Letters

London dockers

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I agree with Sabby Sagall’s sentiment that the “greater the confidence among workers, the greater the potential for unity against racism” (July/August SR). But his account of the highs and lows of London dockers is wrong in important respects.

As Fred Lindop has clearly shown (in a 2001 article), the main concern of those dockers who demonstrated their racist sentiments in April 1968 was over housing, not employment opportunities (the left has missed a trick in not organising more around housing).

Time for an LGBTQ+ united front

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Bethan Turner’s excellent article (“We don’t do well in times of reaction”, July/August SR) focused on the frightening increase in attacks on LGBTQ+ people and explained how LGBTQ+ rights are being cynically used, for instance by Trump, as a cover for state oppression of Muslims. Bethan ended her article with a call for “unity of the oppressed”.

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.

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