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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 November 2017

The Socialist Inbox

The Socialist inbox: letters to the editors, image Suzanne Beishon

The Socialist inbox: letters to the editors, image Suzanne Beishon   (Click to enlarge)

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Send your news, views and criticism in no more than 150 words to editors@socialistparty.org.uk - or if you're not online, Socialist Inbox, PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD


Privatised cancer care

Members of my cancer support group were recently offered a free trip to a cancer treatment centre in Newport, 50 miles away, to see the first proton beam treatment set-up in Wales. Basically a private hospital. But curious to see this latest treatment in action, a dozen of us put our names down.

On the day, to our surprise, rather than the minibus we'd expected, transport was in four large private hire taxis. On arrival we were ushered into a large, well-furnished lounge, welcomed by an affable management type and provided with coffee, biscuits and a goody bag with promotional pens etc. We were then taken on a tour.

We were shown a chemotherapy suite, and a radiotherapy unit, but not the proton beam system we'd come to see - it turns out it hasn't been installed yet! The nearest we got to it was a video of large chunks of machinery being imported from Germany, driven along the M4 and put into a half-completed building.

When it came down to it, we had been given a tour of an installation just like we have in our NHS hospital in Swansea! Granted, the waiting rooms were more luxurious, the coffee better and the equipment perhaps a bit newer, but currently this private unit has nothing we don't have through the NHS.

So what was the point of the trip, which must have cost something over 1,000?

A few publicity shots of cancer patients? Or to demonstrate that, in the words of their glossy brochure - they could "create a better future for cancer patients"? Their services are provided to "insured private patients, self-paying patients, and NHS patients" - in that order! So, rather than have its own treatment centres the NHS would pay private providers.

In other words, another example of creeping privatisation. I don't think any of us were convinced that comfy lounges and more spacious units would be any substitute for our bustling, sometimes overcrowded, sometimes a bit tatty round the edges, but free health service under our ownership and control.

Geoff Jones, Swansea

Stalinists lampooned

Death of Stalin

Death of Stalin   (Click to enlarge)

I enjoyed Caroline Vincent's review of 'The Death of Stalin' in issue 968, and I particularly liked the parallels she drew between Ianucci's lampooning of Blairites in 'The Thick Of It' and Stalinists in this film. Both sets of apparatchiks are bumbling clowns but whereas the Blairites wreck people's careers, the Stalinists destroy lives and families.

But I don't share her criticisms of the film.

The misogyny she refers to is entirely in the heads of the vulgar, sadistic, macho bureaucrats. In Ianucci's scenario it is the lead female character, the concert pianist Maria Yudina, who is the only genuine oppositionist, because Stalin has destroyed her family and she's not prepared to work for him or the other monsters, even if it costs her own life.

But Caroline's more important criticism is that the film "goes nowhere near clarifying the important role played by the old Bolsheviks under Lenin in freeing Russian workers and peasants from the tsarist regime". Are we really going to demand that of Ianucci? That's a tall order, and would, I suspect, be a case of setting him up to fail.

I do agree with Caroline that in everything to do with the centenary of 1917 the media seek to conflate Bolshevism and Stalinism. Even the recent acclaimed Radio 4 dramatisation of John Reed's 'Ten Days That Shook The World', which many Socialist Party members have enjoyed, couldn't forego a final sinister appearance from the future general secretary: "Just call me Stalin, everyone does". So I for one am glad Ianucci kept the focus of his black humour relentlessly on the Stalinists.

Paul Gerrard, Salford

Cruel cuts

The cuts carried out by the Tory government continue to make themselves felt. I know this from personal experience.

First, the Tory-controlled Cambridgeshire County Council closed down the Bowthorpe Mental Health Day Centre at the instructions of the government.

Second, I was taken off the books of my consultant psychiatrist at Agenoria House, the office of Wisbech community mental health team.

Third, my psychiatric nurse at North Brink Surgery left and hasn't been replaced.

Fourth, I failed my personal independence payment medical, meaning I can no longer afford to see a counsellor.

Fifth, my nurse practitioner at North Brink Surgery can no longer see me as she now only does home visits.

What next?

Perhaps I'll fail my employment and support allowance medical. Thankfully that won't take place until July 2019.

John Smithee, Wisbech, Cambs

Arriva profits

So far this year Arriva has 3.3 billion in sales profit and 368 million in operating profit across Europe, this is nothing new for the transport company with their sales profit and operating profit in 2015 being 4.28 billion and 464 million respectively. Currently Arriva employs 16,000 bus drivers and mechanics who have a basic pay of 22,500 a year. The 3% pay rise that their employees are asking for wouldn't even reduce their profits by 1%, yet they are refusing to budge despite the fact that many of its employees are facing a real terms pay cut due to inflation rising to 3%.

With the profits that Arriva is making they could end the atrocious wages that they have their drivers and mechanics operating under and still make large profits.

For this reason I believe that the British government needs to renationalise the transport industry. Profits can then be better distributed and give the employees of the transport industry fair pay.

Joseph Ventre, Liverpool

Workers' control

At work recently neither of our managers were there, one had a day off and the other was off sick.

Guess what? The team functioned, we allocated who would perform which duties and organised lunch and rest breaks.

Who says workers can't run the workplace?

Clive Walder, Birmingham

Donate to the Socialist Party

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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In The Socialist 15 November 2017:


Socialism 2017

Socialism 2017: Organising to fight back


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Comprehensive account of bloody conflict

TV review: Abortion on Trial - hard-hitting look at impact of 1967 act

The Socialist Inbox


International socialist news and analysis

USA: Historic vote for Ginger Jentzen campaign in Minneapolis


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories on the brink - kick them out!

No more excuses: fit sprinklers now!

We're freezing: reverse cuts to boiler replacement schemes!

Is cuts-making Preston 'beating Tory austerity'?

4,800 young people hurt after officers 'restrain' them

What we saw


Socialist Party workplace news

Fight to keep guards on trains continues despite setback Aslef deal

Strikers picket the South Western Railway network

Strike wave continues with 49 walkout days by housing workers

Huge support for strikes of bus drivers and train guards

Virgin train workers ballot for strike action

Plymouth PCS members fight relocation threat


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

March for free education! We demand a future!

Corbyn must challenge pro-gentrification council leader or others will

Why I joined the Socialist Party: "I started to question whether there was a better way"

Carlisle socialists campaign against Universal Credit


 

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