LETTER: Street homeless: the last Straw

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From Mr Andy Winter

Sir: Labour Party members have endured many policy changes in recent years, not least the dropping of a commitment to common ownership, the endorsement of Trident and the refusal to return privatised utilities (particularly the water industry) to public ownership. However, Jack Straw's decision to attack beggars, addicts and "winos" is more than I can bear.

What particularly grieves me is that Jack Straw is a fellow Christian Socialist. He must be familiar with the lesson of Jesus concerning homelessness and poverty: "For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me" (Matthew xxv, 42-43). We are told that when we fail the poor and dispossessed we are, in fact, failing God.

Jack Straw condemns begging, yet the Labour Party regularly begs for money. Unlike street beggars, the majority of whom cannot be described as "aggressive", the Labour Party importunes and harasses through direct mail shots to the homes of people who often cannot afford to give.

Street homeless people who beg spend their limited income on basic items such as food, warm drinks and clothing. Of course some of them use alcohol and other drugs to deaden their suffering and pain.

After 15 years of membership, during which time I have served two terms as a local councillor, I have resigned from the Labour Party. I do not wish to be associated in any way with the policies of New Labour.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Winter

Brighton

5 September

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