Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2198

How left wing is the Greens’ manifesto?

If you believe the pollsters and the bookies, the Green Party looks likely to win its first MP in the general election – Caroline Lucas in Brighton.

But as the Green Party launched its manifesto, I couldn’t help but notice that there are quite a few problems with it.

The manifesto contains many vague pledges to make society “fairer” and “greener” if you “dare to dream”. But when it comes to specifics, it is worse than useless on many important issues for working class people.

While saying Greens are against cuts, it then calls for “efficiency savings” of up to £3 billion in public services.

And it says “workers are infantilised by health and safety”. Apparently deaths at work aren’t an issue for the Greens.

It then rails against “the corrupting effects of trade union donations to political parties”. This demonstrates their complete lack of any link to the workers’ movement.

They say we should “support local shops,” markets and small businesses – and even slash corporation tax for small firms to 20 percent.

Meanwhile they would punish the poorest for using petrol or plastic bags. They would raise alcohol and tobacco taxes by an incredible 50 percent. Why not tax the rich instead?

And they even say migration brings “pressure on housing” and “overall population”.

Don’t get me wrong – if I lived in Brighton I would vote for Caroline Lucas. But she is not representative of the party as a whole. She is part of the Green Left grouping within it, which stands explicitly for ecosocialism.

I would want to look very closely at other Green candidates stand before I backed them.

Sarah Hoskins, Merseyside

You’re right about Derek Simpson

“Does Unite leader want a Labour victory more than a win for BA cabin crew?” asks Socialist Worker (» Inside the union, 10 April).

Well, as unions were demonstrating in defence of the welfare state and public services, Derek Simpson was speaking at a Unite4Labour rally in Leeds.

He then consumed a buffet lunch and campaigned for Labour in three key Leeds seats.

John Davies, Unite Leeds 9507 branch secretary (personal capacity)

The article criticising Derek Simpson of Unite for his statements at an Edinburgh meeting (» Derek Simpson fails to deliver , 17 April) is only reinforced by his comment that you “misrepresented” what he said.

He has not denied calling BA strikers “clowns” – just as he didn’t deny going to the Playskool bar in Bangkok, which he said was “not his thing”.

Socialist Worker, the paper he accuses of misrepresenting him, actively helped get him elected as general secretary of Amicus on a left wing ticket.

Left union officials intend to change the system from above but end up changed themselves.

When Simpson supports workers in dispute, we will back him – but when he decries workers in struggle we will be critical of his behaviour.

I have always supported the fact that Socialist Worker is truthful to the working class.

Unite member, Edinburgh

Witness to deportation

Recently I witnessed a forced deportation – and I was shocked by how mundane the whole event was.

Few people waiting for the Virgin Airways flight to take off for Kenya seemed to think it odd that a screaming, handcuffed man was dragged on board.

The middle aged African deportee was carried on by two large guards with a doctor.

He cried out that he was being strangled.

The captain joked over the intercom that a passenger had become “tired and emotional”.

Most passengers ignored what was going on. A few asked if they could be moved to quieter seats.

Only two of us actually challenged the guards and the airline staff and objected to the deportation.

Our small protest was not enough to stop the deportation going ahead.

A cabin steward said he was sorry if the disturbance upset me. “I have a duty of care over him,” he said, “And I can assure you he is not being strangled or harmed.”

The man was held in a seat two rows behind mine, with a guard on either side.

The steward told me, “We see this kind of thing once a week. He’ll be quiet once we get going.

“He’s only doing it to try and get taken off before we leave.”

And after take off the deportee was quiet enough to have the cuts made by the handcuffs on his wrists examined by the doctor.

But I overheard the security guards chatting during the flight. One was pleased that passengers rarely get involved.

The other said that he had accompanied a deportee on another route where most removals don’t go ahead.

“It’s harder when it’s mostly women and children or families,” he said.

So the experience did give me one small glimmer of hope – as it shows that this barbaric practice could be challenged and stopped if there was more action by passengers to accompany struggle by the deportees themselves.

Ken Olende, East London

Church’s gay slurs are just more bigoted lies

A Catholic cleric described as “the pope’s right hand man” has blamed the church’s child abuse scandal on gay people.

Cardinal Bertone claimed last week that “there is a link between homosexuality and paedophilia”.

The scale of abuse in the church is horrifying, and the church’s response has been disgusting. An Irish government report published last May found that sexual abuse and rape were “endemic” in church-run institutions.

While in charge of church discipline in the 1990s, the current pope halted proceedings against an American priest who abused over 200 boys at a school for deaf people.

Yet one cardinal compared discussion of the pope’s behaviour to the collective violence suffered by Jewish people.

There is a long history of bigots accusing gay men of child abuse. As recently as 2007, the Daily Mail ran the headline “Gay couple left free to abuse boys – because social workers feared being branded homophobic”.

The truth, of course, is that there is no link between being gay or lesbian and child abuse.

Research gathered in the 1990s in Denver examined 269 cases of child abuse. In only two cases was the abuser a lesbian or a gay man.

The church’s instinct is to whip up homophobia rather than admit its own faults. Its moral bankruptcy is plain to see.

Colin Wilson, South London

Edinburgh council workers face cuts

We, the workers of Edinburgh council, are facing the implementation of “single status” pay cuts.

We could all lose up to £6,000 per year – but we have a union which doesn’t seem to be doing anything.

In January we received our first 90-day notice, but still the union has not come to us with any good news.

I think we need to get some power behind this issue before it’s too late.

My opinion is that if we have been paid a bonus for the last 25 years then how can they just take it away? Surely that must be unlawful?

The bosses are trying to take us back to the lower wages we got back in the year 2000.

The things that we need in life – food, fuel and so on – are all going up in price.

The pay cuts could destroy many families who simply can’t live on lower pay.

Meanwhile the high wage earners at the council are not losing a penny.

While some workers are gaining more, this can’t be right.

We need the power to fight for justice. Can you help? Is there a union that will fight for us?

Council worker, Edinburgh

Thanks for exposing lies

As union reps in the private sector we wanted to say that the centre pages on the “Great Election Lie” (» The great election cuts lie , 10 April) were brilliant.

They exposed the truth that we do not need any cuts in public services or public sector jobs.

We just need to tax the rich and drop wasteful expenditure, such as war and ID cards.

Socialist Worker needs to turn it into a four page hand out for mass distribution – and it needs to do it now.

Richard Milner, Bernie Clarke, Jo Culverhouse, Keith Haynes, Barry Stephenson, Unite reps, Northamptonshire (all in a personal capacity)

The deficit is not the debt

Your centre spread (» The great election cuts lie , 10 April) contained some excellent ideas for how to address the budget deficit of £167 billion.

But it failed to properly differentiate between deficit – the annual shortfall in public funds – and debt, the running total of the amount of money the country owes as a result of each year’s deficit added together.

So it said we could save £97 billion by scrapping Trident. But that is the total cost of Trident over 25 years, not the annual cost.

The argument is fundamentally correct – but we must get these basic distinctions right to ensure we cannot be accused of having sums that don’t add up.

Tom Wills, Sussex

How to end corruption

There are some interesting videos to be found on YouTube showing Thailand’s Red Shirt protesters successfully turning back soldiers and police in some areas of Bangkok this week.

There are quotes like “some of the soldiers say they are Red Shirts in their hearts”. See »

One Red Shirt placard says “End corruption – dissolve parliament”.

Seeing the British election campaign, and the Lib Dem leader’s warning of imminent social unrest, made me think.

Although Britain is very different to Thailand, we too will need a massive popular movement on the streets to bring about real change for the better in our society.

Sally Bowen, South London

I dream of Cameron

I heard David Cameron’s soundbite about the need for the government to stop “Treating adults as kids, and kids as adults.”

So of course, I expected to see him pledge to scrap Sats and Ofsted in education, repeal all anti-union, anti-protest and anti-migrant laws, provide free universal child-care and nursery places, and double the old age pension.

Then I woke up.

Nick Grant, West London

Are we all in it together?

David Cameron launched the Tory manifesto for the 2010 election by insisting, once again, that “We are all in this together”.

The Conservatives argue that there have to be cuts to public services to “solve” the budget deficit.

Yet the richest 1 percent of the population own a huge 21 percent of the country’s wealth. The poorest half own just 6 percent. So are we really all in it together?

Sasha Simic, East London

An eruption of solidarity

As I write, all flights into and out of Britain have been grounded because of volcanic ash from Iceland.

While the Unite union spends its time campaigning for Labour instead of calling more BA strikes, at least the volcanoes are erupting in solidarity.

The fire burns deep in cabin crew’s hearts.

Jane Watson, Manchester

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Article information

Tue 20 Apr 2010, 18:02 BST
Issue No. 2198
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