Socialist Worker

LETTERS - ‘Hostile environment’ must end at our local hospital

Issue No. 2658

Campaigners protesting against racist NHS checks in London last year

Campaigners protesting against racist NHS checks in London last year (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Our Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) group in Wandsworth, south London, protested over the “hostile environment” at a meeting of St George’s Hospital Trust board last week.

It was part of our campaign against the board’s policy of checking patient’s passports, denying migrants free care, charging upfront for treatment and hiring debt collectors to chase payments.

This denial of free care to migrants from outside the European Union is a threat to public health.

And it forms part of a wider policy of building a hostile environment for migrants, introduced by soon to be former prime minister Theresa May.

We had two local Labour councillors, the Unite union’s regional officer for the NHS and several Wandsworth SUTR members on the protest.

June from the SUTR group argued, “The law requires doctors to make life and death decisions based on immigration status and ability to pay rather than patients’ needs.

“The law costs more to implement than the relatively small amount it saves.

“It was brought in to attack immigrants, not to save money.”

The board refused to give time to a representative from those who had come to lobby against the policy.

The SUTR group presented a “Free health care for all” petition, with 938 signatures collected in the streets of Wandsworth.

We will next raise the issue with Wandsworth council’s health overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday 18 June.

And we will continue to campaign against this “hostile environment” alongside the Patients Not Passports health workers’ group at St George’s hospital.

We will not stop until this racist law is repealed.

Francine Koubel, South London

Don’t let bigotry divide us

Shakeel Afsar and Amir Ahmed invited Islamophobe Katie Hopkins to dinner last week. The two Muslim men have been organising protests against LGBT+ education at Anderton Park School in Birmingham.

Oppressed groups are not exempt from the pull of the far right. In fact, since a sense of powerlessness is inherent within them, it can make it more attractive.

That’s why we formed LGBT+ Against Islamophobia in 2014. The far right had aligned with some LGBT+ racists—yes, we called them what they were—to attack Muslims.

Of course we got abuse for it and we caused an argument. But it was a necessary argument in the labour movement—and it made it stronger.

I hope people do the same about homophobia.

It doesn’t mean people have to change their faith or their beliefs. However, I can categorically say most of the information circulating about LGBT+ people or relationships education has been a pack of lies.

Not taking a firm stand against homophobia is a mistake—as is not opposing those that seek to divide us.

It’s time to bring our communities together to make a stand against those who would ultimately take all our rights away.

In doing so, we might have to argue with our friends, educate each other, correct any necessary mistakes and move forward together.

Geoff Dexter, Birmingham

Unity to stop the rise of right wing ideas

With the rise of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, we are facing a right wing mood among sections of working class people.

The popularity of racist Tory MP Enoch Powell in 1968 was similar.

In the time of Powellism, the best response was to steadfastly oppose racism while uniting with anyone and everyone on day to day issues.

That’s true in the workplaces, where socialists could have face to face contact with people influenced by right wing ideas.

We need to use the same method now.

Whether we voted Leave or Remain, we should oppose the racism of Farage and expose his reactionary programme of tax cuts for the rich and privatisation.

It would be a tragic mistake and divisive for the Labour Party to advocate a second referendum.

If Boris Johnson comes to office and pushes through a no-deal Brexit, we should mobilise opposition to the right on housing estates, in workplaces and in elections. We need to do that whether we are inside or outside the EU.

Paul Burnham, North London

Support our fight over public transport for all

Everyone accepts there is a crisis in our public transport system.

Private rail and bus companies rake in profits while fares rise.

Communities are left isolated as bus services are slashed.

And pollution and congestion on our roads get worse.

That’s why we organised a Yorkshire and the Humber regional transport conference in Barnsley last month.

Around 100 people discussed how to fight for an alternative. The conference agreed to launch a national petition calling for all public transport to be renationalised

And we unanimously agreed to create a regional manifesto that can be used to organise campaigns.

Anyone who wants information about the manifesto or wants to be involved contact me on [email protected]

Fran Postlethwaite, Barnsley

A climate of hypocrisy

Tory leadership candidate Rory Stewart has vowed to double spending on fighting climate change.

The same Rory Stewart has largely voted in parliament against measures to prevent climate change. That’s the sort of hypocrisy which shows Stewart is fit to lead the Tories.

Sasha Simic, East London

A rat race on a sinking ship

I’ve heard of rats leaving a sinking ship.

But with so many announcing their intention to stand for Tory leader, it must be the first time in history that rats have decided to join a sinking ship.

John Curtis, Essex

Famine on the Scottish isles

i read your column on Tom Devine’s book on the Scottish clearances (Socialist Worker, 5 June).

Islands such as Mull and Iona also experienced a famine in the 19th century leading to more mass evictions.

James Charles, On Twitter

What could Corbyn do?

I Don’t think that Jeremy Corbyn wants to come out in favour of a second referendum over Brexit.

But where else are we going? A new leader of the Labour Party but with the same problems?

Thomas Gibbons, On Facebook

Just look at who supports a second referendum. It’s what all the bosses and bankers want.

Andres Viveros, On Facebook

Celebrate Glasgow win

Well done all the strikers at Glasgow Council who won their battle for equal pay (Socialist Worker 5 June).

Such moments of women workers’ victory are indeed rare

Rajeev Mishra, On Facebook

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