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From The Socialist newspaper, 3 October 2018

The Socialist Inbox

Letters to the Socialist's editors.

Do you have something to say?

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

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

Send your news, views and criticism in not more than 150 words to, or if you're not online, to Socialist Postbox, PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD.

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.

Tory nationalisation lies

Whenever there is talk of renationalising privatised utilities, the usual mantra emanates from the Tories and their press. It will take too long, be too costly. Let's look at this a little closer.

In 1970, Ted Heath's Tory government nationalised Rolls-Royce to prevent its collapse. All within 24 hours. Not too long there, then. Nor seemingly too costly.

In 2008, to prevent the collapse of the banking system, the Blairites part-nationalised the banks. Again, as above. Once the taxpayer had bailed them out, they were promptly privatised again.

Strange how quickly utilities can be privatised. What they don't tell us is that with genuine socialist nationalisation, compensation would be based on proven need. Not a penny for the fat cat multimillionaires.

The wealth from democratic, socialist public ownership would be for the benefit of society as a whole, and would be planned from the base up.

Unlike previous nationalisations, which were bureaucratic and top-down, based on the profit and loss mentality. With, of course, those at the top taking the lion's share.

I urge people not to listen to Tory lies.

Bill Buchanan, Nottingham

Crypto-Trotskyist crossword

On Tuesday 25 September, an answer in the Blairite-supporting Guardian's cryptic crossword was 'Trotskyists'. The next day, one answer was 'Trotsky'! Perhaps the Guardian's crossword compilers are rebelling against the paper's editorial line?

Of course, you won't necessarily come 'across' the real ideas of Leon Trotsky in the Guardian. It will be 'down' to the Socialist to provide the explanation of his ideas and method today.

Kevin Parslow, Leyton, east London

Pensioners need homes

"All I want is a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air..." When Audrey Hepburn first sang this in 1956, it did seem as though this was what we were all going to get.

Is there a 'home, sweet home' for everyone, young and old, in 2018? No! "Must do better, much better," according to the 'Home Sweet Home' housing report from the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), published this year after extensive research.

More houses need to be built. NPC states that 65,000 houses should be built every year for older people in order to meet the current demand and the projected population rise.

The common consensus is that we need 250,000 houses in total across the population, and that by 2040 one in four households will be headed by someone over the age of 65.

Involve us when making decisions about our housing. Older people should be at the heart of planning decisions.

That way, more older people will live in housing that has a design and ethos suitable to supporting and creating sociable communities.

Older tenants need stronger rights. Some tenants are living in unsafe and poor conditions. Many are frightened to report problems since some landlords fail to take action, and older tenants fear retaliatory eviction, or huge rent rises as a result of essential repairs made to their rented property.

A tenants' charter would raise awareness of tenant rights. It should put an end to letting agent fees, and make available much longer tenancies.

Older people should never be forced to move. For those who want it, help and information should be available.

As a member of the National Pensioners Convention Gloucester, Avon, Somerset Region, I fully support these findings.

Claude Mickleson, Lydney, Gloucestershire

Trains need guards

Train guard at Swansea station photo Lobster1/CC, photo Lobster1/CC

Train guard at Swansea station photo Lobster1/CC, photo Lobster1/CC   (Click to enlarge)

The evidence against a driver-only operated train service must be overwhelming for the jury of public opinion, judged by the following reports that were printed in the Times on the same day.

"The number of passengers suffering serious injuries on the rail network has soared by a fifth in a year amid warnings that stressed commuters are taking extra risks to board delayed trains.

"Official figures show that 318 passengers sustained major injuries in the 12 months to the end of March - the highest number in at least 15 years."

And it's not just humans suffering. "Rose Barry, a disabled pensioner, was struggling to board a Thameslink train at Elstree and Borehamwood station, Hertfordshire, with Jonty, her shih tzu, a walking frame and luggage.

"The doors closed with the retired nurse, 75, and her dog still on the platform, trapping her hand.

"She was able to pull herself free but the lead was stuck in the doors, resulting in Jonty being dragged when the train departed. The dog was found dead in a tunnel near the station."

As we approach the autumn equinox, another regular safety challenge arises. "Thousands of passengers on C2C, the network that operates between London and Essex, have had to wait during the past few weeks for trains delayed by the awkward angle of the sun.

"The company said it had been forced to slow services because the low autumn sun had been dazzling drivers' eyes.

"It said the strong glare bouncing off monitors used by drivers to check train doors made it difficult to ensure that all passengers had safely boarded.

"This had forced drivers in some cases to leave their cab and walk the length of the train to carry out manual checks."

John Merrell, Leicester

Labour affiliation debate

I just want to make a couple of comments on the exchange of letters between Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary, and Jennie Formby, Labour Party general secretary, on the question of our enquiry about affiliation to the Labour Party (see 'The struggle to transform Labour').

Jennie, in her first reply to Peter, states: "As the Socialist Party is part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) who stood candidates against the Labour Party in the May 2018 elections, it is ineligible for affiliation. Furthermore, it is not 'associated under a national agreement with the party'."

And reiterates in her second reply: "Whilst the Socialist Party continues to stand candidates against the Labour Party as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, it will not be possible to enter into any agreement."

I was wondering how the Labour Party leadership squares these statements with its courting of the RMT union for affiliation over the last year or so.

The same RMT that, together with the Socialist Party and others, founded TUSC as the only consistent anti-austerity electoral option.

It would seem the Labour Party is not unwilling to 'bend its rules'.

Norman Hall, Gateshead

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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.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

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In The Socialist 3 October 2018:

Labour Party conference

Labour conference shows: Blairites must be ousted

Socialist Party campaigns against the Blairites at Labour conference

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

'Tories must go' demonstration in Birmingham

Anti-fracking protesters jailed

Save Wirral NHS walk-in centres

More party than protest, but great response to socialist ideas at Leicester Pride

Socialist Party news and analysis

Zombie Tory government: general election now

Blood transfusion scandal

Shocking new data on declining life expectancy

NHS pay discrimination - militant union action can achieve fair pay for all

Maximus profitus: disabillity profiteering scandal

Tory Brexit Blues festival

Workplace news and analysis

Catering and courier workers strike together

Coordinated catering and courier strikes

York NHS workers strike against privatisation

Tube workers walk out

1,000 head teachers march on parliament

Camden - Unison members in pay fight

Socialist Party feature

Is this generation socialist?

International socialist news and analysis

USA: crisis follows Supreme Court justice nomination

Indonesia tsunami - a disaster compounded by capitalism

Socialist Students

Enthusiasm for Socialist ideas at the freshers fairs


The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists: one-man show's new take on lively socialist classic

The Socialist Inbox


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