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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 April 2016

Letters

Women striking against attacks on the probation service, photo by Paul Mattsson

Women striking against attacks on the probation service, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

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Women's wages

There can't be many people who believe the government's pledge to "make work pay", but the Tory MEPs' record on gender pay inequality should dispel any illusions. Last July, Cameron announced plans to "end the gender pay gap in a generation" and force larger employers to publish information about their bonuses for men and women. In October all 14 Conservative members present at a debate in the European Parliament voted against a mandatory pay audit forcing big companies to disclose their gender pay gap.

Sue Powell, Gloucester

Primary problems

The Tories' gerrymandering and introduction of individual voter registration are attempts to steal our election, just like the establishment is trying to stop Bernie Sanders in the US.

The Democratic primaries are rigged; the super-delegate system is rigged. The movement, like a wave, could lift Sanders and deliver him to the White House if he breaks free of the chains of the Democratic Party.

Nancy Taaffe, Waltham Forest

Brum budget

After cutting 565 million from services since 2010, Birmingham City Council has come to the conclusion it can no longer be regarded as the natural provider of services.

The papers accompanying this year's cuts budget bluntly describe the role the council sees itself playing in the future. "Our role, with other civic and civil leaders, is to agree the vision for Birmingham and, with them, lead the city as a joint enterprise. It is not to run the city."

They see the council being transformed from an all-purpose provider to a 'signposting' body, pointing to the private or voluntary sector to deliver fewer services and jobs.

Birmingham is the template of future local government if the Tories get their way. The possibility of the vast majority, if not all, local services being delivered by private or voluntary sectors is opening without even the slightest resistance by Labour councils.

This makes the actions of the Momentum leadership - moving towards excluding Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) supporters and Socialist Party members from active involvement in strategy - even more damaging. In the absence of a concrete agreement between TUSC and Momentum to fight these cuts, TUSC has no choice but to stand our own candidates to defend public services.

Clive Walder, Birmingham

Dole disgrace

A woman giving birth was sanctioned for missing a job centre appointment.

On top of weekly - not fortnightly - sign-on days, I have to get a train. I have been ordered to catch a train to another town to do a placement in a charity shop for a month, and sign on with paperwork. Any deviation is a sanction, USA style.

Mike Marx, Southampton

EU? Pee-yew!

Liz Kendall believes that people who are as yet undecided on how to vote on the EU will be "more likely to listen to employers like Rolls-Royce and Toyota, both of whom have come out to say we should remain."

She continued, "my job is to make sure those voices are heard, because I think they will be the most convincing for the public."

Surely it doesn't take a genius, let alone a socialist, to realise that Rolls-Royce are hardly the best arbiters to decide the fate of British workers. Just last year, Rolls-Royce employees, who are members of general union Unite, set up an industrial action fund to defend jobs at the company after continuing attacks upon their livelihoods.

Unite national officer Ian Waddell said: "Our members have shown great loyalty in building up Rolls-Royce, but are feeling increasingly betrayed by the company's continued refusal to give assurances on jobs and guarantees over redundancies." This is nothing less than a kick in the face of their workers, especially considering "the company's order book and profit levels".

Newspaper headlines like "Rolls-Royce faces new questions in Brazil corruption investigation" (Guardian, 1 January) should hardly inspire Kendall with the confidence to let them decide on our membership of the EU.

And I wonder what Kendall makes of the New York Times article "Toyota is fined $1.2 billion for concealing safety defects" (19 March 2014)?

The working class has no faith in the ultra-Blairite nonsense of Liz Kendall, who received a derisory 4.5% of the Labour vote in last year's leadership showdown.

Michael Barker, Leicester

'Red' Reading?

I went along to Reading Council's budget-setting meeting on 23 February. 21 million was slashed by a united Labour-Tory council. All 41 Labour councillors supported the bloodbath, including several supposed Corbyn supporters.

I approached a 'left' councillor and asked him if he was going to fight these cuts, and he told he could not because Corbyn does not support fighting the cuts!

The only votes against came from the three Green councillors, and in fairness they made very good points about building a campaign against cuts.

This Labour council is a disgrace and offers no hope for local residents that are vulnerable. When I look back at the struggles by Labour councils in the past, like Liverpool and Lambeth, it makes me feel sick looking at this bunch of salaried civil servants who owe no allegiance to their voters.

I warned recently that Labour witch-hunters would first deal with the Socialist Party and TUSC supporters, and then turn on Momentum as a whole. Well, they have. Jill Mountford, a member of Momentum's ruling committee, has been expelled by the sinister sounding 'Compliance Committee'. Apparently many more are to follow.

Even the membership of Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, was questioned, because of historical links with Militant (forerunner of the Socialist Party). Being 'well-behaved left wingers' will not save you from the wrath of the witch-hunters. Only a united front of the left, inside and outside the Labour Party, can defeat the Blairites and Tories.

Terry Pearce, Reading

History mystery

After finishing my night shift, I went to the shops to get some groceries. On my way back, I saw a ceremony to unveil a blue plaque commemorating Labour prime minister Harold Wilson's 100th birthday outside his old school, Wirral Grammar, in Merseyside.

I stopped off to take a look and, a few minutes later, sixth form politics students gathered around. Local Labour MP Alison McGovern came out with the headteacher and others. She explained who Harold Wilson was and said: "I could talk about the politics of his time, but I won't."

You'd have thought a current Labour MP would have been eager to talk politics to politics students. But this is the same Alison McGovern who recently resigned from Jeremy Corbyn's team, not finding his policies to her taste. The same Alison McGovern who is a prominent member of 'Progress', the right-wing capitalist Labour group founded by arch-Blairite Lord Mandelson.

Progress has its own journal, meetings, officers, and conferences. It almost constitutes a party in itself. Would that be like the "party within a party" that Militant, forerunner of the Socialist Party, was when in Labour?

That was the very excuse Neil Kinnock used to expel Militant supporters. If your organisation is a socialist tendency, you get expelled. But it's okay for a capitalist tendency to carry on.

I can, of course, understand why she wouldn't want to "talk about the politics of his time". That was the time when the Labour Party was, at its base, a workers' party - albeit with a pro-capitalist leadership. A time when workers, through their trade unions, still had a powerful voice and influence in the party - not so any more.

One spokesperson for the event told Radio Merseyside that Wilson had "resisted US pressure to join the Vietnam War." But, as far as I remember, Wilson "resisted" only because it was strongly opposed by the unions, who used their influence to force his hand.

This is exactly why the likes of McGovern, and her fellow Blairite MPs, oppose Corbyn's leadership - and anyone on the left. They know that if working class people get the facts about political history, the game will be up.

Chris Robinson, Wirral

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In The Socialist 6 April 2016:


Steel crisis

Workers' action to nationalise steel

Tata steel: Act now - fight for nationalisation

My hometown lost its soul when the steelworks closed

Bosses' and union tops' "agenda of misery"


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Needed: a real living wage - not Cameron's sops

Library occupied in 'siege' against Blairite cutters

Save Pent Valley school demo demands a council u-turn

Butterfields tenants and supporters 'walk the walk'

London Labour councils purge housing waiting lists

Fighting fund target smashed, again!


Socialist Party news and analysis

Panama Papers: they're all in it together!

Getting the anti-austerity struggle onto the ballot paper

TUSC in 'surprise bid' for official exit lead

TUSC councillor calls on trust to reject new junior doctors contract

EU begins deporting refugees

Them & Us

NHS facilities to start paying market rents

Uber and Facebook tax dodge scandal


International socialist news and analysis

Sanders campaign: build a new party of the 99%!

International news in brief


Workplace news and analysis

Northern Powerhouse or Northern poorhouse?

Land Registry workers ready to fight privatisation

Workers and campaigners fight to save library

RMT protests against new Northern Rail franchise

Workplace news in brief


Socialist readers' comments

Homelessness holding kids back, says teacher

Stop divisive attacks on pensioners' cash

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