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24 June 2020

The Socialist inbox

Letters to the Socialist's editors.

Do you have something to say?

Send your news, views and criticism in not more than 150 words to [email protected], 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.

Horrific alienation

Capitalist society is now like a tinderbox internationally as the economic depression engulfs us. The alienation of the youth - working-class but also large swathes of the middle class - is profound and deep-rooted.

It is the most visible explosive element in the Pandora's box the ruling class has created. But it won't be the only or even the most powerful element that will develop.

Positively, we see the social mass revolt against racism and the system, and a layer of youth getting organised in trade unions.

There are also inchoate outbursts. In Stuttgart in Germany on 20 June, 500 youth rioted or protested against police searches for drug possession.

Most negatively, the horrific stabbings in Reading, seemingly by a young mind fanaticised and poisoned by imperialism's Frankenstein monsters in Libya.

Different roads are possible for alienation. Either organised in class struggle with discipline and allied to the workers' movement, or rioting and, most dangerously, terrorism, which only reinforce capitalist oppression.

Matt Dobson, Glasgow

Mum refused housing

A letting agency refused to let me go any further with my application to rent a property.

This was because it would not take into account the Universal Credit I've been receiving since going on maternity leave.

Even though I've never paid my rent late, and said I could provide references from previous landlords and a guarantor, it made no difference.

According to statistics, a third of people receiving housing benefit have been stopped from renting a home because letting agencies and landlords won't accept tenants who receive benefits.

This ends up impacting women and people with disabilities the most, as both groups are more likely to need help with their rent.

Always fun to be a statistic!

Juliette, Romford

NHS forgets black skin

The Black Lives Matter movement has empowered many black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people to speak up about the struggles they face, and to seek equality in a system that disadvantages us.

One of the most basic outcomes of equality is representation - to see yourself and those that share your skin colour and culture in all aspects of public life. Some of the more insidious consequences of a lack of representation appear in a part of the system that we believe to be egalitarian and fair, our excellent NHS.

Consider the following scenario: You notice that your child has a rash. You take them to your nearest doctor's surgery for advice. The professional looks at the rash, ask about other symptoms, and diagnoses your child with X.

Imagine if in this scenario, the doctor has almost never seen what condition X looks like on skin as dark as your child's. That despite five to six years and thousands of hours of intense training, they can count on two hands the number of reference images with black skin.

I am a student at the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Cardiff University. I am halfway through my course.

I can count on a single hand the number of reference photos for skin conditions on black skin. I regularly must refer to other unverified sources to access reference images, despite my cohort consisting of at least 25% BAME students.

This is the reality facing black people in the UK in 2020. Representation isn't just about optics, and seeing more people in various positions in society, as much as it would be welcomed. But making sure that BAME people are considered in every aspect of life that white people are, and especially so when lives depend on it.

Ibrahim Yassin, Newport

Anti-union and patronising

A Telegraph headline said: "Teaching unions accused of 'breathing fear into parents' that schools are coronavirus 'death traps'". The unions are doing their jobs and keeping children safe by ensuring that measures are put in place for a safe return.

The headline implies that parents don't know what the current situation is with Covid and can't make up their own minds. How patronising.

Just look at the figures of deaths in this country and compare with anywhere else. It's quite obvious where any blame should go - this nasty government that has put business before people's lives. Teachers want children to return - when it is safe!

Nicky Downes, National Education Union executive committee (personal capacity)

Pensioners' pay

The state pension in the UK is among the most miserly in Europe. The plan to make pensioners pay for the coronavirus crisis is the action of a skinflint and a bully.

There are enough billionaires who ought to be paying their whack, but instead employ accountants so they can dodge tax. The government plans to do nothing about them.

The working-class movement ought to be moving heaven and earth to defend pensioners against this disgraceful attack. I am a pensioner, how did you guess?

Derek McMillan, Worthing

Money, not clean air

London's Congestion Charge has just been upped in price and the hours it operates increased, to cover the cost of a government 'bailout' for the city. It is plainly and clearly not about clean air or the environment, but just a way to get money out of drivers.

It's an indirect, regressive tax. In fact, Transport for London would be disappointed if more London workers did switch to electric cars, public transport, or cycling, because it would hit their new source of income.

In Coventry, the Socialist Party launched a massive campaign against a proposed congestion charge, getting over 10,000 signatures. Half measures brought in by the council will not address clean air properly.

With council budgets being squeezed further, the fight may come back - not just here but nationally.

Adam Harmsworth, Coventry

Biased BBC reporting

Every Monday, I get a breaking news notification from the BBC. It always says how 'low' the coronavirus death toll is.

Coronavirus figures are always lower on a Monday, because of delayed reporting over the weekend. I don't get a notification from the BBC for the rest of the week, when the death toll is much higher.

Is this the definition of propaganda? Only promoting one side of the story to strengthen the government's argument that the economy and schools should be prematurely reopened - profit before safety?

Also, the government has announced that as many people now, during a partial lockdown, are catching coronavirus as before lockdown when everything was open. How is that anything but a failure on the Tories' part?

Ian Pattison, East London

Battle of Soho

Just watched the documentary, Battle of Soho, about the gentrification of Soho. It deals with the destruction of shops, pubs, music venues, and the sanitisation of London.

It covers the earlier gentrification of Notting Hill. I grew up just off the Portobello Road and I am saddened at the way the area has lost its soul.

Camden, Kings Cross, Lambeth, Brixton, Vauxhall and Elephant and Castle are also slowly being destroyed by the big corporations. London is becoming a theme park for corporations and billionaires that know the price of everything and the value of nothing, and refuse to pay their taxes.

London has already lost hundreds of pubs, music venues and clubs, and has lost the edge that made it exciting. Post-Covid the trend will be accelerated.

The documentary showed how the local community can win when it fights back. The demise started under the mayoral reign of Boris Johnson, who unsurprisingly sold out to corporations, using New York as a model.

John Reid, London