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2 May 2018

The Socialist inbox

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Views of letter writers do not necessarily match those of the Socialist Party.

Trotsky in 1917

I just came across an extract from one of the speeches Pete Dickenson translated for the marvellous new book 'Trotsky in 1917', which has many articles and speeches translated into English for the first time.

Trotsky quotes from an audacious speech he made to a hostile audience in his 'History of the Russian Revolution'. The translation into English for the first time of this speech, published by the new Socialist Party publishing house, Socialist Books, does a great service to Marxism.

Trotsky addresses a conference that was convened specifically to undermine the Bolsheviks and the soviets just one month before the October Russian revolution in 1917. At the start, the audience barracked Trotsky with catcalls and "long live Kerensky" and the chair struggled to keep order.

By the time Trotsky had finished, at the end of the speech, he is greeted with a standing ovation, "strong applause" and a call of "long live the revolutionary Trotsky."

Trotsky is too modest to mention any of this in his History, which plays down his own pivotal role in the revolution and emphasises the equally critical role of Lenin.

Trotsky in 1917 provides a way for readers new to this revolutionary period in Russia to learn about the fundamental issues that led to this historical, world-changing event through the simple, bitesize, yet brilliantly written and mesmerising articles and speeches from Trotsky.

And the translations, I think, preserve in full the excitement Trotsky generated with that clarity of thought which cuts through all confusion and doubt.

Pete Mason, Barking

Reject NHS tax

I received an email this morning and was left livid:

The results are in: as it stands, 79% of 38 Degrees members think there should be an increase in tax to help pay for the NHS. But 21% of people, including you, said there shouldn't be.

We know that we're stronger when we work together - so we're emailing you as one of the people who said you don't want to run this campaign to find out a bit more about what you think before we make a final decision.

If the majority of 38 Degrees members are in favour of a tax rise to help pay for the NHS, how would you feel about 38 Degrees running this campaign?

My response:

To be honest none of the response selections you have emailed to me would fit my feelings regarding if you campaigned for a tax to save the NHS.

I'd be furious that people have been so shortisighted and that your organisation is enabling the government, actually campaigning for the government to kill us off and cripple us further financially!

38 Degrees should be campaigning for no more cuts, no more ripping off the public, no more tax evasion, no more privatisation, no more austerity, no more Tory government.

38 Degrees would be better off campaigning to close the corporate tax loopholes, calling for an end to billionaire tax evasion. Why hit the working classes further still?

38 Degrees would be better off campaigning for a better minimum wage or better housing conditions in the private sector, free education for all or an end to austerity.

Look at the increase in child poverty. Look at the cuts to public services. Look at society falling apart around us! 38 Degrees should be campaigning on the above issues, not saying "please tax us more."

For goodness' sake, 38 Degrees, why campaign for this new tax on us to subsidise the billionaires? Are you crazy?

Anonymous Labour Party member

Nation of hairdressers

The Economist reports that the number of hairdressers has increased by 50% since 2010.

Assuming half of us haven't actually grown an extra head of hair that needs trimming, this shows that the Tories' supposedly record-low unemployment levels are actually based on, among other things, workers desperately trying to find self-employment for which the demand doesn't exist.

There's no real road to ending the jobs slaughter but the socialist road.

Ross Saunders, Cardiff

War profits

Theresa May stated that it was "legally and morally right" for Britain to join US-led airstrikes in Syria.

Completely coincidentally, Philip May, her husband and "closest ally," works for a company called Capital Group, the largest shareholder in arms manufacturer BAE Systems.

Britain's contribution to the military strikes was to fire eight 'Storm Shadow' missiles sanctioned by Theresa May. These cost 790,000 each, and represented 6.3 million to BAE. Unsurprisingly, BAE's share price rose.

Readers may also recall that Capital Group was one of the firms linked to the Paradise Papers scandal in 2017.

Carl Harper, Peterborough

Help fund plaque to Liverpool 47 no-cuts councillors

Thirty years ago, 47 elected Liverpool Labour councillors were disbarred from office by unelected Law Lords. Simply because they refused to implement the austerity programme of the then Thatcher government.

They did something then that today's Labour leadership on the city council refuses to do. With their socialist policies they defended jobs and services.

Today, in support of their inspiring work, a group of Liverpool Labour activists are fundraising for a plaque to commemorate the work of the 47.

Mark Holt, Liverpool

The proposed plaque dedicated to the 47 surcharged councillors faced attack in the Liverpool Echo from Janos Pflancer on 26 April 2018.

Pflancer appears confused. He refers to us damaging the city in the 1970s, a view often expressed by opponents of the 47.

He should be reminded that we were not elected until 1983 - and inherited a catastrophe when, under a Tory-Liberal alliance locally and Thatcherism nationally, over 100,000 jobs had disappeared following carnage in our manufacturing base.

Recognising the reality, Merseyside Pensioners' Association members have contributed a magnificent 250 to the plaque dedicated to the 47 surcharged Labour councillors who fought to defend Liverpool from the ravages of Thatcherism.

This is a real testimony to the values held by those seniors who share a lifetime of hard work and experience in the real world. They support Jeremy Corbyn and the values he espouses.

They totally reject the current witch-hunt over supposed antisemitism, initiated and intensified by a gaggle of well-heeled, anti-Corbyn, pro-austerity forces, with Tories and Blairite backbenchers leading the pack.

I hope people emulate the wonderful gesture of the Merseyside Pensioners' Association by contributing to the plaque.

Tony Mulhearn, Liverpool