Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2142

Yusef Abdullahi, Tony Paris and Steven Miller (left to right) in 1992 (Pic: David Jackson)

Yusef Abdullahi, Tony Paris and Steven Miller (left to right) in 1992 (Pic: David Jackson)

Police officers charged over Cardiff Three case

Thirteen serving and former police officers have been charged with conspiring to put three innocent men in prison. Yusef Abdullahi, Steven Miller and Tony Paris – known as the Cardiff Three – were wrongly convicted of killing Lynette White in 1990.

A campaign against this miscarriage of justice led to all three men being freed and their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal. In 2003 Jeffrey Gafoor admitted to the murder of Lynette White.

The “Police 13” are John Howard Murray, Paul Stephen, Paul Jennings, Wayne Pugh, Graham Mouncher, Richard Powell, Thomas Page, Michael Daniels, John Brian Gillard, Peter Greenwood, John Seaford, Rachel O’Brien and Stephen Hicks.

Two other people are also to be charged with perjury in relation to the case – Violet Elizabeth Perriam and former police “supergrass” Ian Albert Massey, also known as Colin.

The maximum sentence for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice is life imprisonment, while the maximum for perjury is seven years. Former Cardiff Three campaigners await the trial with baited breath.

Des Mannay, Cardiff

I attended the funeral of Paul Foot, the investigative journalist and revolutionary socialist, in July 2004. Paul investigated the Cardiff Three case in Private Eye magazine and helped to get their wrongful convictions quashed in 1992.

Now I hear that, some 21 years after the case, 15 people have been charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice or perjury.

Paul was repeatedly recognised for his tireless and inspirational work during his life. And four years after his death, it seems his long arm is still reaching the law.

Andrew Burnyeat, Brighton

How a Spitfire backfired on the BNP

The fascist British National Party (BNP) has launched its campaign for the 4 June European election under the slogan “Battle For Britain”.

The campaign is themed around the Second World War and prominently features an RAF Spitfire fighter plane.

This imagery has backfired on them however – and not just because the Hitler-loving BNP would have supported the Nazis during the Second World War.

The plane’s markings show that it was part of the RAF’s 303 Squadron – which was flown by Polish pilots. These Polish aircrew shot down 203 Nazi warplanes during the 1940 “Battle of Britain”.

Yet the BNP’s election campaign is based on whipping up race hatred against immigrants – and Polish people are one of their key targets.

Their election material attacks the government for opening “the doors of Britain to the huddled masses of Eastern Europe”.

Perhaps the BNP is worried that today’s Polish immigrants will take a similar attitude towards Nazis as their forebears.

Jiben Kumar, East London

Death of a reggae star

I was shocked to hear of the death of Jean Adebambo, the legendary British reggae star who is one of my favourite singer-songwriters. She was found dead at her London home in January and is thought to have committed suicide.

Jean was greatly respected as part of the “lovers rock” musical movement that combined soul with reggae basslines and rhythms. It emerged in the late 1970s and was one of the first musical styles born from Britain’s black community.

Some people dismissed lovers rock as aspirational escapism from the harsh reality of roots reggae. But Jean’s work was honest and hypnotic. She wrote ballads about the trials of single parenthood and the struggle against racism.

It is a tragedy and a scandal that such a talented and influential figure should die in this way. Jean never got the recognition or rewards she deserved.

Her experience is sadly typical of black people in the music business. The chart topping singer Estelle recently lambasted the music industry in the Guardian newspaper for ignoring black British singers.

White rock stars can celebrate many decades in the music business, but black musicians make huge amounts of money for multinational record companies without receiving anything like the same artist development.

A memorial concert for Jean takes place this Sunday 15 March at the Hackney Empire, bringing together some of the stars of the lovers rock scene.

But the best memorial for Jean would be an end to the racism that blights black people’s lives and holds them back from fulfilling their potential.

Adeola Johnson, North London

A rotten way to treat hardworking employees

My partner has worked for Sheffield City Council for the past 29 years as a qualified nursery nurse.

Now she has been told that after all this time her salary and that of several thousand other council workers will be cut by up to 23 percent in a pay and grading review.

What Sheffield council is doing to so many loyal and hardworking employees is unfair and morally wrong.

This country and the rest of the world are going through one of the worst depressions in history. We all need to be able to keep our heads above water.

Yet Sheffield council employs around 100 managers on a £50,000 annual wage. That’s a yearly outgoing of around £5 million. Where does the money for those wages come from?

To make things even worse, I am myself unemployed after taking retirement due to ill health in 2007. We now live on a modest works pension and my partner’s part time wage, without any help from the benefits system.

My partner and I do not want to claim benefits. We have always paid our own way in life. We have worked hard, paid our taxes and never been a burden to anyone.

But the council’s decision to cut wages for poorer paid workers and employ more overpaid managers means that the benefit system will be getting us as new customers. It’s a sad day and one this country can ill afford.

Andrew Hoskins, Sheffield

Let’s build on this call to scrap SATs

The Cambridge Primary Review published proposals for a new primary school curriculum last month. One key recommendation is that Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) should be scrapped.

SATs have played a major role in wrecking primary education over the last 20 years. But the government has precluded its own review from even considering SATs, let alone recommending their abolition.

That government review is led by former Ofsted director Sir Jim Rose. His interim report is grim reading. It is yet another call for “back to basics” in education.

So we should welcome the Cambridge Review’s call to abolish SATs. But we should be aware that the review contains little else that will help create schools where children can flourish.

This is not surprising since the review is led by Robin Alexander, one of the so called “three wise men” whose report in the early 1990s attacked progressive teaching methods.

We need to look elsewhere for our vision of what education should be like. The Education for Liberation conference to be held later this year is a good place to start.

Terry Sullivan, nursery teacher, East London

Keep the post in public hands

Gordon Brown has spent so much public money bailing out banks, yet people like Lord Mandelson are insisting the post office cannot survive under state ownership.

Who are they trying to fool? I think that post office workers should remember this contradiction, get active and sever all funding to the Labour Party.

The government never acts in the interests of ordinary working people. Brown only looks after his rich friends.

Louise Parham, East London

An ideological commitment

Privatisation will be a disaster for the postal service, just as it was for the railways.

The government says it is necessary to generate capital investment. But any private stake in Royal Mail will take money out to pay private profits.

Privatisation will also lead to thousands of redundancies as Royal Mail is “rationalised”.

This decision is ideologically driven by Labour’s commitment to Thatcherism.

Mark Holt, Liverpool

Calling 1960s left activists

I am a PhD student researching Britain’s left activist scene from 1965 to 1974.

I’m interested in personal experiences of political activism and how it shaped people’s day-to-day lives.

If anyone active in left circles at that time has diaries, personal letters, notes, memoirs, or any similar material, please contact me at [email protected] – all material will be treated with strict respect, care and confidence.

Celia Hughes, Warwick

Penalised for work accident

Tesco’s sick policy is awful – and its treatment of staff is just appalling.

I work for the home shopping department as a driver. I slipped over on someone’s drive while making a delivery and had to take a week off work.

For that I was issued with a warning which stays on my disciplinary record and can be brought into play at any time should I be off sick again. Why should I be penalised for an incident at work?

Tesco worker, by email

SWP is about taking action...

David Willmer says the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) “seems to be dominated by people who propagate rhetoric and don’t do anything” (» Letters, 28 February).

I’d argue that we achieve a fair amount relative to our size.

In the first two months of this year we have been instrumental in organising a number of protests against the attack on Gaza, numerous paper sales and weekly branch meetings that have been well attended.

Alex Hopkins, Liverpool

...but theory matters too

In reply to David Willmer – words carry political ideas and we do debate what needs to be done, because we want to get it right.

But decisions have to be put into action, otherwise you can’t know if the decision was right. We need both theory and practice – united in action.

H Fahone, South Wales

Confronting the Nazi BNP

Socialist Worker sellers in Brighton were angered recently when three Nazis approached our stall and attempted to intimidate us. We ignored their provocation and carried on selling – they soon scurried off.

The BNP has made several pushes in Sussex over the last few months but have been soundly beaten back.

It’s important that we carry socialist arguments to the wider public – arguments that provide explanations for the economic crisis and that show how people can fight back in a positive way.

Stephen McLean, Brighton

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Article information

Tue 10 Mar 2009, 18:32 GMT
Issue No. 2142
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