Nuclear protesters found not guilty
On 18 January in Manchester Crown Court a jury of six men and six women found two Trident Ploughshares campaigners not guilty of a charge of conspiracy to commit criminal damage.
It shows that when ordinary people are told the facts about nuclear weapons and the defence policy of the UK government, they are willing to be led by their conscience and rule independently of the judge's directions. The arguments and evidence put to them demonstrated the total illegality of Trident because of its horrendous firepower.
The four submarines in the Trident fleet would eventually have 144 warheads, each with the power of eight times the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Sylvia Boyes from Keighley, and River from Manchester planned to damage Vengeance before it left Barrow to be commissioned into the navy. They entered the water of the dock but were intercepted by a patrol boat before they could reach the submarine.
Using a mixture of legal and moral arguments, they exposed the criminality of Trident and clearly demonstrated their own sincerity, integrity, non-violent approach and clarity of purpose.
SYLVIA and RACHEL BOYES
Lethal Trident missiles should be put on trial
Father Martin Newell and Susan van der Hijden have been in custody since November awaiting trial. They are charged with burglary and causing damage of £31,000 during an anti-nuclear protest.
Martin and Susan entered RAF Wittering and worked unobserved for two hours disarming part of a convoy of nuclear warheads. The convoy was transporting warheads from Burghfield to the Trident submarine bases in Scotland.
Martin and Susan finished their action by spray-painting slogans such as 'Drop the debt, not the bomb' and 'Restore justice, resist Trident'. They carried out their action as a way of confronting Third World debt and exploitation.
Recently 55 people attended a meeting in Martin's parish in east London to plan protests on the day of the trial. The bigger the protest the greater their chances of acquital.
MAGGIE FALSHAW, East London Socialist Alliance
For more information phone Ciaron O'Reilly on 07947 569 577. Send letters of support to Martin and Susan c/o Peace Pagoda, Willen, Milton Keynes MK15 0BA.
Blockade Faslane Nuclear base in Scotland
Monday 12 February, 7am, Faslane
For details phone Trident Ploughshares on 01324 880744
Get out and scare Labour
I sincerely believe that we socialists should leave the New Labour Party. Blair was elected under the flag of traditional Labour with the public believing in traditional Labour values. But this New Labour turned out to be nothing more than bad Labour.
We should be fighting for the workers of Britain and equality throughout Britain, instead of paying New Labour ministers big fat House of Commons cheques for rejecting their working class values. I have been a socialist all my life, believing deeply in our cause. But what I see happening in New Labour is totally devastating.
I urge you fellow socialists to split from the depths of New Labour and form a socialist workers' movement that will scare New Labour into re-accepting its traditional Labour ethos.
RAJ MESSOS, Belper, Derbyshire
Iraqis-DU victims too
It has recently been exposed in the mainstream media about the effects of the nuclear weapon depleted uranium (DU) on European war veterans. But I am also concerned at the lack of publicity given to the effects that DU and sanctions have had on the civilian population inside one country. During the Gulf War the US and British governments used DU while they bombed Iraq.
After the bombing ended, economic and military sanctions were imposed on Iraq with the idea of bringing down the regime and stopping it from building weapons of mass destruction. But sanctions are playing no real role in bringing down Saddam Hussein's regime, and the biggest weapon of mass destruction is DU. According to the BBC, infant mortality is rising well beyond 100 per 1,000 live births, and Iraq is on a par with some of the poorest countries. Since the use of DU, doctors have seen the most horrific deformities when children are born.
But Iraqi medics are unable to fight these illnesses because the sanctions prevent Iraq from buying X-ray machines and ambulances.
HUSSEIN AL-ALAK, Greater Manchester Coalition Against Sanctions and War on Iraq
Union branch dumps Blair
For many years socialists and activists in the unions have debated which is the best way to organise politically-in support of the Labour Party or independent of it.
Under this New Labour government the argument has shifted. In my MSF union branch we have elected delegates to the local Labour Party every year at our annual general meeting. That is, until this year. Last week people questioned why any union money should go to a party which pursues policies against our members' interests.
Our branch voted not to affiliate to the local Labour Party, and the majority of the meeting supported the idea that there should be socialist candidates standing in Leicester against Labour.
MIKE THOMPSON, branch chair, Leicester East MSF (personal capacity)
13 dead with nothing said
In January 1981 13 black teenagers burnt to death at a house in New Cross. They were celebrating a 16 year old friend's birthday. I was too young to remember much more than the slogan '13 dead and nothing said', and watching a large march on the TV.
Six years ago I moved to New Cross, south London, and, hearing that there was to be a public hearing to mark the twentieth anniversary of that tragedy, I wanted to attend. Around 100 people were at the meeting including relatives, survivors and community leaders.
One parent, Mrs Narissa Campbell, said, 'The government and the police did not care and did not investigate the case properly because the dead were black. Instead they treated the survivors like criminals.' I found many similarities between the statements made at the hearing and those made during the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.
As Stephen was black they did not investigate properly, losing vital evidence. They treated Mr and Mrs Lawrence with contempt. There is the same nasty smell about the New Cross fire. We must have a public inquiry.
DARRELL STROUD, South London
Sarah Macken writes (Socialist Worker, 13 January) about the move by parliament to permit experimental research on human embryos. It is important that socialists should make it clear where we stand on this issue. Using the stem cells from embryos would revolutionise the treatment of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's.
Socialists should support this kind of research in principle. However, we should question its control by industry. There is a real danger these advances could be exploited for profit. We should demand the research is taken out of the control of multinational companies and put under state control. We should also demand a ban on the patenting of human genes because of the control this gives to corporations.
RICHARD SUNDERLAND, West Yorkshire
At 83 years of age I have had wide experience of politics. It ranges from going round as a child singing 'Vote, vote, vote for Mr Wilson' to being interested in Labour betrayal in general, like the 1931 Invergordon Mutiny in Scotland.
As I understand it, after fighting for 'their' country the seamen had their wages cut after the war. As in the poem, 'When the war is won and all the wrongs are righted, god is forgotten and the soldier is slighted.'
GERALD MILLS, Sheffield