Don't let police infiltrators stop you from organising
I can understand people’s shock at being propositioned by the police to spy on Unite Against Fascism under threat of arrest (Socialist Worker, 22 March).
As an ex-miner who went through the 1984-85 strike I feel for you. But we shouldn’t be surprised at the way the police behave and we can’t let it interfere with what we’re doing.
Understanding the role of the police and the state is a key political development for anyone trying to change society.
Learning the hard way is not a great experience, but well done for exposing their practices.
I well remember that during the strike the police and MI5 tried to undermine us by infiltrating our union’s meetings and organisation.
Sometimes we’d turn up at a picket we’d just decided on and the police were already there. So it was obvious someone was blabbing.
We had to develop ways of combating police attempts to undermine us.
We spotted one guy at a mass picket of Cortonwood. People started saying, “He’s dodgy”. We had a talk with him in the van on the way back and dropped him in the middle of nowhere.
It turned out he wasn’t a cop but a Sun journalist.
Under pressure of struggle you learn who can be trusted and who can’t. But you can’t be forever looking over your shoulder.
Even in the middle of the strike with all the state against us we made collective decisions in meetings of strikers.
We went on in the certain knowledge that there were a few people that weren’t trustworthy.
But being part of a collective with experience of dealing with this allows you to continue with the struggle.
The key to it is confidence in the individuals you’re with and your commitment.
To do anything less is to leave them in control.
Steve Hammill, Crewe
Scientists advance despite limitations
I can sympathise with Jenny Jones (Letters, 22 March) when she says big decisions in science are made on the basis of profit.
However there is a danger of slipping into an attitude that simply dismisses new techniques, technologies and understanding because they are a product of capitalist society.
Science is not separate from the rest of the world and outside influences condition what research takes place.
But the ideas of scientists themselves also influence and direct the world in which we live.
So rather than dismiss advances or new areas of study we should understand scientists’ limitations and motives within capitalism.
They are partial understandings at a particular point in human history. We can go beyond these partial “truths” but we can’t simply dismiss or ignore them.
Senan Mortell, East London
We will fight for a socialist Scotland
With six months to go to the referendum, support for Scottish independence is gaining traction.
It’s vital that socialists retain an independent voice within the Yes movement. A vote for independence is not automatically a vote for the Scottish National Party (SNP), contrary to what Better Together claims.
The call to abolish Trident nuclear weapons is at the heart of our argument for Yes.
Yet even in an independent—but still capitalist—Scotland, socialist politics will have to be fought for. The SNP has proposed to lower corporation tax.
It was public pressure and the militancy of the Scottish Anti Bedroom Tax Federation that got the tax effectively abolished in Scotland.
We must fight for solidarity and the unity of the working class, whether independence is won or not.
For example, support for the recent Edinburgh College dispute came from all over Britain.
Whatever side of the debate activists are on, they must unite to fight austerity, and avoid viewing every issue through the prism of independence.
Sarah Bates, Edinburgh
Medicine is no luxury
Ruth Davidson, leader of the Tories in Scotland, wants to abolish universal free prescriptions. She says the savings will fund 1,000 extra nurses and midwives.
I have had several disabilities all my life, which I didn’t ask for. I have had pain most of my adult life, which I didn’t ask for.
I depend on lots of pain medication, which it may surprise some Tory Scrooges to know, I did ask for.
For that pleasure I had to pay £6 odd per item or £95 for a yearly “loyalty” ticket, which meant I did not have to pay any more than £95.
I have never understood how medication could be seen as a luxury. This is a tax on ill health and disability.
There are many ways to pay for extra nurses and midwives. To start scrap Trident and stop tax evasion.
Rudi Vogels, Kirkcaldy
Jokes are the best way to show truth
Cartoonist Phil Evans (Obituary, 15 March) had a pen in his hand the first time I met him. Every time we met subsequently he seemed to have a pen or a pint to hand.
I was a young, aspiring cartoonist and he was extremely encouraging to me. He was always good company—hilarious and outrageous at the same time.
He understood the power of humour and how jokes are the best way to reveal a truth.
Tim Sanders, East London
Anti-racists feel invincible
The Stand Up to Racism and Fascism event held in London last Saturday was brilliant! It was a marvellous celebration of International Anti-Racism day.
The atmosphere of the rally was superb with the right balance of political speeches and music and performance to celebrate our rich multicultural communities in Britain.
Many of us are children of migrants and the importance of days like that cannot be overestimated.
United we are invincible against those who seek to divide us!
Pauline Wheat-Bowen, Huddersfield
Just give the houses to us
Some time ago we were told that private landlords would do a better job and cost the taxpayer less than councils providing rented homes.
Now private landlords get buy to let mortgages then sit back and watch the cash roll in from rent and housing benefit payments. These are often greater than their mortgage repayments.
Rather than effectively giving houses away to landlords give them away to the tenants. It would cost less.
David Laine, Scunthorpe
It's wages or bigwig profits
Health staff could strike over Tories’ wage insult (Socialist Worker, 22 March)?
No profit for bigwigs if workers are paid fairly.
Judy Shimoda, on Facebook
They are not really elite
I think it’s wrong to call the ruling class “elites” as people did in several contributions at the People’s Assembly on Saturday 15 March.
A scientist discovering a cure for cancer or a fundraiser collecting millions for flood victims is “elite”.
An overfed, overpaid, undereducated bigot serving the narrow interests of the capitalist class is simply privileged.
John Moore, Nottinghamshire