Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2162

Support soldier who refuses to fight this war

Lance Corporal Joe Glenton’s situation (» ‘I realised the Afghan war was wrong’, 18 July) reminds me very much of Vic Williams who refused to return to Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War. Joe has refused to return to Afghanistan to fight in an unjust war.

I, along with others, was with Vic on the day he handed himself in at Chelsea Barracks after being on the run.

Joe and Vic are courageous men who will be honoured by many for daring to oppose the establishment consensus over this war on one of the poorest countries in the world.

Joe is correct when he questions the reasons for Western troops being in Afghanistan.

This was never about democracy, women’s rights or the “terrorist” threat. By that logic the West would have invaded countless countries.

I am angry too that Joe has been bullied by another Non Commissioned Officer.

I spent five years in the Royal Navy from October 1967. Fortunately for me, as a 16 year old recruit, there was no major conflict in which Britain was involved at the time and I served my time without facing the dangers and horrors that Joe and his comrades have done.

Joe is a brave man and I wish him well.

Dave Clinch, Devon

Thank you Joe, for your courage to share the experiences you have had in the British army and Afghanistan. I hope your example will leak through to the other soldiers who are being sacrificed and deceived in this war.

Good luck with your future and your new wife. There are so many of us who feel that you have been unjustly treated, so let us know if there is any way we can help and support your cause.

Sarah Hardiman, by email

Joe Glenton is a braver man than the politicians who sent him to do their dirty work in Afghanistan or the staff officers who only ever see action through binoculars or the safety of a US helicopter.

I think millions share his view that we should get all the troops out of Afghanistan. Good luck to Joe.

Rob Murthwaite, North London

Joe made a courageous decision to go absent.

People from many different backgrounds, although many more women than men, signed the Socialist Worker “Troops Out” petition a couple of weeks ago in Wood Green, north London.

This was when the “support our boys” hysteria – keep them in Afghanistan, to kill and be killed for imperialism – was at its height.

The idea that this war is not in the interests of ordinary working people here and abroad, is just below the surface.

Joe’s brave stand will help erode the politicians’ and their big business buddies’ attempts to profit from a war of domination in Asia and beyond.

My thoughts are with Joe in his trying time ahead.

Nasser Baston, North London

A tube too far for Nazi

I’m a 15 year old school student from Manchester and three weeks ago an event occurred that ignited my passion in the anti-fascist movement more than anything I’ve ever experienced.

I was in London for the Marxism 2009 event. At the end of a long day I was boarding a tube train when myself and six other friends heard a slew of racist insults from the opposite end of the carriage.

The racist had picked the wrong bloody tube though.

He was confronted and asked by one friend whether he was a Nazi. The sickening answer was, “Yes mate, I’m National Front (NF).” The NF had been in central London that day attempting to disrupt the LGBT Pride march.

Me and my friends started to chant anti-Nazi slogans and slowly clap our hands. Several other passengers started to join in.

By the time the train had arrived at the next stop, the whole carriage was standing, chanting and clapping in opposition to this sad individual.

He jumped off at the stop and began to bang on the doors – once they had closed.

Everyone banged back until we entered the tunnel when we all cheered in joy. Can you believe it? People were actually talking to one another on the tube. For a while at least…

Jamil Keating, Manchester

Warning on report

I welcome Socialist Worker’s exposé of the links between racists and Nazis and the British National Party (BNP) on the web (» BNP is at the heart of web of Nazi filth, 25 July).

But there needs to be a word of warning about the Centre for Social Cohesion, the group which produced the report.

It is a right wing think-tank, which believes that “Islamism” is the main threat to social cohesion in Britain. This is why there is no mention of the Islamophobia of modern fascism in the report.

Carrie Rashdall, Birmingham

Trade unionists must take initiative over flu

Workers at my school – one of the largest in the Greater Manchester area – opened their staff bulletin last week to learn that several pupils had been confirmed as having swine flu.

Other staff, both teaching and non-teaching, found out when pupils told them the news.

The only advice given was what to say to concerned parents. We were told that the school wouldn’t be closing.

People were understandably angry that management had announced such a dramatic piece of information in this way – with no medical advice or information for staff and pupils.

Union representatives at the school took the position that swine flu is a trade union issue.

We insisted that management must provide medical advice to those who work here to help dispel any sense of panic.

We also requested that hand gels should be provided for staff to help stop the spread of the flu. This has all since been provided.

In the event of a pandemic, millions of people’s lives are in danger.

Managements that simply ignore the problem could be putting the health of their employees at risk.

Trade unionists should be taking the initiative to make sure that employers have plans in place for this eventuality as well as providing information, support and assistance for those who might be at risk.

Unison union representative, Manchester

Miliband abandons Vestas workers

I went to 10 Downing Street last week to celebrate the contribution environmental volunteers make to the local environment.

While there I ran in to Ed Miliband, the energy minister.

I asked him what the government was going to do about saving jobs at Vestas, England’s only wind turbine factory, on the Isle of Wight, which is facing closure.

The government is committed to creating 400,000 green jobs by 2015.

Miliband said the government had tried every avenue they could to keep the factory open, but it was not possible to do so.

I pointed out that the Scottish government not only saved the wind turbine factory in Argyll from closure, but it was now expanding its workforce.

I suggested nationalising Vestas as Labour had done with the banks.

Miliband’s jaw dropped and he gave the standard “but the banks were too big to fail” answer, before moving on.

However, I don’t understand how the government thinks that the banks and the financial sector will continue to survive without any industry or jobs in the country.

Cheryl McCormick, Liverpool

MPs won’t face music

As an ex-steel worker I felt I had to be at the march to save Corus jobs in Redcar on Saturday 18 July (» Workers forge united fight to save steel jobs, 25 July).

Vera Baird was not the only Labour MP to show up that day.

Most of the others saw what a poor reception she got and hid in the background, too ashamed to face the public.

My view is that if you are voted in by the public you should be prepared to face the music.

Peter Hall, Middlesbrough

Rules are the barrier to work

The JobCentre Plus endlessly goes on about “barriers to work” for the unemployed. But being a single man living by myself is the only barrier to work that confronts me.

The job centre carried no relevant jobs for me so I signed up with agencies.

Everything I am offered is either 20 to 28 hours per week, are temporary jobs lasting less than three months or are jobs on an ad-hoc basis.

Even the job centre staff tell me I would be worse off in these jobs and that I should not apply for them. I would be paying more rent, council tax and other expenses, which my wage would not cover.

What do I do? The barriers to work are the rules.

Stu E, Durham

Afghanistan’s bloody history

The carnage in Afghanistan continues unabated. Both US and British politicians appear to have no coherent strategy or even a reasonable explanation as to what the troops are doing in Afghanistan after eight bloody years.

Is it really a sensible argument that the bombing and strafing of Afghan villages and towns will stop terrorist attacks in the Britain or the US?

The Afghan people have a proud history of resistance and have seen off everyone that invaded their country.

The USSR was defeated even though it killed a million Afghans. Are we going to be there until we kill a million, as we did in Iraq?

First World War veteran Henry Allingham said, “War is stupid. Nobody wins. You might as well talk first, you have to talk last anyway.”

Mark Holt, Chair, Merseyside Stop the War Coalition

Ecotowns are a total sham

Ecotowns are a desperate attempt by New Labour to appear as if it is doing something on the environment.

It is much easier to announce the development of four ecotowns than to revolutionise public transport, undertake a proper programme of insulating buildings or put proper investment into renewable energy.

Instead of building these new ecotowns, why doesn’t the government invest in repairing and “greening” the thousands of homes we already have that are sitting empty?

There are question marks over how much influence private companies will have in developing these new ecotowns.

We should oppose ecotowns and demand that the government puts the level of money and investment needed into making every town an environmentally sustainable one.

Julie Watson, Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire

Don’t let MPs off the hook

The Telegraph and Guardian newspapers seem to justify Norwich Labour MP Ian Gibson’s behaviour over expenses by citing several other MPs.

But just because several other MPs did the same or worse, it doesn’t make Gibson innocent.

Instead of resigning, Gibson should have been pushed.

Mike Smith, Stockport

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Article information

Tue 28 Jul 2009, 18:56 BST
Issue No. 2162
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