Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2062

Protests against Hackney council’s housing plans last week (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Protests against Hackney council’s housing plans last week (Pic: Socialist Worker)

We shall not be moved

While the government talk of creating more “social housing”, Hackney council in east London has unveiled plans to “decant” (evict) up to 160 families from the Gascoyne Estate.

Its plans may include demolishing up to four blocks of housing and selling the land to housing associations.

Tenants of the Points blocks, which are part of the estate, have been told that if they are able to return after rebuilding or potential refurbishment funded by private developers, they will no longer have council tenancies.

At a so-called “consultation” event on Wednesday of last week tenants were asked to give their feedback on options – none of which involved staying with the council – by simply ticking boxes on posters displayed on the wall.

Angry tenants protested outside the event and held an alternative consultation collecting 23 signed letters opposing the demolition and sell-off.

This represented a substantial number of the families who visited the consultation event. This is despite tenants being repeatedly told by representatives of the council and developers that there was no option but sell-off.

Many tenants feel that the estate has been systematically run down in the lead up to these proposals in order to persuade tenants they would be better off leaving.

Tenants have been told for 30 years that it has not been possible to install central heating in their homes as the Points are weak in structure. But a recent survey found this not to be case and other blocks of the same design have been brought up to decent homes standards.

Tenants are suspicious that the land’s proximity to the Olympic development area increases the prospective value of the land.

We fear that any new homes built on the land by housing associations will be beyond the means of current tenants’ income.

The council are due to make a final decision on the estate’s future this September.

Angela Stapleford, East London

Shattering illusions in Labour

Anyone with any illusions in New Labour’s attitude to trade unions would have had them rudely shattered during the recent Ealing Southall by-election.

My union, the PCS, together with other public sector unions held hustings to which all candidates were invited.

Neither the Labour nor the Tory candidate bothered to show.

The Tory rich boy Tony Lit was slugging cocktails with fellow chinless wonder David Cameron, while Labour’s Virenda Sharma was meeting Peter Hain.

PCS members and our general secretary Mark Serwotka also wrote to all candidates seeking their views on public services, pay, and privatisation.

Even the Tories replied. But not New Labour.

Apparently the concerns of over 650 PCS members, and thousands of NUT, Unison, CWU, and RMT union members in Ealing Southall are of no concern to New Labour.

PCS members are disgusted, but not entirely surprised.

Phil Pardoe, West London

Unity is needed

In the interests of women’s liberation, we should make no concessions to patriarchy theory (» Letters, 21 July). If we see patriarchy, or male dominance, as the reason for women’s oppression – rather than class – this affects how we view the world and how we respond to it.

It cuts us off from working class men and places us next to ruling class women, who have every interest in keeping us down.

Of course all women under capitalism are oppressed. But class means that all women do not have the same interests.

Seeing the world through the prism of patriarchy means that we will attempt to change things by uniting all women together, regardless of their class.

As ruling class women benefit from the exploitation of working class women, this strategy is doomed to failure.

We have seen this in the feminist movements of the past, where wealthier women tried to curb the demands of their poorer “sisters”, and movements have split along class lines.

The biggest gains for women have always come from ordinary men and women fighting together, and targeting their real enemy – the ruling class. In 1917, Russian women won the right to divorce and abortion on demand and lived in a society that provided socialised childcare.

In the 1970s, men and women fought together in Britain to defend a woman’s right to choose, creating the biggest pro-choice campaign we have ever seen.

It’s an insult to ordinary men to say that men are the ones in control of the world. Everywhere poor men face the same problems as poor women – poverty, disease, war, and the effects of climate change.

In Britain men work the longest hours in Europe. Our rulers have no qualms about sending young men and boys to their deaths to fight their wars.

The main divide across the globe is not between men and women. It is between the rulers and the ruled. As working class women, how can we hope to work together with women whose very position depends on our exploitation?

Sadie Robinson, North London

Venezuela and Iran have the right to unite

More nonsense is being written about Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

The Guardian has weighed in against Venezuela’s joint economic ventures with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It also criticises Chavez’s support for Iranian nuclear energy. This is cynical and hypocritical.

Venezuela and Iran have every right to cooperate economically. Even more so when the West is applying sanctions against Iran and threatening nuclear strikes.

Chavez has rightly said “the real barbarians are those who occupied and destroyed Iraq”.

Venezuela is also criticised for spending its oil wealth to “weaken US influence”. But much of this has been through funding long term health and social projects.

The US is trying to counter this by giving phoney aid to Latin America. It recently sent a warship to give medical care for just a few days at different Latin American ports. Many people that came needing long term treatment were left ailing and angry.

Chavez is popular because he reflects a mass movement of the poor breaking with neoliberalism. He deserves our support.

However alliances with national elites in Iran or anywhere else won’t create a “multi-polar” resistance to imperialism, as he claims. That resistance will come through international struggle from below.

Luke Stobart, North London

Innocent accused

Australia’s government has been humiliated after terrorism charges were dropped against an Indian doctor accused of being associated with the recent Glasgow airport attack.

The deeply unpopular government hoped to use Islamophobia to regain momentum before an election later this year.

Ministers lined up to publicly smear Dr Mohammed Haneef while he was held for 12 days without charge.

When a magistrate granted bail, the immigration minister even withdrew the doctor’s work visa and threatened to place him in indefinite detention – a move usually reserved for Australia’s mistreated asylum seekers.

But in their rush to capture a high-profile political conviction prosecutors falsely claimed an old mobile phone sim card of Dr Haneef’s had been found at Glasgow airport.

The victimisation of Dr Haneef has outraged many who previously supported the anti-terror laws.

Protests have been held around the country.

Public anger has also put pressure on the Labour opposition over its support for the laws.

Despite feeling desperate to get rid of the Tories after 11 years, many people are now questioning Labour’s Blairite strategy of mimicking Tory policies.

Tad Tietze, Sydney, Australia

Polarisation in the city

Danny Dorling’s report (» Unequal Britain , 28 July) is a welcome addition to the growing body of evidence on inequality.

There is a polarisation taking place in much of inner London, which means that generally only the wealthy or the very poor can access new accommodation.

The former because they have the purchasing power, and the latter because they are sufficiently poor to access the limited social housing available.

This has serious implications for how a city such as London operates and where people on average incomes can live. The polarisation shows no sign of decreasing.

The poor remain caught in the benefits trap as wages and government subsidies do not provide enough to live on.

Mubin Haq, East London

Do we need less people?

Is this world not getting overcrowded?

As the population increases more land is being cleared to turn into farm land to provide for those born.

The birth rate in Britain is going up, meaning more cars on our roads. Is the country becoming too overcrowded?

There is a point when we have to ask where the land, water, food and other resources are going to come from if the world keeps on having children.

James Meehan, by email

All bomb plots are extreme

Has anyone noticed the ridiculous language used by the police?

Recently some Tesco stores were closed following a bomb threat.

The Hertfordshire police said, “There is still no reason to believe that the incidents are linked to extremism of any kind.”

So as no Muslims were involved does this perhaps mean that the supposed bombs were nice and cuddly?

No one seems to have challenged the police on their ridiculous and offensive use of language.

Hazel Sabey, West London

About more than a holiday

Danny Dorling’s report (» Unequal Britain , 28 July) was a timely study of the growing gap between rich and poor.

The creation of council housing, the NHS and comprehensive education in the second half of the 20th century helped to reduce wealth inequality.

Now, access to these things is determined by a “postcode lottery”.

But Dorling’s article did not explain what poverty really means today, apart from the inability to afford an annual holiday. It underplayed what is happening.

In Haringey, north London, life expectancy is ten years longer in the wealthier western half of the borough than in the east.

The local health trust have published a shocking report into infant mortality rates for the whole of Haringey.

This shows how many children die before their first birthday, generally recognised as a marker of poverty.

After falling steadily for many years, infant mortality rates have risen by 50 percent since 1997 – the year New Labour came to power.

Simon Hester, North London

We want to keep our jobs

I’ve worked for Remploy for 17 years based at Birkenhead on the Wirral, and it’s a great place to work.

The unit is very high tech. We design, spread, cut and sew protection suits for the Ministry of Defence, as well as life jackets.

The Remploy board and government should hang their heads in shame. I have a job, I pay my taxes and I don’t want to end up on benefits.

So please take all 43 factories off your hit list and if you’re going to chop, chop from the top.

To all my fellow Remploy workers – stay strong, we can win this.

Adam Jones, by email

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Tue 31 Jul 2007, 18:49 BST
Issue No. 2062
Share this article


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.