Workers must back the new climate movement
I was at the massive climate change demo on Saturday 5 December with other members of my NUT union branch. As teachers we were delighted to see how many young people and students were on such a lively demonstration.
What was lacking, however, was the presence of the trade unions with their banners. And the march needed to have a more political edge.
It is not good enough to let environment minister Ed Miliband get away with embracing the demonstration and putting out the message that he and other politicians can solve the problem of climate change.
When workers at the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight occupied their factory to save their 600 green jobs, Miliband did nothing to stop the job losses.
How can we trust him to create a million green jobs when he won’t even challenge a multinational company to save 600 – never mind making any moves towards nationalisation?
It should be the job of the unions and socialists to be on these demonstrations against climate change and to argue that we can occupy and strike for green jobs.
There is no solution in relying on a bunch of politicians attending yet another pointless summit where big business can be assured of its profits being protected.
Sara Tomlinson, Lambeth Teachers’ Association (pc)
It was a great joy taking part in Britain’s biggest ever climate change demo. However, while climate change clearly affects the poor disproportionately, I could not help notice that the vast majority of those attending the protest were from a more middle class background.
Why was this the case? Unfortunately I believe a large part of the problem is that views like the “carbon footprint” , which moralistically blame ordinary people for the problem of climate change, have become the dominant arguments surrounding the issue.
These views come from an establishment
that wishes to divert attention from its own failings and the incredible environmental destruction caused by the capitalist system as a whole.
I think a lot of working class people feel that they have no input into the situation because they cannot afford to “cut back” for the environment.
It is not surprising that some people even feel climate science may be a trick by the ruling class to penalise them.
But socialists have a clear position on the issue. We must put the blame for climate change at the door of our rulers and their system, while at the same time fighting in campaigns that benefit the working class and the poor.
Richard Garratt, East London
‘Clear red water’ for Wales?
Rhodri Morgan stepped down as First Minister of the Welsh Assembly government last week after ten years in the job.
He is to be replaced as party leader by Labour’s “trusty” Carwyn Jones, leader of the house and Assembly Member for Bridgend.
Morgan often liked to talk of “clear red water” between the assembly and the Westminster government.
This was largely rhetorical – but it reflected the dislike in large parts of Wales of New Labour and its privatisation mania.
Carwyn Jones will attempt to continue the act.
And he will also, before Assembly elections in 2011, have to deliver on Labour’s deal with the Welsh nationalists Plaid Cymru.
Labour has agreed to call for a “Yes” vote in a referendum for greater legislative powers in the Welsh Assembly, moving Wales towards a more devolved Scottish model.
But more devolution and more law-making powers will not solve the problems that Welsh workers will face over the next few years.
In response to the political and media clamour for public sector cuts, Alistair Darling has announced pay cuts for nearly four million workers across Britain – and there is much worse still to come.
Public sector jobs in Wales account for a third of the workforce, so the attacks have a disproportionately greater impact here.
Despite talk of a Welsh Tory revival after Labour’s disastrous showing in the European elections, the evidence shows a collapse of the Labour vote, not a turn to the Tories.
Whoever wins the 2010 election – and whatever the talk about “clear red water” – we are set for much sharper class struggle in the years to come.
The Right to Work conference in Manchester on 30 January will be a first step towards organising resistance now.
Tim Evans, Swansea
Scots’ independence raises many questions
Eileen Boyle is entitled to call for Scottish independence (» Is Britain set to break up?, 12 December) – but we need to be aware of the consequences for the rest of the UK.
Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond seems intent on offering voters a range of options in any referendum. However, a number of questions emerge.
Firstly, would Northern Ireland easily continue as part of the UK-minus-Scotland? If Scotland left the Union, Northern Ireland would look even more like a colony, miles away from the rest of the country.
Also, strong links remain between Northern Ireland and Scotland. Not everyone would be happy with a “divorce”. Loyalist disorder would be a real possibility in such a situation.
Secondly, would England and Wales be offered independence too, or increased devolution? England has no parliament or regional assemblies at all, at least not as yet.
I think right wing English nationalism would probably increase if Scotland left the Union.
Workers in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been united on social issues in the past, and strong together in the fight for justice.
We shouldn’t forget that. Unity is strength.
Scottish independence is something that needs to be discussed throughout the UK.
Graeme Kemp, Shropshire
Defend German student strikers
Dear comrades, we need your support. Like in many other cities in Germany and Europe, students at the University of Frankfurt organised a strike for better education.
Some lecturers and faculty members supported the strike. Together we organised more than 70 alternative workshops.
But last week the president of the university called the police in order to terminate our strike programme.
Now about 200 people are threatened with criminal prosecution. We are appealing for people to sign our statement of solidarity.
It says: “We disapprove of the president’s call for police in order to violently enforce the suspension of alternative workshops of students, faculty members and lecturers in the course of the strike for better education…
“We deplore the aggressive attitude of the president and the disrespect of the concerns expressed by the participants.
“We call for the immediate dismissal of the criminal prosecution of students, lecturers and faculty members. We call on the president to immediately cease his attacks on the Bildungsstreik.”
You can contact me to add your support at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas Sablowski, Frankfurt
We need to march for jobs
Surely the threat to sack 1,700 Corus steel workers must be a wake up call for the left.
Any notion that our society is fair goes up in smoke when billions of pounds of our money goes to greedy bankers who still get their obscene bonuses while the heart is torn out of Redcar.
Isn’t it time for a high-profile march for jobs from an area like Teesside to the City of London to expose the monstrous inequalities of our society?
This is the kind of cause that could unite the left.
Alan Gibbons, Liverpool
A model socialist MP
I heard only recently about independent socialist MP Victor Grayson, in Andrew Marr’s TV programme on BBC2. After a search I found an article about him on your website (» Remembering an independent socialist MP, 25 August 2007).
I am astounded that this fervent, honest and committed politician should have been treated so shabbily by both Labour and Liberal parties alike in the early 20th century.
They should both be heartily ashamed. While it will be of no benefit to Mr Grayson now, his name and career should be honoured, especially as we live in this time of crooked, cheating and deceitful MPs.
He was an example of what we have needed in Westminster these past 12 years. With even ONE such man in parliament we could have spoken about “democracy” and meant it.
Now, after Thatcher, Major, Blair and Brown, we cannot claim even slight acquaintance with democracy, any more than can the US post-Bush.
David Courtney, Audenshaw, Greater Manchester
James Hansen and climate change
James Hansen – the US scientist who is the granddaddy of abrupt climate change – warned last week that the Copenhagen summit would save neither the rainforests nor the planet.
The market approach allows rich nations to carry on polluting, and even get special rights to do so.
It’s rather like the medieval church selling indulgences.
Since then the BBC has led the chorus of silence on the issue of carbon trading, while amplifying the right wing babble from the likes of Nigel Lawson.
This is not just ignoring the elephant in the room – it’s also missing the snake in the sleeping bag and the shark in the bath.
It’s not just the planet that is poorly served by the media.
More importantly, it’s humans and our history, with the billionaires fancying themselves as the last to survive.
Nigel Coward, West London
Nazis’ lies about troops
The British National Party (BNP) has been exposed in a local Birmingham newspaper after saying it was raising money for wounded solders being treated in Selly Oak hospital.
The party sold stickers, claiming the money would be used to build a burns unit for injured troops.
But a spokesperson for Selly Oak hospital said that no one from the BNP had contacted it about the venture – and it wouldn’t take the money anyway.
Good. No one should touch these racists with a barge pole – unless it’s to beat them with it.
Jennifer Crawley, Birmingham
Surplus value: it’s all relative
Jiben Kumar (» Letters, 12 December) asks a good question regarding the nature of “lean production” methods.
In Marxist terms they are an attempt to boost relative surplus value, not absolute surplus value, as the techniques are a form of technology as knowledge and process.
Technology is not always artefacts, as we commonly think of it (computers, machines, and so on).
Jon Fanning, York