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From: The Socialist issue 1129, 14 April 2021: Time to fight back! Vote socialist on 6 May

Search site for keywords: Letters - The Socialist - Socialist - Housing - Women

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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

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Rise from your knees

The demise of the Duke of Edinburgh unleashed a wave of sickening sycophantic twaddle. We learnt that Prince Philip was brighter than Einstein, a better sailor than Nelson, and a superior engineer to Brunel.

Of course, the media had to report the death of Prince Philip. But they did not all have to become such contemptible toads.

I was waiting to hear that every hospital was to be renamed St Philip's, and London to become St Philipsberg.

One day we will awake to the realisation that we are not subjects, but citizens. People will rise up from their knees, and Buckingham Palace will become council housing.

Derek McMillan, Durrington, West Sussex

The BBC describes the racist, sexist, homophobic and ableist comments made by the Duke of Edinburgh as 'gaffes'. Most people, who have an ounce of humanity and compassion for others, would probably describe them as hurtful, horrible and damaging.

Even if they were made by someone whose formative years took place in a 'different age', that's no excuse.

He was an establishment figure, whose inflated sense of ego and entitlement enabled him to say these awful things without repercussion. He was never challenged because he had immense privilege. He was untouchable - a state of being commanded by his high-ranking status in our outmoded class system.

Say of him what you will and mourn his passing if you must, but for me, this is his legacy. This is what he and the royal family represent. I will forever rail against it, and fight to end it, and the suffering and subjugation it has caused for so many around the world.

Jac Green, Northampton

So a 99-year-old, on huge benefits, who lived in luxury paid for by us, has died.

I care more for the working class, who struggle all their lives to get by. I lost my mum last year aged 82. It's people like her we should be proud of, not someone who had everything handed to him as part of the outdated royalty, which should be brought to an end.

Let's remember the working class and fight for a socialist republic.

Gary Clark, Edinburgh

I wonder what time the riot police will move in to attack the vigil for a dead person, like they did at Sarah Everard's vigil. All the commercial radio stations are just playing endless love songs because some old racist, benefit fraud has kicked the bucket.

I expect such nonsense from the BBC. Think I'll listen to the Socialist Party podcasts instead.

David Moody, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

Women: Media suddenly discover our medicine has side effects

I'm fuming at headlines such as in the Evening Standard on 8 April: "Risk of thrombosis from contraceptive pill far greater then blood clots from AstraZeneca". They are almost admitting that the Pill, while massively important to give women control over their fertility, just isn't good enough.

Why should we accept that a medicine used by over three million women in the UK every year, causes such side effects? On top of thrombosis, the Pill has a litany of other side effects, impacting women's mood, energy and weight, and causing headaches, nausea and more.

The Socialist Party's fighting programme for women's rights calls for "publicly funded and democratically controlled research into safe, more effective contraception". That is clearly needed.

Helen Pattison, Ealing, west London

TUSC excluded for spurious reasons

Election hustings are especially important for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), smaller parties or independent campaigners wanting to get their message out, to publicly challenge the big capitalist parties.

Radical Housing Network (RHN) organised an online hustings on housing for the Greater London Authority (GLA) seat of Lambeth and Southwark. However, our candidate, April Ashley, was not invited to speak on the spurious grounds that the RHN did not also want to give a platform to Reform UK, formerly the Brexit Party.

So attendees were treated once more to the bankrupt housing policies of the big four status quo parties, whereas TUSC, the only party with radical housing policies, was excluded. And by excluding TUSC, they also excluded April who is a former housing worker.

The hustings event could have been an excellent way to publicly expose Reform UK's anti-working-class policies. RHN's claim to be 'radical' does not ring true, especially when you set out to prevent trade unionists and socialists from having a voice.

Steve Nally, Lambeth, south west London

Tories repeat Napier asylum failure

Napier barracks in Folkestone houses men seeking asylum in the UK. The recent Covid outbreak at the dilapidated barracks affected over half of the 400 men living in cramped, overcrowded conditions.

South East Kent Trades Union Council (SEKTUC) responded to the desperate situation. We said that vulnerable people who have fled war and torture must be moved to safe accommodation; they must have access to medical treatment; and they should have full access to good quality legal advice and representation via legal aid solicitors to ensure that their asylum claims are processed within an acceptable timeframe.

The Home Office, in reaction to pressure from the community, emptied the unit. However, it has now emerged that it will resume placing people seeking asylum in the unit, despite the view of Public Health England: "Housing hundreds of men together, sharing dormitories, bedrooms and communal areas mean it is impossible for residents to avoid having contact with each other. Another outbreak therefore seems inevitable."

Eric Segal, Folkestone, Kent

Mr Manager: Sod off

Picket line outside SPS Technologies, photo Leicester SP

Picket line outside SPS Technologies, photo Leicester SP   (Click to enlarge)

I was surprised to see the manager at SPS Technologies in Leicester talking to striking workers on the picket line (see page 6). I sold a copy of the Socialist to one of the strikers, so the manager came over to ask what I was doing there.

I explained that I was a member of the National Education Union (NEU) and the Socialist Party, and I was there to bring solidarity and support the strike. The person who had bought a paper asked the manager to buy one, but he said he wouldn't subscribe.

The manager told me that I wasn't allowed on the picket line, and I would have to leave. I told him that he couldn't stop me from standing on the pavement near a bus stop.

He said that the Unite regional official had said that I couldn't be there. "Oh really? Well, I'll discuss it with them then."

"You're not allowed to speak to them" he said. So I asked the strikers if they were OK with me being there and they nodded.

He walked off looking rather disgruntled. "See what we are up against", they said.

Heather Rawling, Leicester

Guerrilla gardening

During my years in the workers' movement I have been involved with many activities - picket lines, flyposting and demos. But at 67, for the first time, I participated in 'guerrilla gardening' on a site where developers had planned to build.

This is a small green patch in an area of high density, mainly social housing. A well fought local campaign, featured in the Socialist, defeated the proposed private high rise development.

To ensure the space stays green, I joined a small group with spades and hoes. We planted six saplings to add to the existing mature trees.

We need more housing, but in the right places. It is important to defend green spaces, especially in inner-city areas.

Kevin Pattison, Leeds

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

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Article dated 14 April 2021

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