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Letters—Britain was not united in mourning for the queen 

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Other letters on Enough is Enough, internet censorship, encouraging figures on migration views...and more
Issue 2824
A sea of flowers outside Buckingham Place

Princess Diana’s funeral was watched by more people than the queen’s events (Picture: Maxwell Hamilton/ Flickr)

Just how much popular support was there for the shutdown of society and the near-endless rituals around the queen’s death and funeral?
Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan revealed last week that around a quarter of a million people are believed to have queued up to file past the queen’s coffin. That’s quite a lot. But it’s only the average attendance of the top ten teams in the second tier of English football every week. The top ten in the first tier bring in twice as many as the lying in state.
A quarter of a million is only the size of the Palestine solidarity demonstration last year. London Pride was four or six times the size.
When the process began, the newspapers, presumably steered by the authorities, reported, “Over a million people are expected to come to see the Queen lying in state.” Some said it would be two million. It didn’t happen.
Perhaps the warnings about long queues and the way they were organised put people off. But then the television viewing figures for the funeral weren’t stratospheric either.
Last week’s ceremonies were watched by a peak of 29 million TV viewers in Britain. That’s lower, for example, than the 32 million for princess Diana’s funeral in 1997.
The figure is also slightly below both the 29.85 million who watched the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy, and the all-time high of 32.3 million during the 1966 World Cup Final. I’m not saying there wasn’t fairly wide support for the queen, heavily influenced by the media coverage and the social pressure to get in line.
But it wasn’t everybody who thought that the world had come to a halt when the queen died. The most recent National Centre for Social Research survey found that those who believed the monarchy was “very or quite important” was down to 55 percent.
Fewer than half of people in Scotland said they supported retaining it. Only 40 percent of 18‑24 year olds, and 37 percent of people from an ethnic minority, did so. Keep it all in proportion.
Rachel Murphy
West London

Enough is Enough can be better

The Bristol Enough is Enough rally last week saw over 800 people come together. They showed their support for the wave of strikes and their solidarity with everyone fighting the Tories.

It was another sign of the strong and growing feeling for active and sustained resistance as wages and benefits shrink and working class people face government assaults.

There was also a highly political mood. One of the biggest cheers of the night came when an RMT union official attacked the Labour Party leadership’s failure to back workers in struggle.

People want confrontation with the government now, not vague hopes of something in the future which doesn’t look very different.

Enough is Enough is providing a focus that was previously missing. But there were a couple of issues that are important. The gaping hole was the failure to announce action on 1 October. Building a demonstration is much easier if activists have reasonable notice of the arrangements and the target of the protest.

And that’s linked to a complete absence of local participation. Lots of those who came thought there would be a Bristol structure set up to coordinate future events. But there was nothing of that sort.

Enough is Enough can be really valuable. But it has to open up to the thousands coming to the rallies.

Huw Williams

Let’s regulate social media

I am familiar with the argument that corporate or state censorship of the internet and social media will ultimately benefit only the people at the top.

But I think socialists must support some action after the tragic death of 14-year-old Molly Russell.

Her father told an inquest into her suicide last week that social media companies’ algorithms trapped his daughter in the “bleakest of worlds”.

She was pushed to view “hideous, graphic, harmful” content on social media sites such as Instagram and Pinterest related to depression, suicide and self harm. Molly had continued to receive emails from Pinterest after her death, promoted distressing content, her father said.

So I believe there has to be regulation of the corporations that benefit from the suffering of vulnerable people. Of course they reflect a deeper set of oppressions faced by young people, especially young women.

But that can’t be a reason for inaction.

Karina Geddes

Campaign with confidence on migration

There was good news in the British Social Attitudes Survey last week. Its findings run directly against the Tories’ myth that “woke lefties” are isolated and unrepresentative.

This was particularly clear around immigration.

 The proportion of people stating that immigration was “bad for the economy” fell from 42 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in 2021. Those saying it was good rose from 21 percent to 50 percent. There were similar shifts in views on whether immigrants enriched or undermined Britain’s cultural life.

There was growing public support for the proposition that equal rights “had not gone far enough” for black and Asian people. Last year this was 45 percent, up from 25 percent in 2000.

In contrast, the proportion who felt race equality had gone too far fell from 35 percent in 2000 to 19 percent in 2021. About a third felt things were “about right”.

Far from being on the defensive, anti-racists should campaign with confidence knowing that large sections of people agree with them.

David Truran
East London

Why Truss is not at Cop27

As the climate crisis grows worse daily, Liz Truss seems unlikely to go to the Cop27 conference in Egypt.

I don’t think that’s a principled stand against Egypt’s repression.

I think it’s because she just doesn’t care about the environment.

These conferences rarely produce many positive results. But Truss should still be there to hear campaigners’ demands and to sign up for action on a global scale.

Claire Quinn

Indy demos on 1 October

The strikes and demonstrations on 1 October can be very powerful. But please don’t forget that there will be major independence mobilisations in both Scotland and Wales on that day.

In the long term these are the most radical challenges to Westminster rule, whether from Liz Truss or Keir Starmer.

Aled Eurig
On Facebook

Will you get behind PR?

The issue of voting reform won’t go away and Socialist Worker ought to make its support for change much clearer.

More and more Labour Party members want to see a more proportional system.

For some this is because they see how it could free up the possibility of a genuinely left wing alternative to Keir Starmer. Get behind their demands.

Jack Logan

Vote on all union officials

With the return of more strikes, it’s also time to talk about making union leaders more accountable.

I think we’d be much better off if all officials were elected and paid similar to the people they say they represent.

I hope this will come up at lots of union meetings now.

Tom Donoghue
On  Facebook

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