Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2150

There is huge opposition to the Faslane base in Scotland, and beyond (Pic: Ray Smith)

There is huge opposition to the Faslane base in Scotland, and beyond (Pic: Ray Smith)

Faslane’s nuclear leaks and madness must end

Why, a logical person may ask, would the New Labour government even consider relocating Britain’s entire nuclear arsenal to the Faslane base, 30 miles from Glasgow?

Faslane is home already to the Vigilant, Victorious, Vanguard and Vengeance submarines. It has seen an atrocious number of safety breaches since its creation in the 1960s.

A recent Ministry of Defence (MoD) document obtained by Channel 4 under the Freedom of Information Act describes these safety breaches as a “recurring theme”.

Why then, when radioactive coolant leaking from nuclear submarines has polluted the Gare Loch repeatedly, would anyone think dumping more nuclear submarines there is a good idea?

The MoD document suggests that by 2015 Faslane will be Britain’s only nuclear submarine base, with all submarines from Plymouth heading north.

Yet safety is simply not a priority at Faslane. Just last year the radioactive waste manager at the base was replaced. Why? Because he had no qualifications in radioactive waste management!

And the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency certainly won’t be welcoming the plans, having already warned it would consider closing the base if it had the power to do so.

One thing for sure is that the locals don’t want it. Since 1982 there has been a permanent Peace Camp in opposition to the base.

Generations of anti-war activists have stopped off here on their way to many demonstrations against nuclear weapons.

Every year Scottish CND organises the Big Blockade. Over 350 people were arrested one year for acts of civil disobedience by blockading all traffic to and from the base.

And during Faslane 365, a year-long protest at the base, more than 1,000 people were arrested.

Ironically those arrested outside Britain’s largest nuclear base with the aim of bringing about world peace are charged with “breach of the peace”.

Opposition to Faslane spreads far beyond the banks of the Gare Loch. The majority of the Scottish population is against the base in its current form. They also oppose nuclear warfare in principle and are abhorred to hear of the latest proposals.

Even the Scottish National Party (SNP), the current governing party, has expressed strong opposition to the base. It was voted into power on an anti-nuclear ticket.

Perhaps now’s the time to see what this Scottish government is made of.

It’s time for all of us who oppose war and nuclear weapons to put pressure on the SNP to deliver – to get rid of nuclear weaponry in Faslane and lead the way in international disarmament.

Christine McGeachin, Glasgow

Modi not welcome

Brent trades union council is urging the British government to declare that Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, is persona non grata and refuse him entry into Britain.

Modi’s visa to enter the US was revoked in 2005.

Modi was chief minister of Gujarat during the anti-Muslim pogroms carried out by Hindu extremist mobs in 2002.

He is a member of the Hindu chauvinist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Over 2,000 people were killed in the pogroms. Hundreds of women were raped and molested, and hundreds of thousands of people made homeless.

Modi stated, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction,” effectively legitimising the violence as a collective punishment of Muslims.

In 2003 the Indian Supreme Court found that the state government ordered the police not to halt the pogroms, and actively organised the violence.

According to a detailed investigation by Human Rights Watch, the police also helped Hindu nationalist mobs locate Muslims’ addresses.

National and international human rights groups have held Modi responsible for orchestrating the massacres of 2002 and subverting the rule of law in order to facilitate them.

A visit to Britain might help Modi acquire a visa for the US from Barack Obama’s administration, which would be used in India to demonstrate his “acceptability”.

Brent North Labour MP Barry Gardiner has been a prominent ally of Modi. We call on Gardiner to distance himself from Modi.

The Coalition to Stop Narendra Modi is supported by The Monitoring Group, Awaaz South Asia Watch, the Council of Indian Muslims, the Indian Muslim Federation, British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the Muslim Parliament, Southall Black Sisters, South Asia Solidarity Group and the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities, as well as a number of progressive individuals.

Ben Rickman, Secretary, Brent Trades Union Council

The police are not workers in uniform

With reference to your article on the police (» The police are an enemy of the people, 2 May), we should also add another point – they aren’t “workers in uniform”.

It’s not just a case that working class, or lower middle class, men and women have to adapt to perform the police’s role when they join.

More often than not they approve of the role of the police beforehand. This means that they rank among the most backward people when it comes to political consciousness.

The task of the police and the experiences that their work involves – with crime, abuse, drugs and petty violence of all sorts – can only serve to steel the police officer’s soul as the protector of “orderly society” – class society.

Just as socialist consciousness is forged by workers in struggle, who come up against the class bias of the state, similarly the police officer builds a thicker skin in confrontation with that struggle.

They are the violent protectors of their masters – the warmongers and the capitalists.

In the end how can they be anything else? If the job of the police officer has any value, it is to hold onto a monopoly of violence. So what should we call them?

As a generation of radicalised young people in Greece has come to say, “dogs you guard your masters”.

Manthos, by email

Tories copy New Labour’s agenda

When Shadow schools secretary Michael Gove announced the Tories’ plans to turn thousands of primary schools into academies it made me feel sick.

New Labour has encouraged secondary schools to be turned into academies. This has been a disaster.

Academies remove education from public control and hand over our schools to unaccountable bodies that, more often than not, are only interested in making money.

Gove described the Tory plans as “carrying forward the Blair agenda in education”.

He claims that the Tory plans are about helping the disadvantaged.

Does he really expect anyone to believe this?

Academies are a disaster for poorer kids.

They expel those likely to lower a school’s league table status by not getting high enough grades, which is usually those from poorer backgrounds.

The Tories also want to massively increase the number of secondary schools that are academies.

The Tories have shown their true face.

Their ideas differ little from those of New Labour.

Amanda Swain, Sheffield

What should be in budget

Much of what is in Labour’s spring budget was expected (» A budget for the rich , 2 May). It is more interesting to ask what isn’t in it.

Britain has the lowest minimum wage, compared to the cost of living, in Europe. Where is an increase in the national minimum wage?

We have the highest train fares in Europe.

We also have the highest university fees, which may increase even further.

This may be why more people are leaving Britain now than at any time in recent history.

This is likely to be Labour’s last budget for quite some time.

Richard Lawrence, Kent

The parasites keep feeding

Much gnashing of teeth greeted the announcement in the budget that the super rich are to pay more income tax.

In fact New Labour has always been, in Peter Mandelson’s notorious words, “seriously relaxed about people becoming very, very rich”.

The result has been that the richest thousand people in Britain have seen their wealth quadruple during New Labour’s time in office.

A 50 percent tax rate for those “earning” over £150,000 should be just the beginning.

Sasha Simic, Hackney, London

Contradiction in the police

Last week’s article on the police (» The police are an enemy of the people, 2 May) was welcome but omitted an important issue.

There are contradictory pressures on ordinary police, being at once a weapon against the working class, while being workers themselves.

There was a police strike in 1919, when Britain came closest to a revolution.

Margaret Thatcher was always careful to pay the police relatively well.

If we are to have a revolution, socialists need to be able to see the ordinary police as potential deserters from the side of the ruling class.

Dominic Alexander, North London

Fight for jobs and services

Two cash offices in West Yorkshire’s town halls, in Cleckheaton and Batley, are due to close in 2011.

A lot of elderly people use these cash offices and get useful advice from the workers.

Automated kiosks are to replace them.

The Unison union has criticised the council for its focus on savings rather than service.

Union members are discussing how the proposed closure will affect residents and a petition is planned.

John Appleyard, West Yorkshire

Learn lessons for the future

Sixty Italians met in London recently to commemorate the fall of Italian fascism in the face of a mass resistance movement in 1945.

The meeting was organised by ANPI, the ex-partisans’ association.

People were eager to learn that a partisan commander, Luigi Fiori, will be speaking at the Marxism festival in London this July.

Tom Behan, Whitstable

Test veterans deserve more

Nuclear test veterans whose lives have been blighted by bomb trials must receive the public apology that they are owed.

Britain carried out around 21 nuclear tests during the 1950s involving around 28,000 people in the armed forces.

The compensation offered to them is too little too late.

The illnesses suffered by test veterans and their families won’t be solved by money alone.

Better care for the veterans and their families must be supported by additional funding.

Oliver Healey, West Midlands

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Article information

Tue 5 May 2009, 18:31 BST
Issue No. 2150
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