Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2169

Protesting to demand that the DSEI arms fair is closed down last week (Pic:» Guy Smallman )

Protesting to demand that the DSEI arms fair is closed down last week (Pic: » Guy Smallman)

Gordon Brown’s tragic hypocrisy

Gordon Brown has confirmed that Britain will support compensation claims being made against Libya by the families of IRA victims.

This announcement came two days before the opening of the DSEI fair for weapons manufacturers in London’s Docklands.

Britain is the third largest exporter of arms in the world.

Does Brown support compensation for the many millions across the globe who have fallen to arms manufactured in Britain and who will be killed and maimed by the ordinance sold at DSEI 2009?

Would Brown support the compensation claims of those injured, and the families of those killed, by British weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan – bloodshed that he personally bears responsibility for?

The hypocrisy is beyond belief.

Sasha Simic, East London

We are not biofools!

Local residents and environmental campaigners are celebrating a major victory in their campaign against a biofuel power station in Southall, west London.

Councillors on Ealing council’s planning committee voted unanimously to refuse planning permission for the project.

The environmental group Food not Fuel initiated the campaign, but it quickly grew to include community activists and residents. They collected thousands of signatures on a petition and demonstrated outside the planning meeting.

Blue-NG, the company proposing the power station, describe themselves as “green entrepreneurs” out to defeat climate change.

They already have permission to build a power station in Newham, east London, run on biofuels, which will be the first of its kind in Britain.

There are serious doubts about the ability of biofuels – which are derived from plants such as oilseed rape, soya or oil palm – to solve the problem of climate change.

Using nitrogen based fertilisers to grow even locally produced oilseed rape could cause more global warming than fossil fuels.

The amount of land that would have been needed to grow fuel for this power station is also enough to feed around 25,000 people.

Blue-NG now plans to appeal to the mayor of London in an attempt to overturn the decision. The campaign is focused on making sure it is upheld. For more information go to »

Camilla Royle, West London

Campaigners in Newport, South Wales, are delighted after the council’s planning committee threw out Vogen Energy’s plans for a biofuel power plant last week.

The campaign culminated in councillors getting bombarded by 23 letters, 223 emails, 331 postcards and an 800-signature petition. Protests were also held.

The station would have burnt 40,000 tonnes of biofuel a year. This would have led to emissions of particle matter (PM10 and PM2.5) and nitrogen oxide, which are associated with increases in respiratory and other illnesses, and premature death in infants.

Des Mannay, Newport

Questions for the BBC on the BNP

So The fascist BNP leader Nick Griffin is to be invited onto the Question Time programme (» Stop the BBC ‘rolling out the red carpet’ for Nazi leader, 12 September).

The BBC’s justification for this is that the BNP has received support in elections.

But it seems to have missed the point that the BNP has done this by camouflaging its true beliefs and intentions under a net of bland sounding “good intentions”.

In its campaign literature the party fails to mention that it thinks Adolf Hitler was quite a good guy with some really great ideas.

It doesn’t outline its beliefs – like eradicating trade unions, destroying democracy and the genocide of “impure” races.

With all its resources the BBC could play a role in revealing the reality of the BNP, instead of adding its own respectable stamp to the fascists’ camouflage.

Even inviting Griffin to speak adds to his credibility and makes him much more dangerous.

Our hard-won democratic rights should not be extended to fascists who are intent on destroying them.

We have seen the horror of the Holocaust and cannot claim to be naive about where Nazism leads.

Heather Falconer, West Wales

Unpalatable dish at a BBC dinner

As a television licence payer, I am disgusted that the BBC should be contemplating inviting the BNP’s leader Nick Griffin onto Question Time.

I understand that the panellists on that programme are taken to dinner before it goes on air.

But who would want to eat with that sitting at the same table?

Mitch Mitchell, March, Cambridgeshire

Let’s learn the lessons from Thatcher’s defeat

Margaret Thatcher used divide and rule tactics to defeat different sections of workers throughout the 1980s.

Crucially, her success depended on a lack of unity among her opponents.

However, we can learn a lot from the way that Thatcher was ultimately defeated.

With the poll tax, the Tories unleashed an attack on everyone. They forgot that their success required us to be divided.

This mistake opened up the opportunity to build an effective, united campaign against the poll tax.

This defeated Thatcher and forced her resignation.

The situation today is very different from then but, whichever government we face in a year, a massive attack is being prepared.

The billions spent bailing out the banks are to be clawed back – from us. Like the poll tax, this will be an attack on every worker.

We already have an advantage we didn’t have in the 1980s – the militancy of workers is clearly on the rise.

The task for us is to link all these struggles together in an organisation which fights.

There is a fantastic anger against the bankers, politicians and capitalism.

A new, united left can be the weapon to focus this anger and defeat the planned attacks and strike a major blow against capitalism itself.

John Cowsill, South London

Nationalised bank attacks workers

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is continuing its attacks on staff even though it is now majority-owned by the Labour government.

Following low or zero percent pay rises, and over 8,000 job losses in 2009, there is now an assault on the company’s final salary pension scheme.

The bank has announced that the pensionable element of future pay increases will be capped at 2 percent, or the CPI rate of inflation, whichever is lowest.

The bank is intent on eroding workers’ pensions and encouraging them to leave the pension scheme in favour of its less beneficial retirement savings plan.

The Unite union has begun a consultative ballot of its members in RBS on the bank’s proposals – with a recommendation to reject.

Undoubtedly, the employer will be relying on the fact that, in the past, the union has shown little desire to actively campaign against attacks on staff.

This time it has to be different.

A militant, organised, proactive campaign can give hope to RBS workers and protect their future.

RBS worker, by email

A significant resignation

Labour MP Eric Joyce’s resignation as a defence aide prompts the question as to why it took him so long.

No doubt he and other Labour MPs have long harboured doubts about the wisdom of the military strategy in Afghanistan, yet have been too cowardly to speak out – either for careerist reasons, or for fear of offending the troops.

Joyce’s resignation, however, is particularly significant because he was a former army officer, which is rare within Labour’s ranks.

As the army’s death toll rises in Afghanistan it’s conceivable that Joyce, due to his past military service, now felt vulnerable in the eyes of many service personnel.

This is particularly the case as he had politically backed the military campaign until now.

Nick Vinehill, Snettisham, Norfolk

Need to learn from NPA

I was delighted to read Chris Harman’s report from the French New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) summer event (» A new atmosphere on the French left, 5 September).

I was proud to stand for Respect in a council by-election in Dudden Hill in Brent, north west London.

Working with comrades in the SWP and sharing a platform with George Galloway was an honour.

The French NPA sounds close to our aims for Respect – for a broad-based movement to fight for fairness and equality at work, on estates and internationally.

We should invite NPA speakers to Britain to help build the possibilities of greater unity among socialists.

Tim Danby, North West London

Blame whole human race

Why does Socialist Worker blame the world’s leaders for climate change?

They don’t force people to drive and fly everywhere.

The human race is selfish and greedy, using up all the earth’s resources.

And then there’s overpopulation.

Socialist Worker never looks at the other side of the story about human nature. The human race is not worth saving.

Timmy Harrington, North West London

Turing was a victim of hate

Gordon Brown did the right thing for the first time in his prime ministership last week when he apologised for the homophobic persecution of scientist Alan Turing.

Turing, who was part of the team who broke the Nazis’ war-time code, was prosecuted for homosexuality and forced to undergo hormone treatment.

This drove him to commit suicide at the age of 41 in 1954.

Tens of thousands of other men in Britain were also prosecuted for the “crime” of being gay.

They all also deserve an apology from the government.

Simone Murray, Carlisle

Labour began the attacks

Socialist Worker’s reports on the Save Coseley Baths campaign don’t explain how the Labour Party in Dudley arrived at the position of opposing the closure.

In 2003, when Labour controlled the council, it decided to review all options on leisure service finances – including part-privatisation.

Ironically, it appointed Tory councillor Ian Kettle to chair the relevant committee.

Hence it was no surprise that when the Tories took control of the council in 2004, they decided to continue this agenda and axe key leisure services in areas such as Coseley.

Perhaps the SWP needs a more nuanced approach when choosing who to build coalitions with?

Steve Cox, Former Dudley councillor

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Article information

Tue 15 Sep 2009, 19:34 BST
Issue No. 2169
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