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LETTERS—John Bercow joining Labour signals its rightward shift

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Issue 2761
Ex-Tory John Bercow photographed at Margaret Thatchers funeral in 2013.
Ex-Tory John Bercow photographed at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral in 2013. (Pic: Julian Mason)

The shadow Justice minister Karl Turner is “delighted” that the last speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow has defected from the Tories to join Labour. This is a view strangely echoed by John McDonnell.

There is of course no doubt that Bercow has travelled a significant political distance from his “rabid right wing days”.

He was a member of the racist Monday club in his youth which hankered for the lethal days of the British Empire.

In contrast to Boris Johnson, Bercow claims that Labour leader Keir Starmer is “decent, honourable and intelligent”.

This assessment will come as news to the Palestinians as they suffer the Israeli onslaught with hardly a word of condemnation from Starmer.

It’s also news to Muslims, as he stalls on tackling Islamophobia within the Party.

Batley and Spen by-election spells further disaster for Starmer
Batley and Spen by-election spells further disaster for Starmer
  Read More

And health workers who, according to Starmer, should settle for an insulting two percent pay rise.

On top of all this there is Starmer’s exclusion of Jeremy Corbyn from the Parliamentary Labour Party which appears to stretch into the distant future.

There’s not much sign of honour or decency there.

Bercow probably joined Labour as a way to get the peerage that Boris Johnson denied him.

But more importantly, he did so because Labour without Jeremy Corbyn, his supporters and policies is safe, middle of the road and a dependable ally of the ruling class.

For Starmer and the shadow cabinet, Bercow is a useful symbol of how far Labour has moved right.

It’s also worth recalling that Starmer and Bercow were soul mates as ardent Remainers within the neoliberal, anti-migrant EU.

Delight at his defection is a warning for all of us on the Left.

We cannot look to Starmer’s and Bercow’s Labour to help us resist what the Tories have in mind for the rest of us—whether it is climate change, more austerity, more racism and much else.

Paul Holborow

North London

Liberation, not rainbow capitalism

Join protests against transphobia this weekend
Join protests against transphobia this weekend
  Read More

We should remember that we celebrate Pride in June because on 28 June 1969, LGBT+ New Yorkers fought back against police brutality.

This was triggered by a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village, New York.

Pride’s roots link LGBT+ struggle to other fights such as working class struggle and anti-racism—those who were also under attack from the police for simply existing.

Without black, trans women such as Marsha P. Johnson, events such as Pride and LGBT+ rights would not be what they are today.

But Pride is changing. Companies and big businesses target it, all in the name of profit, not solidarity.

Rainbow capitalism” is the forceful incorporation of the LGBT+ movement into consumerism to make a profit.

This fits directly into “pinkwashing”, a tactic used by governments and organisations to distract from negative actions they have taken.

What does it mean to be non-binary?
What does it mean to be non-binary?
  Read More

Both rainbow capitalism and pinkwashing are harmful to LGBT+ people.

They commercialise our identities, our experiences and even our oppression.

This creates the false belief that the fight for our rights is “done”.

Rainbow capitalism will never achieve liberation.

Only dismantling the oppressive capitalist and colonialist system will.

Alex Bright

Black Country

GB News—is it a case to keep TV licences?

It’s clear, the main role for GB News is to be an ideological hand grenade into the British media with openly opinionated programming.

Andrew Neil, founder of GB News, has insisted his new TV station shouldn’t be compared to Fox News.

Perhaps Neil doesn’t want it to be associated with the tarnished Donald Trump brand.

Yet everything about the channel screams culture wars.

Even his rant about advertisers pulling out is laced with anti-woke rhetoric.

The serious point is that pressure on GB News could be put on other broadcasters.

If they believe they may lose viewers they will be tempted to tack right themselves.

That’s why, as much as we should criticise the BBC, it’s wrong to call for an end to the licence fee.

Right now, the alternative is far worse.


Media Worker

The royal yacht is a gross royal insult

The massive former royal yacht, HMY Britannia.
The massive former royal yacht, HMY Britannia. (Pic: Ben Salter)

At a time when NHS workers have been denied a real pay rise, a royal yacht costing up to £1 billion is on the cards.

It’s a huge middle finger to the Black Lives Matter movement who, in the last few years, have confronted the racist legacy of the royals.

The previous royal yacht, HMY Britannia was lauded as a “hospital ship” which could be used to rescue good Brits in a potential war. But it was never used for this purpose.

The yacht was a floating palace—not a hospital—used for royal honeymoons and diplomatic ocean piss-ups.

Forbes said in April a new royal yacht could “advance western interests”.

This always means ruling class interests.

The royal’s interests could not possibly be more detached from the interests of the working class.

Why do we invest so much in the monarchy anyway?

Boris Johnson said as foreign secretary in 2016, this was “not a priority”, so why now during the pandemic?

As socialists, we should join calls to disband the monarchy altogether, redistribute their land and wealth in the interests of everyone else.

Josh Largent

East London

Solidarity is our strength

Thank you to the person selling Socialist Worker on our picket line at Edinburgh Waverley station.

We are the RMT union members who are striking against a pay freeze imposed by the bosses at Serco Caledonian Sleeper.

We appreciated your person standing with us and having a nice chat about union history and his own life as a union member.

It was great to have the solidarity.

Gordon Kerr


Batley election sparks no hope

What option does the left have in the Batley and Spen by-election?

There are 16 candidates standing yet my reaction is to yawn.

Working class voters want a clear position in support of Palestinian rights and an end to austerity.

These are not coming from Labour.

It seems we are left with the reactionary George Galloway.

Or is there some alternative?

Joe Collins


Hospitality workers’ fight

I was sacked for defending my colleague’s pay and conditions.

Apart from this just being ridiculous, it’s a microcosm of a much wider issue.

Hospitality workers are treated as disposable and are consistently exploited—given no chance to fight for their rights.

Zero hour contracts and unpaid trials need to stop.

We need to organise and unionise.

Heidi Henders

East London

Don’t forget repression

I was a child in Iran and I can never forget those years.

My family was imprisoned and my cousin was facing execution.

I do not forgive and I do not forget.


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