Socialist Worker

LETTERS—shielding ‘guidance’ puts vulnerable people at risk

Issue No. 2727

Vulnerable people who are shileding could be forced into work


The Tories’ new guidance on shielding means there’s pressure on people to return to work.

The guidance issued last week said that despite new restrictions—and a second wave of infections—vulnerable are not encouraged to “shield”—to stay at home.

It basically means that, in their eyes, we don’t exist anymore. We’ll just be asked to go to work.

Ten years ago I got swine flu, which gave me pneumonia. I spent three days in isolation in hospital on oxygen.

When the coronavirus struck I was one of millions of people who were sent home. I’ve been capably doing my job from home ever since. But over the last few week the government has effectively abolished those protections.

They’re saying that even those who are extremely vulnerable can travel to—and work—in a workplace.

This is at a time when the virus is spreading out of control.

I’m facing the beginning of pressure to return to the office as we are told it is Covid safe.

This is despite outbreaks in factories and workplaces across the country and the spread of the virus to our children as well.

If the government cared about anything other than profit they would make a test and trace system that worked. They would keep people at home who are vulnerable. And they would give a decent standard of living for those who are told to self-isolate because they’ve been in contact with the disease.

There must be so many people who’ve had to continue shielding without any support.

I have a shielding friend who hasn’t left the house. She’s terrified but she’s on her own. The idea of being told to return to work fills her full of dread.

Nobody really knows who’s still shielding or not.

If you didn’t get a shielding letter in March but you consider yourself vulnerable you could be existing with no support at all.

Pete, address provided


A bad film to watch

I was somewhat disturbed to read Socialist Worker recommending Mark Herman’s film of John Boyne’s controversial novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (Socialist Worker, 7 October).

As a Holocaust novel, Boyne’s story is deeply flawed.

Worryingly, it has supplanted The Diary of Anne Frank as the main text in Holocaust education in British schools.

In Boyne’s story Bruno, the young son of a Nazi death camp commandant, befriends Shmuel, a Jewish child, through the perimeter fence of the camp.

Ultimately, through mishap, the two boys die together in a gas chamber.

Alarmingly, a study in Scotland discovered the story leads children to sympathise, first and foremost, with Bruno’s parents.

These are a Nazi commandant and his wife, rather than the primary victims of the Holocaust, the Jews.

The reason children give is that Bruno was not “supposed” to die.

Boyne defends his novel, saying that it is “a fable”.

But setting such a genre in Auschwitz-Birkenau, the iconic symbol of the Holocaust, diminishes the reality of this terrible place.

To prevent the horrors of fascism in the future, we must first understand it.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas does not contribute positively to that understanding.

Rather, it trivialises the Nazi Holocaust.

Henry Maitles, Glasgow


All working class school students are let down

Professor Matthew Goodwin told parliament that privilege theory contributes to poor performance by white boys.

He said this affects their self-esteem and makes them feel that they have to apologise for their race.

The argument conveniently ignores the lack of funding to local state schools.

But it’s also divisive. As Dr Charlotte Lydia Riley said, “’White working class’ is not a useful category of analysis. It’s the ‘working class’ bit that leads to inequality, not the whiteness.”

The attack on privilege theory in the name of defending white working class boys completely misses the experience of black students and their experience of racism.

The answer is not to attack privilege theory but to deal with the fundamental issues that fail working class students from all backgrounds.

Naima Omar, East London


Labour council forced into tree apology

Sheffield Labour council has been forced to apologise for acting in secrecy during tree fellings which sparked widespread protests.

Secret plans to chop down half of the city’s 35,000 street trees under a £2.2 billion PFI deal with multinational Amey were revealed two years ago. But shamefully councillors and council officials still denied it and defended their stance.

Now a report by the Local Government Ombudsman into the council’s actions has ruled that the authority misled the public, and ordered an apology.

The investigation has vindicated the campaign.

Work being carried out for Amey by private contractor Acorn was stopped in 2018 by protests from those of us living on Meersbrook Park Road. Campaigners held firm in the face of bullying and intimidation.

Security videoed everybody. But despite violent “forceful removal” of protesters, they failed.

The council falsely insisted trees to be felled were “dangerous, dead, diseased, dying, damaging or discriminatory.”

Now we know the real reason was another d-word—deception.

Phil Turner, Sheffield


We can call Trump fascist

Alex Callinicos says Trump is not a fascist. We hear this quite a lot—it’s as if we have a clear definition of fascism. We don’t.

Just as Keir Starmer and I can say we are socialists we can also describe, Trump, Bolsonaro, Duterte, Farage, and even Johnson as fascists.

They all have a contempt for democracy, hate the working class, are corrupt in nature, and are racist. They all encourage the far right.

They would all have no problem rounding us all up and putting us against the wall.

Philip Foxe, on Facebook


Every Tory a bad news story

Notice anything about this INVENTORY?

Covid—DESULTORY

BoJo—DILATORY

Gove—PERFUNCTORY

Cummings—LAVATORY

Not very poetic eh?

Nigel Coward, west London


Fund better transport

High speed rail line HS2 is unnecessary and a total waste of money.

Rather than shave a few minutes off a journey, why not invest this money into improving the public transport we already have?

Sandra Summers, on Twitter


Stop students from suffering

Why are our children being made to suffer at schools and universities?

When will parents stand together as one and say enough is enough—close the schools?

Susan Mitton, on Twitter


Keir Starmer still useless

Keir Starmer finally called for a lockdown last week.

But he still wants workplaces to stay open.

The Tories aren’t the only ones who put profit before people.

Cathy Lane, Carlisle


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