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NHS: no beds in Brum
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham is the largest single-site hospital in the country, has over 1,200 beds plus 100 critical care beds, and has 9,000 staff.
When I was there last week there were no spare beds available.
Pete McNally, Welland, Worcestershire
Under the flimsy guise of 'fighting extremism' the increasingly dictatorial Turkish regime of President Erdogan has embarked on another brutal invasion of northern Syria. Its real purpose is to smash the aspirations of the Kurdish people for self-determination.
Cynically, Erdogan's offensive has the blessing of Vladimir Putin who hopes to secure strategic military bases after Turkey's military forces drive out the Kurdish YPG militia from the area.
Should anyone forget, it was only just over two years ago that Putin's regime threatened the Turkish state with military retaliation following the downing of a Russian jet fighter. Yet within weeks of the incident Erdogan and Putin had a public rapprochement.
Equally cynical has been US imperialism's support for the YPG as a proxy militia to fight Isis. Faced with a choice of supporting the YPG or Turkey in this latest conflict, Trump's administration has made it clear it will side with its Nato ally Turkey, reportedly turning down YPG requests for new arms supplies.
As the Socialist Party has repeatedly warned, US imperialism has a history of betraying Kurdish groups. It was George Bush senior who, in 1991, encouraged Iraqi Kurds to rise up against Saddam Hussein - only to later abandon them in order to preserve US geopolitical ambitions.
The overarching conclusion is that the Kurdish people cannot rely on the world powers and their regional allies to achieve national self-determination.
Only by forging genuine alliances and unity between all the workers and oppressed peoples of the region, and fighting for a programme of democratic rights and fundamental social change, can such a desire be achieved.
David Simmonds, Leytonstone, east London
The S word
Christmas has been and gone. The Tories and the overlords they serve served up another resplendent yuletide banquet of austerity with all the trimmings: trimmings in pay, working conditions, public services and standards of living. They did this while sneering at us for not knowing which fork to eat it with or how to select the appropriate accompanying wine.
However there has an undeniable wiping of smirks off their faces. For years the powers that be managed through propaganda to ridicule socialism. It was represented only in parody.
It was seen as the flippant students in berets exploring their activist side before settling down into the 'real world' and getting a 'proper job'. It was the maverick, bearded, middle-aged school teacher in the ill-fitted suit and clapped-out car. It was the Oxbridge educated career politician, the quintessential champagne socialist.
But recently people have seen that 'socialism' is not a rude word to be ashamed of, or to be reserved in its usage because 'they' tell us so. It is a communal word, a wholesome concept, absolutely intrinsic to the working class.
Socialism is more pertinent than ever. It can be seen in the popularity of Corbyn's Labour, observed in the numerous protest movements which address austerity, and is attested to by the returning interest in trade unions.
It is not to be defined by the stigma put on it by those who benefit from attacking it. It is being reclaimed. The S word has nothing to apologise for. It has everything to be proud of.
Garrie Grant, Guildford
Blairites fear democracy
Fear of the future is at the forefront of most Blairites' minds. But not fear of the continuation of Tory austerity, nor fear of what dastardly ruses the ruling class has in mind to bring down any incoming Corbyn-led government.
No, what Blairites all fear is the expression of the democratic will of the working class, and most particularly the democratic actions of members of their own party. It is this deep, abiding fear that fuels the ongoing civil war within the Labour Party, a war that is being waged relentlessly in the Tory press by the Blairites.
Fear of democracy is a guiding tenet of the Blairites. Better than most they appreciate that as soon as the Labour Party normalises the type of democratic processes that can allow local members to hold their elected representatives accountable - via reselection - their days in office will be numbered.
Such potential developments, however, should not be presented as some form of hostile takeover by the left, but should be seen for what they really are - a vital way in which democracy can flourish within a potential mass party of the working class.
Mike Barker, Leicester
Sprinklers for safety
A major redevelopment of Nottingham railway station by Network Rail, Nottingham City Council and East Midlands Trains, involving the restoration of the frontage, a brand new glass roof and a new public concourse, went up in flames on 12 January.
The fire lasted 12 hours and was described by the fire chief as "the worst in 20 years." However, it could have been limited to one hour if this redevelopment costing £60 million had included the fitting of... sprinklers (as mentioned in
Helen O'Connor's report '£2m to remove Grenfell-type cladding: residents to get bill' - see socialistparty.org.uk).
Apparently there is no legal requirement to fit sprinklers at railway stations! Yet another example of the total disregard for public safety.
Clearly the renationalisation of the railways must serve not only to get the 'privateers' to 'walk the plank' but also to recommit Network Rail to a public ethos whereby the gold standard of public safety promoted by transport union RMT is adopted.
John Merrell, Leicester
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