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Grayling fails history
Transport minister Chris 'Failing' Grayling was quoted on the front page of the Socialist on 24 January as saying: "The moderate politics we've had since the end of the English Civil War could be under threat".
The English Civil War ended in 1649, so that's 370 years of uninterrupted "moderate politics" is it? In the 18th century there was unrest and uprisings in support of the French Revolution.
In the 19th century the Luddites smashed machines and even assassinated mill-owners. What about Peterloo in 1819, with 16 deaths at the hands of the soldiery?
Nothing to see here, according to Grayling. The 20th century saw a general strike and battles against fascism, major confrontations with the state in the miners' strike and the anti-Poll Tax movement.
Grayling studied history at Cambridge (I know, hard to believe, but true). Is this the history they dole out there, where nearly everybody, at least anybody sensible, has 'moderate' views? Sadly, so-called moderation doesn't get you anywhere and it never did.
Grayling has failed at the Ministry of Justice and continued to fail at the Department for Transport. Now he's even failing at history too.
Paul Gerrard, Salford
TV licence concession
For many years the free TV licence has been part of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) remit. Quite rightly it has been seen as part of government's wider welfare role in tackling social isolation among the older generation.
Successive governments have avoided improving the state pension, and instead have offered older people individual concessions, such as the free TV licence for the over-75s.
In 2015, the government withdrew from directly funding the scheme. Now the BBC is threatening cuts to it.
According to the OECD, the UK state pension is the least adequate in the developed world. Removing this concession, without addressing the value of the state pension, is therefore grossly unfair.
In any democracy, access to information is crucial to enable citizens the opportunity to be informed and make decisions.
Loneliness among older people is now regarded as a growing problem. One in four pensioners view TV as their main form of companionship.
The provision of such a concession should therefore be seen as playing a vital role in tackling this problem.
As such, the concession is clearly funded from general taxation by society as a whole. This correctly reflects the obligations that we all have - including tax paying pensioners - to make a contribution towards benefits and services which we deem to be worthy.
Around 6.5 million older people have an income of less than £11,800 a year. The TV licence - as a proportion of income, therefore represents quite a considerable amount. I have no doubt that, if the concession were to be removed, many would simply be unable to pay.
Means-testing a benefit costs far more to administer than it being paid universally. Experience shows that it is often those who need such benefits most who tend to be the ones who don't claim.
The BBC also needs to look at its other areas of expenditure, such as the salaries paid to some of its top executives and on-screen talent, before it makes a decision to cut this concession.
Claude Mickleson, Lydney, Gloucestershire
In The Socialist 30 January 2019:
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