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Letters—Museum is wrong, we won’t walk in under slaver’s boot

This article is over 3 years, 11 months old
Issue 2716
Geffrye must fall (Pic: Blowing Puffer Fish/Flickr)

The fight continues to remove the statue of Robert Geffrye at Museum of the Home, in Hackney, east London.

Despite public demand, and a “public consultation” that showed a majority if favour of taking down the statue of the slave trader, the board of trustees has taken the disgraceful decision not to remove this racist blight on our local landscape.

The museum admits “the response was in favour of removing the statue”.

Yet it maintains that this repulsive tribute to a slaver must remain in its place above an entrance to the Georgian almshouses that he had built using profits he had made from the blood of Africans.

The museum says it “acknowledges the pain caused by the connections between the museum buildings and the forced labour and trading of enslaved Africans”.

These are weasel words.

In truth, it’s prepared to make the ancestors of those slaves, and everyone who abhors the slave trade and the institutionalised racism it has fostered, continue to walk beneath the boot of a monster who profited from human misery. 

The museum clearly hoped that the Black Lives Matter movement would melt away.

But the trustees should remember what happened to the statue of the slaver Edward Colston in Bristol when local opinion was ignored.

Hackney council, which last week officially pledged to actively fight racism in our proud multicultural borough, must press for the removal of this insulting eyesore.

Meanwhile, anti-racists are gearing up for a major battle.

Protests are being planned now, and for the “official reopening” of the museum later this autumn. 

Kate Ryan

East London

Housing association rip-off

Housing associations have been breaking rent regulations all around London.

Freedom of Information Act replies show that in one-third of boroughs, new social rents were set above the “cap” which is the maximum permitted amount.

Two beds in Greenwich were £168.15 per week while the cap was £149.74, and three beds in Brent were £173.93 while the cap was £158.06.

Housebuilding landlords pile costs onto tenants through higher rents. They say “Housing benefit will take the strain”.

Social rent setting is supposedly “tenure-blind”, meaning it shouldn’t matter if your landlord is a council or a housing association. But housing associations charge much higher rents and service charges.

There is mounting evidence that existing social rents do not allow for decent living standards.

Some 638,000 children in Britain both suffer material deprivation and live in families with severely low incomes after housing costs—and half of them live in social renting households. 

We have written a letter of protest to the housing secretary Robert Jenrick—but we know that it’s always best to meet him “socially”.  

People are getting more educated. Let us empower tenants, open the books, and publish all social rent calculations.  

Paul Burnham

Haringey Defend Council Housing North London

Why does right wing rag expose Tories’ Russians?  

Amazingly the Times newspaper has been ferocious in its condemnation of the Tories’ Russian connections.

The paper explored how London had been turned into a “laundromat” for billionaire gangsters and followed this up with a lead editorial, “Boris Johnski”, warning against the danger of the government being swept away by an “avalanche of scandal”.

As the editorial points out no less than 14 ministers “have received donations from individuals or companies linked to Russia” and even more astonishing so have two of the Tories recently appointed to the intelligence committee.

For the Murdoch press to turn on Johnson in this way is remarkable.

Two possible reasons.They regard Johnson as a liability because of his incompetence, or they want to ensure the government is wholly subordinate to the US, or both.

John Newsinger


Tories are peddling a ‘golden age’ myth

Cycling and similar forms of transport have seen a surge in popularity during Covid-19.

Now there’s a huge shortage of bikes and spares. As a result, some people are waiting for months for repairs. 

If the myriad of bicycle firms can’t supply what is needed to keep people on the road then this should be centrally organised.  

And if, as we have been told by Boris Johnson, this is to be a “golden age for cycling” then there is a fight coming for what that looks like.

More cyclists means the already-inadequate road and cycle lane infrastructure will be overloaded.  

There is currently a review of the Highway Code taking place, which is partly in response to changes in the ways in which roads are used.

It introduces a “Hierarchy of Users”, which gives priority to the most vulnerable. This is a welcome change.  

Yet the purpose of the review is largely to introduce new ways for the state to criminalise behaviour.

Unless plans are linked to massive investment in infrastructure, more cycling  will mean more will die on our roads. 

Sam Lorde

North Yorkshire

Questions for socialists

I think Socialist Worker is a fantastic paper and I particularly like the series “Radical Black Lives”—I’d never heard of Assata Shakur!

But what I think is missing from our literature is some discussion about what society would be like after the revolution. Housing, transport, social care, health, education, food production, climate, rural life vs urban, families, the elderly and so on.

Will there be encouragement of communal life? What about law and order?

Terry Skyrme

North Norfolk 

We’re all state capitalist now

I’ve been reading Socialist Worker for quite some time now.

It seems to me, particularly in the era of Covid-19, we should be using the term “state capitalistism” all the time when describing the role and intervention of the state in economic and political affairs.

We have all witnessed almost every country propping up the various financial markets.

The roll of the state to the survival of the capitalist system is crucial.

State capitalism  should be used when describing China’s social and political system as well.

Ian Dudley

By email

Shut your gob, Tory scum!

Socialist Worker’s front page last week was spot on. 

Johnson and his filthy rich mates couldn’t wait to waltz into their posh restaurants as soon as they’d ended lockdown.

There they get the choice of the best cuts and the freshest of vegetables—no doubt all washed down with a “fruity little number”.

While millions of us have been working out how to feed the family during the Covid recession, they’ve chosen now to talk to us about diets. 

If I ever come across Boris, I’ll shove a bag of Percy Pig sweets straight down his gob.



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