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From: The Socialist issue 1013, 10 October 2018: Fight the right

Search site for keywords: Letters - Rail - Far right - Europe - Students

The Socialist Inbox

  (Click to enlarge)

Letters to the Socialist's editors.

Do you have something to say?

Send your news, views and criticism in not more than 150 words to, or if you're not online, to Socialist Postbox, PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD.

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.

Street fighting

I heard shouting while walking through Leicester city centre late on a Sunday afternoon and went to investigate. Turns out it was a row over a yard of pavement outside McDonald's. Homeless people were arguing over the best pitch. This is what Tory Britain has reduced people to.

Arguing over the best place to beg. The need for socialism to distribute the wealth in favour of the many not the few is clear.

Heather Rawling, Leicester

Varoufakis wrong on far right

For anyone who still thinks that Yanis Varoufakis, ex-finance minister of Greece, has something new or unique to offer to the debate on the rise of the far right across Europe and how the left should respond, last week's interview on BBC Hard Talk should finally put the issue to bed.

Discussing how to beat back the movement of nationalists, Varoufakis said: "Some of us created the Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM25), which seeks to bring together not just the left, but also liberals, even progressive conservatives - those of us who are eager to agree on a believable, credible progressive agenda for Europe... We created DiEM25 because we do not believe that the left has what it takes at the moment."

The idea that socialists should cooperate with 'liberal' capitalists, whose policies provide the material basis for the growth of the far right, in order to defeat the threat of far right, is madness!

This bizarre position flows from his long-held belief that the left 'remains squarely defeated'. This is despite the fact that he was the finance minister of a country convulsed by general strikes, and crying out for leadership which Syriza - his former party - failed to provide. In his recent book 'Adults in the Room', the heroic struggles of the Greek working class were, at best, a footnote. In 500 pages they get barely a mention!

Tom Barker, Leicester

Unis and GDPR

Willie Clarke's opinion piece on the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) - see 'GDPR data laws: Punishing workers for human mistakes' - made some interesting observations on how this legislation fails to distinguish between genuine mistakes and deliberate misuse of data for commercial gain, as well as the sense of panic instilled into workers about any mistakes being made.

In universities, GDPR has been interpreted in different ways, with student unions having differing policies to each other. But a common feature is increased centralisation of control over student societies. This isn't a new trend. Room bookings require lengthy waits before being approved. Cash can't be paid to societies for students to go to meetings, instead they have to join via the student union website. And guest speakers need to be notified at least three weeks in advance so that they can be vetted.

At one of the universities in Leeds societies aren't allowed to have sign-up sheets on which other people's details remain visible. At another, you are allowed to leave them visible, so long as the sheet is returned to the student union at the end of the freshers fair for the union to later send you the details.

Measures to stop the commercial exploitation of data are welcome, but all the petty details above will do is stop people receiving information about a student group they wanted to find out more about. That such basic actions necessary for democratic organisations like student societies to communicate with members, or promote meetings are made more difficult is not a welcome development.

What drives the commercial misuse of data is the profit motive. This will only be overcome by removing the incentive for individuals and businesses to exploit their access (legal or illegal) to such data. Ultimately, this means organising society on the basis of meeting the needs of people.

Iain Dalton, Leeds

Rail safety

Trains need guards, photo Hugh Llewelyn/CC

Trains need guards, photo Hugh Llewelyn/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Private rail companies are only interested in profit and not the safety of their passengers. By removing the guard from their sardine-tin trains, they save money on the wage bill. But what they also do is put the lives of passengers at serious risk.

What happens when a driver is taken ill during a journey? With the guard onboard they can make contact and get help. No guard equals no help in a serious emergency.

Clive T Hughes, London

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