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Rape, women, blame
Despite public discussion about domestic violence, sexual harassment and rape, victims still encounter the assumption that they are somehow to blame. According to the Office for National Statistics (2015), more than a quarter of the public believes women who are drunk at the time of an assault are at least partly responsible for what happens to them.
One Tory MP caused a furore in 2013 when he suggested women should not wear tight skirts and heels as it hinders their flight from "predators". In reality, predatory or opportunistic rapists account for very few assaults: most women know the man who raped them. In the UK, two women and one child a week die at the hands of someone they know well.
On average, a woman will suffer 35 times before she asks for help or reports it. Cuts to domestic violence services, adult social services and policing aggravate this situation.
Since 2010, 54% of domestic violence services have been forced to close. In many areas there are no places in hostels or women's refuges, thus leaving women and children vulnerable. Appeals to our local MPs about cuts to services and facilities to help victims of rape and domestic victims have failed.
One key area which receives insufficient funding is the support of women from ethnic minorities - and there is precious little charity money available either. Not least because victims are stigmatised.
Sue Powell, Gloucester
McDonnell boosts Blairite mayor
Fresh from his advice that councillors couldn't fight the cuts, John McDonnell makes this astounding observation in response to a question from the Liverpool Echo:
What do you make of Joe Anderson as Mayor of Liverpool?
"I think he's been a really strong voice for Liverpool. A strong voice, dynamic and absolutely committed, working himself into the ground basically for the city and I think he's done a great job. He's one of the best advocates Liverpool has had for decades, to be honest.
"And when he comes down to London his voice is heard. He lobbies ministers. Within the Labour Party he's extremely well respected because of the advocacy he does on behalf of the city. I think he's turning the city around. He's got great ideas."
With all the respect I can muster, I think John is wildly out of touch and he should be reminded he is a member of Corbyn's anti-austerity team. In that capacity he should make time to speak to those who have suffered from the £340 million cuts Anderson's council has imposed on the city's neediest.
Tony Mulhearn, Liverpool
An elderly disabled couple came up to my street stall in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, to sign our petition on 'No to a privatised NHS'. I got talking to them about the consequences of this cruel and tyrannical regime's treatment of the elderly and disabled.
In the event of total privatisation along American lines, they could have to take out private health insurance - potentially losing their lifetime of National Insurance contributions. They both informed me that because they have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and multiple sclerosis, they cannot currently get such insurance!
Kris Caci, Stoke
Errors of pro-EU left
This is just a short opening shot in the campaign we'll be conducting in the next three months against the anti-worker, racist, capitalist 'inners', and against the anti-worker, racist, capitalist 'outers'.
Unfortunately, many on the left are adopting one position or another on the European Union (EU) on the shaky basis of very superficial impressions, hopes and fears. This will lead to all sorts of political mistakes during the swings of the debate - on political alliances (Galloway with Farage, for example), migration, democracy and austerity.
We need a clear understanding of the class nature of the EU, but also of the frustrations and confusions in the minds of different groups in the working class and middle class, as a firm basis for our campaign.
The referendum also presents a potential opportunity to get rid of Cameron and his deeply divided, weakened government within months - if the Opposition had the right programme and strategy. An exit or narrow remain vote could lead to formal splits both in the Tory and Labour parties, completely changing the political landscape, and unleashing forces from below which the ruling class can't control.
Socialists have not only always opposed British membership of the EU; as working class internationalists, we're for the abolition of the EU itself. Originally set up by the coal and steel barons, it's a free-market bureaucracy serving only the interests of the banks and big business, not ordinary Europeans.
The Lisbon Treaty allowed Thatcherites like Cameron and Merkel to impose their policies of lower wages, austerity and privatisation on other governments like Greece - and on their own populations - while blaming "Brussels". Now these right-wing politicians are using the EU to make secret negotiations with the USA to privatise public services like the NHS and allow corporations to dictate government policies solely in the interests of their own profits.
The Trade Union Congress wrongly relies on the EU to safeguard workplace rights instead of getting off its backside and fighting. Concessions like maternity leave and maximum hours were only won by pressure from below, not granted by pro-business bureaucrats or toothless MEPs.
Workers need to rely on our own strength, and international solidarity, to fight for better living standards and social progress. No to the capitalist EU, yes to fighting for a socialist Europe!
Brent Kennedy, Carlisle
Global economy gripes
After the financial crash of 2008, the Socialist Party predicted that any recovery was always going to be fragile.
Recently, we have seen more panic selling on global stock exchanges. China has been the latest and biggest economy to suffer. For a while, enormous government investment kept the country afloat, but this growth has stalled, leaving behind ghost towns of empty properties, which the mass of people simply cannot afford.
America too, is suffering. Cheap oil has meant that its investment in environmentally disastrous industries such as fracking is not paying dividends.
In place of a system built on fleeting, short-term gains for a few, socialists look to democratic planning, and collective solutions to meet the world's needs.
Ian Reynolds, Leicester
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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal
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.
The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.
- The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
- Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
- When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.
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In The Socialist 23 March 2016:
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