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24 August 2022

Letter of the week: The real class war

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By New Statesman

Like many, I had high hopes for the RMT’s Mick Lynch, having been impressed with his media savvy, but Freddie Hayward’s article (Encounter, 19 August) showed me that the spirit of the 1970s labour movement never evolved.

First, he claims that his union, not the Labour Party, represents the working class, yet with a median salary of £33,000 many of his striking members are among the top third of earners before tax, according to HMRC figures for 2019-20. Regarding his support for Brexit, he claims his concern is for countries that lose talent through immigration rather than stating the true reason for his position: classic union protectionism. What about the rights of workers from those countries to come to the UK to earn a living? Perhaps now it is easier to see why so many in the Red Wall voted for Brexit?

Finally, real class war today is not between working-class people and those vilified professions such as “PR and law, communications, finance or whatever”, but between those that earn, work and strive try to provide, and those who sit on un-taxed wealth.
Christopher Bowser, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

Lynch and Labour

Mick Lynch’s view (Encounter, 19 August) that “working-class people cannot relate to [Labour’s front bench]” does not stand up to scrutiny when you consider the backgrounds of Angela Rayner, Wes Streeting and Keir Starmer. Maybe many in leadership positions within the party have never worked in “[working-class] industries”, but then neither did those revered by the far left such as Jeremy Corbyn, Michael Foot, Tony Benn or, for that matter, Clement Attlee.
Michael Haskell, Broughton, Flintshire

I see Mick Lynch isn’t sure that the Telegraph prints the truth. He, on the other hand, repeats the lie that Jeremy Corbyn’s nationalisation policy was illegal under EU law. It wasn’t. Look it up. Moreover, he seems to have sympathy for Russia being provoked by Ukraine. Should I now believe him on the rail dispute?
John Berry, Hull

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THANK YOU

Freedom’s fundamentalist

Over 30 years ago, Salman Rushdie (“The voice that will not be silenced”, 19 August) advised the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to pass a melodrama titled International Guerillas, which luridly dramatised Rushdie being hunted down and machine-gunned, when the BBFC were seeking to ban the film. As your three contributors aver, his exploratory and profound insights through literature must triumph over the malevolent violence attempting to prevent his (and our) freedom to voice our perceptions of the world.
Mike Bor, principal examiner at the BBFC (1993-2000), London W2

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Save your energy

I’m afraid Philip Collins’s column on why Keir Starmer’s energy strategy should worry the Conservatives (Politics, 19 August) significantly overestimates the potential impact. A single alternative on a single issue is not enough to convince people that Labour offers credible alternative leadership.
Andy Leslie, West Grinstead, West Sussex

Regarding Starmer’s energy response, it is important not to confuse the small number of UK energy suppliers, which extract and distribute energy products, with domestic energy companies, which offer a thin layer of customer service laced with a gamble on forward pricing – the reason so many have now gone bust. The large suppliers have had an unexpected bounty that should be given back to the community, as it will have no impact on their investment plans.
Stephen Shepherd, Reading

Water waste

Paul Mason tells us “How to nationalise water by stealth” (NS online, 17 August). This would be a mistake. Opponents would wonder what other sneaky measures such a government would enact. Better to take water back into public ownership openly. After all, it’s a policy that has great support.
Robin Prior, Wargrave, Berkshire

As the water companies admit that they have inadequate monitoring systems (“How much raw sewage is actually being pumped into the sea?”, India Bourke, NS online, 22 August), the problem may be even worse than we think. Perhaps the government should consider restoring Environment Agency funding to previous levels so it can do the job the water companies have no incentive to do.
Marilyn Spurr, Exeter

I vow to thee my tax bill

Christopher Rossi writes that Boris Johnson gave up his US citizenship “apparently to demonstrate his loyalty to the UK” (Correspondence, 19 August). Wasn’t it because he was annoyed about paying US tax on a UK property sale and wanted to avoid that in future?
Mike Walsh, Espoo, Finland

Covercopia

I laughed out loud at the wonderful cover by Cold War Steve (Summer Special, 29 July): Jacob Rees-Mogg in his Edwardian swimwear, Keir Starmer with a knotted hankie… It all demands a second look.
Diane Turner, Athens, Greece

@richove
Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s librarian, Oxford
There is a great series of articles on Philip Larkin (marking the centenary of his birth) in the current issue of @NewStatesman. This one by Ann Thwaite is particularly moving: “Wordplay, friendship, and sweet sadness: having Philip Larkin to stay”.
Contribution to “Philip Larkin at 100”, Ann Thwaite, 29 July

@StAndrewsAnthro
Department of Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews
Dr Patrick O’Hare’s research – including his history of dumpster-diving, and his recent book Rubbish Belongs to the Poor – has been profiled in this fantastic feature article in @NewStatesman.
“The man who lives on rubbish”, Anoosh Chakelian, 30 July

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This article appears in the 24 Aug 2022 issue of the New Statesman, The Inflation Wars