Socialist Worker

German Green war machine

Issue No. 1771

THE ONCE-pacifist German Green Party held a conference two weeks ago where the leadership announced its support for Bush's war against Afghanistan. Green Party leader and foreign minister Joschka Fischer's speech echoed the war hysteria and propaganda of Bush, Blair, and German chancellor Gerhard Schröder of the Social Democratic Party.

The Greens once carried the hopes and aspirations of millions, especially the youth, who engaged in movements against war or nuclear transports. Sadly the leadership of the Green Party did nothing to justify the hopes of its supporters after joining the Social Democratic government in 1998. Fischer was the key figure in securing support for the Kosovo war by arguing that the war against Milosevic was an anti-fascist struggle.

The Green environmental minister, JŸrgen Trittin, who promised to shut down all nuclear plants in four years, brokered a deal with the big energy bosses which effectively means the plants will run for at least another 30 years. The result is a party splitting deeper every month.

The Greens have now lost votes in nine elections in a row, while parts of the Green base take back to the streets and protest against nuclear transport or Bush's war, all in defiance of the party leaders. A majority of people in Germany think that the Greens will vanish as a party in the space of a few years.

Many Green supporters are seeking a new political home. The flow of ex-Greens into the anti-capitalist movement, for example Attac Germany, is one sign that shattered hope is not turning into passivity but renewed activism.
STEFAN BORNOST, Berlin


Byers' retreat spurs fight for council housing

THE RECENT announcement by New Labour's Stephen Byers that councils will be able to borrow to invest in their homes is a major boost for the campaign to defend council housing. The ban on councils borrowing is one of the main arguments they put forward when trying to push tenants to vote to accept stock transfer to a private housing company.

Over the last 12 months we have built up a formidable alliance of tenants, trade unionists and campaign groups to defend council housing. Byers' pledge means there is now a real opportunity to win over tenants and union reps, as well as councillors and MPs who thought New Labour couldn't be moved.

In every area where housing privatisation is threatened we need to mobilise opposition, and demand that councils call off the ballots and join with us in putting pressure on the government for immediate legislation to fulfil the pledge.

The Defend Council Housing campaign can provide leaflets and other campaign material. The government knows it is losing the argument. Decent, affordable, secure and accountable housing is a basic right. Now's the time to unite nearly four million council tenants alongside council workers to put on the pressure to win that right.
ALAN WALTER, Defend Council Housing national committee member


Paper helps build union

A RECENT report in Socialist Worker about Scottish Power contained an excellent refutation of the myth that unions are not relevant to young people. It cited an agreement that the bosses want to wriggle out of.

The agreement won by the union last year is that if anyone leaves then somebody else replaces them. This is a great way of combating the idea that unions only look after the established workforce.

An agreement on its own won't stop the bosses attacking us. To make it stick we have to build strong trade union organisation and be politically outward looking.

Socialist Worker is vital to those twin tasks. During the Gulf War I was having arguments about the war at work from the time I got in. The paper was alone in providing the anti-war arguments that were so sorely needed.

I was only able to spend virtually all my time arguing against the war without being victimised for doing hardly any work because we'd built strong trade union organisation. The paper helped in building that too.

Socialist Worker needs and deserves the support of all workers. I've already donated to the appeal, and I'll be raising support for it in my union branch. I urge every reader to do all they can to support the Socialist Worker Appeal.
COLIN YATES, East London


Wearing scarf is not a crime

I WAS arrested on the Brighton demonstration outside the Labour Party conference for wearing a Palestinian scarf, worn to demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinians.

I was held in a police cell for over eight hours, and was eventually charged under Section 60 (8) (a) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 for failure to remove an item of clothing when asked to by a police officer. This is now going to trial.

But in a country where Blair talks about protecting democracy and freedom, I will not have the opportunity to have my case put before a jury. It will be dealt with by magistrates. Blair is using the so called war against terrorism as a smokescreen to attack the rights of those who oppose economic, political and military state-sponsored terrorism around the world, even those who simply wear a scarf.

I would encourage all readers of Socialist Worker to buy a Palestinian scarf, join the Campaign for Palestinian Rights and help build the anti-war movement.

GARY DUKE, Salford University


Refugee defence

SEVERAL campaigns and organisations are calling for a day of action in defence of asylum seekers for Saturday 3 November. A recent meeting in central London heard activists express deep concern that Bush and Blair's war has already led to a rise in racism and media scapegoating against asylum seekers.

The government is using the pretext of war to further tighten its immigration and asylum policies, fully implement its Terrorism Act which targets people fighting brutal regimes, and continue undermining the 1951 Geneva convention on refugees.
ALAN GIBSON, North London


Tube drivers have a case

THE Evening Standard, the main local paper in London, is trivialising the issues around tube drivers' industrial action over facilities.

An earlier agreement between London Underground and the rail unions specified provision of lockers and decent washing facilities at outlying stations. Drivers often have to sign on at these in their own time before travelling on to the appointed depot to begin their shift.

Any driver will tell you that it is not the unions that have reneged on this agreement but management. Most office workers in London (me included) would not think it unreasonable to have kitchen and toilet facilities at work. So why is it so unreasonable for tube workers?

More fundamentally, the issue is the PPP privatisation scheme. London Underground management is enticing the private sector to take over the sub-surface lines in return for a guaranteed minimum 35 percent return on investment. Those companies can borrow money from the banks at well below 10 percent.

LEO AITKEN, Hertfordshire


Postal points

ONE OF the amazing things about Bush's war against the world's poorest nation, Afghanistan, is the way the media whip up fear among ordinary people. The army surplus store in Plymouth has sold out of 200 gas masks following press panic about biological weapons attacks.

In peacetime the capitalist media bore us senseless. In war they bang the drum of patriotism. Socialist Worker has been a breath of fresh air. The only downside about the paper is that not enough people get the chance to read it.

Why not ask every buyer if they would like the paper delivered? Gradually you could build up a round to supplement your present sales. Keep up the good work.

DAVE ROBERTS, Plymouth


JEREMY Sumpman from New York (Socialist Worker, 6 October) said George Bush was not exploiting the 11 September disaster for 'some wicked capitalist gain'. This is wrong.

The US trade representative is now arguing that free trade, to be precise the Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement, equals anti-terrorism. George Bush will not miss a single opportunity to put our world up for sale. We must do all we can to stop him and the other warmongers.
TERRY SULLIVAN, US

I AM sure George Bush does do his best for America, as Jeremy Sumpman argued. The question is, which America? The America of the oil companies that funded his election campaign, the multinationals making huge profits out of sweated labour, and the chief executives?

Or the America of the 20 percent of the population who have no health cover, the 100,000 workers made redundant this year, and the ghetto populations whose life expectancy has fallen over the last 20 years? As for Socialist Worker being biased, if it's biased to oppose imperialism and to stand up for the hundreds of millions whose lives are sacrificed to the neo-liberal economic agenda, then I am proud to be biased too.

DENIS WISE, Bristol


I'VE JUST seen a television programme about children in Africa as young as five forced to work because of poverty. Some of them were sold into slavery.

Many millions of children are pushed into slave labour (picking cocoa beans, for example) or into wars. The capitalist media ignores this scandal. You could expose it, and show Blair and Co as hypocrites when they say they are concerned about justice.

These kids are forced into armies that use weapons sold by the US and Britain.

A READER


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Article information

Letters
Sat 20 Oct 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1771
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