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LETTERS—Bankrupting universities is part of a privatisation plan

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Issue 2630
Peter Mandelson
Peter Mandelson (Pic: World Economic Forum)

The only surprise about the news that three universities are on the verge of bankruptcy is that it has taken so long.

The Browne Review of Higher Education was set up by Peter Mandelson when New Labour was in office. Browne was the former boss of BP and was for a while involved with Cuadrilla.

His review was informed by the assumption that competition would bankrupt some universities that could then be sold off to US for profit universities.

This would then bring “real” competition into the sector, driving down standards for the great majority of students and the pay and conditions of all staff. The Browne report was an off-the-shelf McKinsey management document and that means privatisation.

What is interesting is that the Tory-Lib Dem coalition did not have the nerve to force universities into bankruptcy.

Instead we have had to wait for the original intentions of the review to be finally realised. 

If these three universities are allowed to go bankrupt then we will without doubt see them sold off to US private universities.

This will be just the beginning. Students and staff at every university have to get ready to fight to stop this attack succeeding.

John Newsinger


Stand against antisemitism

Leading councillors left their Labour group meeting in Manchester last week—in order to attend a vigil for those killed in Pittsburgh.

Ten Labour councillors, including representatives from the wards with the largest Muslim populations, joined councillors from Salford where the largest Jewish community lives. 

Two Jewish restaurants in Manchester have been torched and the Jewish cemetery desecrated.

Stand Up To Racism Manchester, which called the vigil, made a necessary and important stand against antisemitism.

Mark Krantz


Hail strike at Google

The global Google walkout shows the future of workers’ organisation. It started in Tokyo and Singapore and spread through the world.

Traditional trade unions were totally irrelevant to this great, historic action.

Google workers showed that you do not need formal organisation to take action. 

But it is incomparably easier to organise it where official, admittedly bureaucratic, union apparatus exists. 

For some time the organisation of capital through multinationals has left workers’ organisation lagging miles behind.

Companies are bigger than unions.

Google workers are showing the way. We need to follow their example.

John Shemeld


Is austerity really over?

So great to hear that austerity is finally over!

Now can we look forward to getting our hospitals back.

Presumably we’ll be getting our affordable, good quality council houses back so we can look forward to fewer people being left to sleep on the street.

Maybe we can have a minimum wage which is enough to feed a family and pay the rent. Maybe we won’t need food banks.

Or are we being lied to again? Place your bets. 

Heather Dore


Workers deserve a lot more than £10 an hour

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour wants to win the demand of a minimum wage of £10 an hour by 2020.

This is good and the unions should organise strikes to achieve that demand. But in reality this is just the bare minimum.

Workers have suffered the longest drop in living standards since the Victorian era. Average real earnings will be £1,733 lower in 2021 than they should have been if wages had recovered after the 2008 banking crash. Household debt stands at £1.6 trillion pounds.

And if the minimum wage had kept up with productivity in the US they would be worth over £15.60 an hour.

We should fight for £15 an hour and push on from there. And we mustn’t forget that wages represent the fight over how much surplus the bosses steal from us.

All the profits of the system should be ours.

Tim Knight-Hughes


We shouldn’t say sorry for others’ abuse

Recently while waiting for a train in London I was asked by a stranger if I was Muslim.

I said, “Yes”. He asked if I had read the day’s Metro newspaper. I said, “No”.

He then handed me the Metro, asked me to read page 7, and asked, “Why does this keep happening?”

The article was about Asian grooming gangs.

I was the only visibly Muslim and Asian man on the platform.

I wasn’t traumatised. When I got on the train I thought about what just transpired.

A stranger associates grooming gangs with Muslims and Asians. The narrative put forward by Quilliam is quickly taking root in society. So now we’re terrorists and groomers? What next?

The impact of racialising issues such as grooming gangs is another reason for me to disengage with the mainstream media.

And another reason, on a long list, to question the intentions of Quilliam.

We do not need to explain or apologise for the actions of others, whether they share our religion, gender, ethnicity or any other characteristic.


By email

Reading on revolutions?

I find this idea about workers and soldiers striking as one of the main reasons why the war ended very interesting (Socialist Worker, 7 November).

I was wondering if you could suggest some literature on this.

I have seen the same discussion over strikes in Nazi Germany on Ernest Mandel’s book.

Felipe Messeguer

On Facebook

Tories’ fears over Falklands

The Tories are scared that Argentina could take back the Malvinas, also known as the Falklands, due to Brexit.

Another plus point of leaving the European Union!

Kelly Reade


Labour won’t bring change

Please wake up!

Labour are no more our friends than the Conservatives.

Stop voting for the two-party state or nothing will ever change for any of us.


On Twitter

Nick Robinson changes tune

I giggled to see Nick Robinson say that journalists have a right to ask “tough questions of people in power”.

He was responding to Donald Trump’s attack on a CNN journalist.

When did Robinson ask tough questions of the powerful?

During the Iraq war, he said, “My job is to report what those in power were doing or thinking.

“That is all someone in my job can do.”

Annie Wise


Reformists lost revolution

But for the treachery of the reformist SPD it could have gone on to establish a socialist republic (Days of Hope—the German Revolution, 7 November).

The bloody history of the twentieth century could have been avoided.

Sasha Simic

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