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19 June 2019

The Socialist Inbox

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

Conservative climate crisis

Reducing carbon dioxide emissions globally is essential to fighting the climate change crisis that threatens the planet.

A new plan announced by departing prime minister Theresa May proposes dropping Britain's net carbon dioxide emissions to zero by 2050. But May's plans have already been torn apart by climate experts and campaigners.

Professor Phil Taylor, head of engineering at Newcastle University, said the government's policy is "way off the mark." Put simply, it doesn't have policies that come close to getting to that goal.

The government already has a goal under the 2008 Climate Change Act to reduce UK emissions by 80% of 1990s levels by the year 2050. For that we need a 51% reduction by 2027, and the government is already off track to reach even that.

The Conservatives are no leaders on fighting climate change and their record shows it. They have pushed fracking on communities, increased our spending on fossil fuels, and cut incentives for green investment.

Plus, senior Tories Andrea Leadsom, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson - all participants in the struggle for the top job of party leader and prime minister - have denied man-made climate change previously.

With the Tories in power, we will make no progress towards the essential task of reducing our emissions and moving towards a green economy. The Conservative Party is wedded to the interests of capitalism, and capitalism has little interest in action on climate change that will harm profits.

Oil companies and the biggest businesses have spent decades using their economic clout, political influence, propaganda and deception to hold back changes that would harm their own interests and power.

Critics of the new plan are already concerned the burden of fighting climate change will be put on the working class.

The climate movement must instead coordinate with trade unions and organised workers to push the representatives of capitalism out of power, and bring the working class to power with a programme for a green and socialist transformation of our economy and society.

Adam Harmsworth, Coventry

Housing and class struggle

At the start of the 20th century, 90% of Britain's population lived in private rented accommodation. The sector was subject to minimal regulation.

With the coming of World War One - and the attendant pressures on housing - landlords began to hike up rents. This was at a time when most working-class men were at the front fighting. Women saw it as a betrayal and began to organise tenants' groups to resist the rises.

In Glasgow in particular the women got the support of the Independent Labour Party and were championed by socialists such as John Maclean. They also won backing from workers in the factories and shipyards.

Their agitation forced the government to take action. Rent controls were introduced. So too was security of tenure which made it more difficult for landlords to evict tenants.

Then, in 1972, rent strikes broke out across Britain in response to the Heath government's notorious Housing Finance Act. That legislation aimed to force council rents up to market levels.

While most Labour councils - even those that originally resisted - eventually caved in one by one, Clay Cross stood firm to the end. Eleven councillors risked prison because of their refusal to implement the rises.

And in Liverpool in the mid-1980s, the then socialist council - in the face of massive opposition from Whitehall - embarked on a huge housebuilding programme. It built over 5,000 new homes and froze council rents.

More recently there has been campaigning against the bedroom tax, and resistance to the social cleansing of social housing in parts of London.

So housing has been and still is a focus for class struggle, and it is excellent to see the Socialist outline a programme for safe homes after Grenfell.

Alan Stewart, Wakefield, West Yorkshire

D Day defiance

I saw some of the TV coverage of the preparations for D Day on 5 June. On BBC1 a former soldier was interviewed. At one point he said: "What are all these politicians doing here? They are not needed."

I switched on the radio a bit later and another former soldier said "I like the queen being here but these politicians should stay at home." Mutiny in the ranks?

Pete McNally, Welland, Worcestershire

Euro vultures gather

As we anticipated, in the wake of the Euro elections, the vultures moved with renewed vigour to crush Jeremy Corbyn and the anti-austerity approach he espouses.

Jeremy must know he will never mollify the Blairite wing nor the capitalist media who have displayed sickening sycophancy in defence of arch-Blairite Alistair Campbell. He's got to go on the offensive.

The rest of the anti-socialist brigade should join Campbell. Watson and Campbell are blatantly working to implement 'Operation Anaconda', their instrument designed to crush Corbyn.

There should be no more retreats or apologies. Trigger ballots should be implemented now to rid the movement of the fifth column, or it will destroy the Corbyn project.

It's time for Jeremy to organise up and down the country to mobilise the massive support that exists for an anti-austerity alternative to the catastrophic cuts of the Tories. Those who organise his activities should be bombarded with demands for a mass campaign which can change the whole landscape of British politics.

Secret demos should be replaced by a confident call for millions of supporters to get on the streets to demand a general election now.

Tony Mulhearn, Liverpool

Don't extradite Assange

The Merseyside Pensioners Association has agreed to support Jeremy Corbyn's statement that the UK government should not extradite Julian Assange to the United States.

Like Corbyn, we believe that Assange is being pursued by the US because he has exposed wrongdoing by US administrations and their military forces.

They, backed by the Tory government, are keen to get Assange extradited because WikiLeaks exposed and embarrassed the major western powers, especially over how their military and intelligence forces operate outside of any notional democratic public oversight, often conducting extremely violent operations including acts of terror against civilians.

We note that in November 2016, Assange was questioned at the Ecuadorian embassy by Swedish officials over remaining rape allegations. They should be investigated via due process without the threat of deportation to the US.

The Merseyside Pensioners Association also confirmed our support for the Justice for Shrewsbury Pickets Campaign, and wish them every success in the forthcoming judicial review of their case.

Merseyside Pensioners Association

Years and Years

'Years and Years' is a new six-part fictional family drama, starring Emma Thompson and written by Russell T Davies. The drama starts in 2019 and follows the lives of the Lyons family who are scattered all over the UK.

The story begins with the birth of the newest member of the family, baby Lincoln. It plays out over the next 15 years, as Britain stumbles into a sombre future which is becoming increasingly unstable, led by a new political party.

Increasing tensions between the United States and China include a nuclear weapon being fired, causing one of the Lyons family members, an activist in the vicinity of the explosion, to suffer radiation exposure.

There's a global economic crash, leaving banks to close as people are wiped of their savings and homes are repossessed. There's poverty, the plight of deportation, and people fleeing to Britain as refugees.

There's also some futuristic but plausible technological advances as the Lyons negotiate their own twists and turns, tragedies and triumphs.

The drama isn't easy watching, but highlights some of the impact of capitalism and the greed of the super-rich 1% ruining the lives of the working class. Socialism can stop this.

Calvin Fowler, Worcester