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28 February 2018

The Socialist inbox

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Views of letter writers do not necessarily match those of the Socialist Party.

Featured letter: a Labour member writes

Blairite councillors attack homeless

Issue 982 of the Socialist featured an article about Tory Windsor Council attacking homeless people while closing and cutting shelters and homeless services.

It's not just Tory councils that victimise and attack the homeless, however. I joined the Labour Party to support Jeremy Corbyn. I attended one ward meeting - and doubt I'll be attending another.

The local Labour council cabinet member, in her report to the meeting, spent 20 minutes detailing how the council was tackling the "scourge" of beggars in the local community.

She said many homeless people are "professional beggars" preying on people's goodwill. She characterised them as people that wake up in a house, put on dirty clothes and make thousands of pounds.

This same Labour councillor is one of the biggest proponents of the 'monster block' gentrification scheme (see page 4), sitting on the council's planning committee.

So it's clear: the Blairites within Labour continue to act the same as the Tories. Cosying up to private developers and using the police to fine and harass homeless people instead of building council houses and funding shelters and much-needed services.

These councillors are up for election again this year, imposed on us without any Haringey-style organised challenge to get rid of them.

A serious fightback to kick out all the Blairites, especially among the MPs and councillors, is needed to transform the Labour Party into one that fights on the side of workers, young people and those most let down by society.

A Labour Party member, Waltham Forest, east London

'Universal credit' crunch

On 1 March at Sheffield City Hall there is a demonstration, 12-3pm, against 'universal credit'.

All welfare claimants will be brought into the universal credit system by November, and face the prospect of five weeks with no money when the claim starts.

We, I am sure, will vote with all forms of direct action that will disrupt both the DWP and wider society, such will be the desperation of people.

Adrian B Rimington, Chesterfield, Derbyshire

Tide is turning

I was recently on a Socialist Party stall collecting signatures to stop the closure of five 'outstanding' local authority-run nurseries in Salford. A middle-aged man signed and we got talking about how angry the parents are.

"There's a lot to be angry about," he said. "When I hear the word 'austerity' a shiver goes through me." Then he told me his story.

He had a breakdown a few months ago and there was no bed at the local mental health trust. He spent four weeks, over Christmas, on a ward in Sussex. Christmas 250 miles away from friends and family.

I felt really guilty about this, because three years ago we campaigned against the closure of a ward in that trust.

We set up Save Mental Health Services in Salford, had great support from a service users' group, got a Coronation Street star publicly in support, held lobbies, and a march from Eccles to the hospital.

Unfortunately for this man and countless others, the closure still happened.

We shouldn't feel guilty. We fought hard and gave it our best shot.

Now the tide is turning and lately we've been able to celebrate the victories over NHS cuts in Leicester and Mansfield.

We have hardened activists around us who have learnt a lot from the mental health campaign.

Now let's help save the nurseries.

Paul Gerrard, Salford

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