Socialist Worker

Letters

Issue No. 1914

These new laws are aimed at all of us

Whatever you think about animal rights, we should all be very worried about the new laws proposed to deal with “animal rights extremists”.

I am a TGWU union steward, and I would have arguments with people who are against all animal experiments.

But I certainly want to see these proposed laws stopped.

They could be used against peace protesters, anti-capitalists, anti-racists and, above all, against trade unionists in dispute.

Three new offences would be created under the Home Office plan.

  • It would be illegal “for a person to be outside a home for the purpose of representing to or persuading the resident, or anyone else, that he should not do something he is entitled to do, or that he should do something he is not obliged to do, and causing harassment, alarm or distress to the resident.”

    It’s true that the law would not apply to “peaceful picketing” during a strike, but this gives only very limited rights.

    You would certainly get caught out for protesting outside a minister’s home about the war.

    In addition, what if a factory or office is also somebody’s home (or one of a set of homes)?

    Managers or government ministers could easily register a flat at a workplace or public building as a home.

    And at what point does a peaceful protest become one where “harassment” takes place?

  • It would be illegal “for a person subject to a direction to return to the vicinity of the premises within three months for the purposes of representing to or persuading the resident or another that he should not do something he is entitled to do or that he should do something he is not obliged to do”.

    This provision could be used against people picketing, say, a pharmaceutical company over high prices for Aids drugs.

  • It would be illegal “for a person to pursue a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another and which that person knows amounts to harassment of the other”.

    Would this include such activities as protesting at an arms fair?

    We should complain now, before these laws are passed. I believe trade unionists should be telling their executives that the targets would go much wider than animal rights people.

    Of course the government will throw up its hands and say that the trade unions are in cahoots with “deranged anarchists”.

    But the alternative to protest is to find yourself hauled before the courts in a few months or years time for simply exercising democratic rights.

    Fundamental liberties are being taken away by this most illiberal government.
    Alan Jones, Stafford


    You can do much better than Labour

    DAVE EDWARDS (Letters, 7 August) says he has recently joined the Labour Party in order to win it back to socialist policies.

    Well, good luck. But can there ever have been a worse time to attempt such a project?

    The reality is that the vast majority of Labour MPs have allowed Blair to get away with the war in Iraq, attacks on the trade unions, assaults on the welfare state, further privatisation—and much more.

    Far from disciplining Blair, they have encouraged him to go further.

    The trade union leaders have raised some areas of disagreement, but have completely backed off from real confrontation or from calls for Blair to go.

    New Labour is the antithesis of socialism.

    Of course many people in the past have had doubts about Labour but were worried there wasn’t a viable alternative.

    But now Respect is showing that such an alternative can be built.

    I’d urge Dave to be part of its success, part of creating hope. This is not just some abstract question.

    When it comes to the Hartlepool by-election, will he be calling for a Labour victory (which will encourage Blair to hang on and to launch more attacks) or for a vote for Respect, which will help to push Blair under?
    Jill Russell, Darlington


    Banned for protesting

    WHILE TRAVELLING to Turkey on holiday with my family last week, I was denied access to the country.

    The immigration police gave no reason for this action. I had visited Turkey only a few months earlier with no problem, so what had changed?

    Nearly four years ago I was arrested in Prague after a demonstration to protest at the World Bank and IMF.

    I was one of many victims of the Czech Republic’s police’s racism and prejudice as they went around arresting anyone who was black, Asian or “different” looking (such as having coloured hair).

    I was in a group of 12 stopped by riot police, but only seven of us were arrested. All the “normal looking” white people were sent on their way.

    Despite never even being charged with a crime, I believe the British government has kept my details on a list as I have since been questioned under anti-terror laws.

    It is only a few weeks since George Bush visited Turkey to attend the NATO conference.

    I am an anti-war activist. Perhaps the Turkish government is so paranoid about anti-war protest that they will do all they can to keep people out.

    And the British government seems happy to hand over any information (however far-fetched) it is asked for.
    Sakina Karimjee, Birmingham


    How Iraqis would vote

    HAL DRAPER’S 1967 article (reprinted in Socialist Worker, 7 August) was a strong argument about how to rebuild the US left.

    But I don’t think it addresses the key question in 2004—the international aspect of the coming election.Will the people fighting the US in Iraq be more cheered by a Bush defeat, with Nader getting 3 percent, or by a Bush victory where Nader gets 5 percent?

    It seems obvious to me that a defeat for Bush will embolden anti-imperialist forces everywhere.
    Tony Anderson, West London


    Big Brother...or Big Brother?

    I’M INTERESTED to know how the Socialist Workers Party would change the mass media should the revolution come.

    Would censorship be brought in to combat the spread of fascist material or would this propaganda be tolerated?

    Would our current “entertainment society” created by the capitalist mass media to keep the masses more interested in shows like Big Brother than politics be replaced or maintained as a medium of pleasure?

    Would the state have direct control of the media?

    These are issues which I think need to be addressed by movements like the Socialist Workers Party, as the media is such an important part of our lives.
    John Livingston by email


    UKIP’s Bloom is fading fast

    YORKSHIRE’S newly-elected UKIP Euro MP, Godfrey Bloom, has shown half of Yorkshire’s population what he thinks of them.

    “I am here to represent Yorkshire women who always have dinner on the table when you get home,” he said.

    He later added, “No self respecting small businessman with a brain would ever employ a lady of childbearing age.”

    Showing truly Neanderthal loyalty to this reptile, UKIP still supports him.

    Because UKIP has refused to condemn Bloom’s views, we must assume they agree with them.

    It seems that Yorkshire has yet again been saddled with the crudest caricature of a backward reactionary. It would be nice to see Yorkshire “ladies” kicking Bloom into the North Sea where pond life like him belong.
    Paul Furness York


    A leader who revels in blood

    HAROLD PINTER, the poet and playwright, rightly observed before the Iraq war, “I believe that not only is this contemplated act criminal, malevolent and barbaric, it also contains within itself a palpable joy in destruction.”

    Britain now has a leader who is not only a mass murderer—but he relishes it.

    Five wars in six years, and he is looking forward to his next one.

    This country now has a leader who can take this nation into war merely on his say-so.

    The so-called “coalition” forces have trampled over every one of the Geneva Conventions.

    It seems we now have to accept that an “axis of evil” has indeed come into our world—US-UK, dedicated above all to eternal war.
    Nick Kollerstrom, North London www.inlap.freeuk.com


    Dead end of Labour Party

    I WRITE with reference to Dave Edwards’s letter (7 August) about joining the Labour Party to win it to socialism. I used to be a Labour Party member, local councillor and election agent.

    I had the same views 40 years ago that you expressed in your letter, but I found that any such effort was fruitless.

    I would recommend that you read The Labour Party by Tony Cliff and Donny Gluckstein, published by Bookmarks and still in print.
    Donald Casson by email


    Food used as political tool

    I WAS dismayed to read that aid workers from Medecins Sans Frontieres had been forced to withdraw from Afghanistan.

    They have left because of the hatred towards them—a direct result of US policy.

    In an effort to bolster its tottering rule, the US has been linking food supplies to the willingness of villagers to provide them with information.

    Food was used as a political weapon. It is precisely this crime which Blair denounced when it was carried out by Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

    I am not a Mugabe supporter, but I can see the hypocrisy of those who denounce such actions by their enemies and ignore them when carried out by their friends.
    Helen Turner, East London


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    Letters
    Sat 14 Aug 2004, 00:00 BST
    Issue No. 1914
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