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Letters—Drug related deaths show the brutality of neoliberalism

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Issue 2766
Angela Constances drug consumption room plans are welcome but we desperately need more.
Angela Constance’s drug consumption room plans are welcome but we desperately need more. (Pic: Scottish Government/Flickr)

Scotland’s drug deaths are an indicator of a sick society. For seven consecutive years, Scotland has had the highest rate in Europe.

A common response is to dehumanise these people and treat them as “junkies” who have died through no fault but their own. After all, isn’t drug use a choice?

But hidden behind these figures lies a pattern of social neglect. Areas with high deprivation are far more likely to see drug related deaths.

Decades of harsh austerity measures have pushed many to seek an escape. As Mark Brown pointed out in his recent article, the poverty driving people towards drug use can be traced back to Thatcher.

Scotland’s drugs minister recently said that the Scottish government will defy Westminster and move ahead with drug consumption rooms (DCR).

Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy—the truth about the war on drugs
Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy—the truth about the war on drugs
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Previous DCR proposals were blocked in 2018 by the Home Office.

DCR’s should be welcomed if they go ahead—they will prevent deaths. Decriminalisation and legalisation will also help significantly but they don’t address the root causes.

The Westminster government has played a role in exacerbating the drugs crisis, but the Scottish National Party (SNP) has plenty to answer for too. It promotes a neoliberal agenda that prioritises profit.

Upholding this system continues to create the conditions that cause drug addiction. The SNP has been in government for 14 years and Scotland’s deaths remain high.

Capitalism’s relentless drive for profit and the damage it does to the lives of working class people in the process is horrific. Drug deaths are a clear sign of that.

Drugs appear to offer a way to escape it all.

Methods of prevention and education can mitigate the worst outcomes of usage. But the real solution can be found outside of capitalism.

We need to fight for a society that puts people before profit. A society which treats drug users as products of a rotten system rather than victims of their own volition.

Brian Claffey, North London

Prevent legitimises far right violence

Supporters of the discredited Islamophobic Prevent strategy want to shore up the programme ahead of an “independent” review.

Richard Walton, former counter-terrorism chief at Scotland Yard’s SO15 unit, repeats claims that Prevent has stopped attacks and that “extremists don’t like it because it threatens their existence”.

Prevent is opposed by education unions, the National Union of Students, civil rights and anti-racist organisations, and Muslim community groups.

Former senior police officer Dal Babu labelled Prevent as a “toxic brand”.

Tens of thousands of young people and children have been referred under Prevent since 2015. Some 95 percent of these cases are not even taken up by referral panels.

Scores of children faced discipline by their schools in May for supporting the Palestinian cause and were referred under Prevent criteria.

Walton dismisses the threat from the far right, even though Prevent propagandists now claim far-right extremism makes up most referrals.

The truth is that Islamophobic narratives of Muslims as a suspect, alien community, that underpin programmes such as Prevent have been a key driver in legitimising far right violence.

Prevent must be opposed by all.

Rob Ferguson, East London

Covid restrictions have a class impact

Last week’s Socialist Worker editorialEasing travel rules puts profit before health—makes correct points but doesn’t go far enough (Socialist Worker, 4 August).

There is no mention of the massive injustice of people having to pay £1,750 to enter from “red list” countries regardless of their circumstances or ability to pay.

Conditions in quarantine hotels have been described as little better than prison.

And there are reports of women being sexually harassed by security guards. We can’t expect the repressive state apparatus to deviate from their normal abusive pattern just because they are claiming to protect “us” from “them”.

Simply calling for retaining restrictions with no mention of conditions or the financial impact on those affected does not fully address the issue.

Thousands are stuck abroad unable to return because of the cost.

Craig Brandist, Sheffield

­Barbie’s latest insult

Picture this—you’re an award-winning scientist, credited for the development of many vaccines that have saved countless lives.

You’ve created vaccines against influenza and most notably, Covid-19.

After these remarkable achievements in the scientific field, you are awarded the highest possible prize. Joining the likes of Beyonce, Amelia Earhart and Marilyn Monroe you now have your very own… Barbie.

If this seems like a bit of a slap in the face, that’s because it is.

Sarah Gilbert, the creator of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, has many achievements, but Barbie has boiled this down to physical attributes alone.

This is the ultimate commodification to make money for a company that profits from the oppression of women.

To make it worse Gilbert has endorsed the Barbie doll making it clear that even top-level scientists are not immune from internalising their oppression.

Historically the company has pushed unrealistic body expectations and have excluded black and disabled representation.

Dolls such as Barbie also reinforce gender roles and expectations.

Barbie bosses don’t care about empowering women or promoting women’s achievements, they care about making money.

Hope Ryan, Birmingham

Unity will break Tories

Striking and getting the support of other trade unions and the general public is the answer to the insult and callousness of the government towards all NHS workers.

Unity is the only way to stop the Tories in their tracks. The NHS belongs to us, workers deserve more than 3 percent.

June Jones, On Facebook

Tories pursue more powers

Police powers are increased to subjugate and marginalise workers.

Stop and search powers will be used mainly in diverse neighbourhoods, the police and crime bill is repressive and the Immigration Bill will provoke populism.

This is because the government and police are pursuing a course to authoritarianism.

I can see clearly that the state and Tories are constructing a society built on the prejudice of migrants.

We must fight, organise, agitate and demonstrate.

Lambski Garbett, On Facebook

Treatment needed

Thatcher was responsible for many drug deaths but the differential in drug related deaths—mostly through overdose—started in 2008. This is due to the lack of harm reduction based treatment options for heroin users.

This is all connected with the politics of austerity and the politics of blaming the poor. Sadly the results have been all too predictable since then.

Pete Andrew, On Facebook

UCU need militancy

A ten-day strike at Liverpool university is not enough, especially when it’s announced in advance. It should be long enough to spread, get public attention and show the power workers have.

You have to make them sweat!

Debbie Fenning-Edmonson, On Twitter

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