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18 September 2019

The Socialist inbox

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.

Rape convictions low

Two recent news items demonstrate the shocking deterioration of our justice system and support services for women.

On 10 September we were told that rape convictions were at the lowest level for a decade. Of 54,000 reported rapes just 1,925 resulted in a conviction.

So many women, because rape predominantly impacts women, have been failed by a flawed justice system.

It is eager to imprison women for shoplifting when they can't feed their children, but actively tries to deny justice to women when raped.

The message it sends is that we don't count. The justice system is failing us and desperately needs overhauling. It must be more accountable and take rape cases more seriously.

It was also reported that 173 people had been killed as a result of domestic violence, the highest level in the last five years. The vast majority of these victims are women.

At a time when services such as refuges and support services for women fleeing from violent partners are being slashed, is it any wonder the figures are so high?

But it doesn't have to be like this. More affordable homes and a wide range of well-funded services that provide a proper safety net must be provided.

We have to fight harder than ever as austerity corrodes our services. That's why I'm in the Socialist Party fighting for real change.

Jane Nellist, Coventry

Abuser Boycott knighted

It's unforgiveable that domestic violence killings have reached a five-year high, and that progress to the domestic violence bill is going to be delayed further as parliament is prorogued.

And Theresa May's parting 'gift' at this time, after women have borne 87% of the impact of austerity? The second female prime minister has honoured a man convicted for assaulting his partner for a knighthood.

Like American student Brock Turner's lenient sentence on account of him being a promising athlete, the knighting of Geoffrey Boycott (former England cricket captain and commentator) sends the message that women's lives don't matter, or at least, not as much as sports titles!

The Tories have never championed women, and knighting Boycott captures May's complete lack of recognition of the reality of so many women living in fear because of domestic violence.

We need to get the Tories out now to stop cuts to services and refuges, end austerity and fight against the gendered oppression and violence entrenched in capitalism.

Nina Brown, Leeds

Too small to make a difference?

Greta Thunberg's 2019 publication 'No one is too small to make a difference' sets out her views on climate change and the reason why she sparked off a massive student protest all over the world.

It contains some ideas which socialists will be sympathetic to. In one speech, for example, to the United Nations climate change conference, she said: "We are about to sacrifice our civilisation for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue to make enormous amounts of money, we are about to sacrifice the biosphere so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. But it is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few."

The chapter about addressing the Houses of Parliament in April shows her rising frustration. It is titled 'Can you hear me?' and repeatedly makes plain that the existing political order is incapable of listening to the demands of the youth because it would mean tearing up their most hallowed beliefs: free enterprise, the profit motive and the divine right of the corporations to wreck the environment to make a fast buck.

If you are looking for a worked-out, detailed socialist analysis of how capitalism drives climate change, this is not the book for you.

If you want an insight into the passion which drives the hundreds of thousands of people who are seeking to fight for a future then it is.

Derek McMillan, Worthing, Sussex

Climate protests and workers

Mick Whale's letter in issue 1054 - 'Collective climate crisis' - raised a very important point about the need to keep workers onside in climate change protests.

I work for National Express, and coach services were heavily disrupted in London during the Extinction Rebellion protests over Easter.

Blockades caused delays to coach services, which run the risk not only of alienating coach drivers, but also the travelling public.

Many poorer workers travel by coach as a cheap alternative to trains and these are the people we don't want to alienate. Public transport is part of the solution to climate change - not part of the problem.

It is encouraging to see approaches being made to trade unions to participate in climate change protests.

But that would be much more successful if unions used their authority among workers to lead from the front rather than respond to appeals that may or may not come from local protest organisers.

Clive Walder, Birmingham

Another London tower block fire

On Monday 16 September a fire took place in Harry Zeital Way in Clapton, east London, the third fire in three months in tower blocks in the capital.

Thankfully, it appears that no-one has been seriously hurt. According to one eyewitness, the fire spread from the ground floor to the fourth floor in two minutes.

This is not the first time a fire has happened on this estate. Five years ago there was another fire and only now is the estate management talking about removing the flammable cladding.

We need quality, permanent rehousing of all affected residents. We demand the removal of all cladding and balconies immediately and the release and re-doing of the fire safety assessment. We cannot allow these fires to keep happening.

A local resident

Operation Yellowhammer

MPs have forced the government to publish the Operation Yellowhammer document. This report looks at the potential consequences of a no-deal Brexit and its aim was to mitigate the problems that would arise.

However, it found that no-deal would interrupt the flow of medical supplies, cause food shortages and food and energy price rises, and may lead to civil unrest.

At first, Boris Johnson tried to suppress the report but is now claiming it is only a worst case scenario.

The reality is a no-deal Brexit will have dire consequences for working people, but a Tory deal led by Johnson and Rees-Mogg will be no better.

Corbyn is right to demand a general election and says Labour would negotiate a credible deal that protects workers' rights and living standards.

However, Tom Watson and other leading Blairites are demanding that Labour prioritise a second referendum and campaign to remain.

This would be disastrous in Leave voting Labour constituencies and it would run the risk of pushing many Labour voters towards the Tories or the Brexit Party allowing them to drive through a no-deal.

The Blairites know this but are more concerned with ousting Corbyn and reasserting their control than stopping the Tories and a no-deal.

The big issues that working people face are low pay, precarious employment, the housing crisis and cuts to vital services.

With regards to Brexit, most workers simply want it resolved. This is why we support the election of a Corbyn-led Labour government with socialist policies that offer real solutions to these problems.

Dave Walsh, Liverpool

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