Do you have something to say?
Send your news, views and criticism, in not more than 150 words, to [email protected] – or if you’re not online, PO Box 1398, Enfield EN1 9GT
We reserve the right to shorten and edit letters. For legal reasons, we need your full name, address and phone number – but confidentiality will be respected if requested
Sexism in schools
I have read the reports of sexual harassment in schools with huge sadness but also massive anger. Schools have been made unsafe for students!
But this is no accident. A big part of that comes down to the way schools are organised – with the central emphasis on exam achievement and league tables. Where’s the room for real discussion about relationships with properly trained staff? Where’s the space to explore the impact sexism and discrimination have on society and give young people confidence to stand up to it together?
Cuts to support staff are also a major factor. The GMB union reported that almost 12,000 teaching assistant roles were cut between 2011 and 2020. Students need support now more than ever.
Let’s fight for schools to be run in a way that serves the needs of the working class – our youth and our communities. That starts with no cuts, no academies, and local democratic control by community, including student and trade union, organisations.
Emma Smith, Chingford
Teen film has Moxie
I thought Moxie was brilliant. It’s a new teen drama on Netflix about school students – girls and boys – campaigning against sexism at their school. It’s interesting that Hollywood thinks this more political topic will appeal to young people. All the tropes from the genre are slightly heightened to make for disturbing viewing.
It isn’t just anger and rage against injustice, although there’s plenty of that throughout. But campaigning, organising, discussing and meeting are all central to the plot. It manages to be hilarious at times too. I think if any piece of film, book or TV programme has a positive impact on people’s attitudes on the topic, then it’s done a good thing. Moxie does that by the bucketload. (See ‘Film review: Moxie’ at socialistparty.org.uk)
Ian Pattison, Waltham Abbey, Essex
Nationalise the banks
The Financial Times reported that “the UK government has sold £1.1 billion of shares in NatWest in a move the Treasury described as an ‘important step’ in returning the bank to private ownership but which crystallised a £1.8 billion loss for the taxpayer.”
Only three days earlier, the Financial Conduct Authority had launched criminal proceedings against NatWest for “failing to comply with anti-money laundering rules.”
The bank (then the RBS group) was bailed out in 2008 and is still mainly state-owned while it gradually gets reprivatised.
Millions of working-class and middle-class people are in thousands of pounds of debt to the banksters. Some are really struggling. Many MPs own significant shares in these vast institutions.
How do the Tories get away with this? Where is a party demanding public ownership of the banks with democratic oversight and management by the working class?
Keir Starmer’s Labour appears more like a fan club than a serious opposition. Our trade unions must find a deserving recipient of our political funds.
Andy Beadle, Deptford, South London
In a pastiche of Gordon Gekko, the crooked stock trader in the movie ‘Wall Street’, who proclaimed: “Greed is good”, Boris Johnson boasted to his Tory lap dog MPs: “The reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed, my friends”.
Johnson conveniently forgets that the Oxford Jenner Institute/AstraZeneca vaccine was developed courtesy of £65 million direct funding from the British government and nearly $1 billion from the US administration.
Moreover, the roll-out vaccination programme in the UK is being delivered through the publicly owned and funded National Health Service.
Meanwhile, Johnson’s ‘world beating’ test-and-trace system – which has consumed £37 billion of public funds, with private consultants charging up to £6,250 a day and swelling the balance sheet of companies like Serco – has been branded ‘a costly failure’ by the Public Accounts Committee.
Simon Carter, East London
Boris Johnson is a result of capitalism and greed. The vaccine is not.
Confidence in the vaccine is undermined when politicians try to take credit for it or to say that the ruling ideology of the Conservative Party – capitalism and greed – is responsible.
The rollout of the vaccine is a victory for the NHS. The NHS was brought in with the support of trade-union sponsored MPs while the Tories voted against.
Derek McMillan, West Sussex
‘No jab, no job’ counterproductive
Ensuring the safety of care home residents should be a key priority in the battle against coronavirus. However, the government’s leaked plan to make it mandatory for care home workers to have the vaccine is counterproductive.
Take-up is still relatively low – two thirds – among social care staff, and this needs to be improved. But rather than being threatened and bullied, workers should be informed and persuaded to take the jab.
Some private care home providers are already insisting on a punitive ‘no jab, no job’ policy for staff, which will cause more to quit and less people being taken on. This comes in a sector with poor working conditions and low pay, where there are currently 100,000 vacancies to be filled.
In addition, government and private sector coercion is only likely to further deter those who have concerns about having the vaccine. There are many reasons why people might choose not to, but a significant factor is a lack of trust. Particularly in the vested interests of giant pharmaceutical companies and negative experiences of the underfunded and outsourced NHS under the Tories.
The only way this can be fully addressed is by taking the NHS and pharmaceutical industry out the hands of greedy profiteers, integrating them and managing them under democratic workers’ control. This would ensure all decisions are transparent and accountable to the majority, to restore trust and protect our most vulnerable.
Dan Smart, Bristol
‘Big oil’ toxicity
Each year in the UK there are 40,000 ‘excess deaths’ from air pollution, mostly caused by particulate matter (fine soot) and nitrogen dioxide from car exhaust emissions. Low-income neighbourhoods are often the worst affected by this traffic pollution.
It has now been revealed in the Guardian that the oil industry had known about the toxic effects of their products on human health for 50 years, but fiercely lobbied governments against introducing air pollution controls that would have hit the industry’s profits.
But the duplicity continues. Today, ‘big oil’ strenuously claims to be contributing to a ‘greener future’ by investing in clean energy technologies. This is at the same time as pushing for new licences for oil exploration, as well as acquiring government tax breaks for oil production, and so forth.
The only way to protect public health is to nationalise big oil, rapidly phase out petrol and diesel cars, and invest in environmentally friendly and sustainable energy generation and transport as part of an overall economic plan of production.
Simon Carter, East London
Liverpool Tory hypocrisy
Justifying the Tory takeover of Liverpool City Council, Channel 4 news reporter Liz Bates claimed the inspector’s report revealed “a culture of cronyism”.
This, when Boris Johnson’s Tory government during the pandemic has become a byword for cronyism!
The Times also quoted from the inspector’s report about [an] “environment of intimidation”. Not unlike B.J effectively deselecting long standing Tory MPs before the 2019 general election because they opposed his ‘Get Brexit done’ mantra!
The Times further reported that communities secretary Robert Jenrick highlighted the “awarding of dubious contracts”. What about the government’s scandalous procurement of PPE!
As well as Jenrick’s own department awarding millions of pounds of ‘aid’ to his constituency, Newark, which he boasted about before the 2019 general election!
But the far greater crime of delivering a decade of Tory austerity goes unmentioned. I’m sure the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate for Liverpool’s city mayor, Roger Bannister, will remedy that omission!