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From: The Socialist issue 892, 9 March 2016: Housing crisis: can't pay, will stay!

Search site for keywords: Letters - European Union - Women - Prisons - David Cameron - Europe - Workers - EU - Children - Prison - Carers - Anti-austerity


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International Women's Day

The last issue of the Socialist celebrated International Women's Day on 8 March. Below, some of the Socialist's readers comment on the ongoing fight to end misogyny and capitalism.

What my mother would have said to David Cameron

So David Cameron's mother is apparently more concerned with Jeremy Corbyn's attire, and whether he wants "God" to "save our gracious queen", than whether he defends ordinary people against austerity.

My mother was a lifelong socialist and supporter of Militant, forerunner of the Socialist Party. Sadly she died in 1986. But I think I know what she would've said.

She would've told David Cameron that the working class is not fooled by politicians in Saville Row suits. She would have angrily berated him for attacking the welfare state that she and her mother before her had fought so hard to win. She would've told him that one worker was worth 100 of his ilk.

She was confident that the future belongs to workers and socialism and not to Tory politicians, defenders of the capitalist system which came into existence dripping with blood and will leave the stage of history having wreaked havoc on the world and its environment.

Heather Rawling, National Union of Teachers (retired) - personal capacity

Equality through prisons

Tory MP Philip Davies - infamous for "talking out" parliamentary debates on preventing landlords from evicting tenants for asking for repairs, a bill to provide first-aid training to children and another to exempt carers from hospital parking fees - has championed "equality" by demanding more women are sent to prison.

"Somehow, the fact that hardly any women are in prison in the first place seems to be a problem, because it is just because they are women. If there is to be true equality, this cannot be allowed to continue...

"I do not believe there is actually an issue between men and women... Often, problems are stirred up by those who might be described as militant feminists and the politically correct males who sometimes pander to them."

Many women might feel they are already in a prison. Trapped in violent relationships, stuck in awful, poorly paid jobs, unable to get or afford child care, struggling as carers, and often seeing their and their children's hopes thwarted by an exploitative and unfair system.

Sometimes they are so disheartened they might believe it is their fault. Yet it is no coincidence that many of Corbyn's and Sanders' supporters are women, and that women make up the majority of trade union members.

International Women's Day reminds us that women are not just victims. Once they enter the struggle they are undaunted.

Sue Powell, Gloucester

The lost girls and boys

It seems like the Tories live in a fairy tale.

A recent report showed that in the UK 3.7 million children are living in poverty. Even more shocking is that 60% have parents in paid work.

What should they do? Tackle the issue of low-paid, insecure work? Raise the minimum wage to 10 an hour and scrap zero-hour contracts?

No. They decided to exclude those children from future reports, only including school achievements and whether the children's parents are workless.

For 60% of children in poverty in the UK - well, I guess it's a trip to Neverland, as it seems they do not exist.

Tanis Belsham-Wray, Leeds

European Union

The mainstream media wants to frame the entire EU referendum debate as one wing of the Tories against the other. The majority of the capitalist class backs EU membership - and not because it's good for workers. Socialist readers comment on the left case for exit below.

Union leaders surrender

Apart from the Tories tearing themselves to pieces, there is another important debate going on within the workers' movement. Unfortunately, those at the head of the Labour Party and Trade Union Congress seem to be set on campaigning to remain within the EU bosses' club.

The right-wing union leaders clamour the most for staying in the EU, due to their incapacity to lead any sort of struggle. Take retail union Usdaw, whose leadership has been throwing itself behind the campaign to stay in. Yet at the same time, it has been letting premium payments and other working conditions go without even the pretence of a campaign.

It demonstrates they have more confidence in the capitalist governments of the rest of Europe to defend the interests of workers, than they have confidence in workers themselves.

Socialists have to start from the interests of workers, and their ability to struggle. Just like in Greece, if a left government (perhaps under Corbyn?) were elected in Britain on an anti-austerity programme, the full weight of the EU establishment would be set against it. For that reason alone workers should vote to Exit.

Iain Dalton, Leeds

'Social Europe' illusion

Our party has welcomed the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, as we supported his challenge. With his backing of continued membership of the EU we find ourselves on opposite sides of the debate.

In his support for the EU, Comrade Corbyn naively fosters support for the idea of 'social Europe' among a section of workers who are genuinely internationalist in their outlook. However, part of the responsibility of leadership is to explode illusions.

As the experience of the Greek workers has shown, the real power in the EU has been proved to lie with big business. It cannot be reformed.

Successive British governments have behaved in the same manner as every country in the European club - blaming the EU for their own shortcomings, while setting aside the rules when it serves their interests.

If Corbyn and Labour are to provide real leadership to the workers of Britain they must dispose of the fig leaf of 'social Europe' and grapple with the power of capital.

Gareth Pincott, Worcester

State aid illegal

I had to smile recently when a member of the Labour Party I know, a right winger, said I was 'racist' for wanting to come out of the EU. I was born in Derby, my mother was Irish, my father was Spanish and my wife is Polish.

In the early 1970s when I was at school, I can remember thousands of Rolls Royce workers taking to the streets. That movement forced the Conservative government to nationalise Rolls Royce in 24 hours.

Move forwards to today, and thousands of steel workers are losing their jobs. EU law forbids the government giving state aid. Nationalisation would be "unfair competition". The Labour right winger was not aware that EU law restricts state aid, and with that he went bright red and stormed off.

All this is just one of dozens of reasons why I will say, like they do in Dragons' Den, "I'm out."

Chris Fernandez, Derby

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Article dated 9 March 2016

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