Dropping the 28 March strikes was big mistake
Tory chancellor George Osborne gives the impression he is helping over 23 million taxpayers by increasing the threshold before income is taxed to £8,105.
This is standard practice in any tax year and in fact this year’s allowance increase is lower than in previous years.
The £8,105 tax-free allowance on my salary of £24,000 will give me an extra £15 a month. This will be eaten up by the £70 a month I will soon pay on my civil service pension increase, leaving me with a monthly net debit of £55.
Had we kept the 50 percent tax rate just for those 14,000 people who earn between £150,000 and £1 million, it would have raised over £2 billion. This would have ensured three local hospitals and four local schools would remain open.
This is why a lot of PCS members are angry that the union called off its strike on 28 March.
My branch held a members’ meeting last week and a national executive member explained why PCS had called off the action. We filmed the meeting for our branch website (www.pcseuston.org.uk). It shows reactions from disappointment to anger.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka recently said that the trade unions are now the official opposition. That opposition is at its most powerful when the members are taking action. If not, the union is as weak as a new born baby.
Pickets lines are the only language this government listens to. The sooner we are back on strike the better.
Anna Owens, Branch secretary, PCS revenue and customs branch, Euston Tower, London
There is astonishment among PCS members that our planned strike on 28 March is not going ahead. We had a magnificent vote for action in our consultation. Workers are incandescent that the action isn’t going ahead.
The point of striking in March was that it would be before the imposed pension contribution rises begin in April.
In some job centres management were so convinced that workers would strike that they cancelled interviews with claimants on 28 March.
Workers have told me that claimants supported the strike.
It’s important that teachers and lecturers in London strike on 28 March. It will show that people still want to fight. I have every hope that we can get the action put back on.
Steve West, PCS DWP group executive (pc), Bristol
Unions can help win justice
The successful We Demand Justice meeting organised by the RMT union shows the way trade unionists can offer practical solidarity to the state’s victims (Socialist Worker, 24 March).
Rank and file activists in the union have produced a model motion for branches that we hope will raise £5,000 for the Christopher Alder campaign.
We want to pay for the professional and independent transcription of CCTV evidence pertaining to the Alder case.
We could raise this if 100 union branches each raise £50. This will also raise the profile of the campaign.
We now want to approach all unions to send a delegate to a meeting to discuss the idea of forming a cross-union “Justice Co-ordinating Committee”.
This will help coordinate union activity with justice campaigns, and provide them with publicity and funding.
We will also send a delegation to the Christopher Alder memorial event in Hull on 1 April.
Unjum Mirza, RMT member, London
We attended the We Demand Justice meeting as representatives of the Joint Enterprise—Not Guilty by Association campaign.
Our campaign has now vowed to support Samantha Rigg-David and Janet Alder. Many of us will attend the Hull vigil and other events to highlight their cases.
Janet Cunliffe and Gloria Morrison, JENGbA, jointenterprise.co
Why such cruelty?
I completely understand the kind of situation Amanpreet Kaur will have to face if she returns to India (Socialist Worker, 3 March).
How can the British be so cruel? Do they have no sense of security for people? A person’s life should be most important.
Mahinder Singh, India
George Orwell was an enemy of the Tories
As an avid reader of George Orwell I was pleased to see Simon Basketter’s analysis of The Road to Wigan Pier (Socialist Worker, 17 March).
It is important to remember Orwell’s literary career was not the result of past developments—it was a development.
As Basketter points out, this was a flawed work as Orwell had not fully experienced first hand the workers at war. His time in Spain is what truly defines Orwell’s political thought.
As with Rosa Luxemburg, Orwell is claimed by various, and sometime opposing, political factions. It was recently claimed by members of the centre-right that Orwell would vote Tory if he was still alive.
It is important that we do not allow his legacy to be brutalised in such a fashion.
While not an out and out revolutionary, Orwell still supported workers. It is sad that his greatest work, Nineteen Eighty-Four, was his last.
It is critical of the totalitarian states, though it can also be used to argue against Marxism. But Big Brother’s revolution is quite obviously a revolution we would oppose.
We must not allow Orwell’s work to be twisted into opposing us. Orwell was not our enemy—he was the Tories’ enemy.
I hope for more on Orwell and other non-Marxist socialists.
Jack W Biles, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Homegrown music can beat The Boss
In 1976–77 we all fought a cultural revolution against the overbloated excess of corporate rock. Remember? It was called punk. And we won.
But I don’t remember The Boss—Bruce Springsteen—being one of the good guys (Socialist Worker, 17 March).
Embodied in the “produser” movement of self-produced, self-financed, self-actualised musical output lies the spirit of punk. This urgent homegrown creative fun is a response to current troubled times and it is vital.
Revolutionaries seek inspiration from the likes of Captain Ska, Rob Gee, Slovo and scores more.
Compared to the inspirational PJ Harvey and consistently brilliant Ry Cooder, Springsteen is crass, dull and plodding.
His blue collar identity is hollow—as authentic as a David Cameron/Ed Miliband mash-up. So what if he uses electronic loops and rap? We all do. It’s 2012.
Socialist Worker should have better things to print than a tribute to an ageing multi-millionaire has-been.
We don’t need Columbia Records on the picket line, comrades. We need self-emancipation!
Phil, by email
End of the line for EDL thugs
The English Defence League (EDL) plans to bring its bigotry and hatred to the streets of Luton on 5 May.
We learnt an important lesson when confronting the EDL in Tower Hamlets last year.
RMT members closed Liverpool Street station to stop the EDL from assembling.
Railway unions should call a national strike on the grounds of health and safety.
Why should train conductors and drivers transport racist thugs around?
Charlie Dowthwaite, Barrow-in-Furness
Don’t let their hate stop us
Regarding the article “The forces behind anti-choice picket” (Socialist Worker, 24 March).
Yup. But here in Texas, we have had ten years of this harassment.
And we are still open, still serving women seeking services and not letting this hatred stop us.
Larissa Lindsay, Houston, Texas
How can we stop the cuts?
The government looks set to press forward with these pension cuts no matter what.
Devastatingly for the cause, Ed Miliband didn’t support strikes at the last round either.
What’s the answer now it’s too late to vote them all out?
Is there a need for stronger union leaders?
Name withheld, Huddersfield
Multinationals go for gold
Dave Sewell’s article on the Olympics was extremely good (Socialist Worker,
When the 2012 games were first announced, I made a prediction that the most gold medals will be won by Nike, closely followed by Adidas.
And the companies that make the performance enhancing drugs will be up there on the medal table too.
Mitch Mitchell, Cambridge
How will this help jobless?
I really do not know what to think after the experience my daughter had with the job centre.
She is now on a so-called 'back to work' programme. She has a BA and an MA as well as other qualifications.
She has found herself the possibility to do voluntary work in three different places that could help find her a job. She is also looking to become self-employed.
None of this is good enough for the training centre. They want her to get working tax credit as soon as possible without the nine weeks 'test trading' for self-employment, which she is entitled to.
They told her that self-organised voluntary work won’t count and that she would be placed in a charity shop, counting puzzle pieces or steaming clothing!
She would be forced to give up the self-organised voluntary work that could help get her a job.
What century are we living in? These training providers are trying to get the unemployed to do things that are not right. That does not make sense.
How are unemployed people expected to find work under these circumstances?
Unemployed people are treated badly, as socially unfit persons, like someone who has committed an offence.
These training providers also told her she would be monitored now as she is on this programme – for two years! They would check up on her regularly, even when she is in another job.
Are other jobseekers in other areas also treated like this?
Sonja Grossner, Loughborough
Send message for Thatcher
As part of my A Level art project I’ve been looking at Margaret Thatcher and how people are planning to celebrate her death.
I’ve been writing to people involved in politics asking them what they would write in a “sympathy” card (or maybe an “un-sympathy” card would be more fitting in this case) for Thatcher.
I was wondering if anyone could contribute by writing me a short message for such a card.
It can be as condemning or not as you like.
Caitlin O’Connell, Essex
Not a strategy for liberation
Throwing the word “queer” in the face of a homophobe can take the rug from under their feet.
But if it does become the word used by gay people to describe themselves then it seems like an agreement with the homophobes.
We should defend people’s right to call themselves whatever helps counter the horrible effects of abuse.
But I don’t think we should advocate it as a strategy.
H Fahon, Swansea
Can you help me find Phil?
Where is Phil Evans—demon cartoonist?
Do you know his whereabouts? Or have any leads, like a last known address?
An old friend from another century wants to make contact by letter, phone or email.
Details please to Laurie Flynn at email@example.com.
Thanks in advance to anyone who can help.