Socialist Worker

Letters

Issue No. 2278

The Tories’ ten dark commandments for us

The combined efforts of the Tories and Lib Dems’ coalition has led Britain into a “Catch 22”.

Whatever their current excuses are, they just don’t add up! Or, as Oliver Hardy and would undoubtedly say to Stan Laurel, “Another fine mess you’ve got us into”.

On the one hand they are forcing pensioners and the elderly to work until they drop. At the same time, they are trying to create two million new jobs.

As my granddaughter would say, “That doesn’t compute, Grandpa”. No it doesn’t—it’s coalition reasoning. Which can roughly be summed up as: “We are making the poor pay for the past mistakes of the rich and privileged”.

If one is well off or a millionaire, one doesn’t have to be concerned about receiving enough pension to exist on, or not having a proper job (government front bench: take note).

So as an ageing class warrior with a long memory, I take this opportunity of to remind all those of you who voted Conservative or Liberal Democrat of what this government is doing.

This is what could almost be this Tory-led coalition government’s Ten Commandments!

  1. Punish the poor for their poverty—particularly single mums. After all, they only have babies to get a council house and qualify for child benefit.
  2. It’s all right to be selfish and greedy.
  3. There is “no such thing as society”. Margaret Thatcher said this in an interview with Women’s Own magazine in 1987 so it must be true.
  4. To the rich shall be given, from the poor shall be taken.
  5. For the most part the unemployed are feckless, whatever that is. In fact I don’t even know what a “feck” is. As far as I know, I’ve never had a feck.
  6. Private good, public bad. All government services both national and local are better under private ownership. This includes health, education and transport. If one can’t afford it, one doesn’t use it. Ration by price.
  7. Pensioners are a problem and live too long, thus increasing the burden on pensions.
  8. The state pension is a benefit, not an entitlement.
  9. Means testing for the poor works and all age-related benefits should be means tested. This includes concessionary bus fares and prescription charges.
  10. Finally, a good Tory, if that’s not a contradiction in terms, knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing!

‘Dutchy’ Holland, Chair PCS Associate and Retired Members


Reports on far right miss point

Anti-fascists are right to be concerned about the English Defence League (EDL). It is increasingly widening its targets from Muslims to trade unionists, left wing groups and even the Occupy movement.

So it’s a pity that Inside The EDL, a recent report by think-tank Demos highlighted in the national press, is such a poor piece of research.

The authors are unfortunately overexcited about Facebook and under-informed about the realities of the EDL.

They base their research on a self-selecting—and probably unrepresentative—group drawn from fans of the EDL’s Facebook page.

But there is no evidence that people who once clicked the “like” button are firm EDL supporters, integrated into its organisation, rather than casual browsers.

The authors ignore the fact that the EDL’s real organisation, through its local divisions, is done largely in closed groups—face-to-face with trusted cadre.

The report grossly overstates the EDL’s support. It puts “active membership” at 25,000 to 35,000, based on the 32,800 fans of the Facebook page at the time of survey.

But clicking “like” is hardly a mark of commitment. Since the EDL’s Facebook was hacked, fewer than 20,000 have shown up again to “like” the new page. The EDL’s real active support, as seen on demos, is far smaller.

At the same time, the report dangerously downplays EDL supporters’ racism and violence, and ignores its fascist direction.

It takes respondents at face value and fails to challenge their Islamophobia. It even cites one who claims Islam is “a threat” as evidence that EDL supporters are not “modern Blackshirts” but “democrats” defending “liberal values”.

We shouldn’t overestimate the EDL’s size or level of support. But it is dangerous to ignore its real nature or the threat it poses. This report gets it badly wrong on both counts.

Tash Shifrin, East London


Theresa May’s ban will give a boost to racists

What’s behind Theresa May’s uncharacteristic haste to ban the poppy-burning group Muslims against Crusades before this year’s Remembrance Day parades?

I’m sure the ban wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that the gutter press have gone berserk and pilloried May for “losing control” over Britain’s borders.

Last week it was revealed May had authorised the relaxation of passport checks at over the summer.

May admitted she had “no idea” how many migrants, suspected terrorists or criminals had got into Britain. The media, and to their shame some Labour MPs, confuse the three.

After all, what better way to rehabilitate her tarnished reputation with the Tory press than to be seen to be “tough” with Muslims—even if it’s with an insignificant and unrepresentative group.

This microscopic organisation goes out of its way to live up to the racist stereotype of the Muslim “extremist” and its antics are calculated to offend.

But the ban is about racist politics.

It will play well in the Mail, Star and Express. But it’s a hypocritical and opportunistic attempt to feed the Islamophobia that’s all too widespread in society.

Sasha Simic, East London


Drugging our kids is dangerous

Channel four news’ brilliant report on the prescription of anti-psychotic drugs to children has broken a silence in the profession.

The report, which collated data from doctors across Britain, shows that 15,000 young people were prescribed the drugs last year.

This is a doubling from five years ago. There has not been a doubling in psychosis, so what is the thinking behind this?

I’ve been working in mental health for six years.

This over-medication of mental health patients, not just children, is a developing trend. Partly responsible are the drugs companies that swoop on well-respected practitioners, units and wards.

Sometimes they turn up unannounced, pushing propaganda onto the wards.

But there is another reason too—cost.

Even when treating low level depression practitioners make a choice. Either to add them to a waiting list for talking therapy which will help them to cope not just now but in the future, or the cheaper option—write a prescription.

I am concerned that drugs will be the first choice for more doctors as the cuts bite.

Mental health nurse, Leicestershire


Setting the strikes alight

I leafleted a public firework display with a Unison steward for a joint union meeting we are holding about the 30 November public sector strikes. We took a David Cameron Guy Fawkes with us.

The response was fantastic. Hundreds of people took leaflets, many asking us, “Are you throwing it on the bonfire?” and “Can we watch?”

People thanked us for being there and stopped to tell us they were striking too. Some proudly said they had voted yes in the ballot.

It was really uplifting.

Tom Woodcock, Cambridge


Brighton’s Green shame

Sadie Robinson rightly reports that Brighton council, which is led by the Green Party, has evicted Travellers from a site in the city.

When the Greens first gained control of the council they announced they would be developing plans for permanent traveller sites in the city.

The Tories have jumped on this, scare-mongering and organising rallies against Travellers.

It seems they have found a way to openly express racism in Brighton and get away with it.

The local paper, The Argus, has contributed to building an atmosphere of racism.

For instance, it has used the Freedom of Information Act to get figures for the cost of education for children of Travellers.

Because of the lack of provision, many Travellers are camped on unofficial sites

It is essential that we condemn all evictions of Travellers and support the Greens’ proposals for more sites.

Roland Ravenhill, Brighton


UCU campaign changes work

Current action by lecturers in old universities, who are working to contract against the attacks on their pensions, shows how things could be very different.

The action by 40,000 UCU union members began in October.

Since then, the union has been inundated with messages about how members’ lives have been transformed.

Many workers had 35-hour contracts, but were putting in 45 to 50 hour weeks.

It’s incredible how taking this small industrial action is changing people’s lives.

Shouldn’t all the unions be doing something similar?

Kathy Brown, Norwich


Watch what you google

Socialist Worker readers will be familiar with stories of students being detained after researching terrorism.

But last week a primary school excluded a ten year old student in Berkshire for typing “bin Laden” into Google during an IT lesson.

He was looking for jokes.

The government wants to turn teachers and lecturers into spies.

This story shows us what can happen if we don’t resist their plans.

Gwyneth Jones, Newport


Top Boy has no context

Just because the Channel 4 drama Top Boy was hailed by critics as a masterpiece does not mean that it was (Socialist Worker 12 November).

It was not comparable to the US series The Wire, which mapped social relationships across a city’s institutions.

Top Boy was drama in a political vacuum. Where were the police hassling black youth every day?

Where were the cuts and privatisation? Where was the unemployment?

Where were the McJobs that people reject in favour of a better paid life in the drugs trade?

Where was the economic divide between rich and poor?

Top Boy is a sad indictment of the decline of realism as a dramatic form on British television.

Michael Wayne, South London


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Letters
Tue 15 Nov 2011, 19:02 GMT
Issue No. 2278
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