Letters

Letters: The poll tax riots worked. It's time to re-harness the power of protest

A reader asks where are the crowds standing up to protest against the inequality that's destroying our society?

Poll Tax protest in Trafalgar Square

Poll Tax riot, Trafalgar Square, 31 March 1990. Image: James Bourne, CC BY-SA 4.0, commons.wikimedia.org

Big Issue readers react to articles on dogs, Lord John Bird’s birthday and the power of protest.

Why do we not protest?

Many people joined the poll tax demonstrations and won against Margaret Thatcher and her government. But why don’t people protest about how our social services and the NHS have been deliberately run into the ground over the last 14 years?

Why have so many youth clubs, swimming baths and libraries closed? Why have food banks rocketed in that time? Why are many people unable to heat their homes and eat as well? Why has homelessness gone through the roof, with people driven from their homes by no-fault evictions? Why has our society been broken? 

I’m sure many people would join such a protest, but it needs a well-known organisation, or a celebrity to organise this. I’d be happy to join the protest demonstration, but I can’t do it on my own. 

Harry Duffin

The bark side

Dogs are better behaved and more intelligent than most governments.

Jonathan Broadhurst

Big Bird

I read with a mixture of emotions John Bird’s letter in issue 1600. Joy because he is celebrating his 78th year and is still fit and well, humour/sadness in terms of his references to his relationship with his mother, anger at the magazine reporter criticising The Big Issue and humour in his use of words – “defenestrating that stuff takes a lifetime.”

A very happy birthday to a great man and a real credit to the House of Lords. 

Nick Rodgers

Birthday wishes

Wishing you a very happy 78th birthday and many more years of health, happiness and good work. You are a great inspiration to everyone, lords and homeless people, rich and poor, you treat all with dignity and respect. You have been a wonderful champion for the poor, challenging unfair structures and governments. Long may this continue. 

I hope you have a lovely celebration on your birthday and thank you for all the marvellous achievements you have made, especially setting up The Big Issue and continuing to support it despite your busy time in the House of Lords.

Marie Pennell

Screening reminder

Caroline in Richmond, please don’t throw away your bowel screening kit! It’s not invasive, just involves a tiny sample of your poo sent off to be tested for early signs of bowel cancer

This disease kills around 16,800 people a year in the UK, more than breast or prostate cancer.

Stephanie Calman, London

Vanishing act

Thanks to @BigIssue and to @jamieoliver for a delicious, quick and easy pizza recipe. Even our fussy four-year-old loved it. I meant to take a photo of the whole pizza but before I knew it, nearly half of it had disappeared!

@abigailfrymann

Pain barrier

Just two days ago I had an excruciatingly painful hysteroscopy that had me shrieking and then sobbing with my legs shaking uncontrollably. Where to start? The female doctor who referred me for the procedure said that although it could be done under general anaesthetic, the pain was [the difference] between a cut finger and childbirth. I can only think she has never had a hysteroscopy! As I have a high pain threshold, I opted to take painkillers beforehand and be awake.

I just about coped with the first part where they cut away two polyps and most of a fibroid but I had to keep controlling my breathing to stay calm. I kept groaning and crying out. Then the male doctor decided he needed to use the machine, which had a bigger tool, to get the last bit of fibroid out. I was starting to cry with the pain so he offered a local anaesthetic – and gave it less than a minute to take effect! He tried again but I couldn’t take it so he stopped. He’d been talking about a general anaesthetic but decided he didn’t need to cut any more out after all.

When I had recovered somewhat I started wondering – why was a local anaesthetic not offered in the first place? Why wasn’t it given time to take effect? Why was there no sedation? No gas and air to help with the pain? If they don’t want to do general anaesthetic as a first option, there should be
better pain relief offered than simply relying on the patient to take painkillers an hour before the procedure.

If anything regrows in my womb and they need to cut it out, I will be demanding a general anaesthetic. There is no way that I could face that ordeal again.

Avril Swift

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share on any of these topics? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

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