Socialist Worker

Letters—does Starmer really want the unions out of Labour?

Issue No. 2771

Bakers Union president Ian Hodson (centre) says Keir Starmer doesnt want the Labour Party to be linked to trade unions

Bakers' union president Ian Hodson (centre) says Keir Starmer doesn't want the Labour Party to be linked to trade unions (Pic: Guy Smallman)


I enjoyed the interview with Bfawu union president Ian Hodson. I would really urge him and his union to take the next step and to break from the Labour Party.

Labour left wingers rightly point to the failures of Keir Starmer and the right, but they stay inside a party that hates them.

It’s been nearly ten months since Starmer said Jeremy Corbyn would not be allowed to sit as a Labour MP.

But there is no outcry, no effective action—and above all no attempt to group a new party around Corbyn.

It would be a step forward if Corbyn, other MPs, Ian Hodson and like-minded people in other unions separated from Labour to found an alternative. The whole of the left would benefit.

Don’t just leave Labour, set up something new that is based on resistance from below.

Harriet Lloyd, Wrexham

  • Is Ian Hodson right that Keir Starmer doesn’t want the trade unions in Labour?

They do provide useful funds, especially as the membership nosedives after his war on the left and Jeremy Corbyn’s removal as a Labour MP.

More importantly, they offer a bridge to working class people and support during elections.

They are the outward sign that Labour is still some sort of party for working class people.

What Starmer doesn’t want is union leaders that oppose him actively. I can’t imagine he loses much sleep over what, for example, the leaders of the Usdaw and Unison unions are doing.

They help him in the battles against the left.

Most of the trade unions that are affiliated to Labour may huff and puff but they rally round whenever an election approaches. This is what Starmer relies on.

It would be much better if they made themselves a force that genuinely worried Starmer.

Anne Grant, East London


The land of the rich

We are hearing a lot about “over use” of what is left of the natural environment by people going walking.

What seems to never be mentioned is that most non-arable land—land not used for farming—is not available to people seeking fresh air and some sense of space.

Something like 80 percent of non-arable land is held by a tiny number of people for their private use. For the rest of us, “Keep out—trespassers will be prosecuted.”

We need a wildly different system to restore nature
We need a wildly different system to restore nature
  Read More

The police and crime bill, which makes trespass a criminal offence instead of a civil offence, will enforce this even more.

So, no plebs allowed in the countryside—the rich would rather keep it for hunting and shooting.

If it wasn’t for the 1930s rebellion of mass trespasses we would not have the few national parks and the access we do have.

The rich do not need to breed and kill grouse and pheasant.

The industry causes great damage to the environment.

Prey species are killed relentlessly to preserve the birds for the shoot.

Uplands are kept free of trees which exacerbates flooding and landslip.

Birds are fed antibiotics to keep them alive until a month before the shoot—drugs which then enter the eco-system.

And vast tracts of land are fenced off to the rest of us who don’t want to kill anything but just want to have access to the natural world.

Is it time for another trespass movement?

Julia Richardson, Swansea


Is ‘feminist imperialism’ the right term to use?

Feminism, bombs and liberation
Feminism, bombs and liberation
  Read More

I don’t disagree with Judy Cox’s article on women in Afghanistan. But I think the term “imperialist feminism” is problematic.

Feminism has nothing to do with imperialism. Would we ever use the term “anti-Nazi imperialism”?

The US, Britain and Russia used anti-Nazi language to mobilize around the war economy and the army in the Second World War. Then they divided the world and reorganized the balance of powers. Was that an “anti-Nazi imperialism”?

Or what about the European Union—a “capitalist internationalism”?

We should value socialist terminology. Words such as internationalism, anti‑fascism, feminism and women’s liberation belong to our collective history of working class struggles.

Thomas Markus Kvilhaug, on Facebook


Campaigning in Brighton

Campaigning in Brighton


How we show support for health workers

We had quite a successful day of action outside the main hospital in Brighton and Hove recently.

We had over 20 people—a mixture of health workers, community activists and supporters— outside the hospital for two hours. They were leafletting and talking with health workers. 

The message “1 percent was an insult, 3 percent is not enough, 15 percent, nothing less” went down very well.

But some health workers were very dubious about whether they will be strong enough to shift the government on this. For health campaigners the task is clear—carry on with the protests and the demonstrations of support to show that health workers will not be standing alone.

Steve Guy, Brighton


No excuse for war crimes

Hearing Labour politicians say Britain’s war in Afghanistan wasn’t a “failure,” becasue of 20 years of educating women and young girls, left me in shock.

I wonder what Keir Starmer would say of railways built in India during the British Empire?

Does this wash away the horrific treatment of Indians in the same way that educating women in Afghanistan washes away British war crimes?

Sky Golding, Manchester


High cost of occupation

Boris Johnson warns of the danger of Afghanistan under the Taliban becoming a “narco state.”

But it was the Taliban that effectively suppressed poppy production. 

Under the corrupt government that the US installed, opium production increased so that Afghanistan produced 90 percent of the world’s heroin.

Opium production today is overwhelmingly in the hands of former government supporters, investing their profits in the Emirates, New York and, of course, London.

John Newsinger, Brighton


Charity used to back cuts

The Tory government promotes families and community as an antidote for economic collapse.

In reality, these are a part of supportive social networks nurtured by solidarity. These have been ripped apart by austerity.

Politicians appeal to charity and philanthropy to inflict misery on millions. Solidarity can save us, not charity.

Thomas Baker, Birmingham


Plenty room for refugees

If there is money for war, why not refugees?

England has 268,385 long-term empty homes. Why can’t they be used?

Britain has 171 billionaires. Why can’t their money be used?

Raju J Das, on Twitter


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