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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 February 2019

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Featured letter: Computer failures and crumbling buildings: a day in the life of a probation worker

There has been a massive computer failure in the Ministry of Justice. This comes as no surprise to those that work for the organisation.

The failure has affected the operation of the courts, causing trials to be stopped or postponed because barristers and solicitors have not been able to access vital emails and other important information.

However, the problem is much more widespread. I work for the National Probation Service and our computers have been going down for several days at a time, meaning that important information about offenders that can affect their welfare, staff health and safety, and the protection of the public, has not been shared.

The problems began in spring 2018 when a new computer system was installed. From the very beginning it was clear that not enough capacity had been built into the network. Access was difficult to impossible during the day but easier during a nightshift. Recently, we have been without computers for several days at a time.

There has been a 40% cut in the funding of the justice system and outsourcing and privatisation of the provision of IT services, and building maintenance. No doubt cost-cutting has led to the current crisis. Staff are already struggling to deal with everyday maintenance problems that rely on private contractors often travelling over 100 miles to fix sometimes minor problems.

Residents in my hostel are down to sharing one shower as the others have been out of order for months, including one that was leaking into electric appliances in the kitchen below! Toilets remain blocked for days. Staff pagers connected to their personal alarms only work intermittently... I could go on.

Parts of the probation service have been privatised. We should demand that a future Labour government fully funds the criminal justice system and brings back into the public sector all aspects of the service.

In that way, the buildings and fabric of the service could be maintained properly and the whole of the service could be planned to properly serve the needs of all those involved so that public protection is not compromised.

Unison member in the National Probation Service

Venezuela - a weapon for the Tories

photo Eneas de Troya/CC

photo Eneas de Troya/CC   (Click to enlarge)

The Venezuelan catastrophe is being weaponised by the usual anti-Corbyn cabal who falsely describe it as another failed socialist experiment.

It is not socialism that has failed. Had socialism been carried through in Venezuela at the height of the mass movement following the failed coup against Chávez in 2002, the outcome could have been different.

Chávez defeated the coup and received support from the mass of Venezuelans and implemented reforms in their interests. But his failure to nationalise the banks, and other key sectors meant the capitalists could sabotage Chávez's programme.

In addition, democratic control and participation of the working class in running society were absent. Chávez developed a personality cult with himself as the supreme policy maker.

Current president Maduro is a grotesque imitation of Chávez and, despite his pompous declarations about 'socialism' and 'revolution', his policy consists of using the state and ruling party apparatus to manage capitalism.

But it's Venezuelans who should hold him to account, not Jeremy Hunt (the butcher of the NHS), Trump, or Brazil's Bolsonaro - who rushed to recognise the unelected Guaidó as 'interim president'.

With breath-taking hypocrisy, they condemn the Maduro government while selling arms to the most bloodthirsty dictators on the planet. This, while unleashing another outrageous smear against Jeremy Corbyn.

The labour movement needs to mobilise to defend Corbyn, demand a general election in Britain, and emphatically reject the charge that the crisis in Venezuela is a consequence of socialism.

Tony Mulhearn, Liverpool

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In The Socialist 6 February 2019:


What we think

Corbyn must prepare for a general election: Remove the pro-capitalist saboteurs - fight for the socialist alternative


Workplace news

College lecturers strike for a pay rise

University and College Union elections

PCS: Campaign for Chris Baugh for AGS

Traffic wardens' strike is just the ticket

Unison: Democracy and the right to speak out are under threat

Historic strike of nurses in Ireland

Backing for the Birmingham homecarers


News

Tory Brexit farce, Corbyn and unions: Call mass action now

Cash-starved health service ripped off by big pharma - fund our NHS now!

Struggling unis account for bulk of unconditional offers - end education marketisation!

Billionaires avoid paying and even talking about tax! Take the wealth off the 1%

Them & Us


Iranian revolution

40 years since the Iranian revolution: Learning the lessons for today's new working-class struggles


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Haringey 'Corbyn council' must fight borough regeneration

Victory! Campaign reverses Wallasey fire cuts

Sheffield tree campaigners' legal win

Southampton by-election

Worcestershire: save the libraries, reverse all the cuts

'Stansted 15' deportation protesters could face jail

North West Socialist Party conference


International socialist news and analysis

United States: LA teachers' strike defeats privatisers

France gilets jaunes' backed by mass strike action

Sweden: dock strikes test new government

United States: strike ends federal shutdown


Opinion

Film: Vice - Dick Cheney - a cold and calculating opportunist

Theatre: Ballad of Johnny Longstaff

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