Socialist councillors can help boost resistance
Can I take this opportunity to wish all candidates standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition best wishes for polling day on 22 May.
Until a few months ago, when I retired due to family illness, I had been a socialist councillor in Preston for ten years.
I believe it is important for working class people to have socialist representatives who are prepared to speak out against cuts, privatisation, racism and war.
We have established a network of activists in Preston over the last ten years. They supported me as we tried to establish a way of working that is markedly different to that of most mainstream councillors.
We were able to use the council position to act as good “community shop stewards”. We took great pride in the fact that we would respond to every problem raised by constituents.
We would visit people at home and take up their problems with local companies, housing providers, local authorities and privatised utilities. No problem was too small because working class people deserve proper representation.
We also used the council chamber as a platform to address social movements and campaigns.
We passed motions and raised debates about NHS privatisation, academy and free schools, racism, Palestinian rights, war in Iraq, the need for public transport investment and the threat from fracking.
And we were also able to link the campaign for real working class political representation to industrial struggles. As a councillor I visited hundreds of picket lines over the last ten years supporting workers on strike.
I hope that when we wake on 23 May there are more socialist councillors taking up positions in councils across Britain. There is no doubt that we need strong, active socialist councillors to represent our people in the months and years ahead.
Michael Lavalette, Preston
A plaque to remember our comrade Don Casson
Don Casson was a member of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) since 1998 and was committed to the SWP until he died.
He loved to climb mountains and was active in the mountain rescue team (MRT). His friends there said he loved to discuss politics with them while they were working.
His niece said her uncle always encouraged her to read, especially the Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell.
Family and friends thought it fitting that some of the cash he had left be used to help repair the Mardale Head bridge in the Lake District and agreed the wording on a plaque.
So next time you are in the Lake District make a detour to this bridge. There you can have a little rest, and remember our dear comrade and friend.
Sally Kincaid, Leeds
Research exposes an anti-abortion myth
Tabloids and anti-abortionists often claim that women rely on abortions as a method of birth control rather than taking contraceptives.
Research released this week by Marie Stopes, one of the largest reproductive health charities providing abortion services for women in Britain, shows that this is not true.
The research was undertaken with 16 to 24 year olds who had had more than one abortion.
It showed that the majority, some 57 percent, were using contraception when they became pregnant.
Most commonly used were the pill or condoms.
Many women in Britain can’t easily access the full range of contraceptive methods available.
Some have to go out of the area they live in if they want to use something other than the pill.
A campaign by women in Walthamstow, east London, led to the largest GP practice providing a full contraceptive clinic, which it didn’t previously offer.
This means women are more able to find a reliable method that works for them.
Young people’s sexual health services have been cut in many areas.
Emergency contraception is not easy to obtain free and is expensive to buy.
As the Tories slash health budgets it’s important we campaign against cuts—and ensure a woman’s right to choose includes choosing our contraceptive method!
Siobhan Hawthorne, East London
Anti-worker policies boost French fascists
Anyone wondering why the Front National is polling so well in France need look no further than the anti-worker, pro-boss policies of our so-called socialist government.
Everyone is now filing their tax return for 2013 (there’s no PAYE here). Many will have got a letter like the one I just got from my firm’s HR department.
It says the employer’s contribution to our private health insurance will now be treated as taxable income.
French social security only pays two thirds of most basic health charges so you need your credit union to make up the difference.
Yet some trade unions have signed a social pact with the government. We should all be out on the streets to force it to drop this stealth tax.
Ian France, Poitiers
Shop support for strikers
I was shopping last week and at the till I told a young woman I had been on a Tube picket line.
She hugged me and insisted on paying for my shopping
This is really wonderful. I am so proud of my class. We will win—solidarity forever.
Carol Foster, North West London
Vote against nationalism
Regarding Charlie Kimber’s article on elections (Socialist Worker, 3 May), we should not vote for any parties with nationalist policies such as No2EU.
Every time socialism has been defeated it’s been by nationalism. There is no “progressive nationalism”.
Richard Wilkinson, North London
Ukip’s poster boy is an immigrant
The image of the “British builder” featured in a recent Ukip poster was actually Irish actor, model and migrant Dave O’Rourke.
One can only imagine the reaction of Ukip members.
“They come over here pretending to be indigenous racists, taking jobs that British racists could do.”
Sasha Simic, East London
Farage is not so popular
I rang Ukip last week over their racist, divisive policies.
The man on the phone, not a Ukip member, agreed with everything I had to say.
He said they were receiving many similar calls. They are also receiving lots of mail—their leaflets being returned, torn up.
Liz Kitching, Leeds
Coral benefits are being lost
Scientists have found proteins in a coral that could help prevent HIV.
Yet another reason to fight the environmental destruction that is wiping coral reefs out.
Cathy Lever, Southampton