Solidarity will win the Vestas workers’ fight
When Luke, partner to my daughter Hannah, started a sit-in with his co-workers at Vestas, I was awe-struck by the show of solidarity locally, nationally and from around the world.
It came from workers’ families, the community and all sorts of ideologically diverse groups. That solidarity has made us strong.
At the heart of all this are 600 workers who are being thrown out of their jobs, even though the Vestas plants have proven to be highly profitable for a highly profitable company.
Vestas has resisted all attempts to keep the plants in production, preferring to move production to the US and mothball their British factory until it decides that the market here is “viable” again.
It claims to be “following the market” – but of course we know it means it is “following the profit”.
The Labour government has tried to wash its hands of the controversy as it doesn’t want to compromise its market “principles”.
The party that used to represent working people claims to have a green agenda. It states that it wants 4,000 onshore and 3,000 offshore wind turbines – yet it refuses to produce them.
The government should be pulling out all the stops to prevent the closure of this country’s only wind turbine production facility.
It gave Vestas a considerable golden handshake to encourage it to begin production here, and has now given them an even larger amount to build a research and development plant – in spite of them closing down the first factory. This is an outrageous misuse of public money, with government complicity.
But when we come together in solidarity we are strong and can fight back.
Where there are protests, get involved. Talk to your family and friends, your colleagues, people in cafes and bars. If we have solidarity then we will make a difference.
Victory to the Vestas workers and to others who have taken up the fight!
John Short, Isle of Wight
Climate change minister Ed Miliband’s indifference to the crisis at Vestas makes a mockery of his promises of “green jobs”.
Despite New Labour’s dogmatic commitment to neoliberal economics, it found billions to part-nationalise and bail out the banks.
Yet it won’t spend a tiny fraction of that sum to nationalise Vestas and keep producing wind turbines on the Isle of Wight.
The workers who occupied Vestas embody the best traditions of the labour movement. I hope others will follow their example.
Sasha Simic, Hackney
The state’s sick game
Having represented migrants and asylum seekers for seven years at a Belfast law firm, I should no longer be surprised at the degradation visited on them by the UK Home Office.
But this week I experienced new depths when I accompanied a husband, wife and their two young children to an interview designed to ascertain whether or not their marriage was “bogus”.
It appears that evidence of six years living together and two children are not enough to satisfy the UK Border Agency of a relationship’s credentials.
Instead my clients were forced to rise at 5am and take their two small children on flights to a city they had never visited before to be asked personal questions about every intimate detail of their relationship.
They were interviewed separately, each being asked the same set of approximately 60 questions.
They were asked to describe their first date, the marriage proposal, the gifts they had exchanged at their wedding, the food they had eaten the day before, their bedroom, their spouse’s favourite television programmes and to say who did household chores.
This is Mr And Mrs with the sickest imaginable twist.
Those who win get a piece of paper that entitles them to continue with their lives. Those who lose risk being ripped from the lives of their loved ones, detained and forcibly removed from the country.
My clients were not told the outcome of their interview. Instead, tired and emotionally drained, they and their two tiny children boarded a plane back to Belfast, knowing that they would hear within the next two weeks whether or not they passed the cruellest of all tests.
When the government talks about making it tougher for immigrants to live here and obtain citizenship I shudder. It is already so devastatingly tough that I dread to think what it will mean for people.
It appears that the depth of cruelty and misery inflicted on migrants in the UK by New Labour is indeed bottomless.
Barbara Muldoon, Belfast
Anti-racist casuals push back the Nazis
The unsuccessful racist mobilisation by Casuals United in Birmingham (» This is how to stop the Nazis, 15 August) has reopened the controversy of racism and football “casuals”.
Bigotry and racism is a feature of the modern game among a vocal minority of fans, which racists and Nazis can tap into.
But in opposition to these attempts to organise among football casuals, grassroots anti-racists have successfully built mass campaigns that have driven the Nazis back, often at clubs with the worst reputations.
In 1989 the Time to Go campaign, aiming to remove British troops from Ireland, demonstrated in Edinburgh. The march was stewarded by the local Hibernian casuals who successfully routed an attack by Loyalists and Nazis.
And in 1993 a group of Celtic casuals traveled to London to lead the Anti Nazi League march on the British National Party (BNP) HQ in Welling.
Today the Casuals United group has been set up to recruit footsoldiers for the Nazis. But it would be a mistake to think that it has widespread appeal among casuals – the casuals movement is more complex than that.
And Birmingham’s example will deter many who think that Casuals United is a group with the potential to become a street army for the BNP.
Eddie Cimorelli, North London
Well done for taking on racists
When racists tried to march in Birmingham last week (» This is how to stop the Nazis, 15 August) the response of local people was excellent.
I’m of Pakistani descent and was born in Britain. At the age of 12 I was walking home from school when a car pulled up.
Four white guys got out, broke my nose and front teeth and attacked me with a baseball bat.
Why? Because I’ve got brown skin (without using a sunbed).
They put me in the hospital. Did I want revenge? Yes, but only against the perpetrators, not against all white people.
I hate extremists of all nature and race. I hate the people who were responsible for 9/11 and 7/7 as much as I hate the US marines who raped and killed a young Iraqi girl and got let off with only a few years in prison.
Times are hard, but it’s not anyone’s skin colour that caused the recession.
Give respect and you’ll get it back – but when you get a slap unfortunately you’ve got to give one back too.
A bully will always come back and take your sandwich after he’s had your lucky bag.
Amjad Malik, Kidderminster
Economy isn’t getting better
Our rulers seem to be liars, seriously deluded or both.
We are told that the economy is recovering and the situation is getting better but the reality for most people is very different.
The unemployment figures show people are suffering. Meanwhile, the bank bailouts have had little impact on the “real” economy.
Youth unemployment is spiralling out of control. We are heading towards a situation where joblessness will blight a generation of young people.
The government needs to take a hard look in the mirror and see the monster it has created.
Until Labour stands up to the bankers and big business things can only get worse not better.
Gwyneth Jones, Neath
This is plane hypocrisy
We saw more evidence of the government’s hypocrisy over the environment this week.
Business secretary Peter Mandelson announced that the government would give £340 million in loans to Airbus to manufacture new planes.
This is at the same time as wind turbine maker Vestas closes its sites in Britain.
How can the government say it wants to save the planet when it bails out planes and the car industry but not renewable energy?
Jackie Taylor, Worksop
Sexism and New Labour
Just Like Goretti Horgan (» Harriet Harman and the real pay gap, 15 August) I found myself having to defend Harriet Harman when she raised the issues of domestic violence, rape, care duties and female under-representation.
I felt appalled that in 2009 a woman would face such abuse in the press for speaking out.
But on the other hand, it is disingenuous for Harman to raise these issues while not attacking the government on the economy, privatisation and war, all of which undermine gender equality.
As a socialist I will unconditionally defend people who challenge sexism.
But that support has to be on a critical basis – especially when they are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Louise Harrison, Doncaster
Eta is going nowhere fast
When the Basque Country was under the iron heel of Francoism, with its inhabitants denied expression of their language and culture, Eta’s military campaign had a real justification (» Letters, 15 August).
But today it enjoys substantial autonomy. That is why Eta’s military campaign is going nowhere.
Its regular targeting of seaside resorts is misdirected.
Like Sinn Fein in Ireland, Eta entered into a peace process with the Spanish state that then broke down.
They can rightly blame the Madrid authorities for that – but by entering into it they were admitting their military attacks offered no way forward.
James Riordan, West London
US should stop NHS lies
It makes my blood boil that the Republicans in the US are spreading lies and half-truths about the NHS – one of our greatest welfare achievements.
Their efforts are designed to prevent the US from establishing its own national health scheme and to protect the interests of greedy insurance companies.
The NHS saves millions of lives without the heartache of massive bills.
I object to the health service being slighted in the interests of financial gain.
We should get the message to the US that the attack on the NHS is little more than right wing propaganda.
Jonathan Edwards, by email