We’ve got a real answer for Cameron and Clegg
The so-called “Spending Challenge” letter sent to every public sector worker from David Cameron and Nick Clegg is an attempt to get us to point at each other and say who should be sacked.
It is part of an ideological battle designed to make us feel that cuts are inevitable and the only question is where they will fall.
But trade unionists can undermine this attempt to divide workers by organising collective ideological responses.
For example, each union branch could produce postcards for every member outlining the alternatives to the cuts, as we are here in Sandwell. We need to win the ideological battle that the rich should be taxed.
We need to keep the anger about the bankers alive – and direct that rage towards the protest at the Tory Party conference in Birmingham on 3 October.
We can’t just sit back and “wait and see” over the cuts. We need to win the arguments among union members now to maximise the resistance when the the battles begin.
Tony Barnsley, Joint assistant branch secretary, Sandwell Unison
We must defend gay asylum seekers
The court ruling giving gay asylum seekers at risk of persecution the right to stay in Britain seems to have thrown every reactionary in the land into a rage.
Two men, from Iran and Cameroon, are to have their cases reconsidered after the Supreme Court overturned their deportation.
In response, the Express newspaper ran the front page headline “Now asylum if you’re gay”, and underneath it “They must be free to go to Kylie concerts and drink multi-coloured cocktails, says judge”.
The Daily Star went even further, headlining its editorial “No room for gays” and calling for the immediate reversal of the judgement.
And the Daily Mail said Britain would become “a leading destination for asylum seekers who are claiming to be gay”.
The clear idea they are putting is that there will be a flood of “bogus” gay asylum seekers.
Conservative MP Philip Davies said, “This could offer an ideal line of defence for someone who wants to try to avoid being kicked out of the country, whether it is true or not that they are gay.”
This is disgusting. Asylum seekers do not come to Britain for a free ride – they come because they are fleeing violent persecution and have no choice.
Many gay people abuse, violence and murder if they go “back home”. Our door should always be open for them – and all other migrants.
Samantha Calder, South London
Protest against homophobia outside the Daily Express offices, 10 Lower Thames Street, London EC3. Thursday 15 July, 5–6.30pm
Festival of brilliance
I have just returned from Marxism 2010, after five days of revolutionary socialist meetings, debates and cultural events.
The Marxism festival is the place to be for anyone on the left – socialists, revolutionaries, anarchists, trade unionists, peace campaigners, civil rights activists and more.
It brings together these diverse groups to discuss and debate why capitalism produces crisis and war, and it guides and inspires activists to build active unity and resistance.
Today’s ideas and thoughts will be made real in tomorrow’s fightback against the nasty Con-Dem government of cuts and class hatred of working people.
The speakers were fantastic. Leading authors, journalists, columnists, MPs, councillors, anti-racist campaigners, radical philosophers, SWP members – it was the left coming together to inspire and enlighten.
Marxist ideas were made relevant to today’s struggle.
One of the frustrations of the festival is that you are often spoiled for choice on which meeting you go to. But you can get CDs afterwards if a meeting you wanted to go to clashes.
It’s not just the speakers on the programme who are inspirational – many of the contributions from the floor are magnificent.
In one meeting, “After the elections, what next for the left?” led by Alex Callinicos, the contributions from the floor were particularly electrifying. Several left the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end.
But a meeting like this is by no means a rarity – many meetings were set on fire with such burning socialist passion and revolutionary vibrancy.
Participating in one of the biggest events in the British left’s calendar is at one and the same time humbling and tremendously empowering.
I would like to thank all those amazing comrades who worked so hard to make this event the great success it was. Today’s socialist ideas will now be working to build tomorrow’s resistance and action.
I’m already counting down to Marxism 2011.
Pauline Wheat-Bowen, Huddersfield
Don’t give our cash to these royal leeches
The right wing press tells us that the cost to us of supporting the royal family has gone down to “only” 62p per person.
In this case, they are not pulling their usual trick of making small numbers sound bigger – as when they announce “millions” to be spent on healthcare or education that actually adds up to hardly anything per school or hospital.
Instead the reports are trying to make the figure sound as small as possible.
We are supposed to think that the royal leeches don’t cost us much after all.
In their wonderful book The Tiger That Isn’t, authors Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot show how the science of maths and numbers can be manipulated and distorted to misrepresent reality in this way.
Next time the government announces that some figure is being “wasted”, we should divide it by the population to find a truer number.
Personally I’d like my 62p – together with everyone else’s – to be spent on welfare, or education. Why should it be used to help out a family of useless millionaires?
We’re even told they’re “cutting back” because “we’re all in it together”. But this is a lie. Maybe they are worried that we won’t buy their bullshit.
When it comes to the royals, 62 pence x 60 million people = a huge waste of money.
Heather Fahone, Swansea
Sport was not invented to divide
Although a keen reader of your excellent paper, I do occasionally feel that you let down the class with some overly simplified analysis and observation.
On occasion, in fact, you accidentally make statements that are simply not true, and risk disarming socialists in tough arguments.
In your analysis of the World Cup ( Not flying the flag for England , 19 June) you do not seem to realise that international sport was not invented to divide workers.
On the contrary, the first internationals were organised between constituent parts of the British empire and state in order to encourage unity. Most rugby and cricket match are still played between such nations.
The British teams did not enter the football World Cup at all until 1950.
Many international sporting events were set up by idealists to promote international goodwill, only to see their ideals destroyed by the iron law of capitalist appropriation of anything that a profit can be made from.
It is important that a socialist newspaper recognise and speak the truth regarding such issues.
Jon Fanning, York
Tariq Ali is totally right
Tariq Ali is absolutely correct in his article about Islamophobia today (Islamophobia exposed, 10 July).
After 9/11 in the US and 7/7 here in Britain, the press went around stopping Muslims and asking them to denounce what had happened.
I don’t recall them doing the same thing to Scotland after Dunblane massacre.
Then George Bush and Tony Blair told us that the main reason they started the illegal war in Iraq was because Saddam Hussein was a murderer.
And so he may well have been – but by that logic, the Americans should have carpet-bombed Gloucester in the 1970s, because the murderer Fred West lived there.
Mitch Mitchell, March, Cambridgeshire
Councils’ pay scam system
The system of delays in pay rises outlined in your article about Aberdeen council (Anger boils over delay to pay rises, 19 June) is the same one being implemented in Edinburgh.
Can you imagine any other job where you are expected to toe the line, never be off sick, never question your managers, do as you’re told all year... and then have a legally entitled grade change withheld because your employer has no money.
It’s like having building work done on your home, only to tell the builder at the end of the job that you’re not going to pay them.
Paul French, Edinburgh
The silence of the ‘sceptics’
I notice that most newspapers buried the news that the scientists involved in the so-called “Climategate” statistics fiddling scandal have been cleared of any wrongdoing.
The accusations against them were all over the front pages, and cited as “proof” that climate change is based on a conspiracy of lies. But the truth, it seems, gets far less prominence.
Mary James, Oxford
Europe’s day of action
Your editorial (We need a fightback not paralysis at top , 3 July) is right. We do need a clear call for action from the TUC.
Such a call has come from the European Trade Union Confederation, to which the TUC is affiliated.
The ETUC is calling for 29 September to be a Europe-wide day of action against the austerity measures.
The recent Unison union conference decided to support this.
There will be a large demonstration in Brussels and the National Pensioners Convention are mobilising for that.
There will be general strikes in Spain and in Greece.
Wednesday 29 September has the possibility of being the day the peoples of Europe rise up.
Andrew Burgin, London
Born into a conflict zone
I agree wholeheartedly with the article “Britain sowed violence and division in Ireland” (Socialist Worker, 26 June).
It was great to see emphasised the irrelevance of religion to the conflict and examples of co-operation when it comes down to opposing capitalist exploitation.
One issue not dealt with is what to do with Protestants who were born into the conflict, had not decided to be imperialists, and are atheist or agnostic so reject the “Protestant” label.
Most never grew up with traditional Irish culture, so find it difficult to feel “Irish”. The label “British” is even more fictional.
Northern Irish “Protestants” are seen as a problem – even if mostly implicitly – in the North. That has to be solved to bring a real lasting peace. But is emigration the only solution?
“Emigrated from NI and seeking identity”