Put banned Moonfleece play back on
I was appalled at the decision by Dudley Mill Theatre, which is funded by Dudley council, to cancel the play Moonfleece » Anti-BNP play banned in Dudley. The play deals with the British National Party (BNP). This is censorship of the worst kind that can only encourage and give confidence to the BNP.
The playwright Philip Ridley, from Bethnal Green where the National Front and the BNP once had a solid footing, knows what the politics of hate means. His play highlights the impact of racism and homophobia on young people.
Ridley understands the fears that could draw white working class youth towards the BNP. The play is to tour BNP-affected areas intending to start a conversation with the people the politicians have abandoned.
I sent the theatre a letter about the cancellation of the play. I was phoned by the manager and he explained that nobody had complained about the play. They just thought that it might “offend” some local people.
Does the council believe the way to undercut the fascists and the racists in the upcoming elections is by banning any discussion of the BNP’s racism and homophobia?
This is the first time that a play has been cancelled to appease the racists.
We must challenge the ban and not let this become a precedent which councils can use to ban art and discussion because they are scared of offending racists. Complain to the chief executive of Dudley council and also join the Facebook group “Moonfleece—reinstate the play.”
Hussain Ismail, playwright, East London
You can still catch Moonfleece at theatres where it’s not been banned when the show returns to London in April. It’s at the Riverside Studios from 8 to 11 April and Greenwich Theatre from 15 to 17 April.
Ben, by email
Union leader's visit to sex bar is an outrage
I was shocked to read in the Mail on Sunday that Unite union leader Derek Simpson visited a sex bar in the red light district of Bangkok recently.
Simpson admitted to visiting the bar but said it was “not my thing”.
Is this all our union leader has to say about how poverty in Thailand forces many women and even children into selling sex to middle-aged men simply to survive?
This is hardly what you might expect from the leader of a union claiming to have the “drive for equality” at its heart!
Simpson was proudly photographed with Daily Star models holding “British jobs for British workers” posters last year.
The fight against sexism is as pertinent today as ever.
Unite has a huge female membership. While socialists understand that real change can only come from workers themselves, the role of our leaders cannot be ignored.
Our sisters at British Airways, fighting alongside their brothers, are providing working people with a model of how to fight the bosses’ attacks, not Derek Simpson.
It is through struggles such as these that we can start to see workers’ real strength, and also a challenge to the sexism of the system.
Sara Bennett, Unite London and Eastern regional women’s committee (personal capacity)
Racists cannot be ignored
When I arrived at the anti-fascist protest in Bolton (» EDL racists are forced to back off in Bolton I was surprised to find that there were only about a dozen Asian young people present.
I asked them where their mates were and was told that the police had persuaded the mosque elders to try to stop the youth from protesting.
It seemed that the elders had fallen for the argument that if the racists of the English Defence League were ignored then they will go away and that the fascists and the anti-fascists were “as bad each other”.
I asked the young people to phone their friends and try to get them to the square.
At about 3pm we were all buoyed when hundreds of Asians marched into the square and confronted the fascists.
Not everyone had listened to the elders and they had been trying to get to the square for a long time. The police had prevented them until this time.
The Asian youth then led a march through the streets of Bolton and chased off a handful of fascists who were still hanging around.
We heard the arguments that if we ignore the fascists then they will go away in the 1970s— from mosque elders, the Hindu and Sikh temple leaders, the police and politicians.
But ignoring the fascists only encouraged them. They started to hold large marches through black and Asian areas—protected by the police.
This resulted in racist murders and attacks. Then young Asian people rose up in many cities and joined the Anti Nazi League to confront the fascists on the streets.
The inability of the fascists to march or rally meant they quickly became demoralised and fragmented.
We can do the same again to today’s racists and fascists if we don’t listen to the police and politicians who want us to ignore the fascists.
We should unite with our Muslim brethren to confront and stop the fascists.
Balwindar Singh Rana, West London
Sacked lecturer banned from campus
I write to solicit your support for Gary Duke, who is finalising his Phd at Salford university.
Gary has been sacked from his part-time lectureship there for writing critical articles about the university and its administration.
I do not seek your support for his articles, but for his civil liberties.
Gary has been banned from campus and cannot get access to his trade union and student union offices to use their facilities to prepare his Employment Tribunal case.
This is seriously inhibiting Gary’s ability to prepare.
I am planning to send an open letter to the Times Higher Education newspaper calling on Professor Martin Hall, the university’s vice-chancellor, to exclude access to the unions’ offices from the campus ban.
It would be fantastic if you could add your name to the letter in a professional or personal capacity.
I have been representing Gary in both his employment and student cases. Yet the university has unilaterally decided that I am no longer allowed to represent him in his student disciplinary matters.
All this is happening because Gary lampooned the university administration and its profligate spending while cutting academic staff numbers.
If you wish to read the letter or add your name to it, email me at email@example.com
Eric Longley, Rickinghall, Norfolk
Why has firm let BNP use its billboard sites?
During the last few weeks billboard posters for the fascist British National Party (BNP) have appeared in Barking and Dagenham. The Clear Channel company owns the billboard sites.
Clear Channel has an “ethical policy” statement on its website, which commits the company to equal opportunities and states its firm opposition to any form of discrimination.
But the reality is that Clear Channel is a massive multinational corporation with a right wing agenda.
Clear Channel has spent $20 billion acquiring 1,200 US radio stations. It imposed the right wing shock jock Rush Limbaugh on these stations.
It also banned The Dixie Chicks band on its stations after they had the temerity to criticise George W Bush.
In 2004 it blocked Project Billboard from putting up a 40 foot advert in Times Square in New York with the image of a bomb and the slogan, “Democracy is best taught by example, not by war.”
We need to swamp Clear Channel with complaints about it allowing the BNP to use its sites. Email its PR department at firstname.lastname@example.org
Teacher, East London
Non payment was the key to beating poll tax
Yuri Prasad » Poll Tax riot: The day that sunk Thatcher's flagship appears to believe that the riot on 31 March 1990 rather than mass non-payment was responsible for ending the poll tax and removing Margaret Thatcher from office.
The ruling class tried to portray anti-poll tax protesters as violent thugs and to dissuade ordinary people from not paying.
They failed, largely due to the continued activity of activists over the spring and summer, including the People’s March Against the Poll Tax from Liverpool to London.
At the campaign’s height, 18 million people hadn’t paid a penny or were in arrears.
Yuri contradictorily quotes an Observer article: “If the poll tax is dead it was killed by non-payment, a tactic which each of the three main parties insisted was pointless and wrong.”
Incoming prime minister John Major concurred, justifying its abolition by saying that the poll tax was “uncollectable”.
Steve Wallis, Manchester
Leyton Orient fans send EDL packing
Leyton Orient fans turned on about 15 EDL supporters at an away game recently when they started chanting in the middle of a match at Brentford.
Three hundred Orient supporters chanted “Nazi scum, Nazi scum” until the EDL members left the stadium. Orient fans have a good record of supporting the “Kick Racism Out of Football” campaign.
Many think that the EDL thugs were not regular fans, but BNP supporters trying to recruit. They will hopefully receive the same welcome when they try similar things at other clubs.
Waltham Forest UAF, East London
Media covers up for racists
The media covered the English Defence League (EDL) protest in Bolton by only showing footage of police attacking anti-fascists.
I did not see one image of an EDL thug on any of the news broadcasts that I watched. Did the police tell the BBC to avoid showing the racists and to try to make anti-fascists look bad?
Socialist Worker, is, of course, an honourable exception to the above.
Mitch Mitchell, March, Cambridgeshire
Mephadrone media storm
The government’s surrender to the media and the right wing around its drugs policy » Media's unscientific hype over ‘meow meow’ saw another person resign from its drugs advisory council last week.
Eric Carlin became the seventh person to leave the council since New Labour sacked its chair David Nutt last year. Nutt had criticised the government for rejecting its recommendations on the classification of cannabis and ecstacy.
Carlin complained that there was too much focus on mephadrone after a media storm over the drug, rather than on prevention and work with young people.
New Labour has, once again, bowed to the right by pushing through kneejerk policies on mephadrone that will only make the situation worse.
Simone Murray, Carlisle
Cider tax on the poorest
Sometimes it’s the little things that really make my blood boil.
Like the time the Israeli army bombed the football pitch of the Palestinian national team to mess up their training.
Chancellor Alistair Darling’s budget imposed the highest alcohol tax rises on super-strength white cider, going up by £2 a bottle from September.
White cider is consumed by the very poorest in society, who quite often have a drink problem. Again the bankers get away. Why not tax champagne?
Richard Garratt, East London