Going viral: Socialist comments and letters on the corona crisis

The Covid-19 pandemic is a world social crisis which touches every aspect of life. The iniquities and failings of the capitalist system are being exposed, and workers and communities are organising in response.

Send us your comments, reports, anecdotes and thoughts, in not more than 200 words (we reserve the right to shorten letters), to [email protected]

Lack of demand? We want a test!

When I heard Matt Hancock say there hadn’t been enough testing over the Easter weekend because of lack of demand, I nearly fell off my chair.

My partner and I became ill with coronavirus symptoms in early March. But whereas I recovered after eight days, my partner didn’t.

After three weeks he got significantly worse and he was diagnosed with pneumonia and a blood clot on his lung. Now, after five weeks, he’s being treated for another, additional lung infection.

It seems endless. It’s exhausting and worrying for all of us.

The GP, NHS 111 and the doctors and nurses we’ve seen in five trips to the hospital all agree we both had Covid. Over the Easter weekend a junior doctor came close to sending him to the Covid ward and intubating him, but thankfully that was avoided.

He’s been tested and tested for all sorts, and rightly so. But at no point has he been tested for coronavirus!

On Good Friday the doctor specifically said: “You’ve got coronavirus. But we’re not testing you”. So we don’t occur in any of the statistics, but we do count as lack of demand!

Angry Anonymous

Saved by millions not millionaires

I’m so bloody angry. So the Tories have flattened the curve – i.e. fewer people died today and yesterday.

There was I thinking it was the amazing effort of our doctors, nurses, cleaners, porters, radiographers and all frontline workers, who have worked tirelessly to care for and keep alive thousands of very sick people.

But no, a bunch of multi-billionaires with their second homes and their privileges have achieved this, despite us ‘wasting’ PPE and not following proper infection control procedures – that we follow every bloody day of our working lives.

Maggie Fricker, NHS worker

Another unnecessary death from sick capitalism

Another Covid-19 horror story showing the utter sickness of British capitalism and unregulated, non-unionised slave labour.

A migrant Indian Uber driver in London caught Covid-19. Because he was scared of being evicted, and there are no rights working for the ‘scab app’, he starved alone in his room for weeks. This meant his body couldn’t fight the virus when he eventually went to hospital.

One of a number of Uber drivers who has died of the virus. Uber have provided no safety for drivers, who are using their own improvised plastic sheeting to shield themselves and passengers.

Matt Dobson, Glasgow

Deplorable PPE response

The lack of PPE is akin to sending soldiers to war armed with cap guns! It must be filling all NHS workers with dread.

This thoroughly rotten Tory government has spent weeks lying through their teeth that there is plenty of equipment, then attempting to shift the blame onto nurses saying they are overusing PPE.

The response of Unison, the trade union representing hundreds of thousands of health workers, is deplorable – in effect it’s up to the individual to decide if they’re going into a safe environment. Labour’s woeful response – now is not the time for tough questions!

Elaine Brunskill, Gateshead

Where have the Tories been?

Recently, Conservative MP for Carlisle, John Stevenson, praised NHS staff in a full-page statement in the News and Star.

But he voted in Parliament against paying nurses the wages they deserve. He ignored a Carlisle Socialist Party petition, signed by 2,350 local people, demanding adequate resources for the NHS.

The Socialist Party, with trade unions and other parties, helped organise large demonstrations in Carlisle to defend the NHS. Where was he then?

We stood with the junior doctors, who were forced to take strike action for reasonable wages and conditions, but Stevenson and his party opposed and denied them.

Brent Kennedy, Carlisle

Water privatisation

Privatised US water companies can shut your water off if you can’t pay your bills. In the richest country on the world, 15 million had their water shut off in 2016, before the crisis. Black women with children are the most vulnerable.

Most people who have their water cut off go to work, and can use toilets and wash basins at work and out in society. So prior to the shutdown, this abomination was hidden. Now with people stuck at home, it has become a real problem.

One Detroit woman had eleven people in her house; she was looking after her grandchildren. Now human waste is being dumped in household bins.

Socialism is so needed in the US. Water should never be privatised and should be available to everyone for free.

Nancy Taaffe, Waltham Forest, London

Tory NHS boost

Just read the Tories are going to invest millions of pounds in the NHS. They have employed three 99-year-old men to do laps of their garden.

Martin Reynolds, Waltham Forest, London

Maternity cuts

There needs to be some investigation into maternity care at this time. There are horror stories about women being sent home, being made to wait in pain. Now a pregnant woman has died.

A lot of specialist maternity units have been cut. Is this now translating into lack of care? The answer seems obvious, but who’s asking the questions in the press?

Amy Cousens, Bradford

Keir Starmer: Big business politician

Pressure is being applied to reopen the schools, so that private companies can start making profits again.

Keir Starmer intervenes – not to oppose a premature restarting of the economy that will increase the death toll, but to call for a plan for the ending the lockdown, making it look more plausible.

This is what a big business politician does when he leads the opposition.

Ross Saunders, Cardiff

Keir Starmer’s priorities

Sir Keir Starmer is investigating whether right-wing Labour bureaucrats were too busy attacking Jeremy Corbyn to deal with antisemitism.

While he is investigating whether the right wing opposed Jeremy Corbyn, he might as well try to find out whether the Pope is Catholic and what exactly bears get up to in the woods.

Derek McMillan, Worthing

Social murder

My Dad was a Hull docker and died of asbestosis. Dockers had to hand shovel raw asbestos, until they refused and forced the employers to abandon the practice.

Employers knew for years asbestos was a killer, but kept silent because it made them fortunes. Those employers socially murdered my Dad.

This is one reason I’m a committed lifelong revolutionary socialist and will fight until my dying breath to change this capitalist system that puts profits before lives, just as we are seeing today.

Never Forget. Never Forgive.

Paul Spooner, Hull

When a thousand miners were jailed

photo Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer/CC

photo Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer/CC   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

The way in which class conflict in World War Two bubbled underneath the surface was well explained in Alec Thraves’ article (see ‘Class collaboration and worker militancy in World War Two Britain’ at socialistparty.org.uk). But there was one industry where relative peace apparently reigned – coal mining.

The whole British economy rested on coal. Because of this, the vital role of miners was tacitly accepted by the mine owners and disputes were resolved relatively peacefully.

Except in one outstanding case – Betteshanger Colliery in Kent (the last pit to go back to work after the 1984-85 strike). On 9 January 1942, a dispute over payments for working difficult seams escalated and 1,040 miners went on strike.

The authorities struck back. Three union officials were jailed.

The miners were given the option of paying a hefty fine or going to prison. Almost to a man they refused to pay.

What to do? There was no jail space for a thousand men.

Even with heavily censored media, the story got out and other miners discussed striking in sympathy. On 28 January a settlement was reached, charges were dropped and the union officials freed.

The lesson is clear. Even if the leaderships of the trade unions and the Labour Party declare peace in the ‘national interest’, the class struggle carries on at workplace level.

Geoff Jones, Swansea