Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2171

It’s hard times for sick and disabled people

Social Security rules are forcing genuinely ill people off disability benefits using so-called “medical services”.

Many people who desperately need support are being put through stressful examinations and procedures. Benefits are being stopped for people who need them.

My brother-in-law was recently due to go for a triple heart by-pass. About a week before the operation he was called to medical services for an examination, as was his wife.

The assessors declared that they were fit for work and stopped their incapacity benefit.

Not only does my brother-in-law suffer from serious heart problems, his wife is crippled with arthritis. This decision obviously caused them a lot of stress.

After his operation, which he is struggling to recover from, medical services declared that they have lost his records and require him to go for another medical. He is already very ill and this will make him worse.

I am writing on their behalf, but I have also been declared fit for work after ten years on incapacity with anxiety, depression, hypertension, spondylosis, back problems and arthritis.

I realise that there should be some way of stopping fraud, but this is getting ridiculous. They should be called medical dust-up.

John Taylor, Stoke-on-Trent

It is almost impossible to get much-needed places for children in autistic specialist schools.

The effort needed to get a child into the school he or she needs is enormous.

It is clear that, at every stage, the council would far rather stick the child in a mainstream school and forget about them than give them the place you are asking for.

The children involved often have severe problems – including an inability to cope with loud noise, other children, and understanding language.

But the government persists in attempting to “integrate” these children into mainstream schools.

The reason for this are clear – the cost of running an autistic specialist school is many times greater than that of an ordinary school.

The general outlook of the system is that autistic people will not grow up to be useful cogs in the machinery of capitalism.

Most will not grow up to pay taxes and so the government views any money spent on them as a waste of capital that could otherwise be spent on wars and bailing out banks.

Although many autistic people are highly intelligent, they struggle to relate to other people.

Placing them in mainstream schooling hampers their ability to learn.

So it is a choice between spending money helping highly intelligent children with a severe mental disability realise their full potential or blowing up some strangers in Afghanistan.

Which choice do you think the government would prefer?

Ismay Davis, West London

Let’s not forget the Tory reality

I am well aware of people’s anger at New Labour’s hijacking of the Labour Party, and its continued Thatcherite policies of attacks on the workers. But we should beware of who we vote for in the coming general election.

I am not afraid of the fascist BNP or its braindead followers. If you look closely at the would-be Nazis, you will find most of them have never voted in their lives.

But I am, however, extremely concerned that people will forget the past and re-elect the Tory party.

Here in Brighton the Tories misruled for many years. They were then kicked out of office and replaced by Labour.

While not brilliant, Labour was slightly better. Then, for some unknown reason, two years ago the Tories were voted back into power and carried on where they left off.

A classic example is their takeover of tenants’ associations in East Moulsecoomb, where I live.

They have drawn an imaginary line down the centre of the area and are telling people they have to join the tenants’ association on their side of the line.

The strange thing is nobody on my side of the line knows “our” association exists. The one on the other side is being run by a council housing official.

I shall be joining the one on the other side of the line as is my right and shall fight to get rid of this gross interference by the council and its officers.

Tenants’ associations are set up by local residents to protect themselves from mismanagement and abuse from the local authority.

So OK, this may only seem like a small thing, but imagine when the Tories take power.

Think of the interference with trade unions – telling people what union they will be allowed to join. Think of the boundary changes they will make to ensure they stay in power.

A Tory victory means a life of abject poverty and misery for most.

Colin Avey, Brighton

Do we want to plough the whole planet?

It was disappointing to read Martin Empson’s argument that the food needs of the world’s ever-rising population could be met, at least in part, by converting ever more uncultivated regions to agriculture (» Are people part of the problem?, 19 September).

What about the environmental impact of such a policy – loss of habitats and species, and an increase in global ecological imbalance generally?

Such a policy is likely to have an adverse carbon impact, through the destruction of natural vegetation and the increase of long-distance food export to needy regions elsewhere.

It was unfortunate too that he chose African savanna for his example. The same suggestion applied to British natural environments would cause universal uproar here.

Savanna regions are susceptible to increasing drought through global warming and are surely not ideal for large-scale agricultural programmes.

Rising populations place increasing demands on numerous resources, not just food.

Empson’s article was a lost opportunity to present a socialist case that balanced human need arising from laissez-faire population growth against environmental impact, instead of trotting out the thoughts of great 19th century thinkers who knew nothing of global warming.

Brian Rosen, South London

Swimming in a bigger pool

I’m glad that former Dudley Labour councillor Steve Cox is taking an interest in the Save Coseley Baths campaign (» Letters, 19 September).

As Steve knows, the Labour Party has been in opposition on Dudley council over the last five to six years. During those years the Conservative council has closed down two swimming pools and libraries.

Dudley Labour MPs and councillors have been active in opposition to these cuts, including the campaign to save Coseley Baths.

Most of the activists in this campaign have few illusions about the sudden concern regarding public services from the Labour Party.

The campaign has called upon the Labour MPs and councillors to ask the government to provide the money to repair the baths.

They claim that the council have received enough money to save the baths.

The inclusion of the Labour Party in the campaign means that they either deliver or expose themselves politically.

The campaign to Save Coseley Baths will continue with support from Labour but knowing that we will have to probably do it ourselves if we are to achieve our aims.

Paul Bolton, Chair, Save Coseley Baths (pc)

We need a united fight

The writer Naomi Klein warned that bailing out the banks because of the financial crisis would provide neoliberals with the excuse to move in and finish off the public sector.

We are seeing the beginnings of this final onslaught across health, education, transport and communications.

Much of the resistance to the attacks remains fragmented or local.

Now, more than ever, we need a broad-based umbrella campaign to defend public services from cuts and privatisation.

An organisation that could unite workers and users of public services, from the BBC to the post office, is desperately needed.

This would provide some meeting point for people fighting different battles. It would help us in the ideological fight against what the bosses and politicians are proposing.

Time is running out. If we do not stop the attacks there will be no public sector left.

Michael Wayne, South London

Say it with bullets

There’s one “Spanish practice” I would like to see introduced at Royal Mail. It’s the one the anarchist CNT trade union introduced in 1936 during the Spanish Revolution.

They turned up at a workplace and asked the workers if the boss was fair or not. If he wasn’t fair, they shot the bastard.

Scouse Postman, by email

Any cut is a bad one

Tony Phillips (» Letters, 26 September) is right to argue that there is no such thing as “kind cuts”. Not only could cutbacks cost lives, they also make no economic sense.

If any government reduces spending on public services, and makes workers redundant, disaster follows.

Workers and organisations stop making purchases and spend less. This hits companies and individuals who are selling goods and services.

Investment effectively falls and demand is reduced. This deepens the recession and recovery is harder to achieve. Workers suffer even more.

The lessons of Tory government failures in the past have not been learned. The Tories made recessions worse by cutting back spending.

I hate to think Labour would follow Tory errors. We would suffer again.

Graeme Kemp, Shropshire

To save lives is far from evil

Your article on US health policy got all the main points right (» US health plan is trapped by free market ideology, 19 September).

Here in the US losing your healthcare is the number one fear for most of the working poor.

And the sad part is that many in the US think that we are in danger of going socialist. Hah – I wish we would. It’s got to be better than this half-baked healthcare system we have now.

People are dying due to the lack of good care and the right wing is more worried about the profits of the big corporations than the needs of the people.

James Wiedl, by email

Factors and fate in crime

I would like to disagree with Federica (» Letters, 26 September) who wrote in response to the article on crime and young people.

The article was keen to stress that it is not automatic that people from difficult childhoods and working class backgrounds commit horrible acts of violence.

If this was the case, there would be many more such horrors in our society.

The level of inequality in Britain makes for horrific circumstances for many, and it is through abolishing this inequality that the lives of ordinary people will improve.

Mary Poole, Manchester

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Article information

Tue 29 Sep 2009, 18:27 BST
Issue No. 2171
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