I want more than justice for Harry Stanley
I WAS a friend of Harry Stanley. From time to time we did the things friends and neighbours do - chat in the street, have a drink together. Harry's murder by the police shook everyone. Harry wasn't an angel, but he wasn't a gangster either. He was a character, a family man, a grandad.
As if shooting an innocent unarmed man wasn't bad enough, they left Harry's body uncovered in full view of the local children for over three hours. Harry was shot 50 steps round the corner from his home. He had several bits of ID on him, including his passport and his brother's phone number. But his widow Irene was not told for 18 hours. His murderers left two large pools of blood. Charlene, Harry's 16 year old daughter, accidentally stepped in her own dad's blood.
The SWP have been wonderful. They helped us organise and, when we needed it, gave us leadership. We have the beginnings of a good campaign to fight for justice for Harry and his family. However, it is not just murdering, brutal police we face.
The whole system is barbaric and cruel, and needs to be overthrown. When I saw those rail coaches at Ladbroke Grove on my TV, I was reminded of that train in Serbia destroyed by rockets. Fat cats caused one, brass hats the other. They don't care about who they kill or how many lives they ruin. All they care about is their profits and holding on to their wealth. So I've joined the party and I'll help build it. I hope I am kept busy.
J WILLS, East London
Mumia must be saved
FEW ISSUES expose the brutality of the US justice system more than the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Mumia faces state execution for the third time in 17 years.
He was one of the founders of the Black Panthers in Philadelphia. In the 1970s he was a leading exposer of police racism and corruption in that city. He was framed for the murder of a police officer in 1982. Ever since then he has been on death row.
So blatant is the frame up of Mumia that there have been international protests, and strikes by US dockers and teachers. His case has also helped to expose the horrific increase in state executions across the US - especially since Clinton became president.
My own union, the National Union of Journalists, was proud to make Mumia an honorary member four years ago. Other unions should do the same. We need more protests, against the latest death warrant but also demanding that Mumia is freed altogether.
ALAN GIBSON, East London
New Labour clones sent into a spin
EARLIER THIS year I was part of a group of socialists and trade unionists who approached our local New Labour MP. We asked him to address a rally as part of the relaunch of Harwich Trade Union Council. He replied that public meetings were old fashioned so instead he would issue a press release supporting our attempts.
This 'modern' attitude means that he has missed out on some very exciting old fashioned public meetings in Harwich recently. One example is a meeting called by local people to resist the cutting of bus services. Over 120 people attended. The meeting was set alight when people spoke of First Bus's profits and fat cat salaries for directors. People were also angry that the local workforce were threatened with disciplinary action if they spoke out at the meeting.
The latest local public meeting that our MP missed was a consultative meeting called by a group of local health bosses to announce a new trust. The meeting went badly wrong for the platform of New Labour clones. Question after question sent them into a spin. The meeting ended up with the proposed new boss of the trust admitting he has private healthcare.
This kind of activity might be old fashioned. But it beats any parliamentary debate I have ever heard. My advice to my MP is that he should come and listen to what people on the ground have to say about market-driven New Labour.
JOHN TIPPLE, Harwich
Questioning all society
GUARDIAN journalist Nick Davis again spelled out the terrible cost of poverty when it comes to the education of our children at a debate in central London last week. But New Labour is just not interested. The answer of the minister of state for education, Estelle Morris, was that we need a 'culture of high expectations'. She tried to claim that programmes like Education Action Zones or 'Excellence in the Cities' are meeting children's needs.
There were hundreds present at the debate and speaker after speaker rubbished these claims. There was anger and disbelief from all present. Even the director of the Institute of Education, Sir Peter Mortimore, said, 'There will be a fracture in our society soon.'
Academics, head teachers and unions have tried to explain patiently the effects of the government's policies, but New Labour won't listen. This means really wide layers of people are questioning not only New Labour but our whole society. After the meeting we sold over 30 copies of the new Socialist Worker pamphlet on education.
ALASTAIR SMITH, North London
Straight fail for Channel 4
THE RECENT Channel Four documentary Making the Grade made us really angry. It reinforced Blunkett's naming and shaming method of tackling the problems faced by inner city schools. We fought for two years as a pupil and a parent at Firfield (formerly Blakelaw) school in Newcastle to save it from closure. We believe that staff, parents and pupils deserve a medal for fighting to keep the school open for the fourth time in ten years.
The school was failed by Ofsted despite the fact that it serves young people from one of the most deprived areas of the country. Our campaign won massive support. Above all, parents and staff never once blamed themselves or the pupils but pointed the finger at severe underfunding. Underfunding was not a problem when it came to paying fat cat salaries for management and consultants, which two thirds of staff paid for with their jobs.
SARA BRYSON (ex-pupil) and BECCY PALMER (ex-Blakelaw parent)
AS CHELSEA supporters we are disgusted that the board of Chelsea FC has not issued an immediate public statement permanently excluding Jason Marriner, the Nazi filmed on TV giving Hitler salutes at a match in Copenhagen. This can only give confidence to racists and fascists who want to use football to spread their despicable views and organise violence against both black and white people.
The board's failure to take an immediate stand threatens to undermine the anti-racist campaigning by ordinary fans over the years, reflected in the club's support for 'Kick Racism Out of Football'. We intend to organise protest petitioning at forthcoming Chelsea fixtures unless immediate action is taken by the club.
RAHUL PATEL, PAUL AHMED, SAM STRUDWICK, ROB FERGUSON
Send letters of protest to Ken Bates, Chairman CFC, Stamford Bridge, Fulham Road, London SW6 1HS.
NEW Labour MEP Michael Cashman delivered a disgraceful attack on Ken Livingstone in the Guardian newspaper recently. He blamed Ken Livingstone and the old GLC for provoking the Tories' anti-gay legislation Clause 28, which makes people scared to discuss homosexuality in schools.
It is an outrageous attack because it was, after all, the GLC - with Ken Livingstone at its head - that introduced the concept of homophobia into this country. The GLC expanded the concept of equal opportunities to include sexual orientation in response to the demands of the gay movement. Without such a move it is doubtful that such groups as Stonewall and people like Cashman would ever have been invited into the mainstream of politics.
At best, the government has dithered in the face of instructions from Europe. At worst, it has mouthed the Tory mantra of 'family values'. Cashman is simply toadying up to Blair, and he should be exposed as such.
NOEL HALIFAX, East London
CHRIS HARMAN'S book, A People's History of the World, is an astonishing achievement and deserves to be widely read. Inevitably, the media will do its best to ignore this great book. So why don't Socialist Worker readers pester their local libraries into ordering copies?
DAVE TAYLOR, Hampshire
THERE IS a great need to start a European Temporary Workers' Union. Bosses and agencies are exploiting the loopholes in European law and profiting from the sweat of the workers. As a newcomer to the UK I can clearly see how this works in favour of the capitalists. It is OK to make a profit, but not to extract blood!
P R DENTON, Oxford
I WAS in the DSS office in Easterhouse in Glasgow recently to apply for income support. I had phoned the Benefits Agency and they said to come down and apply. But then I was told I would have to come back down next week. This is an absolutely ridiculous situation as I am a single parent. Something should be done about this.
CAROLYN CAMERON, Glasgow