Socialist Worker

Letters

Issue No. 1789

Drive out Nazis, not their victims

Holocaust survivor Leon Greenman spoke at a meeting at the University of Greenwich on Tuesday of last week. It was held after it was discovered that a leading member of the British National Party, Lawrence Rustem, is studying at the university.

More than 50 people from across the university heard Leon Greenman talk about his horrific experiences at five concentration camps, where his wife, two year old child and most of his friends were killed. But his meeting very nearly didn't go ahead. The college management decided to insist that people needed passes to get into the building.

These passes were not issued to Leon. Fortunately he was not challenged by security as he entered the building, and he was able to speak at the meeting. It is a disgrace. The vice-chancellor should have been welcoming Leon, not putting up barriers in front of him.

Instead the vice-chancellor regarded Leon's meeting as 'intimidating' and 'harassing' the Nazi BNP member. When students challenged him about the danger of having a Nazi member on campus he merely said that the Nazi would be removed if he attacked anyone. So we would have to wait for another Stephen Lawrence, the black teenager who was killed not far from the university campus in April 1993.

When Leon spoke about his experience of the Nazis he finished by saying, 'We must do everything we can to stop this ever happening again.' This set the tone for the rest of the meeting. The majority of the group was in favour of having the Nazi student expelled.

The BNP's policies are against university policy and that of the National Union of Students. If they do not kick him out soon it could be seen as the university endorsing BNP policy.

The Nazi is planning to stand as a BNP candidate in the forthcoming elections in the local Bexley area. We must put increasing pressure on the university to expel him.
JAMES PARKER, student, Greenwich University


There are echoes of apartheid South Africa in Israel

There was a packed audience last week to listen to a debate on the future of Zionism in the Peacock Theatre at the London School of Economics. I have never attended a meeting in which the Zionist right were so isolated. The openness with which people discussed the possibility of dismantling Zionism and building in its place a democratic secular state was a new experience. Already over 940 Palestinians have been killed in the intifada, one third of them children.

Israel dismisses the dead as 'terrorists'. I am reminded of the chilling self justification of the apartheid regime defending state terror against black protesters.

The images of Palestinian schoolchildren, slingshot in hand against tanks, could easily be placed alongside those of Soweto schoolkids hurling stones at the 'Hippo' armoured tanks of the South African Defence Force.

I believe that, despite the support of Bush and European leaders, the brutality and racism of the Israeli state are increasingly placing it in the pariah status once occupied by apartheid, Ian Smith's Rhodesia or the segregationist Southern states of the US.
ROB FERGUSON, South London


Postcomm post con

I AM writing this letter in response to Postcomm's recently released proposals for promoting competition within the postal service. As a postal worker currently employed in Northampton, I felt outraged at Postcomm's programme.

It brings increased pressures of job insecurity inflicted on all those affected by this announcement. The planned ultimate abolition of all restrictions on competition will undoubtedly spell disaster for the much cherished universal service and universal pricing system.

Private companies will only be attracted to the more financially lucrative parts of the market, and this 'cherry picking' is due to start, unless successfully challenged, from 1 April.
PAUL BOSWORTH, Northampton


POLITICAL FUND

New Labour's grand theft

When union members are debating the merits of stopping the political levy being paid to New Labour they should also consider ending unions' individual sponsorship to MPs. Perhaps then the likes of Prescott and his ilk will suddenly remember who elected them and why!

Until those MPs with so called left wing credentials start speaking out against this government's policies and sleaze there is no chance of any real improvement in ordinary people's lives.
JOHN HARRIS, St Albans


RECENTLY I have attended meetings at Royal Mail delivery offices all over Devon to drum up support for the CWU industrial action ballot. Although these meetings of rank and file CWU members were ostensibly to discuss the pay claim, members spontaneously wanted to broaden the debate into New Labour's privatisation agenda.

There was one question common to all the meetings-in New Labour's war on public sector workers, why are unions paying for their bullets? This question is one that all union members should be asking their leaders. Some unions have taken the decision to support political parties and organisations that mirror their own aims, and others are debating the issue.

The Socialist Alliance has sponsored a conference on 16 March to debate this important question across the union spectrum. It is vital for as many trade unionists as possible to attend.
FRAN CHOULES, Exeter


Youth want to stop nukes too

MYSELF AND two of my daughters, Danielle, aged 14, and Annalisa, aged 12, were part of the recent Mad Hatter's Tea Party protest at the Faslane nuclear submarine base. The police were taken aback to see kids locked on to flamingoes blocking the road.

They arrested myself and Danielle (who the police released without charge soon after). They didn't know what to do with Annalisa, who was dressed as a rabbit. It's amazing that if a 12 or 14 year old is caught at the wheel of a stolen car, burgling a house or generally misbehaving then the police wouldn't blink an eyelid.

To them apparently kids of this age are too thick to figure out that dropping bombs on people is wrong, and are not allowed (or not capable) of having an opinion on such things. Can I appeal to readers to support Ulla Roder, who was remanded for five weeks for refusing to comply with a bail condition that infringes her human rights? Please send letters of support to Ulla Roder, HMP Cornton Vale, Cornton Road, Stirling FK9 5NY.
ROBERTA STEWART, DANIELLE and ANNALISA ALLEN, Scotland


Debate over MMR vaccine

I DISAGREE with the conclusion put by Charlie Kimber over the MMR vaccine (Socialist Worker, 16 February). My two sons have both had the MMR. The youngest one, Luke, is autistic. I am convinced that the MMR triple vaccine caused his condition. I am currently one of hundreds of parents of vaccine-damaged autistic children suing the pharmaceutical companies.

I am not anti-vaccine and I believe that childhood immunisation programmes are, in general, a good thing. But the whole debate around MMR raises serious questions about the safety of the triple vaccine and the role of the pharmaceutical companies in influencing government opinion.

MMR was introduced in Britain in 1988. Safety trials lasted only 21 days. It was not long enough to assess potential damage to children with weak immune systems, although previous studies already showed that combining live viruses could affect the body's immune system. When a similar problem occurred in cattle in 1987, after a combined vaccine containing the measles and pneumonia viruses, it was withdrawn immediately. After my son Luke had the MMR he lost many of the skills he had attained and actually regressed into a child with limited speech, behavioural problems and a bowel condition.

I have video and medical evidence to back this up. The government and their medical advisers tell us that the triple vaccine is totally safe. But how can anyone trust medical research that is conducted by people who have links to pharmaceutical companies? Both the Committee on the Safety of Medicines and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation include government advisers with financial links to vaccine manufacturers.

The Medical Research Council, set up to establish any link between MMR and autism, included three doctors representing the vaccine manufacturers. Even doctors, who the public trust a lot more than the government, have a vested interest in defending MMR as they get a bribe of £2,500 if they inoculate 90 percent of two year olds.

This has led to examples of families being taken off doctors' lists Instead the one doctor who has taken the parents of autistic children seriously, Dr Andrew Wakefield, has been consistently undermined by the government, and was forced to resign from his job at the Royal Free Hospital in London. Some 75 percent of parents in a recent ICM poll want to have the choice of free single vaccines on the NHS.

A free choice has to be better than the current situation where many parents are not having their children vaccinated at all because they don't trust MMR, or its government backers, and can't afford to pay up to £300 for the single jabs. There also has to be a completely independent study of the effects of MMR.
MARK DOLAN, North London


Postal points

I was concerned about your coverage of David Blunkett's statement (Socialist Worker, 16 February). I agreed with most of it. But I would like to ask, do you think it is right that young Asian women should be compelled to marry men from the other side of the world whom they have never seen?
B P McMAHON, Derbyshire


I have never been a member of the Socialist Workers Party, nor do I agree with all of its policies. However, when I have seen the paper I have enjoyed it. I was therefore delighted to find it in WH Smith's last weekend. I think it's a great idea.
DR MICHAEL FLAVIN, Canterbury


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Letters
Sat 2 Mar 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1789
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