Letters

Still writing the lives of the English poor

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In his review of Writing the Lives of the English Poor, 1750s-1830s (June SR) Martin Empson mentions the difficulties people face today in getting the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

I applied for PIP a while ago. They asked me to go along for an interview. When I got there they said, “If you can get yourself over here you don’t need it.”

So that was the end of that.

Will Counsel
Peterborough

An important analysis of modern Germany

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Ian Taylor seems to have reviewed a book that he wished someone had written about Germany (Reviews, May SR). Unfortunately I think he dismisses too lightly the book Oliver Nachtwey actually wrote.

To expect a book about the German economy in the present day to contain a critique of the German Revolution and the Nazi period is rather a stretch.

A history of holding back Equal Pay

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Jane Hardy’s opening article on equal pay (March SR) makes fascinating reading. The following points supplement her account.

The 1918 War Cabinet inquiry that Jane mentions includes Beatrice Webb’s devastating minority report, that still repays reading. She argued that “the popular formula of ‘Equal Pay for Equal Work’…is so ambiguous and so easily evaded as not to constitute any principle”.

What about no deal?

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Sabby Sagall extols the virtues of remaining in the EU (Feedback, February SR): workers rights; equal pay provision; the 8-hour day. What he doesn’t seem to see is the way in which bosses in Europe as well as this country find many ways round these regulations: the Working Time Directive waiver, women still being paid less than men in practice, while 24-hour shift working patterns are at an all-time high.

Fashion matters

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Rena Niamh Smith makes some very timely and insightful points about fashion in her monthly column in Socialist Review. In particular it is really important that, as she argues, revolutionaries do not just overlook or dismiss fashion as something merely ephemeral, apolitical and not worthy of serious attention.

The ideology behind women’s oppression

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Jan Nielsen’s article (“How austerity hurts women”, February SR) very usefully showed the disproportionate impact of government cuts on the lives of women. There is also an ideological element to this.

The ruling class, via the media, government, education system, and so on, perpetuates the idea that women are naturally suited to certain roles. Those at the top of society need women to be defined by the services that they provide, and the products they consume.

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