Here in Ipswich in Suffolk we're campaigning in the first by-election since the general election in June. I'm standing again for the Socialist Alliance. In the general election the main plank of our campaign was opposing privatisation. Now it is opposing Bush and Blair's war.
Before the sudden death of our MP the Socialist Alliance had helped to set up a local Stop the War group. This includes people from organisations such as Amnesty International, CND, the Quakers, and people working with and supporting refugees. We all went to the national demonstration against the war in London on 13 October, and came back inspired by the size and exuberance of the march.
Many of the people in our anti-war group are extremely supportive of my campaign and really glad that I am standing against the war. A leading Quaker said that he was looking forward to voting for me. This will be a short and intense campaign, as the election is on Thursday 22 November.
We are going to build both the election campaign and the national demonstration in London this Sunday against the war. We have two public meetings planned.
The opposition to the brutal bombing of Afghanistan is growing locally. We need as much help as possible to get the anti-war, socialist message across. If you can help in any way please phone 07960 026 661.
PETER LEECH, Socialist Alliance candidate for Ipswich
Brussels is the next stop for our movement
Last week a pamphlet was published claiming that anti-capitalism is now irrelevant in the aftermath of the attacks in the US on 11 September. Nothing could be further from the truth. The anti-war movement has taken strength and energy from the anti-capitalist movement.
The December demonstrations in Brussels against the European Union summit are essential for those wishing to pose an alternative to Blair and Bush's world order. The European Trade Union Confederation has called a demonstration on the eve of the summit for workers' rights and union rights. All trade unionists can organise delegations to Brussels, as the TUC officially backs the protest.
When the summit begins a collective of non-governmental organisations, left groups and campaigning organisations have united to organise a mass 'Global peace and justice' protest. Make it serve as a reminder that we're not going to allow the neo-liberal murderers to carry on.
Globalise Resistance is organising transport to Brussels for both protests on 13 and 14 December. For only £45 you can join in the next big stand against Blair and his mates in Europe. Get your ticket now by phoning 020 8980 3005.
Guy Taylor, Globalise Resistance
SSP offers better vision
As Scotland's first minister, Henry McLeish, resigned last week I wondered if he would face the same charges as someone found guilty of stealing £36,000 from the benefit system.
What sort of world does McLeish live in? Clearly the sort of world in which £36,000, the sum fraudulently received for the subletting of his constituency office, is just spare cash. It's certainly not the world in which working class people have been known to take their own lives when confronted with debts just a fraction of that amount. It's little wonder people say, 'Politicians-they're all the same.' But I felt proud when one of the medical secretaries who are currently on all-out strike singled out the Scottish Socialist Party for praise.
She said we had given them so much solidarity through our network of supporters. It is our task now to widen and deepen those roots, and provide a very different vision of the future to the warmongering and sleaze on offer from establishment politicians.
In politics we are definitely not 'all the same'.
Peter Allison, Dundee
After horror attack
Salford welcomes asylum seekers
A HORRIFIC a
ttack on a refugee hostel has taken place in Salford. The privately-run hostel houses 50 16 to 18 year olds, mainly Afghan and Kurdish refugees. The attack involved an armed gang ramming into the gates of the building in a car.
The terrified refugees fled the building, and many were seriously injured as they clambered over walls with razor wire on top. The police say that they do not know the motive for the attack, and it has been ignored by the national media.
But many of us who live, study or work in Salford are totally sickened by what we know is racially motivated 'refugee bashing'. We have been getting cards signed and doing collections to raise money for presents to take to the hostel.
We are petitioning against the attack in the streets around the hostel to show that refugees are welcome. The climate of scapegoating combined with the extreme poverty existing in whole parts of Salford have contributed to the attack. Politicians now have a responsibility to repair the damage.
Mary Black, Salford
I can't afford sell off
THANKS TO Alan Walter for an excellent letter (20 October) about Stephen Byers' retreat on council housing funding. Problem is, it seems a bit late. The vote to transfer the Aylesbury estate in Southwark, south London, into private hands started on 9 November.
Despite the fact that the formal consultation document has not reached all tenants-because it was one kilo in weight and too large for many small letterboxes-we are expected to vote. Because I have always worked in female-dominated professions in the public sector there was no possibility of me raising enough money to buy a house. Now I am being pushed into a situation where I can't afford increased rents and service charges.
Margot Lindsay, South London
Politicians = murderers
IT IS that time of year again when the poppy is the fashion item that adorns every last scoundrel politician. Armchair generals such as Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Peter Hain are falling over themselves to send troops to their death.
They want to bring death to Afghanistan, which is one of the poorest countries on earth, at the behest of the US. Politicians are remembering the Boer War, the colonial wars, the First World War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Balkan war, and on and on.
When politicians stand in line at the Cenotaph do they see bloated bodies, children burned to death by napalm, healthy bodies ripped to pieces by cluster bombs? I doubt it.
Derek Hanlin, Wales
You can't bomb the world to peace
I FOUND myself in good company in London last week. Spearhead, an anti-capitalist hip-hop band from the US, were playing to a packed audience. We leafleted the queue for the anti-war demonstration in central London on Sunday 18 November.
Singer Michael Franti talked about the huge importance of standing up against the war. As he urged everyone to go to the demonstration-'otherwise there'll be 99,000 instead of 100,000 people there'-loads of people cheered and picked up the leaflets which we threw in the air.
He went on to sing, 'You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace.' At a time when the world of commercial hip-hop is dominated by sexist gangster rappers, bands like Spearhead are a reminder of the radical roots of hip-hop.
Despina Mavrou, North London
Class society brought conflict
Matt Hodgkinson (Letters, 10 November) claims that Martin Smith was 'hopelessly naive' in saying war was not a feature of hunter-gatherer societies. Matt uses the example of the Yanomani people to prove his point. In fact the Yanomani are NOT a hunter-gatherer society. They are what anthropologists call a horticultural society living in settlements.
The alleged fierceness of the Yanomani, famously portrayed by the anthropologist Chagnon, has also been challenged by later observers who are not as convinced as he was of the predominance of warfare in that society. The few hunter-gatherer societies that have survived into modern times, like the Mbuti and !Kung San, do not have any warfare.
All the real evidence we have shows that warfare begins with the rise of stratification in society, and becomes intensified and more systematic with the beginning of full-blown class societies.
MARIANNE JOHANSEN, East London