Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2057

Aboriginal children face poverty and racism at the hands of the state. A recent campaign by Oxfam Australia highlights the fact that the life expectancy of indigenous Australians is 17 years less than for non-indigenous people http://www.oxfam.o

Aboriginal children face poverty and racism at the hands of the state. A recent campaign by Oxfam Australia highlights the fact that the life expectancy of indigenous Australians is 17 years less than for non-indigenous people »

We need more black teachers

The reasons why our black children are failing in schools are very simple.

The national curriculum is totally outdated and inappropriate.

Our black children must see more black female teachers in the classroom – then they will feel safe.

It is not feasible to teach children from another culture. If you haven’t lived and understood their culture, they can feel very insecure.

We need a system where our children can work to their full potential.

Our children need black headteachers and black teachers – male and female. Without the full package, nothing will work.

The worst case at present is the government building more prisons instead of investing in schools.

We all need wisdom.

Andrea Williams, North West London

Climate is a political issue

Rachael Solomon is right that climate change is one of the most pressing issues we face (» Letters, 23 June), and it is urgent that large scale action is taken to reduce emissions. However climate change cannot be separated from wider politics.

Climate change is caused by capitalism and it is the logic of neoliberalism that is preventing effective action. So to tackle climate change we need to challenge that system.

Neoliberalism, and those institutions that create the conditions of class exploitation – from big business, our system of world trade, to imperialism and the military – depend on fossil fuels and expanding energy production.

This makes the fight against climate change necessarily both an anti-capitalist and an anti-imperialist one.

Addressing climate change is also part of the fight against privatisation, as we need a nationalised, reliable and affordable public transport system, and decent, energy efficient housing.

The role of socialists in the wider environmental movement is vital. There are inherent barriers within neoliberalism which result in a reliance on flawed market solutions and prevent individual solutions from being effective.

We have been taking these arguments into the movement.

At the Campaign Against Climate Change conference in May both Respect and SWP members offered a strategy on tackling climate change as both a highly important issue in itself, but also one which is central to any anti-capitalist movement.

Through social struggle we can build a climate change movement and achieve changes.

I would encourage readers to come to this year’s Marxism festival where the course on the environment will allow more in depth discussions about the effects of capitalism on the environment and how as revolutionary socialists and anti-capitalist activists we can best address this.

Alison Smith, Plymouth

More solutions to the housing crisis

I enjoyed the excellent fact filled spread on the crisis in housing (» The crisis in Britain's housing, 16 June). But there seemed to be some confusion about short term policy.

With sufficient planning and resources we could build enough good quality council housing to meet demand. However in the meantime we will need some private sector accommodation.

Why would we need to tax “buy to let”? As we provide more good social housing, the “buy to let” bubble will burst.

You also talk about property speculators buying to keep empty.

This destructive and anti-social practice can be combated by Land Value Taxation, which would also take the steam out of land value inflation, and redistribute income.

Nasser Mashadi, by email

Right to buy

The statement: “Since Margaret Thatcher introduced the ‘right to buy’ for council tenants in 1980...” (» The crisis in Britain's housing, 16 June) is inaccurate as some tenants were given the right to buy some time earlier.

In Shoreham-by-Sea, for instance, the local council began selling off council houses to tenants in the 1970s. Relatives of mine bought their house then.

What Thatcher did was to turn what was already happening into a national agenda and to accelerate the process.

Rob Benny, formerly of Shoreham-by-Sea

Cuts behind rise in abortion rates

Despite the recent furore in the right wing media about the 4 percent increase in abortions in the past year, we are still a very long way from abortion on demand.

Instead many women – especially young women – are being let down.

Funding for services that help women avoid unwanted pregnancy – sexual health clinics and advice centres – is being cut.

The average spent on each woman’s contraception by primary care trusts in England is just £11 a year – and in some areas it’s just 18p.

It is also not easy or simple for women to have an abortion. A woman still has to get the approval of two doctors in order to get an abortion.

Cuts in services and the fact that GPs are still able to refuse to put a woman forward for an abortion on moral grounds are two of the main reasons why women are forced to have later abortions.

The way to reduce the number of abortions is to provide decent services – not to force women to continue unwanted pregnancies. Forty years after the 1967 Abortion Act, we are still fighting for a woman’s right to choose.

Sylvia Elgrib, Sidcup, Kent

Wrong on the role of Hamas

Simon Assaf (» Hamas’s victory in Gaza is a blow to Bush’s plans, 23 June) describes Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the Gaza strip as a “strike against imperialism”, but taking a longer term view it might be quite the opposite.

It was after all the Israeli government, with US support, that allowed funds to be channelled into the embryonic Hamas movement in the 1980s to deliberately encourage an Islamist counterweight to the secular Fatah movement.

They have succeeded beyond their dreams – emasculating Fatah and dividing the Palestinian people.

Gaza is now in the hands of an Islamist movement that gains popularity on the back of Fatah’s failures but has no political strategy for advancing the demands of the Palestinian people.

A refusal to be drawn into civil war, and a patient rebuilding of an independent secular Palestinian movement capable of working with oppositional elements in Israel, remains the best hope.

That is what socialists should be supporting.

David Rosenberg, North London

Fighting to save Remploy

I find it laughable, if not offensive, when Steve Leach (» Letters, 9 June) uses words like self-determination and freedom of choice for disabled workers to support the closure of Remploy factories.

It is exactly these things that would be taken away if Remploy factories are closed.

In our factory in Dundee the majority of workers – who are both disabled and non-disabled – are highly skilled sewing machinists.

In a perfect society where discrimination wouldn’t exist, there would be no need for supported employment.

Until we have achieved this goal, Remploy gives meaningful employment opportunities to people with disabilities.

We do not feel patronised in Remploy and there is no way we will give up our hard fought working conditions and trade union rights.

Derek Milligan, GMB shop steward, Dundee Remploy

Betrayed over NHS contracts

I’m an NHS worker, and not only am I spitting mad about our pay offer, I’m still spitting mad about the supposed improvements that were to be made in the “agenda for change” rubbish that happened a couple of years ago.

There was a promise to pay all hours worked over our contracted 37 and a half hours at the appropriate overtime rate.

It didn’t happen in the trust where I work. If we wished to do extra hours, we were made to sign on for zero hour contracts which were paid at the normal rates.

If we didn’t sign the contracts, the work went to an agency. This was even if the agency was more expensive.

Health worker, Banbury, Oxon

Good riddance to racist bigot

I was delighted to hear of the death of racist comedian Bernard Manning.

He was a swine who built a career telling the most offensive and racist jokes he could get away with. He spread mental gangrene every time he opened his filthy mouth.

His big breakthrough was in the early 1970s TV show The Comedians. However at that point, he was less racist than many of the other acts on the show.

It was only after this that he built a reputation as a racist comedian. He did it at a time when the Nazi National Front were on the rise. Manning chose to feed the racist atmosphere of the 1970s.

Since his death a number of media figures have defended Manning as a comedian with only one agenda – making people laugh. But Manning knew where he stood.

His death leaves the world a better place.

Sasha Simic, East London

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Article information

Tue 26 Jun 2007, 18:38 BST
Issue No. 2057
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