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LETTERS: We’re stronger and more united after Newham academy battle

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Issue 2603
Protesting against academies in Newham
Protesting against academies in Newham (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Academy plans at Cumberland school in Newham, east London, have gone ahead. We have lost, but we have won much, and we are not defeated.

Last week we had a NEU union meeting of around 80 people at the end of the school day before the full staff meeting.

My introduction to the meeting was as upbeat as I could make it.

I wanted to remind everyone that we went into the battle determined to stand up for principled opposition to academies.

And now we need to continue to strengthen ourselves as a union group. We acknowledged that we have been a major part of a borough-wide, London-wide, and apparently a developing national fightback.

Some schools have turned back from academising, although unfortunately Newham council’s U-turn to an anti-academy position came too late for us.

We are determined to continue building links with parents as we did not achieve what we needed to stop the academy—an unstoppable force of parents, local people and workers.

I proposed the union’s guidance at this point to suspend the strikes.

We voted unanimously to do so and went into the staff meeting as a union group together. I made a statement on behalf of the union group and after the meeting introduced the new secretary of Newham NEU to the chief executive of the school.

Our union secretary made it quite clear that we are here to fight our corner.

This phase of the dispute ended, under the circumstances, as best it could—united and proud. Our new solidarity with each other and with wider forces will survive this defeat.

Thanks to Socialist Worker for its coverage throughout the dispute—good work and fantastic support.

Carolyn McGrath, NEU rep, Cumberland School, Newham

Wrecking our NHS

I am 75 and was a relatively fit anti-fracking campaigner until January when I developed severe neck and shoulder pain.

I had to fight for a doctor’s appointment as two doctors had recently left. By February the pain was so bad I was spending half the night in an armchair. No GPs were available so I saw a nurse and persuaded her to refer me to a consultant.

The earliest appointment was four weeks away. The receptionist suggested I ring for a cancellation. I did, but a recorded voice said the hotline was not staffed due to shortages.

I had no choice but to pay to see an osteopath, who re-diagnosed the problem. There was a marked improvement but I was still in great pain.

In mid-April I fought again to see a GP and persuaded her to arrange an ultrasound. After that appointment the doctor said he would immediately forward the ultrasound images to my GP.

But the surgery said results will take seven weeks to arrive from Scarborough hospital. I now have another appointment to see a specialist—in mid-July!

After months of debilitating pain I still don’t have a proper diagnosis and am unable to perform even basic tasks, never mind join in the important activities of my local anti-fracking group.

The NHS is being destroyed so US corporations can move in for the rich pickings. We need to fight now to save it.

Brian Chambers, Filey, North Yorkshire

Now we have Corbyn, ditch independence

Why does Socialist Worker still support Scottish independence?

The only good reason for a Yes vote in the 2014 referendum was to break from the Tory British state and register opposition to the successive regimes of austerity.

I didn’t agree with that, but I could see the argument.

But now there is the very real possibility of a Jeremy Corbyn government in Westminster. If people still obsessively hark on about independence they are not going to vote Labour. And Labour isn’t going to alter its stance.

And that means we are likely to have continuing Tory rule or at best a minority Labour government that has to rely on the highly unreliable Scottish National Party.

Clear out all the secondary issues. Full speed ahead to an all-British government that can raise the banner of change.

Ann McIvey, Paisley

Stop anti-abortionists harassing women

Anti-choice bigots march in London
Anti-choice bigots march in London (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Recently in Cardiff we had to experience the anti-abortion group Abort67 setting up large images of foetuses.

Abort67 actively campaigns against a woman’s right to choose. Its members often stand in cities and towns with offensive imagery that harasses women.

This was clearly very upsetting for a number of people, many of whom complained to the police.

When I complained to the police, they told me the display was legally allowed as it was informative. Women should be supported, not made to feel guilty for their choices.

Groups such as Abort67, Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and 40 Days for Life want to tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies.

I was pleased to see that there was opposition to the March for Life organised by

anti-abortionists in Parliament Square in London last Saturday.

Such events actively aim to restrict women’s rights.

We need to defend a woman’s right to choose, and fight the restrictions women face when making decisions about their own bodies.

Helen O’Sullivan, Cardiff

Don’t repeat ID for voting

The pilot schemes that forced people to provide ID to vote last week in Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford and Woking were a disaster.

People were prevented from voting who had every right to vote.

And a polling officer in Bradford demanded ID even though Bradford wasn’t even in the scheme.

ID requirements hit poor people, young people and black people. We should oppose them.

Jane Roberts, west London

Will machines delete class?

What will socialism look like in a world where technology is steadily encroaching on working class roles?

Tim Rothwell, Leamington

‘Enemy aliens’ were locked up

The treatment of the Windrush Generation has highlighted the racism of the ruling establishment.

Caitlin Davies has produced an excellent book, Bad Girls, which gives examples of the mistreatment of women in Holloway prison.

She reveals that during the Second World War thousands of Jewish women who had escaped Nazi Germany were imprisoned without trial in Britain. Being an “enemy alien” meant they were locked up not for anything they had done but because of who they were.

John Appleyard, Liversedge, West Yorkshire

Let’s unite against Tories

Socialists should make the links between the home office’s racism and the state’s attacks on disabled people that have caused severe damage, even deaths.

Phil Howard, Hull

No cuts for the parasites

Two Bentleys, three Rolls-Royces, three Daimlers and then one horse-drawn coach for the royal wedding. Austerity?

Jasmine Wright, on Facebook

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