We published an article on 7 January which Population Matters believes mischaracterises its position on a number of issues, and we have agreed to publish the following letter-
The article “Don’t buy Chris Packham’s myth of overpopulation” (Socialist Worker, 07/01/2020) seriously misrepresents Population Matters’ position and makes allegations that are wholly unfounded and grossly offensive.
The article claims that Population Matters “singles out Africa” and “shift[s] the blame on[to] poor people” for the environmental consequences of population growth. Untrue.
We consistently state that global environmental problems are primarily caused by rich nations, and explicitly highlight the injustice of blaming poorer countries:
“Vast disparities exist in consumption and impact between the rich world and the Global South, and within countries themselves.
“A more just global system, in which resources are distributed more equitably, is essential. Whatever form that takes, in order to ensure that there is enough to meet everyone’s right to a decent standard of living, the richest must consume more sustainably—in other words, consume less.”
The false allegation that PM “singles out Africa” relies on the selective use of a map appearing in one of our videos presenting uncontroversial UN data on global fertility rates.
It is followed immediately in the video by a second map showing the huge, much higher per capita carbon footprints of rich nations—something the article chose to ignore.
The article also made the offensive allegation that Population Matters promotes racist ideas. Our unambiguous, stated position is that racism has no place in the population debate: “We deplore and condemn racist interpretations of population. Race has nothing to do with population or family size.”
Far from being a “right wing pressure group”, Population Matters is a registered charity, working internationally to support diversity, empower choice, promote human rights and achieve global justice—as our website clearly shows.
The article’s false, unfounded allegations are not just offensive but, in so grossly misrepresenting the population argument, are harmful to the achievement of global and environmental justice.
Robin Maynard,Director, Population Matters
Labour councils might cut, but we won’t like it
Nick Clark characterises my perspective at the Richard Burgon for Deputy event in north London as one of docile acceptance of cuts (Socialist Worker, 5 February).
It is true that I did say there could be conditions when we would have no choice but to impose cuts.
Local authorities that refuse to return a balanced budget could see Tory commissioners taking over.
Our usable reserve balance in Haringey is £20 million lower than five years ago with even greater demand on our services. Everything we do is in this context.
We must the resist cuts while improving services, workers’ pay and conditions, and increasing capacity.
Austerity must be resisted. But if we’ve used all available tools and still can’t balance the budget we will be left with no choice.
We do not embrace cuts as an opportunity.
Mike Hakata,Councillor for St Ann’s Ward, Haringey, north London
Go beyond the binary
I think sport needs to be arranged on grounds other than gender or level of disability.
Some have said that some trans women have an advantage as they have musculature from their original biology.
Why can’t sport be arranged like boxing is now—with different levels such as “heavyweight,” but within which all can compete.
There is variation within any gender group.
Someone told me that trans women are not like other women as they cannot produce children.
Well neither can I. It’s been a long fight to stop women being defined by our reproductive capacity—and I’m not going back!
The concept of “race” is a social invention.
The binary division of people into two genders would seem to be the same unnecessary construct.
J Richardson, Swansea
Your article on the Women’s Liberation Movement (Socialist Worker, 19 February) took me back to the time when I was active in the women’s movement and my union.
Many in my women’s group saw men as the “enemy”. Unfortunately, in my workplace, it was women who generally crossed the picket line.
When I argued about this in my women’s group I was attacked for bringing “class” into everything.
I continued fighting for women’s demands in my union.
Maggie Mariscotti, East London
Why it’s right to oppose the bosses’ EU
I get very tired of the argument that the Leave vote was entirely reactionary or racist (Socialist Worker, 12 February).
Yes there was a large racist element to the vote.
But surely it’s the jobs of the left to push the debate around these issues in a radical direction?
The poorest sections of the working class voted overwhelmingly to leave.
Let down by democracy, lied to by politicians on all sides, many saw it as a big “up yours” to the establishment. This is why the Socialist Workers Party was absolutely right to back a left wing leave campaign, however small it was.
Unfortunately this view was not shared by leaders of most unions and the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.
The opportunity to transform the debate was utterly squandered.
I had numerous arguments with those on the Labour left who defended the European Union on the basis that it was “good for business”.
However, under capitalism, what’s good for business is usually not good for workers. Instead of Boris Johnson saying “Fuck Business” it should have been us!
David Wainwright, Leicester
The farce of Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson’s resemblance to Margaret Thatcher puts me in mind of something Karl Marx said about Napoleon’s nephew, who managed to gain presidency in France.
Marx said it showed all great figures in history appear twice, “The first time as tragedy, the second as farce.”
Tony Pill, Blackpool
I’m proud of ‘woke’ youth
I like this article a lot (The left has a lot of problems, being ‘too woke’ isn’t one, Socialist Worker, 19 February).
I’m proud that the younger generation is unabashedly woke in a way we never were at their age.
Maybe it’s because they can’t help being fully informed about just about everything.
Cathy Smith, On Facebook
Flack was vulnerable
Celebrities are human just like the rest of us (Systematic hypocrisy and the death of Caroline Flack, SW online).
They are vulnerable in similar ways to the rest of us.
Jody Lundy,On Facebook
Where’s the good news?
Does your paper ever report good news for the worker?
Every story on the front page of your website is negative!
John Ward, by email
Privilege is not natural
Modern Toryism seems much taken with the discredited racist doctrine of eugenics.
Many Tories would prefer to believe that the privileged have achieved their positions through biology as opposed to a rigged social system.
lIt would surprise me more if there was a Tory who wasn’t a fan of eugenics!
Paul Vallard, On Facebook