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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 September 2019

The Socialist Inbox

The Socialist inbox: letters to the editors

The Socialist inbox: letters to the editors   (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 [email protected]

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.

Parliament prorogued

Democracy is optional for capitalism, photo by Maurice/CC

Democracy is optional for capitalism, photo by Maurice/CC   (Click to enlarge)

"No unity with austerity politicians" - it's a great slogan, and distinguishes us from all pro-austerity remainers.

Like the whole Liberal party. They are looking to have the same presence on the streets with their placards and orange colours as during the run-up to the Iraq war, when they cultivated an oppositional presence only to betray us later on.

Or the likes of openly vicious Tories, like Anna Soubry, who voted continuously for austerity and hates Corbyn. No unity with austerity politicians!

Nancy Taaffe, Walthamstow, east London

The queen allows an unelected prime minister to suspend a parliament with no single party enjoying a majority - which itself wants to ignore the "democratic" referendum vote - to defend a government propped up by the support of a party that scuppered devolved democratic government in its own country. Are we surprised that people don't have much faith in our democracy? I don't.

Sue Powell, Gloucester

Brexit continues to split the UK capitalists as never before - even the Financial Times is attacking Johnson and calling for a general election!

Roger Bannister, Liverpool

Johnson's move will gain some support from working-class people, seen as firm action and leadership required to deal with a crisis. In the meantime, Corbyn compromises and dithers faced with the Blairite hounds baying for his blood.

The result is that the Tories are about 10% ahead in the opinion polls, a frightening fact considering the rampant austerity under this Tory government. Labour should be miles ahead.

Time is short. We have the opportunity to see the back of the Tories very soon, and the election of an anti-austerity government, but also the extremely real danger of a decisive Tory victory.

Domenico Hill, Bristol

Boris de Pfeffel and Rees-Mogg 'on the side of working people'? Went to Eton at a cost of 42,500 a year - or 140% of a UK worker's average wage. Up the workers!

Wally Kennedy, Northwood, west London

Boris Johnson wants to play off 'people versus parliament'. The real difference is working-class people versus the rotten system that Johnson represents.

There is no different class interest between the Blairites, Tories and Lib Dems. Brexit is concealing the real issues such as poverty, homelessness, cuts to local services, privatisation of the NHS, and so on. Whether we stay in the EU or not all these issues will remain.

Labour can only win the upcoming general election if it campaigns against austerity, poverty and privatisation. With the populists like Trump, Farage and Johnson building political alliances, Labour must send out a clear message: no dirty deals in Westminster! Only a Corbyn-led Labour government with socialist policies can definitely defeat Boris and his right-wing populist agenda.

Terry Pearce, Bracknell, Berkshire

Corbyn's domestic agenda is his ace card, but he also needs a socialist response to the current right-wing Brexiteers versus pro-EU liberals cul-de-sac - namely a genuinely inclusive Brexit position, which must accept that in 2016 leave won the referendum.

Sadly, in recent days, Corbyn has chosen to meekly swim in the right-wing slipstream. When Jo Swinson and Anna Soubry emerge from a meeting with him beaming with satisfaction you know that a left-wing agenda hasn't been advanced.

It's not too late for him to advance a very clear left leave message, however. Anything else frankly risks totally abandoning the ground to Johnson, Farage and the right-wing Brexiteers, and Corbyn might never become PM.

James Hinchcliffe, Manchester

TAs and teachers together

In many public sector jobs, workforces have been reorganised to bring in workers on much lower rates of pay to do much of the job previously done by trained professionals on higher wages.

I currently work in the criminal justice system. We have experienced a downgrading of our role and our wages while still doing much of the work that was done on a higher grade.

My grade is totally undervalued. A family member works for the police and there has been a similar process there.

This suits the employers in two ways. First of all it is cheaper, and secondly it creates the potential to divide and rule.

An article appeared in issue 1051 written by a teaching assistant in Wales ('Huge workload, low pay and unpaid hours - a day in the life of a teaching assistant'). I am a retired teacher. On reading the article I can see that many of the problems faced by classroom assistants are also faced by teachers.

Teachers are also paid pro rata. They get an annual salary which is then divided into 12 monthly payments. I used to get fed up explaining to people that we didn't get paid for 'long holidays' - which were never that long given all the extra work that takes place during non-term time!

Teachers also do not get paid for extra hours worked. When I was a teacher we were paid for a statutory number of hours per year. But you could never do everything you were expected to do in that time.

I regularly went into school for 7am, worked through breaks, and left at 5pm to cook dinner and look after my children (I was also a single parent) - and then worked into the evening marking work, preparing lessons and writing reports. We also ran parents' evenings, rewrote curriculum, and organised extracurricular activities.

Like TAs, teachers are dedicated and will step in to support struggling families - to ensure their child can go on a trip, provide clothes, dinner money and so on.

A good teacher values the support from teaching assistants. I definitely did. Especially when I taught classes where 15 children were on the special needs register.

We stress the common cause of teachers and teaching assistants. The blame for being low-paid, overworked and undervalued lies with employers and the government.

We should fight for proper funding for schools, and unity in action to address issues common to teachers and teaching assistants - especially now the National Education Union organises both.

A Unison union member, Saddington, Leicestershire

Collective climate crisis

Greta Thunberg has helped inspire a generation of young people to fight climate change. The vicious attacks on her by capitalist politicians show their fear of youth anger.

However, some tactics risk alienating the very people that can stop the destruction of the planet: namely, the working class.

Greta's latest much-publicised venture - to travel across the Atlantic on a boat that has no carbon emissions - is very laudable. But it separates her from ordinary working-class youth who could never afford such transport. Apparently, the boat (powered by solar panels) cost 4 million just to build!

Air travel offers relatively affordable holidays to working-class families wanting to get away from the daily grind of capitalism. They shouldn't feel guilty about flying.

Individual stunts will not tackle climate change. What we need is collective action from the organised working class to shift production and mass transport to clean energy. Trade union action on the 20 September climate strike would be a good start.

Mick Whale, Hull

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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.
  • 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 Fighting Fund.

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In The Socialist 4 September 2019:

What we think

Tories out now - Corbyn in with socialist policies

Marches, blockades, strikes, occupations... How can protests win?


Money doesn't make up for cuts - education unions must organise for funding and against Tory attacks

Bury expelled from football league: Boot out the bosses ruining our game

Dozens of protests say Boris must go - Socialist Party policies heard on TV

Climate change

20 September climate action day: Strike to save the planet!

Climate action day - trade union round-up


Austerity anger feeds movement for Welsh independence


What strategy can end the retail jobs massacre?

Workplace victory emboldens retail workers to get organised

Workplace news

TUC: name the day for a mass demo

Nottingham college workers plan 15 days of walkouts

Science Museum Group staff strike over pay restraint

DVSA strike: action impacting

South Western Railway guards strike against DOO

London bus workers protest for better hours and conditions

International socialist news and analysis

Hong Kong protests: No let-up in trial of strength

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Socialist Party Youth and Student national meeting

Priced out of Pride

Bradford demo: Self-determination for Kashmir


At 96 I'm more convinced of socialism than ever

The Socialist Inbox


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