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Letters—When the president opens his mouth, Turkish lira falls

Issue 2784
Turkish president Recep Erdogan

Turkish president Recep Erdogan (Credit: Wikicommons/

Turkey’s President Erdogan live on state television last week made for very interesting viewing.

Every answer he gave to questions about the economy caused the Turkish lira to lose some more of its value. 

Yet the president announced there would be no change in economic policy.

And every time he stressed this, the working population of Turkey saw their wages melt away in real terms.

This year the lira has lost about 45 percent of its value. Last month it lost 28.3 percent.

This means wages and savings are constantly being eroded at a time when the pandemic has already made the lives of working people and the poor uncertain and often unbearable. 

As the lira becomes worthless, the cost of imported stuff goes up and the rate of inflation rises. It is currently around 20 percent. 

This means that every time you go to the supermarket you know you will pay more than you did on your previous visit. You try to buy less of everything.

The poor in Turkey will often skip a meal and make do with a traditional “simit”—a circular bagel-like bread covered in sesame seeds, with a cup of tea.

This week the price of a simit went up from 2.5 to 3.5 lira.

This is not a huge amount of money—3.5  lira is roughly 20 pence. But it is still an increase of 40 percent.

As a result, for the first time in history, street sellers now offer half a simit. Having changed the political system in the country to what is effectively one-man rule, Erdogan now has a problem.

As the economy goes increasingly pear-shaped, there is no one he can blame—everyone can see he is running the show.

Opinion polls show that many who voted for Erdogan and his party are drawing the obvious conclusion and deserting them. 

However, the next elections are not until mid-2023.

That is plenty of time for a growing wave of struggle, perhaps not yet huge but certainly on the rise. 

That could get rid of a president who has single-handedly managed to impoverish millions of working people.

Ronnie Margulies

East London

Volunteers not answer

Tory health secretary Sajid Javid’s has plans for a reserve army of retired NHS workers to plug the gaping holes in NHS staffing. That would be a joke if the issue wasn’t so serious.

There are an estimated 100,000 vacancies, and we are short of over 35,000 nurses.

Javid wants “reservists” to call on at times of high demand, such as winter, or during specific programmes, such as vaccination drives.

The Sun newspaper is championing this plan.

This week it launched its campaign for volunteers for a “jabs army” to deal with the Omicron variant.

It’s true that volunteers have already helped at vaccination centres. But this is no way to run an essential service.

The NHS is already dependent on staff working over their paid hours.

Many NHS employees also work as bank staff and for agencies to bolster understaffed wards and departments—usually giving up their holiday or rest days to do so.

The call on retired health service workers to come back misses the fact that many already carry on working after their “retirement” as their pension is so poor.

And, Javid’s plan fails to appreciate that because of his party’s “reforms” thousands of NHS staff cannot now retire until they’re 67 years old. 

Many of those won’t be able to do their old jobs. 

The solution to the NHS staffing crisis is not volunteers but a mass recruitment campaign of properly trained and paid professionals.

Ian Mckendrick


Are we sleeping our way into a police state?

Is the British left asleep, or something?

Recently an activist for Insulate Britain was sentenced to nearly a year in prison for blocking a road.

It’s a terrible precedent—I mean, how many times have you been on a protest that’s blocked a road illegally?

Environmental writer George Monbiot wrote afterwards, saying, Britain is on the road to becoming a “police state”. He’s bloody right. And yet I’ve heard barely a peep from socialists about it.

I honestly don’t care if you think Insulate Britain’s tactics are a bit elitist, and that they hit the “wrong target”.

That’s not the point.

If the state can get away with jailing protesters for a year for blocking a road, we are done for.

Wake up, “comrades”.


Stalybridge, Greater Manchester

Protests incinerate deadly Labour plan

The campaign against the Edmonton incinerator in north London has forced a major crack in its planned expansion.

Haringey council last week broke ranks with the North London Waste Authority (NLWA), which is run by seven, mostly Labour, London boroughs. 

Councillors called for “pause and review” of the incinerator plans.

Tireless campaigning and protests forced Haringey to change its position. 

The mounting pressure was clear when a march in September led to an occupation of the giant North Circular road.

The growing protests at council meetings about the incinerator also showed that people were waking up to the dangers of toxic emissions.

Some Labour councillors on the board of NLWA are still defending the incinerator expansion. 

Rather than listening to the science, the health experts and the people, they are behaving as corporate spin doctors.

None of the councillors in favour of the incinerator have mentioned the implicit environmental racism that would accompany the expansion. 

The surrounding areas are disproportionately black and Asian.

And they ignore the hidden social murder resulting from deadly toxins ingested by the poor.

We must keep up the pressure and now start applying it to all the other north London boroughs involved.

Raj Perera

North London

Let Johnson party on

The revelations that Boris Johnson and his Cabinet Office mates partied their way through lockdown last year has generated much anger.

Am I the only one who wants to see more government ministers endangering themselves and their bag carriers by playing fast and loose with Covid?

Name withheld

By email

The Tories think rules are for “little people” and don’t apply to the like of them. 

What hypocrisy!

Philip Nutt

Paddington, west London

Priorities of a sick society

A Community Union statement today announced the end of the two-month long strike at Clarks shoes.

It described the fight as “fire and rehire Defeated!”

It certainly has been! In fact, the fire and rehire proposal, which would have reduced most hourly rates from £1l.16 an hour to £9.50p an hour, has been smashed to pieces.

I would like to congratulate the strikers, and all the trade unionists who gave their support.

Dave Chapple

Mendip Trades Union Council, Somerset

Exoneration was televised

Your article about the murder of Malcolm X in 1965 was right to point the finger at both the Nation of Islam group and the FBI (Socialist Worker, 1 December).

But I thought you should have given at least a mention to the role of the Netflix documentary Who Killed Malcolm X? in getting Muhammad A  Aziz and Khalil Islam exonerated.

The evidence in the programmes clearly showed a miscarriage of justice—and embarrassed the state into a climb down.

Peter Estoe

Washington, US

I don’t know why your paper is so interested in Malcolm X. He wasn’t even left wing.


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