This week in Scotland marked a victory for grassroots campaigners who have fought a long battle for free and fair access to menstrual items.
Scotland had become the first country in the world to provide universal period products.
The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act that was introduced by Scottish Labour was initially blocked by the Scottish National Party.
Its reasons for this were cited as expense, practicality, and absurd concerns about raids from south of the border.
Here it was envisioned that items would be taken and sold at “discount” rates. Activists rightly criticised this as “insulting”.
It played into the narrative that “period products are a luxury and not a necessity”.
With inequality worsening due to 15 years of austerity, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic, period poverty is a reality for many in Britain.
Research by Plan International UK found that nearly one in three girls reported difficulty in accessing menstrual products.
Bloody Good Period is a charity that distributes sanitary items to women’s refuges, homeless shelters, asylum seekers and low-income workers.
It has seen demand rise fivefold since the start of the lockdown.
The passing of this Act is a real win, but it was won through struggle.
To eradicate period poverty in all its forms we have to keep fighting.
Making period products free is a welcome change, hopefully bringing an end to period poverty in Scotland. It sets an example to other countries and takes a small step towards closing the gender equality gap.
Next, the Scottish government should look at the abysmal sexual assault convictions rates, the burden on single mothers, and pervasive gender-based violence throughout society .
There is still a long way to go before we achieve true equality.
Myth of academy freedom
The government’s education policy in relation to education during the pandemic has undoubtedly cost lives by accelerating the spread of the virus.
The breathtakingly callous nature of the Tories’ attitude to working class children was demonstrated when they announced the removal of free school meals in the holidays.
Clearly they do not care for working class children’s wellbeing. But they do care about the bosses’ profits.
This fixation with profit has led to the government insisting that schools must remain open at all costs.
At the same time they pressure parents to send children into school.
They remove all but the most meagre support for those who need to stay at home.
This policy is creating chaos in schools as well as uncertainty and anxiety to parents.
So much so that one academy chain—the Focus Trust—decided to exercise its supposed “freedom” to operate outside the control of the local education authority.
The trust put forward a seemingly sensible plan to close 15 primary schools in West Yorkshire and the North West a week early for Christmas.
The government response? “Oh no you don’t...... all schools must remain open.”
So much for academy freedom.
Trump’s fascist tactics
It is right to say that socialists should not describe the far right politics of Donald Trump as fascist (Socialist Worker, 18 November).
But he and some of his prominent supporters are resorting to classic fascist tactics.
Their rhetoric—especially around the “stolen” election—deliberately encourages fascist and far right groups.
Many of them are armed. Trump said that the Democrats were the party of “socialism and big business” and the Republicans the party of “workers”.
This echoes Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric of both capitalism and socialism being Jewish conspiracies, and the Nazis being the party of the “German worker”.
Trump’s henchmen Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich have echoed the antisemitic rhetoric of far right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
They’re implicating Jewish businessman George Soros in the “stealing” of the US election for Biden.
Punish the rich and the corporations, not workers
The economic background to Rishi Sunak’s pay freeze is the decline of the British economy by 11 percent this year.
It is the worst annual decline in 300 years and the explosion of government debt is more than six times original projections.
But there is money to pay the public sector and to stimulate the economy to benefit the private sector.
Due to a lack of investment there remain massive cash piles in the corporate sector.
We know they are willing to lend to governments at virtually zero interest rates.
Taxes need to be increased on the rich, and the pay of workers needs to be boosted.
Tax loopholes could very easily be closed, bringing in billions.
There can be redirection of resources from what isn’t needed, like armaments, to what is needed.
The government has no strategy for ensuring economic recovery but reducing debt and cutting pay is the worst way to bring it about.
Tories are robbing us
I’m sick of the Tories letting tax dodgers get away with hundreds of billions every year, as we pay our taxes. Those thieves should pay their taxes and if they don’t, we should take away their proceeds of crime and jail them—simple.
I don’t trust any of the parties in parliament with their self-inflicted pay rise. They’re awarding billions to fake firms set up by their rich mates. And they’re taking advantage of our Covid-19 misery.
They tell us to abide by the rules that they bend to suit themselves.
I’m angry and so should you be, they are robbing us blind and stab us in the back while telling us to trust them.
Never trust a Tory on anything!
For the few
So Labour is now a pro capitalist, Zionist party?
Jonila Marlee Packett, On Facebook
As it has been for very many years, decades even.
Sarah Cox, On Facebook
Solidarity with those threatened with deportation.
The Tories’ hostile environment is disgusting. There’s no such thing as an “illegal” person.