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From: The Socialist issue 900, 4 May 2016: Bring down the Tories: organise to fight austerity

Search site for keywords: Letters - UKIP - Workers - Socialist - EU - The Socialist - Doctors - Police - Nigel Farage - Europe - Parties - Peter Taaffe - Firefighters


A striking junior doctor outside St Thomas' Hospital, south London, 26.4.2016, photo by Senan

A striking junior doctor outside St Thomas' Hospital, south London, 26.4.2016, photo by Senan   (Click to enlarge)

Do you have something to say?

Send your news, views and criticism in not more than 150 words to Socialist Postbox, PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD, phone 020 8988 8771 or email [email protected]

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.

Delighted doctor

I received a very nice comment from one of the striking junior doctors, Jeanna Strutinsky-Mason, who we have been coordinating with over the past few months.

"A fringe benefit of this whole debacle is that my political side has been reawakened. And that I've met so many awesome people... there's such a community out there that I just didn't know existed."

Tom Barker, Leicester

Barack v Brexit

Barack Obama sees the European Union, with its commitment to neoliberalism, as an instrument of American foreign policy - and TTIP as the goose that lays the golden egg. He is concerned that Brexit could jeopardise that arrangement, hence his audacious comments backing Remain.

Leaving will not result in a bonfire of workers' rights. That's already happened under Tory (and Blair) governments.

UK membership of the EU has not prevented the enforcement of the most illiberal labour laws in the developed world, nor the most savage cuts in social provision for 100 years.

Greece learned in a most brutal fashion that the notion that the EU protects workers is a myth.

Blair was crazy Bush's poodle. Now Cameron is Obama's poodle. The time is ripe for us to slash the poodle's leash.

It's not too late for Jeremy Corbyn to face down his right-wing blackmailers and oppose the fat cats' club -and join the campaign for a socialist Europe based on workers' internationalism, not neoliberalism.

Tony Mulhearn, Liverpool

Brexit bad for Ukip

A number of lefts campaigning to stay in the EU seem to be using the idea that the right, especially Ukip and Nigel Farage, will be strengthened by an exit vote.

Let's leave aside the fact that Cameron and Osborne represent a much bigger force on the right, and would be strengthened by a Remain vote.

Surely one of the consequences of a close Remain vote would be to make Nigel Farage an even more permanent feature of shows like Question Time, as he has been for the last few years. He would be arguing that Corbyn betrayed 'British workers' by saving Cameron's skin in this referendum.

Also, if Leave won, wouldn't he and other Ukip MEPs no longer be MEPs anymore - cutting off the millions they have received from the EU in salaries and expenses? If anything, it would make them and their xenophobic ideas less relevant than ever.

Of course, the main reason they are so prominent in these elections is the failure of the trade union and Labour leaders to adopt a class-based position, and build a mass party of the working class capable of leading a full-blooded struggle for our rights.

It is the efforts of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), starting from a principled position of opposing the bosses' EU and fighting for a socialist Europe based on workers' struggles, that is pushing in the direction of building such a force. Only this can effectively marginalise the reactionary views of Farage and Ukip.

Iain Dalton, Leeds

Victorian conditions

While selling the Socialist outside my local post office last month, I met a firefighter. Some of his colleagues are now forced to sleep "on the job" beside their vehicles for several consecutive nights of the working week, due to the lack of affordable homes near their place of work, and fire station closures.

This puts their situation disturbingly close to that of Victorian factory workers, obliged to sleep at the foot of their looms. The spiralling cost of both mortgages and private rented accommodation, plus the lack of council housing, mean that many workers have to travel many miles into work from homes located in cheaper areas. This has sadly predictable effects on mental and physical health.

I have also been struck by the intervention of Heidi Alexander - shadow health secretary and ex-deputy mayor of Lewisham, the London borough where I live - in the junior doctors' dispute.

Alexander has, in fact, tried to throw a lifeline to Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt. She called for proposed changes to contracts to be piloted in a few select locations, before being imposed across the board.

This would have been a veritable Trojan Horse: a way to achieve the Tories' aims by stealth and subterfuge. Piloting the contracts would change nothing. They would still not work, and once they were up and running would be more difficult to turn back.

Junior doctors recently struck again, and held a joint demonstration in London with teachers' union NUT. Teachers also face a fundamental challenge to their pay and conditions in Education Secretary Nicky Morgan's plan to universalise academies.

Like the firefighters, both these groups are public sector workers under sustained attack from this heinous government.

The Tories are like playground bullies - they cannot be appeased. And there is only one language they understand: that of strike action.

It would be a real step forward for teachers, doctors and firefighters all to strike together; to be joined by other public, private and third sector workers; moving towards a 24-hour general strike, followed by longer actions if necessary.

Susanna Farley, Lewisham

Nationalise care

I recently spent three incredibly frustrating hours going through three years of a low-paid woman's pay slips in order to prove to her employers they had underpaid her by more than a grand in that period.

This wasn't frustrating because it was an arduous task - even though it was. Nor was it frustrating because my time could be better spent doing other things - even though it could.

It was frustrating because I know full well that the large private care company that insisted I do this will already know it owes her the money. But it will not admit it until the very last moment necessary to avoid a legal penalty - in the hope that she gives up, like so many do.

I guarantee I will never vote for another council candidate who does not promise - in their election manifesto - to bring social care under public ownership.

I've said it before and I'll keep saying it. For service users and workers - it is a national scandal. And your taxes pay for it.

Steve North, Salford

Protesters' rights

Political activity led to me being monitored by the police. As an anti-cuts and LGBTQ activist in Brighton, I have made a video about protesters' rights which I believe will be useful to other activists reading the Socialist

The monitoring I experienced from Sussex police in relation to my political organising is explained in the video. This makes it particularly interesting that the police agreed to be questioned by me in it.

Beth Granter, Senior UK Campaigner, Care2

We need a party

It was a shame to see Paul Mason's arguments when on the BBC's daily politics debating the Socialist Party's Peter Taaffe.

Of course, in only a few minutes on TV, it may not always be possible to fully explain your ideas. But Paul did argue against parties as a vehicle for working people and youth to organise to change the world. He used the word "fossilised" and said "you can do more with a cellphone than you can with a party".

While they would have been a fantastic help in our mobilising work at the time, I'm still trying to work out how by cell phones alone, and without being organised, Militant (the Socialist Party's predecessor) could have beaten Thatcher's Poll Tax.

But more to the point, I wonder what Paul will make of reports that Nigel Farage, in the light of challenges to him from within, may relaunch Ukip and have it as "an internet based party which would enhance the leader's power"? (Independent 20 April 2016)

This shows that loose online networks, moods and 'movements' in and of themselves leave a glaring weakness - where are their democratic structures for accountability of leaders?

The political parties of the establishment are rotten to the core. But that does not mean those of us who want to change the world do not need a democratic instrument to organise through: a party of our own.

Dave Griffiths, Coventry

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Article dated 4 May 2016

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