Socialist Worker

Stop 'terror' raids, council tax, fire threat, NHS

Issue No. 1884

OVER 150 representatives and activists from across Birmingham's Muslim community attended an emergency meeting on 4 January in Birmingham's central mosque.

The meeting was called in response to police harassment. One speaker described how he sustained over 50 injuries after a police raid on his home. Another speaker described the threat that legislation introduced under the guise of combating terrorism posed to civil liberties.

The police harassment Muslims are experiencing now is similar to what happened to the Irish community after the Birmingham pub bombings, another person said. But this time the attack is taking place after Muslims and non-Muslims together created the largest protest movement in British history.

The solidarity built in the anti-war movement provides the basis to build mass resistance to police terror.

  • GER FRANCIS


    Axe this unfair tax

    AGITATION CONTINUES to grow against the huge rises in council tax.

    A demonstration that will take place on Saturday in London will again focus attention on how the bills rose massively this year and have nearly doubled in the ten years since it was introduced.

    Average council tax bills have already gone up by £455 under Labour, a rise of 70 percent-with more to come. The council tax is grossly unfair. The poorest 10 percent pay over four times more of their income in council tax than the richest 10 percent. Pensioners are particularly hard hit.

    The blame for the latest increases lies mainly with central government, which has restricted local council funding, and with paying for police. This week the Liberal Democrats rushed out proposals for a local income tax to replace the council tax. But they also said that all income over £100,000 should be exempt from the tax, protecting the really rich.

    The council tax should be replaced by a genuinely fair tax. The Scottish Socialist Party has worked out a system that would mean the rich pay much more and leave over three quarters of people better off.


    Fire plan threat

    NEW LABOUR "modernisation" of the fire service will cost lives.

    In plans that became law this week, the government told local authorities to draw up new fire cover provisions. This means many fire authorities will cut the number of pumps and crews attending automatic alarms and take longer to answer them.

    On Tuesday of last week an automatic alarm went off in the early hours at St Mary's Flats, Peterborough. Two fully crewed pumps were mobilised and rescued two people. But Cambridgeshire fire brigade's modernisation plan will mean cutting the response to automatic alarms.

    FBU Cambridgeshire secretary Adrian Clarke told Socialist Worker, "We are in no doubt that if the so called modernisation goes through it will cost the lives of the public and firefighters. We have to fight this for everyone's sake."

    Cherry-picked NHS

    ONE IN six NHS operations could be contracted out to the private sector, admits health secretary John Reid.

    Reid claimed this week that the NHS would still be the main provider of healthcare. But he did not say that under his plans more and more of the simplest, and therefore most profitable, operations will shift to companies that can make a profit out of them.

    Netcare, a South African company, is to begin running two mobile operating theatres dealing with cataract surgery next month.

    New Labour is increasing the role of healthcare companies and allowing them to cherry-pick profits from the NHS.

    Low paid nurses across Britain will be hit with a new insult this summer. The Nursing and Midwifery Council plans to increase registration fees for nurses every three years from £60 to £144.


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    Sat 17 Jan 2004, 00:00 GMT
    Issue No. 1884
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