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6 May 2020

Going viral: Socialist comments and letters on the corona crisis

The Covid-19 pandemic is a world social crisis which touches every aspect of life. The iniquities and failings of the capitalist system are being exposed, and workers and communities are organising in response.

Send us your comments, reports, anecdotes and thoughts, in not more than 200 words (we reserve the right to shorten letters), to [email protected]

Is facemask advice based on science or shortages?

There has been a lot said about facemasks. I help run a Covid-19 support group in Swansea and one of the most contentious subjects has been face coverings for the public.

Some countries have attempted to stop the contagion by suggesting or mandating the use of masks. On 28 April, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon suggested people wear them in shops and on public transport.

There has been a lot of confusion, conflicting advice and misinformation.

It would appear from scientific advice that there is some benefit from masks - especially those with medical grade filters and single use in stopping viral particles - and just restricting access to the mouth and nose could also be of benefit.

Why is it then that the government has not suggested masks, and seem to be keen to push dodgy science about their use?

Given that the main demand from frontline workers is 'PPE now', could it be that the government, knowing that it has a huge crisis of access to PPE, aren't encouraging the public to use masks in case it depletes already limited supply - to the detriment of our health? I don't think this can be discounted.

This crisis of supply of PPE could easily be solved. Textile companies have offered to make masks and gowns, engineering firms have offered to make ventilators, and thousands of DIY-makers in their homes have been 3D printing shields, sewing masks and even scrubs.

The workforce and infrastructure exist. What's missing is a socialist economy that can use the best scientific advice and democratic planning to ensure that PPE and other supplies needed to combat this pandemic, and others in the future, are produced and distributed in the interests of the majority.

Gareth Bromhall, Swansea and West Wales Socialist Party

Another care home scandal

People in my village have heard cries for help coming from the nursing and care home. It transpires that one of the residents was confined to her room after she tested positive for Covid-19.

When villagers enquired further, we found out that she didn't even have a TV in her room. Managers stated that it was up to relatives to provide one.

This woman is now allowed out of her room, but she has been so traumatised that she is reluctant to leave it.

All residents should have TVs in their rooms if they want one. Care homes should be owned and run by the councils.

A care worker at the home told me that five residents tested positive for Covid-19 and they stopped testing after five. Staff have flimsy aprons. A doctor showed her how droplets containing the virus could penetrate her face mask.

We demand full PPE and regular testing of staff and residents.

Heather Rawling, Leicester

VE Day

The British ruling class, the Tories and Labour leader Keir Starmer, are going to try and utilise Victory in Europe Day (VE Day, 8 May).

It should be marked. Every time you have a discussion about what happened with the generation who lived through that war, you learn something.

But now what is happening to many of these heroes who defeated fascism? Left unprotected to die in care homes.

What is the real story of what happened in 1945? When Winston Churchill addressed the crowds in London he claimed "this is a victory for no party or class, but a victory for all". But working-class people's conclusions were different.

At the end of the war in Britain, 500,000 were homeless and four million homes were bomb damaged. The wartime coalition had faced a militant strike wave in key war industries (see 'Class collaboration and worker militancy in World War Two Britain' at, and a mood of organisation from the officer corps and rank-and-file soldiers.

In mainland Europe, the human suffering was unimaginably worse, and a revolutionary wave was seen. In Britain, Churchill is presented as a 'hero' today, but was thrown out and a Labour government voted in that was forced to nationalise 20% of the economy, set up the NHS and build council housing.

Then as now, there can be no going back.

Matt Dobson, Glasgow


Contrary to the propaganda about how restless we are to go back into potentially life-threatening situations, an Observer poll suggests we could put up with lockdown a lot longer, if it meant we could save lives. Around 60% put health first and think the government should err on the side of caution.

I've never heard so many Tories going on about hungry children and domestic abuse victims. As if they give a flying frig about starving children or vulnerable women and children.

They haven't given a toss about the victims of neoliberalism these last 40 years. The last ten years of austerity read like they had it in for these vulnerable groups.

The Socialist Party fights child hunger and violence against women every day, the Tories compound and create the problems.

Nancy Taaffe, Waltham Forest, London


South East London Socialist Party had an amazing meeting on 'football in a time of crisis'.

A number of clubs furloughed low-paid staff despite making huge profits and paying players big wages. Of course, footballers paying their taxes isn't enough to solve the huge health and economic crisis caused by coronavirus; we need socialist policies.

It was an opportunity to discuss what sports might look like after lockdown. We discussed a socialist approach to football and sports - kick profit out of the game, safe stadiums, democratically run clubs, decent facilities and funding for all, including women's teams, against racism, and much more.

Helen Pattison, London


An example of how 'we are all in this together'. The House of Lords was due to have a virtual meeting.

But Lords can only claim their expenses, 323 a day, if they turn up at the building. So of course, some Lords said they would not do the virtual meeting, unless they got their money - which is tax free and can be claimed 150 times a year.

Pete McNally, Worcester