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EasyJet go begging
Hannah Sell’s article ‘ Worldwide Capitalist Crisis Deepens’ (socialistparty.org.uk) exemplified the Tories’ ‘magic money tree’, “EasyJet was given access to more than $750 million in government money in April”. Since, The Times has stated, “EasyJet will report its worst financial performance in its 25-year history with the pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions… sending the short-haul European airline plunging to losses of at least £1.25 billion.” And that’s with the aid of the government’s largesse!
This is symptomatic of the weakening of the British economy before Covid-19. “EasyJet was already on the back foot after a tough winter reporting half-year losses, which included only the first month of lockdown, of £193 million.” While Johan Lundgren, its chief executive, claimed “EasyJet has adapted and risen to the challenges presented by the pandemic”, he also suggested another ‘begging bowl’ appeal: “The UK government urgently needs to step up with a bespoke package of measures to ensure airlines are able to support economic recovery when it comes.”
This is a partial rewriting of history. In February, when it became clear that Covid-19 had reached Europe, the Tories continued to allow unlimited access to returning airline passengers from countries with Covid-19 infections, without any quarantine requirement. This daily access for tens of thousands of arriving passengers continued throughout the national lockdown.
It was the refusal of UK passengers intending to go abroad, cancelling their flights, which impacted on the airlines. Regrettably, quarantine restrictions were only introduced when the government eased the lockdown.
As Hannah stated at the beginning of her article, capitalism ‘got lucky’ with the 2008 financial crash. This time the onset of recession has been exacerbated by the pandemic. The organised labour movement needs to ensure the capitalists’ luck runs out.
John Merrell, Leicester
Homes without water
Hundreds of thousands were without water supply in London after an infrastructure failure. Since moving to London I’ve lost count of how many water storage tanks I have removed while boarding people’s lofts. I have been telling them that these storage tanks were fitted when the infrastructure was in its infancy and there was intermittent water supply and pressure.
When nationalised, the infrastructure was vastly improved and meant a constant supply with decent pressure. Hence me telling people I could remove the storage tank if they needed more room in the loft as the mains pressure and supply were very reliable.
Since privatisation, the infrastructure has deteriorated through lack of investment, and if it continues to deteriorate, I’m guessing people will be calling me back to refit the 80-gallon tanks.
Martin Reynolds, Waltham Forest
“I think Marx is right”
This is the second year I’ve taught The Communist Manifesto to university students as part of a first-year module on Marx. This year, I have noticed how students are far sharper to the inequalities in society, and are engaging with social theory as a tool to answer the pressing questions and issues they see in society.
It is quite amazing to see how events of this year – including the health and economic crisis, the A-level algorithm fiasco, and continued police brutality as highlighted by the BLM movement – are affecting the consciousness of young people.
Last year, students in the class engaged with Marx’s ideas in an abstract way. This year, they were eager to apply Marx to their current situation, and discussed the continued presence of class struggle in modern society.
After reading The Communist Manifesto, a student from the former Soviet bloc, who said she would previously have rejected socialism, said: “I don’t think what we had actually was communism, what Marx says makes a lot of sense. I think Marx is right.”
A University Teacher
Chlorinated chicken carcasses that mask deadly pathogens, growth hormone-injected beef linked to breast cancer… yummy!
These are some of the frankenfood products heading our way if, as expected, the Tories post-Brexit free trade bill passes its first hurdle in the Commons this week.
Back in 2017, the then environment secretary, Michael Gove, said that any post-Brexit trade arrangements would not be allowed to lower food and animal welfare standards. But hypocrisy is endemic to the Tories, especially when striking a trade deal with the White House.
Simon Carter, east london
Fire Service “chronic underfunding”
Hereford and Worcester Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has published a response to the Fire and Rescue Authority’s Community Risk Management Plan. The FBU response seeks to learn the lessons of the Grenfell disaster, the Manchester Arena bombing, the Covid-19 pandemic so far, the 2018 wildfires in the area, and recent local flooding.
The FBU response runs to 33 pages and is thorough and clearly argued. It identifies “chronic underfunding” of the “adaptable, immediately responsive and effective service”.
The clear call is for more funding, more firefighters, and more national co-ordination. Firefighters have stepped into other roles in the course of the pandemic, assisting the overstretched staff of the NHS.
After Grenfell, we were solemnly told it must never happen again. But almost nothing has been done to help the estimated 600,000 people who still live with unsafe and potentially flammable cladding on their tower block homes.
In addition to the many other issues covered in the FBU response is the issue of pensions, where the FBU calls for retirement at 55. It identifies the 2015 pension currently in use, as not fit for purpose.
It is well worth contacting your local FBU and finding out directly how the Socialist Party can work alongside its members.
Pete McNally, Worcester Socialist Party
A dangerous ignoramus
Trump and his ilk drone on about ‘making America great again’. Well, they were certainly great at ethnic cleansing of Native Americans. They were also great at slavery. And they were pretty good at bombing the sh.. out of little Vietnam and Cambodia too.
The wealth of America was produced by immigrant and slave labour. Immigrants and Mohawk Indians built the New York skyscrapers. When you look at the truly great civilisations of the past – modern America pales into total insignificance. Along with their president, whose just a dangerous ignoramus.
I’m confident that in the years to come, the American worker will rise up and usher in a democratic socialist society, a society in which future generations can enjoy life to the full.