Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2124

Anti-arms protesters faced a major police mobilisation in Brighton last week (Pic:» Guy Smallman )

Anti-arms protesters faced a major police mobilisation in Brighton last week (Pic: » Guy Smallman)

Police block anti-weapons protest

The campaign against the Brighton-based ITT weapons systems factory organised a march in the city on Wednesday of last week. Over 500 people assembled at Falmer station. They were quickly intercepted by an enormous police operation.

Scuffles broke out as the police tried to block the passage of the demonstrators. Marchers were pepper-sprayed as a stand off began near the factory.

Police released attack dogs on protesters and the press.

A campaign spokesperson said, “The campaign has succeeded again in making its voice heard. We will not tolerate the manufacture of weapons in our city that will be used against civilians across the world.”

GS, South London

Banks and bailouts

I thought that the debate between Eamonn Butler of the free market Adam Smith Institute and Chris Harman of the International Socialism journal about the current economic crisis was very good (» The Market vs Marx, 18 October).

I thought Chris got everything right. He made everything clear about the failure of capitalism.

Donald Casson, Barnoldswick, Lancashire

I think that Socialist Worker’s questions and answers on whether world leaders can solve the crisis (» Can world leaders avert the crisis?, 11 October) is the most incisive piece I have read so far on the economic turmoil that is currently gripping world markets.

I’m impressed by the analytical, yet simple manner in which this was addressed. Kudos!

Cathy, Nairobi, Kenya

The economist Will Hutton wrote in the Observer newspaper, against the backdrop of global economic chaos, that “this is history’s joke – the crisis of capitalism long predicted by communists and socialists who are no longer able to take advantage of it”.

I disagree with this. There has been a noticable, though still at historic low levels, increase in industrial disputes over the last two years. Socialists have been integral to these and will continue to be so the more the economic chaos unravels. Workers will be left with no other option but to fight back.

The stakes are indeed high but so is the prize. We need to build the SWP as a central component of the fightback.

John Curtis, Saxmundham, Suffolk

I watched the protest against the bailout at the Bank of England on Friday of last week on TV. Here in Argentina we fight like you against capitalism. Don’t stop the mobilisations.

Pablo, by email

Socialist Worker’s articles about the financial crisis have been excellent.

But I feel that its demands to solve the crisis are too general and should be more specific.

Those banks in financial crisis should be allowed to close and all the accounts and mortgages could be transferred to the post office.

This could stop the closures and increase the need for post offices. Existing bank buildings could be used and could employ banking staff threatened with redundancies. This would put political pressure on MPs and councillors.

Paul Bolton, Bilston, West Midlands

Coal is not the answer

Dave Douglass (» Letters, 18 October) misses the point about the country’s future energy needs. There are no scientific reasons why we need to expand either the coal or the nuclear industries to meet them.

Long term storage of captured carbon, which Dave argues for as the way to reduce carbon emissions, is a relatively untested process – storing it underground or at the bottom of the ocean is likely to be expensive and lead to problems for the environment.

The German plant at Schwarze Pumpe, which Dave refers to, is not designed to be a fully-fledged emissions free plant – it is a pilot project to research the economic feasibility of the process.

The company’s website admits that it has yet to identify “a suitable storage site”.

Carbon capture technologies are not about trying to change society to save the planet.

Rather they are an example of multinationals and governments looking for a quick fix that will allow them to continue behaving in the same way.

If we are to move towards a low carbon society, then the trade union movement needs to be fighting on two fronts.

It must demand investment in clean energy technologies, and make sure that workers affected by the change to a low carbon economy are supported in the move to new industries.

This is why the TUC has come up with the strategy of “just transition”, which stresses that those affected by this move should not be left to rot, as happened to mining communties.

The renewables sector needs many more workers per megawatt than the fossil fuel industry and its expansion will need a highly skilled workforce.

Socialist Worker has a proud tradition of defending the mining communities.

As the economic crisis bites, employers may use environmental excuses to attack workers. We will be at the forefront of making sure that a sustainable future is not an excuse to destroy jobs. Instead it should be an opportunity for new jobs and skills and stability for working class people.

Martin Empson, Treasurer, Campaign Against Climate Change trade union group (pc)

Spending more on arms can’t solve crisis

Heather Kay asks why high arms spending is not stabilising capitalism, as it did in the 1950s and 1960s (» Letters, 18 October).

The “permanent arms economy” that existed after the Second World War saw military spending concentrated in the US and Soviet Union.

This helped to stabilise the whole system by providing an outlet for profits (which would otherwise be accumulated in the productive economy driving down profit rates) and by increasing employment.

However, those countries that spent less on weapons – especially Germany and Japan – were able to invest more in the productive economy.

As well as lowering profit rates, such investment cheapens commodities. So Germany and Japan could grab market share from the US. The relative decline of the US and Soviet Union meant that they could not maintain their levels of arms spending, as shown by the impact that wars on Vietnam and Afghanistan had on their economies.

Raising military expenditure today might boost the US’s economy, but it also represents an economic burden in the face of global competition.

Increasingly the US feels pressure to use its military strength to seek to compensate for its economic decline – for example by dominating Middle Eastern oil at the expense of its potential rivals.

Martin Bolton, Cambridge

Why are we being treated unfairly?

I qualified as a primary school teacher in January 1980 and enjoyed working in my profession for about 26 years until the law changed in Britain.

I qualified in a British Commonwealth country.

Even though I have taught hundreds of children in my career I am now told that I don’t have the qualifications to teach in Britain. The same is the case for thousands of Commonwealth teachers.

I regret that I trained in a country that was once ruled by Britain, and not in a country that belongs to the European Union (EU).

The EU countries signed an agreement to automatically recognise each other’s qualifications while Commonwealth countries don’t have this.

Teachers from the Commonwealth can only help in Britain temporarily, when necessary. Should they choose to continue helping they go through what I call a “screening process”. This is an unequal treatment of people.

Please support the teachers, who are campaigning for fairness, by going to » and signing the petition.

Zoe Quinnen, Birmingham

Great victory over arms fair

Protesters in Adelaide, Australia, have shown what working class people can do by forcing an arms fair to be cancelled.

In the face of an outcry the organisers of the Asia Pacific Defence and Security Exhibition, which was set for 11-13 November, had to cancel the event.

Acting South Australian premier Kevin Foley said of activists, “These are feral, low-life people that want society to be in a state of near anarchy for their own perverse pleasure.”

Arms companies are a dangerous threat who have blood on their hands. I want to see this deadly trade shut down once and for all.

Charlie Dowthwaite, Barrow-in-Furness

Fascism and the crash

I was delighted to hear of the death of Austrian Nazi Jörg Haider. The news will have brightened up the weekend for socialists across Europe.

Unfortunately the rise of fascism isn’t going to come to a halt as quickly as Haider’s car.

In Britain the fascist BNP are hoping to make gains in the European elections next year.

They will seek to profit from the economic crisis by directing anger towards immigrants.

This process can be resisted by various methods, but part of that needs to be maintaining the pressure on the bosses and the banks so they remain the focus of general discontent.

Keeping the other thugs out of the European parliament will bring about an even bigger cheer than Haider’s demise.

Ant Parkin, Manchester

Good luck to bus drivers

It’s about time the bus drivers went on strike (» Bus strikes can shut down London, 11 October). The hours are rubbish, the pay isn’t good and the insults aimed at drivers are disgusting.

I am sending them good luck wishes for their dispute.

Kim Oakley, Erith, Kent

Don’t deport my teacher

I dont want Mr Zakharia (» Fighting deportation, 18 October) to be sent back to Bangladesh.

He is a really good Bengali and French teacher. Please don’t send him back.

That would affect his GCSE students at the moment.

Humayra, by email

Cooking with some class

Working class people do indeed suffer greater “obesity and early death” (» Food for thought, 18 October). However, we need to tackle social inequality to really reduce these threats.

It’s great that Jamie Oliver’s latest TV programme has inspired people, particularly men, to cook more. If the quality of people’s diets gets healthier, that’s great.

But let’s not forget that obesity tends to afflict the least well-off most. And the more unequal a society is, the worse obesity gets.

A large divide between rich and poor reduces life expectancy, too.

We need a new recipe, for a new society.

Graeme Kemp, Wellington, Shropshire

Make leaders say no to war

Socialist Worker has had very good articles regarding the economic crisis and how this breeds political crisis.

We need to walk out against the “war on terror”.

If we commit ourselves to protest against Pakistan’s government policy then one day our leader will say, “No to war.”

Khursheed A Khosa, Karachi, Pakistan

Correction: In the printed version of last week’s Socialist Worker we wrongly reported that Sir Fred Goodwin was the chief executive of HBOS (page 2). In fact the chief executive is Andy Hornby.

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Tue 21 Oct 2008, 19:30 BST
Issue No. 2124
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