Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Election 2024
24 August 2022

Letter of the week: The real class war

Email to have your thoughts voiced in the New Statesman magazine.

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

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

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

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


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

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

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

Write to
We reserve the right to edit letters

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action

Topics in this article : ,

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