Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2175

Anti-fascists in Glasgow protest against the BBC’s decision to invite Nick Griffin onto its Question Time programme on Thursday of last week (Pic: Duncan Brown)

Anti-fascists in Glasgow protest against the BBC’s decision to invite Nick Griffin onto its Question Time programme on Thursday of last week (Pic: Duncan Brown)

BBC has given a boost to Nazi Nick Griffin

Not surprisingly, the BBC has been congratulating itself about the appearance of fascist British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin on Question Time.

The general reaction of the media is that he has been shown up as a “nutter” and so the appeal of the BNP is weakened.

I do not believe that this will be the long-term effect.

The main victory for Griffin is that he was asked to appear on the programme in the first place. Griffin is an active fascist posing as a “normal” politician.

And the view that it was good to have Griffin on Question Time implies that we can leave the job of exposing the BNP to the nice, “intelligent” establishment without the need for campaigns or demonstrations.

Leaving aside the obvious failure of these establishment figures to land any blow, metaphorically or otherwise, on the fascists, it is our established rulers who have created the conditions in which fascism can grow.

Like a parasite, it feeds off the fear, resentment and desperation that a deep recession brings.

The tragedy of the 1930s was that people fell for this.

Long before Adolf Hitler became chancellor in Germany, the street violence of the fascists was brought to bear on Jews, Communists and trade unionists – and even on the establishment politicians who argued for freedom of speech for fascists.

Fascism poses as an anti-establishment movement, but it is fatally mistaken to believe that the establishment can defeat them.

We need a mass movement of grassroots activists that unites people on the streets to defeat the Nazis.

Charlotte Ahmed, Glasgow

Our rulers’ backing of “free speech” for Nazis shows either an unawareness of, or complete contempt for, the depth of alienation that exists in Britain.

Nick Griffin was onto a winner whatever happened in the Question Time studio. With enemies like Jack Straw, Sayeeda Warsi and Chris Huhne you will garner plenty of friends among the dispossessed, because in their different ways these people offer no hope other than capitalist business as usual.

I prefer the Woody Allen option from the film Manhattan:

Isaac Davis: “Has anybody read that Nazis are gonna march in New Jersey? Y’know, I read this in the newspaper. We should go down there, get some guys together, y’know, get some bricks and baseball bats and really explain things to them.”

Party guest: “There is this devastating satirical piece on that on the Op Ed page of the Times. It is devastating.”

Isaac Davis: “Well, a satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but bricks and baseball bats really gets right to the point.”

Nick Grant, West London

Pubs and resistance

Sam Peters (» Letters, 17 October) seizes on a former practice – paying workers at the “pub table” – as an argument for working class temperance. Sam is incorrect as to how this system generally operated.

Foremen didn’t exact a pint from each worker every pay day but struck private deals with publicans to receive a share of the extra takings.

But pubs were of much more significance to the working class in formulating resistance. They were the meeting places for fledging trade unions after 1824.

So synonymous were they with agitation for electoral reform that by 1866 voting and beer drinking were often equated disparagingly by those opposing both.

In 1839 pubs hosting Chartist meetings were threatened with closure by a government worried by the subversive activities taking place out of sight of “respectable” people. Pubs were renowned headquarters for republicans, trade unions, Chartists, and socialists.

Rioting in 1855 after restrictions on Sunday opening for public houses – but not private clubs – was a sign of an increasing spirit of unity among the working class.

The number of working class lives undoubtedly saved by drinking beer instead of from a cholera-ridden water supply is inestimable.

To claim alcoholism among the working class is due to alcohol availability, as Victorian temperance campaigners maintained, sides with those seeking to divert attention from the root causes – unemployment, poverty and overwork.

The Department of Health’s Safe, Sensible, Social report acknowledges alcohol consumption today is in decline.

The largest ratio of consumption per head occurs at Ascot racecourse and the Henley Regatta, but these are seldom cited as examples of “binge drink Britain”.

In shunning any celebration of the centrality of “pub culture” in working class opposition to exploitation I fear Sam will be in fairly small company.

Keith Prince, Chingford

First drivers refuse to be bosses’ servants

I am a First bus driver at the company’s Sheffield depot. My basic wage is just over £7 per hour. I was earning this five years ago – so this is a pay freeze. Yet fares and revenue have gone up dramatically in this time.

My family’s standard of living is on a par with that of unemployed people. The fat cats have created a “Lord of the Manor” lifestyle for themselves and we are their servants.

First company directors have awarded themselves a 10 percent dividend bonus, while my colleagues and I have to work long, unsocial hours, often subject to assaults and abuse.

It’s time for change in this country.

One manager told me that I could not afford to strike the other day – my reply was that I cannot afford to continue for another year on this crap wage.

I know there are worse paid jobs out there and I speak up for all those who feel like I do.

But I’m paid too little for the amount of time I put into the job. They say I’m professional – they should pay me accordingly.

I cannot give my real name as I will face dismissal. My protest has started and will continue on the picket line in our dispute.

Please support us in our fight for a fair deal. We don’t want tricks or hidden small print, just cash on the table and an end to bullying.

Alex, Sheffield

Socialist Worker is exceptional

Socialist Worker’s coverage of industrial disputes is usually very good. But last week’s reporting of the postal dispute was exceptional.

The layout and the printing of management’s documents that show they are out to smash the postal workers’ CWU union were all outstanding.

The coverage was excellent, and not a one-off.

I am a retired postal worker, but I travelled around a number of picket lines in Oxfordshire last week.

At every picket line I urged people to buy Socialist Worker, even though I’m not a Socialist Workers Party member!

Bob Cullen, Oxford

Harca plans will harm poor

Harca is a housing association proposing to build a 22-storey block of flats on a car park in east London as part of a regeneration scheme.

The building of this block will make the lives of the people living there unbelievably miserable.

It is estimated that it will take over a year to build.

The plans will only create between 20 to 30 flats for the poor.

The rest will be for sale on the open market and there is no provision for parking for the current or the new residents.

This is an example of greed over democracy. We must keep fighting against this planning application.

Maureen Delenian, East London

Thanks from post workers

Thanks for your support for the post workers! We the CWU union and postal workers appreciate you fighting our corner.

Stewart Hardie, by email

Help me with history please

I am a history student at the London School of Economics doing my dissertation on the attitudes of working class Catholics during the Spanish Civil War.

I am addressing the theme of “divided loyalties” and how working class Catholics involved in trade unions and the labour movement felt towards the war of 1936-39.

This can include issues such as involvement with those who went to fight in the International Brigades or controversies over money being sent to the Republic.

I am also considering the wider long term effects of the Spanish Civil War on this group.

My focus is on the north west of England, but any information, stories, contacts or suggestions would be much appreciated.

Please feel free to contact me by email at [email protected]

Estelle Cooch, West London

Treason of the Labour Party

All unions should withhold funding from the Labour Party.

What amazes me is that only now do union members and officials recognise the treason and deceit exercised by the Labour Party against unions, their members and workers in general.

I recognised this ten years ago when I was a shop steward.

But some union leaders have been in cahoots with Labour in the destruction of workers’ rights and jobs.

Bring on the demise of Labour and rid us all of the treason, betrayal and corruption for all time.

Bury them. But do not vote in the Conservatives or the Liberals. They are equally bad.

Vic, by email

We need to stop the EDL

It is frightening to see the pictures of the English Defence League protests.

I want to take these guys for a guided tour of Auschwitz – and leave them there for a week.

I ask myself what will happen when older people who have experienced the Nazis in the past are gone.

Will we see this terror again?

Halua, by email

Tenants have rich history

Sixty people attended a conference on The Tenants Movement – a Hidden History in Leeds on Saturday 17 October.

Leeds Tenants Federation hosted the conference.

Tenants, campaigners and academics attended.

In the keynote address, John Grayson pointed to the rich history in which tenants and other poor housing communities have represented their own interests, and have also taken direct action as part of a wider working class struggle.

It is hoped to hold further conferences to reclaim this hidden history.

Paul Burnham, North London

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Article information

Tue 27 Oct 2009, 18:37 GMT
Issue No. 2175
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