Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2118

Police stop and search a young man at Kennington Oval. Over 170 people were held and arrested in the operation on 25 August on their way to Notting Hill Carnival (Pic:»</s

Police stop and search a young man at Kennington Oval. Over 170 people were held and arrested in the operation on 25 August on their way to Notting Hill Carnival (Pic: »

Police making it worse

In response to Valerie Mae, who said that stop and search is necessary if people are going to feel safe (» Letters, 6 September), stops and searches are a massively flawed way of trying to solve the problems of gun and knife crime.

Statistics show that they do not reduce crime and are used against one section of the community – young black men.

Stop and search adds to the stereotyping, racist headlines and makes the people targeted feel even more stigmatised.

If we accept this strategy we give the police a free hand in our communities and on our streets.

Real lives are damaged by this approach, which is used by the police to look like they’re doing something about knife crime.

The problems affecting young black people are poverty, racism and high exclusion rates from schools. Stop and search does nothing to tackle these problems and increases feelings of isolation and frustration.

New Labour is supposed to be different from the Tories but it’s just the same. Tony Blair made promises about tackling the causes of crime and child poverty but blame has been put on families and individuals.

There are many things that can be done – kicking the market out of education would mean less exclusions of young black people. Funding youth provision is vital but it’s being slashed.

A society that is driven by competition, where money is spent on war instead of people, shows how many priorities we have to change. We have to fight for a more just society where stop and search has no place.

Janet Nobel, South London

The outcry in Lambeth over the police operation to stop and detain 178 young black people by armed police at Oval tube continued last week at a large police consultative meeting.

During the operation young black people were packed onto two bendy buses and then driven miles away to Sutton police station. They were kept on the buses for nearly five hours.

Only seven were charged. The most serious charge was for suspicion of having a offensive weapon – not actually having one.

Senior community members at the meeting reminded the police what happened when this sort of action was inflicted on black youth in the late 1970s and 1980s. If the police do not change their behaviour then we could have riots on the streets.

The police made exaggerated claims that they had very good “intelligence”. They said that if they had not stopped the young people then more than likely someone would have died. They failed to produce this intelligence.

The police were reminded that similar claims were made about Jean Charles de Menezes, who was shot dead by the police at Stockwell tube station. No one in the police has been called to account for his death.

Rahul Patel, Brixton, South London

Cromwell revisited

John Rees notes that as late as the 1960s Oliver Cromwell was still causing controversy in ruling class circles (» Oliver Cromwell’s legacy, 6 September).

In fact he still is. On a recent visit to Peterborough I took time to look around the cathedral – the nearest such edifice to Cromwell’s Huntingdonshire base.

Very little mention is made of the English Civil War and parliamentary period in the numerous plaques that adorn the building.

Instead there is simply an unexplained gap covering the period 1643-1660.

The official guide mentions that parliamentary forces destroyed the cathedral’s cloisters.

It does concede that maybe the church had got a bit out of hand and the parliamentary forces helped to remind those in charge that it was meant to be about religion not wealth.

Despite Cromwell’s faults that is not a bad, if unintended, epitaph.

Keith Flett, North London

The article on Cromwell’s legacy (» Oliver Cromwell’s legacy, 6 September) is a real inspiration.

The era of the English Civil War is fascinating, especially because of the forces from below that took up arms and fought for land and freedom.

A friend of mine possesses a very old family crest which I traced back to the time of the Civil War. We discovered that his ancestor was a noble fighter against the crown.

At first the crest looks like a landed gentry family’s crest, but on closer inspection a rather proud man’s face and torso are displayed in armour.

The gentry never showed their faces on their crests. There are other crests like this one in the family from that time.

These crests (according to the texts I read in the library) were a major cause of grief for the lovers of pomp and the old landed gentry class.

We should continue to learn about Oliver Cromwell and make the ruling class feel they can’t show their faces.

Sophie Jongman, Gillingham, Kent

Drugs companies not Nice should be target

An article about the NHS denying cancer treatment to patients (» NHS policies deny vital treatment, 30 August) pointed out that the decision was based partly on “value for money”.

The NHS’s drug watchdog Nice has often been criticised for allowing cost to be a factor in their calculations.

But under the current system I think we need a body like Nice – one that investigates whether drug treatments are effective and whether they offer the NHS value for money.

Our main target should be the drug companies. We should demand regulation of their profiteering. We should demand that cheaper generic drugs are used by the NHS whenever possible.

Media reports on Nice will often quote enraged patients groups. But many of these patient groups are partially funded, or even initiated, by the drug companies themselves.

They exploit the desperation of patients and their families to try and pressure the NHS into paying ridiculous prices for their latest “wonder drugs”.

Perhaps the real criticism of Nice should not be that it excludes some treatments from the NHS, but that it excludes too few. New drugs are often no better than existing treatments, but the drug companies know that a sustained assault on many fronts can force the NHS to cave in and pay out.

Ben Windsor, South London 

Energy workers deserve better

in response to your article on the pay dispute at the NEDL energy company (Socialist Worker 23 August), I am a NEDL employee and I feel very unappreciated and undervalued for the service that I give to the company.

The level of commitment given by the staff is second to none, but the company does not seem to recognise this.

The only thing that drives the company is profit – not the wellbeing of the staff.

Without the workforce, the bosses would have nothing and yet they treat us as though we don’t matter.

I work in one of the best performing offices in the country but it is also, unfortunately, the second worst paid.

We have been promised so much in the past and have had very little delivered.

It is time to stand up and be counted. We need to fight to get the rewards that we all deserve.

They should give us decent basic pay. We work hard and should have a living wage.

With the profit they are making, it’s not such a big ask. But we are told all the time that they cannot afford it.

When looking at the figures it does not seem to add up!

NEDL worker, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Tory bigot reinstated

The Tories have reinstated Philip Lardner as a Scottish parliamentary candidate.

He was suspended just three months ago for praising Ian Smith – who led the white minority government in Rhodesia – as a hero and stating that the views on immigration expressed in Enoch Powell’s notorious 1968 “Rivers of Blood” speech have started to come true.

Powell was sacked for that speech. Perhaps the Tories have been emboldened by recent TV programmes, which featured the speech and tried to rehabilitate these repugnant racist views.

Tory leader David Cameron has a record of being virulently anti-immigration.

Lardner should still ponder his political future since it is the unpopularity of these ideas among others which have meant that in recent elections only one Tory MP has been elected from Scotland to Westminster.

Margaret Woods, Glasgow

Information revolution

Many people say that surplus value is no longer produced by labour, but rather by innovation and branding.

How does the information revolution impact on the relationship between capital and labour?

More specifically, what impact does it have on the production of surplus value?  

Ahmed El-Hassan, by email

Speaking out on tribunals

The account of the disability benefit tribunal was sad reading (» Letters, 30 August). The whole system is designed to punish non-workers.

The writer should not take these attacks personally. See it as a kind of class struggle.

To offer some advice – there is often an opportunity to appeal and, in the case of financial hardship, an immediate appeal to the hardship fund can produce some quick financial help. The child poverty group produced an excellent handbook and a visit to the library might help.

The Citizens Advice Bureau has a statutory obligation to assist when you approach them.

Furthermore, some law firms may help you get legal aid.

Speaking out is the first step to victory. Well done.

Patrick Cooper-Duffy, Southampton

Addressing devolution

The piece on nationalism (» Imperialism, nationalism and national liberation struggles, 30 August) is a very useful start to the debate the left needs to have about devolution in Wales and Scotland.

Devolution leads to the dismantling of the British state – something I am sure most socialists would regard as positive.

Hugh Parsons, Swansea/Abertawe

Fascism’s return?

The airport in Comiso, Italy, is named after Pio La Torre, a leading Sicilian Communist who was murdered by the mafia in 1982 for promoting a law creating a new crime of mafia conspiracy.

Now the city’s right wing mayor is proposing that the airport’s name should revert back to its title during Mussolini's fascist dictatorship, when it was named after a fascist ‘hero’.

The rehabilitation of a fascist and the attempt to whitewash an assassinated anti-mafia campaigner out of the history books sums up the state of Italy today under the regime of Silvio Berlusconi.

Marita Mariani, West London

Really a crime?

I was stopped last month by armed police officers in Chesterfield.

 My “crime” was shaking my head at the stupidity of the driver of the police car.

Derbyshire police say that they are armed for my protection.

I don’t trust them!

David S Cole, Chesterfield

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Article information

Tue 9 Sep 2008, 18:55 BST
Issue No. 2118
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