A New Year's message to readers

On the occasion of 2018

Last year was like a naughty child

That should have been sent straight to bed

Instead we let it start a row

Our dubious opinions fed

These coming months might I suggest

When feeling strong and able

You bring a stranger home with you

To share your tea time table

Walk a mile in their shoes

Swap passports

And stir it up little darlings

Neil Armstrong

Year of the animal

brings good cheer for the beginning of the New Year. Granting of fundamental rights to animals is something we as a human species have neglected for centuries. Our treatment of animals has been unparalleled in its sheer scale of brutality.

It has hurt animals and it has also had a negative impact on the human species. We have morally lowered ourselves in failing to show basic compassion to animals who share this planet with us. Our violence towards animals rebounds on our species. It hangs like a foreboding, menacing cloud striping us of compassion and empathy with other living beings. We need to take that huge leap in abandoning violence towards animals and by doing so we will be doing ourselves a huge favour as well.

Nitin Mehta

An electrifying idea

I am surprised that identified electrification as the most desirable investment in our railways. Electric locos are more reliable and easier to maintain than diesel, and they are much cheaper both to buy and to run. Apart from the fact that it is much cheaper to generate electricity in a large power station than a small mobile system, an electric loco only has to drag around the motor(s) and the control and electrical power transmission systems. By comparison, in addition the mainline diesel electric loco must also pull around a very large diesel engine, a generator sufficient to supply power to both the motors and the whole train, and not forgetting the diesel itself. All of this costs money. There is no doubt that a completely electrified railway would be cheaper, more efficient and more reliable; and let’s not forget that it would be cleaner and more eco-friendly too.

Richard Swinney


“A forecast by the International Monetary Fund says that the NHS may have to be privatised if the UK is to meet its budget deficit by 2025.”

sums up the amoral, asocial, seedy barbarianism that is neoliberalism. Capital accumulation by the elites first and everyone and everything else second – if at all.

Neoliberalism is the most profoundly antidemocratic phenomenon currently operating and its dictates underlie most of that which ails the world. Sweeping reform, mainly to eliminate oligarchic regulatory capture, is urgently required or any hope of genuine popular sovereignty will be lost forever.

Though I voted Remain and look for the emergence of a pan-European republic with the demos as the incontestable sovereign, it must be conceded that the EU as currently constituted and operated is a vassal of neoliberalism – and it was established that way intentionally. The eurozone is not just a currency area; it is a capital accumulation regime in which certain tendencies prevail – the removal of social protections, wage compression and abolition of social and political rights. The aim is to “depoliticise” macroeconomic policy and disenfranchise the electorates.

Neoliberalism is the road to serfdom.

Steve Ford
Haydon Bridge

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