Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2399

Miller’s crimes are more than just dodgy expenses

As an ex-Remploy worker, watching disgraced ex-minister Maria Miller’s feeble apology made my blood boil.

Miller, who used to be minister for disabled people should also be remembered for putting more than 1,500 disabled workers on the dole and closing dozens of Remploy factories across Britain.

The Tories claimed keeping Remploy workers on was “unaffordable”. And it is worth mentioning that New Labour started the attack first.

But our factories were productive places. The closures didn’t make sense.

At my factory we had skilled welders and machinists making wheelchairs. People had meaningful employment learning good skills.

Nobody even looked properly at what the factories were producing or what they provided for the people that worked in them.

Miller and the Tories claimed to want to integrate disabled workers into mainstream employment but mainstream employers don’t want people with disabilities.

And a lot of people coming out of the Remploy factories onto disability benefit are getting kicked off that too, being told they’re not disabled enough by Atos.

If Remploy workers made a mistake on their dole form would they be allowed to just apologise and pay some of it back? 

No, they’re going to get charged and dragged to court. So why didn’t Cameron sack Miller—when even Tory MPs were calling for her to go?

Anyone with a shred of integrity who genuinely thought they made a “mistake” would just give the money back, apologise and resign. 

But she gets the taxpayer to pay for her false claims. Miller is allowed to get away with not paying nearly £40,000.  

I don’t care whether politicians are acting legally or not to get fancy second homes that are out of reach for most working class people. It’s disgusting—do they not get paid enough?

It truly is a case of us and them.

Tommy Houston, Glasgow

Let children play—no toxic tests at two

Thank you for the splendid attack on Ofsted chief Michael Wilshaw’s proposed tests for two year olds and the “school readiness” agenda (Letters, 12 April).

Many years ago I was at a conference where the speaker rubbished the notion of “school readiness”. 

They said to assert that the purpose of nursery education is to prepare children for primary school is as ridiculous as suggesting that the purpose of breakfast is to prepare for lunch.

Young children need to develop their confidence, imagination and independence actively through play. 

They do not need to be spoon-fed a stodgy diet of facts, figures and phonics.

Finland has one of the most successful education systems in the world where children don’t start formal education until seven. 

They have a shorter day and spend more time outdoors than children here. 

There’s no homework and no national tests until the end of their schooling. Ofsted and Michael Gove should stop torturing and testing our children and take lessons from Finland.

Sarah Cox, North West London

Build action against Gove’s sixth form cuts

Michael Gove is spending £45 million on one London sixth form free school. 

Meanwhile sixth form colleges have suffered

£100 million of cuts—20 percent in real terms—under this government.

All 12 London sixth form college heads have written to the Independent newspaper condemning Gove’s priorities. 

Teachers see the need to fight back. Their NUT union has approved a number of ballots recently in response to the cuts and the threat to jobs. 

NUT executive member Alex Kenny has urged delegates to the union’s conference this week to prioritise this issue in the conference agenda.

Activists will need to build on these initiatives if we are to begin to reverse the damage being done to our colleges.

Andy Stone, East London

Demolition scrapped

Plans to demolish five high rise tower blocks known as the Red Road Flats in Glasgow as part of the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games have been scrapped.

The demolition, it was claimed, would symbolise Glasgow’s commitment to regeneration. The sixth block was to remain occupied, mainly by people seeking asylum in Britain.

Built in the 1960s, the flats were new homes for people whose slum housing was demolished. For many the kitchens and bathrooms were a luxury never seen before.

Bad planning and economic circumstances meant that most people’s hopes and dreams of a better life never came to fruition.

Anger and opposition to the demolition quickly spread across the city. People felt it was an insult to past occupants as well as to those being left in block six.

The protests have forced the council and the games organisers into a U-turn.

Margaret Woods, Glasgow

A No for peace?

Former Secretary general of Nato, Labour’s Lord Robertson, has warned that Scottish independence would threaten world stability. 

I’m sure that in Ukraine they talk of nothing else than the consequences of a Yes vote in Scotland.

Either that or those arguing for a No vote are getting worried.

Sasha Simic, East London

Fight for free education

News that students will be repaying our loans into our 50s is the shock that should surprise no-one. 

And even that’s only if we get a job that earns enough to start repaying.

It’s great that our NUS union just voted to fight for free education.

But Labour’s plan to merely replace £9,000 a year maximum fees with £6,000 a year is a disgrace.

Fran Manning, Kingston University

A disabled students’ cut

Tory minister David Willets announced plans to end Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) grants.

Instead universities will have to pay for the extra support that disabled students need.

But while richer universities and richer parents will be able to pay, the squeeze on education funding means many will not.

Most students can’t afford to take them to court, so this will lead to disabled students dropping out. It’s another cut for disabled people.

Roddy Slorach, East London

Scabs will not be forgotten

I had to smile when I heard a group of football fans chanting “Thatcher’s dead we’re having a party” and “scabs” on a train journey recently. 

All in their early 20s and from Doncaster, they had been brought up on stories of the Miners’ Strike. Their team were playing Nottingham that day.

We spent the rest of the journey discussing the strike. It was inspiring to see that the history still has an effect. 

Ken Coyne, Hull

End the zero hours scam

I work as a care assistant on a zero hours contract (Letters, 12 April). It’s hard to live from day to day without knowing if you have work.

I’m trying to set up a campaign to try and stop this. Please get in touch

Julie Ingram, Barnsley

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Article information

Tue 15 Apr 2014, 19:08 BST
Issue No. 2399
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