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Socialists must defend trans rights
On 18 February, the Morning Star published a cartoon, drawn by Stella Perrett, depicting trans people as predators, using self-identification laws to gain access to and harass other vulnerable communities.
On Sunday 23 February, an apology for the cartoon was issued, claiming that "the cartoon had not been authorised for publication and its appearance in the print edition represents a failure to follow our own procedures for approving submissions."
No explanation for why a contributor with such obviously transphobic views was published at all has been provided. In my opinion the Morning Star is only attempting to mitigate the consequences of its actions, rather than take responsibility for them.
The myth of the 'predatory trans person' - a manipulative man who uses self-identification laws to sneak into women's safe spaces and attack them - is used to justify attacks on trans rights masked as reasonable concern for women and gay, lesbian and bisexual people. This is the myth that Stella Perrett's cartoon perpetuates.
The claim is reminiscent of those made in defence of segregation and homophobic laws, painting black and gay men as predators to deny them basic rights.
These attacks are as disgusting today as they were then. They are also made with absolutely no supporting evidence.
American states and school districts that protect trans rights report no increase in harassment or abuse in bathrooms and locker rooms. Examples of men pretending to be women to harass women are rare but are just as likely to happen in American states without non-discrimination laws.
This suggests that preventing trans people from using the bathrooms that they want to is simply cruel and does absolutely nothing to protect women from abuse. There is nothing 'reasonable' about transphobia.
Christian Russo, Sheffield Socialist Party
Bending under pressure
Rebecca Long-Bailey told a recent Jewish Labour Movement hustings that she would "welcome" the return of Luciana Berger to the Labour Party.
Berger, the ultra-Blairite and former Liverpool Wavertree Labour MP, stood for the Lib Dems in Finchley and Golders Green in December, and failed to get elected.
The Lib Dems had propped up Cameron's austerity coalition government, and as a party are totally opposed to the interests of the working class. Anybody who stands for the Lib Dems is promoting policies in opposition to everything that the Labour Party should stand for. These individuals should never be allowed back into the Labour Party.
Of course Luciana Berger, when she was a Labour MP, used that platform to publicly slander and vilify her own party. Long-Bailey is the sole 'Corbyn continuity' candidate for Labour Party leadership, so for her to not only say that Berger should be allowed to rejoin the party, but should be "welcomed," is utterly bizarre.
In reality, Long-Bailey's stance shows an unwillingness to stand up to the large hostile audience at the hustings. Any Labour Party leader will come under far greater pressures, from the press, from the lobbyists, from political opponents, and so on. And these pressures will pale into insignificance compared to the pressures a Labour prime minister will have to face down from the capitalist class at home and abroad.
It is not enough to have a vaguely socialist approach and to mean well. A leader of the labour movement needs to fight for the interests of the working class and stand firm against the class enemy. But she has shown an utter lack of the grit needed to defend these ideas when put under pressure.
If this is the best the Labour Party has to offer, then the fight against austerity will have to take place outside the Labour Party.
Amnon Cohen, North London
Nationalise the railways!
Greater Anglia trains are shit. They're late, slow, infrequent, old and often cancelled.
Travelling on a train recently a ceiling inspection panel fell down mid-journey, exposing electrical wires and cables underneath. But there was no guard on this service to tell. And there wasn't a staff member on the station platform either.
When we got off the train, the live departure board didn't match up with the train in the station. And there was pandemonium on the platform when the driver announced the train's destination had changed.
There are plenty of companies making lots of money off a failing service. Kick out the privatisers and nationalise the railways; keep the guards on the trains, and invest in a better service.
Ian Pattison, Romford
Public assets or private profit
Capitalist production of electric vehicles is contributing to the turmoil in Bolivia, which holds one quarter of global lithium reserves, essential for battery manufacture.
Over the past decade the previous Morales government moved to create a "100% estatal" (state) lithium industry, rather than following the 'public-private' model in Argentina and Chile. Without the expertise and equipment to set the industry up, Bolivia looked for international support and in 2018 surrendered a 49% stake to a Chinese consortium for just $2.3 billion.
In October 2019 a military coup, initiated by allegations of electoral corruption, forced president Evo Morales to flee the country; 17 indigenous protesters have since been killed after the interim government granted the military criminal immunity.
For now, polls indicate Morales' Movement for Socialism retaining majority support in the upcoming elections. Will international capitalists succeed in their colonialist extraction of Bolivia's lithium for profit, or will employment and education be shared with the indigenous people of Bolivia, as Morales envisaged?
Tom Ruddell, Bristol
Andrea Enisouh - a full-hearted comrade
It's very sad news to hear of the passing of Andrea Enisouh. I first met Andrea in the mid-1980s when we were both Militant-supporting students in the north-west of England (Andrea in Manchester and me in Preston). How young we were - just teenagers! She was a force of nature.
Our wprking-class roots and Marxist ideas gave us confidence to take on the right wing!
Andrea was a working-class fighter and one of the first Militant supporters on the National Union of Students' national executive council.
I worked with Andrea in anti-racist collaboration when I was in Belfast and Andrea in London in the early 1990s. Andrea wrote on the need for socialism to end racism in the Militant pamphlet on the legacy of US black liberation radical, Malcom X.
In 1997 when I began work for the Committee for a Workers' International (the socialist international organisation to which the Socialist Party is affiliated) in London, Andrea was one of the first comrades I met - still full of energy and enthusiasm for the struggle. A full-hearted comrade.
How very sad her passing, but Andrea left her mark that will be remembered.
Condolences to all of Andrea's family.
Tories' racist views
Eugenics is a term for the spurious theory that people inherit, criminal tendencies and even poverty, and that these conditions could be bred out of the gene pool.
A prime advocate, before Dominic Cummings and Andrew Sabisky were even thought of, was Nazi Dr Josef Mengele.
Mengele, an SS doctor at Auschwitz, oversaw many experiments on both adult and child twins. Many of his 'patients' died or suffered permanent disability, and his gruesome experiments earned him the nickname "Angel of Death."
Boris Johnson's chief strategist Dominic Cummings once infamously said, in effect, there was no point in educating the children of the poor because the rich were genetically superior. Eton mess Johnson is a prime example of this superiority.
The resignation of Downing Street "contractor" Sabisky (who links intelligence to race) is a step forward and indicates that Cummings is not as all-powerful as he would like to believe. However, the refusal of Downing Street to repudiate this vile doctrine tells its own story.
Johnson does not need to pretend any more, now the election is over. The most disgusting racist views have been expressed by Johnson, Cummings and Sabisky. That is why the initiative of Unite and other trade unions to march against racism is so important.
Mengele is dead. His views would seem to be alive.
Derek McMillan, East Grinstead
Reclaim the unions
Regarding your article 'Trade unions - new decade, new challenges' (the Socialist 13-19 February), we must remember who is the union; it is each individual member who pays their subs to the collective.
It is therefore the responsibility of each member to attend their branch meetings on a regular basis and make their demands known to regional officers, etc.
Should these people on high refuse to take up workers' demands, then members can give notice of a mass 'chuck out'. The union needs the cash from members, clearly therefore members should call the shots?
Through the system, arses need to be kicked, especially that of Frances O'Grady - who is as much use as a chocolate tea pot.
Adrian Rimington, Chesterfield
Just as people deny climate change and say it's not happening when there is clear evidence of global heating, so it is with socialism. The struggle is hard, with disappointment to overcome, so we motivate, organise and collaborate.
As active socialists, we win campaigns, we demand and initiate change, we support and inspire each other. Our duty is that of optimism and strength when people are unsure of a political name. Socialists provide answers, stand strong, and fight on.
Denise Tooley-Okonkwo, Mansfield
In The Socialist 26 February 2020:
What we think