Solidarity amid the floods - but cuts make people suffer
Our house in Lancaster was one of 55,000 homes without electricity for two days after Storm Desmond.
The river Lune broke its banks and the flood defences in what is supposed to be a “one in a 100 year” event. But Cumbria has now had two major floods in less than five years.
Firefighters worked around the clock for 48 hours attending 250 incidents including chemical leaks, stranded people, house fires and vehicle rescue.
They saved lives and nobody in Lancaster died.
Yet government cuts mean that the fire service will be reduced from two pumps to one.
That’s a cut of 50 percent. Meanwhile a new flood defence scheme for Kendal, just north of Lancaster, has been delayed for lack of funding.
The scheme was supposed to get £4 million in 2011. Then the Tories cut spending on flood defences by as much as 10 percent.
During the last round of floods in 2014 Cameron said that “money was no object” when it came to spending on flood defences.
But the Kendal scheme was postponed twice more in 2014 and 2015. Now the earliest date will be sometime next year.
What use is that to the thousands of people left homeless by the latest round of flooding?
The madness of austerity will mean the next “one in a 100” event could lead to lives being lost. We can find the money for bombs but not for our vital public services.
The real heartening thing to happen though was how people helped each other. Houses with gas boiled water for houses without, neighbours checked on each other and people gave food away.
This gives a lie to the idea that humans are selfish.
It’s the Tories who are the nasty selfish ones. We have to double our efforts to get rid of these scum before it’s too late.
Eugene Doherty, Lancaster
Affiliating to Labour doesn't help firefighters
I was a member and lay official in the firefighters’ FBU union for 25 years. I witnessed the leadership compromising with, and acting in the interests of, the Labour Party rather than members of the FBU.
We only made any progress when the rank and file took matters into their own hands.
That was during the Glasgow strike in 1973 and the national strike in 1977.
The present leadership of the union change their politics as easily as the chameleon changes colours.
I don’t know what they hope to achieve by reaffiliation to the Labour Party (Socialist Worker, 5 December). But one thing is certain, it will be more in the interests of the Labour Party and the union bureaucracy than ordinary members.
Watch this space.
Ronnie Robertson, Glasgow
With Syrians against the Tories
Selling Socialist Worker in Birmingham, I met four Syrians who wanted to take pictures with our “Stop Bombing Syria” posters.
They had made the journey to Britain last month, after spending weeks in Calais.
They finally managed to beat the border guards by clinging onto the Eurostar. The same British government that is bombing their country tried to stop them entering Britain, and is refusing them the right to work.
They hate our government. But they wanted to thank everyone who has visited Calais to show them solidarity.
Richard Donnelly, Birmingham
A religious socialist writes
Nick asked if it was possible to be Christian and a socialist (Letters, 12 December).
I am a member of the Socialist Workers Party and a Christian, though I don’t believe in miracles.
Religion under class society is a mass of contradictions.
It’s riddled with superstition, intolerance and hierarchy. But it also meets deep spiritual needs and cries out for social justice.
I think under socialism we could still find value in our world’s myths and spiritual practices. In the meantime religion is also cultural, and a mass socialist party will have many religious people in it.
Margaret Stone, Sheffield
Re-drawing the map
You made two mistakes in your map which was supposed to represent the regional control in Syria (Socialist Worker, 5 December).
First, you accepted the annexation of the occupied Golan to Israel.
Second, you gave the control of the border area along the Golan to the Syrian regime.
But the Israeli armed forces ousted the Syrian army out of its strongholds along the border back in 2012, and let al-Nusra in.
Not only that, but Israel is actively supporting al-Nusra by shielding it from Hizbollah and the Syrian army, and providing logistical support.
Ron Cohen, London
Why victimise the virtuous?
Your piece Keep the Christians out of Christmas, (Socialist Worker, 28 November) is both offensive and confusing. What on earth does “don’t let the church muscle in on Christmas” mean?
You rightly condemn Islamophobia, yet you yourselves are peddling Christianophobia.
Brenda Mcalahan, Derbyshire
Sorry for the slaughter
People of Syria I’m sorry that the butchers who misrepresent us have voted to add to your dead by dropping British bombs on you.
The people who have voted to bomb you are the same people who vilify and persecute refugees.
They do not bomb you in our name.
Sasha Simic, East London
Saving and taking lives
My MP Heidi Alexander seems to be a bit confused about which fight she is supposed to be joining.
She joined the fight to save Lewisham Hospital. But she voted for bombing in Syria.
So she fights to save lives here—but votes to take lives abroad.
Paul Hughes, South London
The publicly-owned war
David Cameron says Britain cannot afford to “outsource our share” of dropping bombs on Syria.
A strange assertion coming from a government that has insisted on outsourcing just about everything they can lay their hands on!
John Murphy, Blackburn
Searching for a speech
Does anyone have a tape of Duncan Hallas speaking on the Russian Revolution at Marxism festival in 1987?
Please contact me via Socialist Worker.
John Charlton, Newcastle