I HAVE been following the thread of people basically arguing over socialism versus capitalism.

I’ll say right at the start I am retired and have forgotten more stuff than I remember but I do know that I am a democratic socialist, and have been all my adult life.

Socialism has received bad press from both the tabloids and broadsheets alike for most of my life.

The worst part of this is that democratic socialism and social democracy have been grouped together with all sorts of dictatorships for so long that many people don’t seem to understand the difference any more.

During the first half of the 20th Century just about any revolutionary party in any country had the word socialist in its title.

If it had anything to do with the poor versus the rich it had socialist in its name.

It didn’t matter whether it was a party of the left or the right.


That’s right… Never forget Hitler’s party was The National Socialist German Workers’ Party and that Hitler believed in the power of the (German) people against the powerful rich elite (Jewish bankers).

For many reasons most of the revolutionary parties became the organs of power for dictators or for dictatorship by the dominant party, from Stalin’s Russia to Chavez’s Venezuela and now to Xi’s China.

OK. History lesson over, back to today.

Whether we like it or not most of our media is directly or indirectly controlled by Americans.

Americans largely think of democratic socialism as communist socialism.

(I’ve heard intelligent, well-read liberal Americans refer to the NHS as communist medicine!) The influence of this has been to turn ordinary people away from an ideal that wants little more than fairness for everyone whether rich or poor.

Socialism as happens in Britain’s Labour Party is democratic, not a dictatorship and (speaking as one who has actually read his communist manifesto), in this day and age has little to do with Karl Marx.

I can’t remember where Caitlin Moran got this definition of socialism, but she explains it very simply: “Services necessary for the functioning of society are provided without profit.”

Nothing else.

Not state ownership of everything.

Not dictatorship.

Just that.

Services necessary for the functioning of society are provided without profit.

That is the socialism I believe in.

The services which should be provided in this way?

My suggestions:

1) Water supply

2) Healthcare

3) Education to at least the age of 18 should be provided free.

4) Social care for the elderly, the handicapped and the out of work.

Oh, and by the way despite all the rhetoric, the government’s own figure for people defrauding the benefits system a couple of years ago was 0.7 per cent.

In a survey most people thought it was anywhere between twenty and fifty per cent.

That is what the damaging rhetoric does to us as a society.

It demonises large sections of our society who are innocent of any crime.

0.7 per cent is the true figure.

Benefits fraud does cost around £1.3 billion a year in total.

No small sum but compare that with tax fraud and avoidance through loop-holes at £34 billion a year and who are the real villains here?

5) Power People should not be put in a position where they have to choose between keeping warm or eating, which happens every winter in the UK, whilst the companies producing the gas and electricity make large profits.

6) Transport Public transport should at least be subsidised by government.

It would seem all the best bus and railway systems in the world are subsidised quite heavily by governments, not left to crumble into the expensive inefficiency which often occurs in the UK.

Maybe not all of these have to be nationalised and there is a role for not-for-profit organisations in all this, where they are the best value and/or most effective way of carrying out a service and provided there is transparency and scrutiny of such organisations.

Yes, all this would mean higher taxation, but if the system is fair and the services are better, I think that is a good trade off.

Name a place where left of centre government works… Norway.

The richest country in Europe where they have had a Labour led coalition government for about 20 years.

I got my figures and facts from Office of National Statistics, National Audit Office, The Joseph Rowntree Trust and the Citizens Advice Bureau and of course Wikipedia.

Denise Robotham