Time for us to move on from New Labour
As a Labour Party member and lifelong Labour supporter, I remember with all the romanticism of a true party faithful the glorious victory of 1 May 1997. It seems like a lifetime ago. Yet I remember the excitement and optimism. We were promised a new Britain and that 'things can only get better'. Where did it all go wrong?
Five years on people are leaving the party in droves. The average age of members has crept up to 40-45 years. A new generation of political activists see no place for them in a party that excludes their priority concerns-no to privatisation, anti-globalisation, pro-peace and anti-war.
The low turnout in the forthcoming local elections in May will be blamed on apathy, when in reality the general public know that the Labour Party no longer represents the interests of the organised working people. This Labour government has got away with right wing policies that the Tory party would have had difficulty in getting away with. We only have to look at some of the asylum and immigration laws.
We didn't campaign and show blind loyalty to a party for it to become a Tory party in drag, and a party of legalised and wanton murder of innocent people in the name of a 'war against terrorism'.
The major unions, local communities and millions of individuals must now examine their conscience.
We have to ask ourselves-how much longer can we defend a government opposed to freedom, democracy, justice, peace and equality? Like the end of a love affair, we have to accept when the romance has come to an end.
We have to pick up the pieces of our broken hearts and stop hanging on to a ghost that quite clearly doesn't want us any more. It is time to move on and start fighting for what we believe in-socialism.
PAULINE WHEAT-BOWEN, Huddersfield
Voices of resistance raised in rebellion to free 'our Palestine'
THANK YOU for every word of honesty you have written. We are glad that there are people out in this world that know the real situation here. To introduce ourselves, we are students from a university here in Jenin, and we are impressed by your articles.
We think it is time that the world should know how much we are suffering here. We are fighters for our right to have our Palestine back, and we are ready to do whatever it takes to achieve that. This morning the tanks entered Ramallah.
No one can leave their house so everybody is locked inside. They shoot us if we go outside. They are murdering us every day, but they shall never win because they are more frightened than we are. 'Our Palestine is worth every drop of blood we lose.'
FADEL, LAILA, ALL'A, students, Jenin, Palestine
Market means unmet needs
HOUSING IN this country is in crisis. Right to buy policies have privatised more than a million council houses. We have the lowest number of new homes built for 50 years, a £20 billion backlog in housing maintenance and repairs, and 700,000 empty properties across the country.
Estimates put the number of extra social homes needed at about 83,000 annually for the next few years. This would mean a massive building programme. It seems ironic then that an increasingly popular solution is the demolition of run down, hard to let estates. The decision to demolish is often directly linked with the cost to local councils of potential refurbishment.
After demolition, new homes built are overwhelmingly intended for the private housing market. And on top of that we also have the sell-off of council estates to housing associations.
What's the alternative? Small flat-pack temporary housing built on disused car parks? This will not provide secure housing for families on well run and well managed estates. Housing operates in a market. If profitability is the only consideration, people will be left with unmet needs.
What we need is a long term, cohesive vision for social housing where democratic decisions regarding estates are taken by tenants themselves and those decisions honoured by the council.
Investment and rebuilding of social housing coupled with real choice and control for tenants-worth a try, isn't it? After all, looking at the state of housing today, it would be difficult to do much worse!
HEATHER ROSE, Manchester
Facing a future of poverty
YOUR CENTRE page article on pensions (9 March) was spot on. The flat rate state pension scheme was devised to give everyone, as of right, a level of income in old age related to average wages at retirement-dignity in old age, no means testing, no begging.
The earnings related state pension scheme (SERPS) gave an additional slice. In 1979 Thatcher set about destroying the state pension scheme, abolishing the flat rate link to earnings. Her attrition of the second state pensions helped lead to the pensions mis-selling scandal.
Now the 'evil axis' of Blair and Brown continues Thatcher's wrecking work, with stakeholder pensions brought in on the back of the rush out of final salary schemes which you describe. Unless we roll back the damage of the last 20 years there will be widespread OAP poverty in future for all except the disgusting fat cats.
W B McBRIDE, Bristol
Debates on the war drive
Useful video of opposition
I RECENTLY watched the video Not in my Name, a documentary produced by TV Choice. It chronicles the development of the anti-war movement in this country, and features some of the most popular anti-war speakers, like Tariq Ali.
While the film doesn't tell people involved in the movement anything new, it is useful viewing for audiences who know nothing about the active opposition to the war that is out there.
EDNA LEWIS, South London
Video available from TV Choice, 22 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0HR for £15.51 (make cheques payable to TV Choice).
Bush and Blair brought misery
IF THE US and British ruling class carry out their attack on Iraq it will bring disaster in the Middle East and affect the whole world. What did Bush and Blair bring to the Afghan people? Nothing but starvation, poverty, creating millions of refugees and killing ordinary Afghan people.
They are still bombing Afghanistan and using horrible modern technology against one of the poorest countries in the world. US troops were defeated in Vietnam and forced to pull out of Somalia in 1994. They face the same response from the Iraqi people and across the world.
Boycott can help stop US
I DEPLORE what the Americans have done in Afghanistan, and all the atrocities and miseries that they have been the cause of in the Middle East. I don't feel there is anything wrong with protest marches-I have been on several myself just to show solidarity. But I don't feel they achieve much.
Ever since the 1967 Six Day War my very small contribution to helping the Palestinians is to boycott Marks & Spencer, after I learned that the owning family sent large contributions to Israel. Since Afghanistan I have resolved wherever possible that I will not buy American.
After all, it is the strength of the American economy that makes it possible for it to develop its war machine and to go to all parts of the world raining death and destruction.
If everyone outraged by what the Americans have done and are doing stopped buying American it could in the long run be quite effective.
RATANLAL SHIVJI, London
Weapons of destruction
I DO not in any way support Saddam Hussein, but he is a problem for the people of Iraq to sort out. I fail to understand why George W Bush and Tony Blair are so concerned about Saddam Hussein and his alleged weapons of mass destruction.
Could their stance be anything to do with oil? Other countries including Britain and the US have weapons of mass destruction. Would Britain and the US allow Arabs or anyone else to inspect their arsenal? The US is the only country that has used both nuclear and chemical weapons against people.
If any country is to be banned from holding weapons of mass destruction, it must surely be the US.
RON ACOCK, Ilkeston
Religious root of the axis
YOU MADE a mistake with your front page headlined 'The Axis Of Evil' (Socialist Worker, 2 March). Osama Bin Laden isn't on it. Whilst I don't like the language, surely the 'axis of evil' is Christian fundamentalist Blair or Bush, Jewish fundamentalist Sharon and Islamic fundamentalist Bin Laden.
You have to effectively denounce the violence of all parties involved if you are going to help an anti-war movement grow.
DAN SAYER, London