, so that's 370 years of uninterrupted "moderate politics" is it? In the 18th century there was unrest and uprisings in support of the French Revolution.

In the 19th century the Luddites smashed machines and even assassinated mill-owners. What about Peterloo in 1819, with 16 deaths at the hands of the soldiery?

Nothing to see here, according to Grayling. The 20th century saw a general strike and battles against fascism, major confrontations with the state in the miners' strike and the anti-Poll Tax movement.

Grayling studied history at Cambridge (I know, hard to believe, but true). Is this the history they dole out there, where nearly everybody, at least anybody sensible, has 'moderate' views? Sadly, so-called moderation doesn't get you anywhere and it never did.

Grayling has failed at the Ministry of Justice and continued to fail at the Department for Transport. Now he's even failing at history too.

Paul Gerrard, Salford

TV licence concession

For many years the free TV licence has been part of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) remit. Quite rightly it has been seen as part of government's wider welfare role in tackling social isolation among the older generation.

Successive governments have avoided improving the state pension, and instead have offered older people individual concessions, such as the free TV licence for the over-75s.

In 2015, the government withdrew from directly funding the scheme. Now the BBC is threatening cuts to it.

According to the OECD, the UK state pension is the least adequate in the developed world. Removing this concession, without addressing the value of the state pension, is therefore grossly unfair.

In any democracy, access to information is crucial to enable citizens the opportunity to be informed and make decisions.

Loneliness among older people is now regarded as a growing problem. One in four pensioners view TV as their main form of companionship.

The provision of such a concession should therefore be seen as playing a vital role in tackling this problem.

As such, the concession is clearly funded from general taxation by society as a whole. This correctly reflects the obligations that we all have - including tax paying pensioners - to make a contribution towards benefits and services which we deem to be worthy.

Around 6.5 million older people have an income of less than 11,800 a year. The TV licence - as a proportion of income, therefore represents quite a considerable amount. I have no doubt that, if the concession were to be removed, many would simply be unable to pay.

Means-testing a benefit costs far more to administer than it being paid universally. Experience shows that it is often those who need such benefits most who tend to be the ones who don't claim.

The BBC also needs to look at its other areas of expenditure, such as the salaries paid to some of its top executives and on-screen talent, before it makes a decision to cut this concession.

Claude Mickleson, Lydney, Gloucestershire

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In The Socialist 30 January 2019:


What we think

Venezuela: resist the pro-imperialist coup!

Join the fight to defend women's lives


News

Austerity out, Tories out

Tory on homeless: "tear down these tents"

Liverpool Travelodge digger wrecking

Fresh inquest into killer air pollution: nationalise energy and public transport!


International socialist news and analysis

International solidarity with the struggle of the Sudanese people

Brazil: Hundreds die in avoidable dam collapse

Belgium: Movement against climate change grows

Germany: School student walkouts reject Coal Commission proposals


Workplace news

Tesco changes threaten thousands of jobs

PCS Left Unity chooses Chris Baugh - unite behind the left AGS and NEC slate

Leicester college staff strike against low pay

Teachers vote 83% for strikes

Unison union campaigns for school support staff action

Trade unions protect rail workers' picket line in Hull


Campaigns and party news

Councils can fight cuts!

Coxford ward byelection: No to cuts - defend our vital services

Keep profiteering developers out!

A strategy to fight the far right

Want to oust the Tories and change the world? ...Then give us the resources to do it!

Socialist Party Wales conference

East Midlands conference


Opinion

Exhibition: Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War

Fiction: Tombland "The power of common people fighting for justice in the 16th century"

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