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Letters—Andy Burnham is leading a fight, and we should support him

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Issue 2728
Andy Burnham at the Financial Times summer party in 2015
Andy Burnham at the Financial Times summer party in 2015 (Pic: Financial Times/Creative commons)

Andy Burnham was the architect of Labour’s PFI policy under Gordon Brown that pushed privatisation in the NHS.

He is a career politician who wanted to be the leader of the Labour Party and may well be posturing.

But the starting point in the article on Burnham last week is misdirected.

Burnham says that he wants to protect the livelihoods of some of the worst paid workers in Manchester. Socialist Worker and People Before Profit share this position.

People we work with and know in Wigan and Salford believe strongly that Andy Burnham is standing up for them.

When they look around they don’t see at the moment the unions or anybody else taking on this role.

We believe that Socialist Worker should have started by backing Burnham’s position more forcefully and then warning us about the role Labour and its politicians play.

As a Wigan MP, Burnham played an important role in the Unite Against Fascism campaign to kick Nick Griffin out of the European Parliament.

But we didn’t start our campaign by pointing out his treachery. Wigan’s current MP Lisa Nandy is even more opportunistic than Burnham. She actively conspired against Jeremy Corbyn.

But she has supported every strike in Wigan since she was elected. We work with Nandy in relation to building support for the strikes. That’s our starting point

Socialist Worker is right that we should have no illusions in the Labour Party politicians such as Burnham.

But the position in Socialist Worker makes it more difficult to build our wider meetings and activities.

Dave Lowe, Malcolm Jones, Greater Manchester

Liverpool hit hardest

Liverpool City region was thrust into the ­spotlight after becoming the first region to be put under tier three Covid-19 restrictions.

The rapidly rising coronavirus cases were predictable and preventable. Liverpool has been hit the hardest by neoliberal Tory cuts. Since 2010 Liverpool City Council’s budget has been cut by £444 million. That’s 64 percent of the council budget overall.

Even before the pandemic these draconian measures have had a catastrophic impact on our health.

Infant mortality is significantly higher than the national rate. Over a quarter of families are living on low income.

Liverpool is ranked second lowest for male life expectancy in the country. Respiratory disease mortality is the highest in the country.

The Royal Liverpool hospital is literally crumbling. The replacement lies unfinished following the collapse of the government-appointed contractor Carillion.

The mismanagement of the Covid-19 response by the Tories is simply a continuation of the last decade of putting profit before need. This story is replicated throughout Britain.

As writer Robert Tressell—buried in Liverpool—said, “Every man who is not helping to bring about a better future is helping to perpetuate the present misery and is, therefore the enemy of his own children.”

John Carr, Liverpool


Spare a thought for struggling Johnson

Boris Johnson’s ­government dug its heels in against giving children free school meals over the holidays.

That’s odd, because if you listen to the Tories, Boris Johnson claims to know all about struggling to feed his children.

Johnson has apparently been complaining that he can’t live on his prime minister’s salary of £150,402 a year.

Tories—anonymously—said this is because he’s got to pay to support his children.

One MP said Johnson was concerned about raising his children and sending his youngest son, Wilfred, to Eton, which costs £42,500 a year.

“Boris has at least six children, some young enough to need financial help,” the MP reportedly said.

My heart bleeds. Still, £150,000 a year must seem like a big pay cut to Johnson. After all, he was used to £23,000 a month for his newspaper column in the Telegraph. I don’t even earn that in a year.

And he’s set for a lucrative income once he’s eventually gone.

Theresa May has already been paid more than £1 million for speeches after her resignation last year.

Hannah Daly, Penrith

Reasons to support a better welfare system

Here are some bullet points to make the case for a more generous welfare system.

Number one—there are not enough jobs for everyone, we will never achieve 100 percent employment.

Number two—if you give unemployed people more money, they will spend it. This creates jobs, meaning less claimants. It subsidises the economy.

Number three—poverty is the number one cause of crime, saving money.

Economic pressures force people to work. Welfare is not enough, it’s a very poor quality of life.

Certain types of job generate wealth, useful products or services which improve quality of life. There is quite a lot of work with a value of zero.

With modern technology, life should be easy. We need progressive reform, paid for by a modest increase in tax for those who can afford it.

Adam Rogerson, Bristol

The state drives up hate

I liked your response to the French state’s deepening of Islamophobia (Socialist Worker, 21 October).

Having lived in France, I realised how many people there hate Muslims.

Some French Muslims have been driven towards fundamentalism by arrogance and stupidity.

Ross Hill, on Facebook

Fascism has a definition

Philip Foxe wrote last week to argue that we can call Boris Johnson a fascist.

He said that as we have no definition of fascism we can call him one.

But fascism is a mass movement that aims to smash working class organisation and democratic rights.

Understanding the difference isn’t just about name-calling. It shapes how we organise to stop them.

Amber Nolan, Carlisle

How can we fight Tories?

You say the Tories are weak and we can stop them. But how?

Jim Woodcock, on Facebook

How about with pitchforks and torches?

Aleksander Bucholski, on Facebook

Labour will let Tories survive

Alex Callinicos asked if Boris Johnson could survive Covid-19 and Brexit (Socialist Worker, 21 October).

With the opposition he’s got, he can survive without a doubt.

UrbanManc, on Twitter

Victory to car workers

Well done to Rolls-Royce workers at Barnoldswick for voting to strike.

Workers in Britain are used and abused. Respect and admiration for those who make a stand.

Diane Thorpe, on Facebook

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