Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2200

Policing anti-racist demo in Southall, 23 April 1979 (Pic: John Sturrock)

Policing anti-racist demo in Southall, 23 April 1979 (Pic: John Sturrock)

Blair Peach: Outrage at cover-up by the police

It’s painful enough to have a close comrade murdered (» Official: cops murdered anti-racist Blair Peach , 1 May). It’s even worse when it happens in public and is splashed all over the news in a welter of lies.

When you also know that the murderer was a copper on duty, with the whole state machine closing ranks to deny it, you could feel very vulnerable.

There are indeed people still to overcome the trauma of Blair Peach’s death. Lovers, workmates, union members, schoolkids and their families, and even some employers knew him as a vivacious, charming and daring soul.

As a teacher, trade unionist and revolutionary socialist, solidarity was Blair’s lifeblood. He was well known to police and the Nazis of east London for his Anti Nazi League work.

Such a person would naturally be in Southall on the evening of 23 April 1979 to demonstrate against the National Front.

Blair was himself called a “Paki” that lunchtime as he bought a round of drinks. His appearance meant he could easily have been branded as such by a racist. The bastard that caved his skull in at around 7.30pm no doubt thought he was just one more “Paki” as well.

That copper was also probably taking revenge for the pasting the Nazis and their police escorts got in Leicester two days previously.

Commander Cass was on the job of covering-up Blair’s murder as soon as he arrived at Ealing hospital. Within an hour of Blair’s death Cass was demanding his clothes from us to take away for forensic examination.

The Met now finally admits that one of their lot dealt the fatal blows.

But they are seriously mistaken if they think we accept their pathetic excuse that the six suspects could not be charged because none of them would confess what they’d done!

Nor do we accept their right to keep on behaving the same way when it comes to Jean Charles de Menezes or Ian Tomlinson.

Meanwhile Blair lives on, in the hopes of everyone fighting for global justice, equality and peace, and the fond memories of all who knew him.

Jo Lang and Nick Grant, West London

If ex-Metropolitan Police inspector Alan Murray did not kill Blair Peach, as he has repeatedly claimed, could he explain why he appeared at an identity parade in full beard, having been clean-shaven on the day of the killing?

Murray, now (satirically?) lecturing on corporate social responsibility at Sheffield University, could now at least have the grace to shut up and quietly disappear.

Mike Carver, South London

If only the police had been as diligent in tracking down the murderer of Blair Peach as they have in pursuing the Gaza protesters.

Geoff Beer, Kent

It does not seem possible that it was 31 years ago that Blair Peach was murdered by the police in the form of the Special Patrol Group (SPG). Commander John Cass’s secret report, which has only now been released, in effect admits that police were responsible for his murder.

I was there in Southall on 23 April 1979 – called up by the SWP of which I am a longstanding member and a solicitor (now retired) to help and advise people demonstrating against the National Front.

I was stationed in a house in Southall – 6 Park View Road – which the police stormed and ordered everyone out of, including myself, an ambulance man and a doctor.

I was hit on the head with a truncheon by a policeman in the corridor.

It was a glancing blow, so unlike Blair Peach I am still here to tell what happened. The house was soon demolished.

An unofficial committee of inquiry was set up with Professor Michael Dummett as chair, to which I and many others gave evidence.

Its detailed and excellent report was published by the National Council for Civil Liberties.

One important aspect was a testimony from evidence given to the Scarman Enquiry by asssistant commissioner Gerard. He stated that current police instructions were that where truncheons were supplied to the police to protect themselves if violently attacked, officers should aim at the arms and legs as those parts of the body are least likely to suffer serious injury.

They should avoid the head as much as possible.

If the SPG had followed these instructions Blair Peach would probably have survived and many demonstrators would not have been injured so badly.

John Witzenfeld, West London

Who’s the real bigot?

Much has been made of Gordon Brown’s remark that 65 year-old Gillian Duffy was a “bigoted woman.”.

I wonder how many will consider the ongoing hurt caused to immigrants, asylum seekers or refugees who have been vilified on an almost daily basis by unscrupulous journalists and opportunist politicians?

They have scapegoated these groups to such an extent that immigration is now one of the main concerns with voters like Gillian Duffy.

Actually, I think Brown got it right. Gillian Duffy’s views are bigoted. But who fed her prejudices and let them flourish?

It was Brown who talked about “British jobs for British workers” and helped to sow bigoted ideas. Who will reap the harvest?

Sasha Simic, East London

Young lives

The suicide of 21 year old Vicky Harrison after being turned down for hundreds of posts (» Divided Britain, 1 May) shows how the capitalist system of boom and bust is destroying the lives of young people.

Joblessness among young people has risen 48 percent in Lancashire since the beginning of the recession. This means that 4,000 young people in the area are surviving on £51 per week.

At a young age, many are starting to feel like they have no future. The way working class people and youth are treated in our society is criminal.

The only way to stop this is to work diligently towards a planned socialist economy based on the needs and faculties of all.

Dave Younger, Leeds

We won’t be scabs

The Leeds University student union executive has been representing management to students, rather than students to management.

Its members have continually failed to offer any assistance in fighting alongside the student-led anti-cuts campaign, and attempted to make anti-strike sentiments a core part of our union constitution.

Recently two executive officers put forward a motion that would actively oppose strikes. This is despite the fact that the mere threat of a strike by lecturers was the only way to bring the management back to the negotiating table recently.

We launched a campaign, asking students not to betray their lecturers and defeated the motion. If the new executive tries to impose an anti-strike mandate, the anti-cuts campaign can prove that students were not opposed to the strikes.

I want my student union to represent my views, and now pro-strike students have made their voice clear.

Henry Raby, Leeds University

BNP tries to hide identity

In Gower constituency near Swansea, the BNP logo on ballot papers for the general election is almost unreadable. There is ill-defined lettering over a criss-cross Union Jack pattern.

All the other parties have their identity clearly printed under the logo or candidate name.

The clearest thing on the BNP section is the slogan, “Support our troops – bring them home” that I nearly ticked before I deciphered the party initials.

The words British National Party are not on the paper. I wonder how many people will tick the box as an anti-war vote, and the Nazis will then claim support for their vile policies.

Why are they allowed to disguise themselves in this way?

H Falconer, Swansea

Cameron’s education

Tory leader David Cameron came to Kirklees in West Yorkshire recently.

He displayed his elitist tendencies by supporting local Conservative plans for a private school in Birkenshaw.

If the Tories get their way the school will be paid for by starving money from nearby state schools. Is this really the best they can do to support Cameron’s claims that the Tories have changed?

John Appleyard, West Yorkshire

My favourite quote

You missed this brilliant quote in your tribute to Alan Sillitoe (» Alan Sillitoe 1928-2010, online) from the film The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner:

“Do you know what I’d do if I had the whip hand? I’d get all the coppers, governors, posh whores, army officers and members of parliament and I’d stick them up against this wall and let them have it ‘cause that’s what they’d like to do to blokes like us.”

Ian, Glasgow

The Tories are homophobes

My son is gay and has been in a civil partnership for four years out of his nine year relationship with his partner. You would not see a happier couple.

I was therefore angered by comments from Julian Lewis, prospective British National Party candidate (revealed in Socialist Worker online) that sexually transmitted diseases are linked to being gay.

They can affect anyone if you do not take care.

Vivien, Shaw, Kent

Labour’s war disgusts me

I will find it very hard to vote Labour because of the invasion of Iraq – a crime that continues to this day.

Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki recently announced the killings of Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdad, holding photographs of their bloody corpses.

US vice president Joe Biden called this a “potentially devastating blow” to Al-Qaida in Iraq.

Within 48 hours explosions ripped through Baghdad killing 69 people. So much for the peace that the occupation has supposdly brought.

Perhaps, because of my disgust for the Tories, I will vote Labour. But my vote, and that of millions of others, should not be seen as support for their policy of war.

Janet Henderson, East London

EDL Brighton march

Joel Titus, leader of the English Defence League (EDL) youth division, is confirmed to have been on the March for England in Brighton on Sunday 25 April.

Riot police were deployed in two locations in Brighton to apprehend EDL members after the march. There were several arrests including two for affray.

We have to continue to confront the fascists.

Syed Bokhari, Staines

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Article information

Tue 4 May 2010, 18:46 BST
Issue No. 2200
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