The protests that got BBC workers talking
I was working a shift at BBC TV Centre on the evening that Nick Griffin, leader of the fascist British National Party (BNP) joined the Question Time panel. With protesters besieging the building, the atmosphere was electric and there was a slight air of anarchy inside the building.
Many staff, including cleaners and catering workers, seemed to have deserted their posts and gathered at the windows to watch what was going on outside.
Many, I suspect, were silently cheering the protesters on.
For the first time I heard debates all around the newsroom about the rights and wrongs of Griffin having been invited on. Most of my fellow journalists supported the decision to allow Griffin on the panel, and many still do, but the protests forced us to debate the issues.
When I questioned my co-workers on why they supported Griffin’s appearance, some said they thought the ultra-right should be engaged with, not ostracised.
Others said the high viewing figure for Question Time that night – it reached eight million, far above the average of 2.4 million – showed that the British public was keen to explore its “healthy curiosity” about the BNP.
I personally think the Question Time format did not allow the BNP to be fully exposed for what it is.
I am also concerned at reports that the party’s membership has increased since the broadcast, despite Griffin’s widely mocked performance.
I am worried that it will set a precedent for further appearances by the BNP. All in all, this episode has strengthened my belief that the BNP should have no platform on the BBC.
But there is a lot of work to do if my colleagues are to be convinced.
Journalist, BBC News, London
I really enjoyed Michael Rosen’s article on the BNP and Question Time (» ‘Question Time has opened the door for the BNP’, 31 October). Once again the nail has been hit on the head.
However, I do not believe there is enough literature available discussing the positive aspects of immigration. I think these are times when people need to be equipped with reliable facts and arguments in support of immigration rather than the negative spin of the mainstream media.
If people are going to fully understand immigration then there needs to be greater discussion.
I think Socialist Worker could provide an ideal forum for such articles.
It would allow us to get the correct message out to the masses who are disillusioned and confused, and therefore subjected to manipulation through the current mainstream media.
Steven Andrew Wrathmall, Sherburn
Kick out Nazi docs
The rise of the fascist British National Party (BNP) is a dark cloud in our society, which has been produced by capitalism.
I had a peek through the latest leaked BNP members list. Not surprisingly most of their members are from middle class backgrounds.
To my disgust I found that approximately 40 doctors are paid up members of the BNP.
It reminded me of the brutal role Nazi doctors played in the Second World War. Josef Mengele was the chief provider for the gas chamber at Auschwitz.
He killed 750 women from one block by gassing them after it was reported that it was infected with lice.
Karl Brandt, Adolf Hitler’s personal physician, actively participated in a “euthanasia programme”, which involved killing mentally ill patients and disabled children.
The General Medical Council (GMC) is the regulatory body for all doctors who work in Britain.
Doctors need to be registered with the GMC to enable them to practise medicine. It has set up guidelines that all doctors have to abide by.
In the “Equality and diversity” section it says, “You must not allow any personal views that you hold about patients to prejudice your assessment of their clinical needs or delay or restrict their access to care.
“This includes your view about a patient’s age, colour, culture, disability, ethnic or national origin, gender, lifestyle, marital or parental status, race, religion or beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, or social or economic status.”
Doctors who are BNP members will hold racist, fascist, antisemitic and homophobic views.
And if somebody has those views I think it will definitely interfere with their patient care.
Therefore I think the GMC needs to review these doctors to find out whether they are fit to practise medicine in this country.
My personal view is “no to Nazis.”
They should be struck off from GMC register.
Dr Arif Musabbir, Leeds
Don’t let bureaucrats drive us out of unions
As the secretary of a Unison union branch, I fully share Kelly’s frustration with the leadership of the union (» Letters, 17 October). However I do not agree that the right response for activists is to “jack it in”.
No union leadership encourages militancy most of the time. The union bureaucracy is not on our side.
Their role in society is to negotiate the terms on which workers are exploited under capitalism, not to get rid of it.
Sometimes they are forced to call industrial action under pressure from the rank and file or to remind the employers that they have to deal with the union.
The Unison leadership appears to be the most vicious in its victimisation of activists and blocking of strike action.
This is because it is one of the most craven in its support for New Labour but also because the left in the union is strong.
The leadership knows that the left’s struggle for a union that fights back – whoever is in government – strikes a chord with large sections of the membership.
Socialists and other activists in the union are trying to make the most of every opportunity to encourage members to fight while challenging the leadership at every level of the union.
Kelly should get back involved and help us.
Tony, East London
Save Danny from the death penalty
Danny Fitzsimons is a former British soldier from Manchester facing the death penalty in Iraq. As a soldier in the Parachute Regiment he killed people and saw people die. These experiences left him damaged.
He left the army and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Despite this, ArmorGroup International, a British company which provides exclusive security contracts in Iraq, employed Danny.
Against company rules he had access to alcohol. He “blacked out” and killed two fellow ArmorGroup employees inside Baghdad’s Green Zone on 9 August.
Danny is now charged with murder and is currently in a prison dungeon in Baghdad.
Barrister Nick Wrack and case worker John Tipple went to Iraq to represent Danny. They are demanding he is returned to Britain, where he can face a fair trial.
His family and lawyers will launch the Bring Danny Home Campaign at a public meeting on 14 November.
It is time all our soldiers were brought back home.
For more details go to » www.manchesterstopwar.org
Mark Krantz, Convener, Greater Manchester Stop the War Coalition
Well done for taking on BNP
I live in Druids Heath, in Birmingham. My sister told me that she saw the British National Party (BNP) giving out leaflets as she was walking past with my mixed race daughter.
They wouldn’t even look her in the eyes.
I was going to gather a few people to go up there and give them a good talking to!
I was glad to hear about the Unite Against Fascism (UAF) protest in Birmingham.
Good on ya UAF!
Leah Robertson, Birmingham
Policing EDL wastes money
The money wasted by Leeds council on policing the fascist EDL march could have been used to settle the bin dispute.
The council could have paid the bin workers decent wages, if it had banned these thugs from coming to Leeds.
Talk about folly!
Harry Coney, by email
State won’t stop fascism
The anti-fascist movement made a serious error when it called on the home secretary to ban the English Defence League (EDL) march in Leeds.
The lessons of the struggles against fascism in the 1930s and more recently show how the independent actions of the working class and their allies can confront the fascists.
Fascism feeds off the crises in capitalism to divide and disarm the working class.
The state and its representatives have a direct interest in protecting the interests of capital.
At times they drop the veneer of liberalism to undermine our civil liberties.
Do we believe that we can trust the forces of law and order to protect our communities from Nazi attacks?
I think not.
The only defence is self defence.
The mass movement against fascists and racists must not be demobilised by relying on state bans.
The left must hold firm and remain confident in the willingness and ability of the people being united to fight off the fascist threat.
Alf Filer, London
Afghan war is in trouble
The war in Afghanistan more and more resembles the imperialist war in Vietnam.
When serving troops begin to speak out against the conflict and disobey orders, they threaten the foundation of Western power in the region.
Richard, by email
Respect call centre workers
Why should call/contact centres be seen as “deskilling” employees (» Anger over DWP call centres, 31 October)?
Isn’t the union rep who said this demeaning the excellent work carried out by many thousands of his members?
William, by email
Workers won’t win at Acas
It just turns your stomach to see CWU union leader Billy Hayes begging to go to Acas to resolve the post dispute.
He knows there’s only one winner through Acas.
Postal workers at a rank and file level need to organise against a possible sell out.
The feeling is there for a fight and it’s more than winnable.
Sharon Gant, Frickley
Post workers greatly valued
Our post men and women are off for a few days and the media coverage suggests that the country is facing a major shutdown.
Yet our much-loved politicians have just returned to “work” after an 84-day holiday.
Hands up anyone who missed them?
This says a lot about how greatly valued the post workers are.
Derek Hanlin, Porth