Socialist Worker

LETTERS—We need more than token gestures to save the planet

Issue No. 2642

Forge the links with Extinction Rebellion

Time to forge links with Extinction Rebellion (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Sheffield council has recently declared a climate emergency.

But it’s a bitterly ironic declaration, as this is the council that has been chopping down street trees and trying to jail tree protesters.

Furthermore, it has just decided to widen the city’s ring road while ignoring demands from cycling groups to improve the cycle network.

A new study by the Institute for Policy Research says that a series of environmental and economic crises will hit at the same time causing massive global destabilisation.

Are we not running out of time to be indulging the token gestures of institutions and multinational companies?

Should’t we be forging the links between Extinction Rebellion activists and trade union activists to create a movement from below demanding real change?

John Ross


Tree felling arrests victory

Campaigners arrested under anti trade union laws by South Yorkshire Police (SYP) while protesting against tree felling in Sheffield have secured an out of court settlement of more than £24,000 over their claim for wrongful arrest.

SYP has faced a storm of criticism over the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal and policing at the Battle of Orgreave during the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike.

It used section 241 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act to make the arrests.

More payouts are expected to follow.

Campaigners say that despite the payouts no apology has been issued.

The council has also spent £413,000 of public money on legal costs seeking to prosecute or seek injunctions against peaceful street tree campaigners.

Phil Turner


Blocked by Facebook

I am one of the admins of the Disabled People Against Cuts (Dpac) Sheffield Facebook page. Dpac is an anti-cuts and disability rights campaign movement, run by and for disabled people.

On Friday 8 February we received a report from one of our members that she was unable to post a link from our website. It seemed merely a glitch.

But this wasn’t an isolated incident.

By Saturday morning we had over 30 reports and screen grabs from members and allies, all of whom could not share articles or events from Dpac on Facebook. had been blocked by Facebook.

Dpac members contacted Facebook and received the same standard automated reply.

On Tuesday the ban was lifted and we were able to post again. We want to thank all of those who took time to show solidarity with us and who sent reports to Facebook for us.

But the important message is that this could happen to the page of any campaign group, union or political party.

If Facebook can digitally erase the online presence of disability rights activists without any explanation, they can do it to you and your campaign too.

All campaign groups, trade unions and left wing parties need to heed this warning.

It’s really important to have a back-up plan, a list of activist contacts and a way forward should you face a media blackout.

Jennifer Jones

Dpac Sheffield

Teachers should back student climate strike

My National Education Union meeting passed a motion supporting last week’s strike and protest by school students against climate change.

In Lancaster, school students collected over 1,500 names on a petition to force the council to declare a climate emergency.

Young people are rightly angry at the prospect of a climate catastrophe.

As teachers we support the right of students to participate in such action.

The school curriculum must be changed to ensure that climate change is taught.

We should organise assemblies, themed learning weeks and other activities to encourage discussion and debate.

It is great that young people are taking the lead, but we cannot leave it just to them.

We need huge levels of action from all of us who care—we need system change not climate change.

Hilary Chuter


Gavin Williamson needs to ‘go away’

Tory Defence secretary Gavin Williamson was at it again when he said that Brexit would be the start of Britain’s military revival.

Williamson probably fantasises about a British Empire 2.0.

His appointment is symptomatic of a third rate imperial power with third rate armed forces.

And Labour’s response? Instead of welcoming the £9 billion cut in defence spending since 2010, it decried it.

John Curtis


  • Gavin Williamson, who told the Russians to “go away and shut up” during last year’s Skripal poisoning affair, plans to squander

£7 million on drones “capable of confusing” enemies. Well if anyone is “capable of confusing” people it’s Williamson.

He insists his plans will “strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality and increase our mass”.

Williamson is not putting forward a defence policy as much as reading from one of the Charles Atlas bodybuilding adverts that promised to transform puny runts into mountains of rippling muscle overnight.

He should follow his own advice and “go away and shut up”.

Sasha Simic

North London

Tory thieves make me sick

I really struggle to listen and read anything about this for any great length of time before being sick to the stomach (Philip Hammond has to spend more to ‘end austerity’, 13 February).

They’re stealing our money. Why can’t something be done about this level of corruption, fraud and criminal greed?

Frank Mulholland

On Facebook

Austerity has hit services

It’s hard to see how austerity is ending when councils are going to raise council tax bills.

And we are getting less for our money because they are cutting services such as libraries and recycling.

Tory cuts to council funding are behind this, but Labour councils shouldn’t just accept it.

Amanda Walsh


Corbyn will let us down

Socialist Worker, when will you wake up? Jeremy Corbyn is not Leon Trotsky (Labour’s Brexit plan is a mistaken concession to bosses’ agenda, 13 February).

Corbyn is like every Labour leader before him. He believes in parliamentary democracy, which doesn’t exist.

Alan Wilson

On Facebook

No love lost for Churchill

John McDonnell called Winston Churchill a “villain” and some people got upset.

But where’s the controversy in that?

Kathy Laycock


  • A horrible man and evidence to back it up. Truth hurts.

Debra Renicks

On Facebook

  • Fully agree—a villain is exactly what he is.

Martin Towle

On Facebook

  • I think villain is quite a moderate description of the old aristocratic tosser.

Paul Vallard

On Facebook

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.