Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2216

Unite’s joint general secretary Derek Simpson (centre) takes a break from the class struggle to back divisive slogans that weaken the working class (Pic: Hurd/ )

Unite’s joint general secretary Derek Simpson (centre) takes a break from the class struggle to back divisive slogans that weaken the working class (Pic: Jess Hurd/

Do union leaders matter?

The problem with Ian King’s argument that we shouldn’t criticise Derek Simpson (Letters, 21 August) is that it assumes our Unite union is a perfect member-run democracy.

Ian says the Unite union is entirely “driven by the membership”, not the likes of Simpson. Unfortunately that’s wishful thinking.

Of course it’s how things should be—it’s what we have to fight for.

But the reality at the moment is that Derek Simpson is free to go on the TV and make comments that undermine fights like the one at British Airways.

And what he says does matter. When Simpson says we shouldn’t fight, millions of people hear it. That can give confidence to the bosses as well as demoralise our side.

I know that Ian wants a fightback against the Tories—and so do I. The question is, how do we go about that?

Surely we have to take on the argument coming from people like Simpson, and reject the idea that workers can’t fight.

It’s true that it’s union members who must be the ones pushing for resistance. But that means taking on the trade union leaders. We can’t simply let their comments go unanswered—we have to say “enough”.

The workers of Greece had to overcome their own Derek Simpsons to get their fightback started. So must we. We need victories—we can’t stand back and let them create defeats.

Willie Black, Unite senior steward, power industry, Scotland

Here in Edinburgh, Unite has left negotiations in the bin workers’ dispute in the hands of officials. Why hasn’t it shouted from the rooftops about workers’ 15 months of action?

The officials do not want to lead a fight over the way single status is being misused to cut workers’ wages. So how can we expect the same officials to lead a fight against cuts? It’s time all the union was singing from the same song sheet.

Paul French, Edinburgh

How Zionists backed the racist EDL

Up to 100 people joined the fortnightly Saturday picket of Ahava’s shop in Covent Garden, central London last week.

Ahava is an Israeli company based in an illegal settlement on the West Bank that produces luxury cosmetics.

The protesters had reasons to celebrate: four of them had been on trial for chaining themselves inside the shop and had just been acquitted of aggravated trespass.

A small group of Zionists waving giant Israeli flags opposed the picket. This in itself was not unusual.

However, this time, a group of English Defence League thugs arrived halfway through the two-hour picket.

When they unfurled their banner and hurled abuse at the protesters, the Zionists helped them hold it up, smiling and chatting with them. It was truly shocking.

Neil Rogall, South London

Post deal signed our jobs away

Your expose of plans to close two out of London’s three huge mail centres was shocking—but not surprising.

The deal that our CWU union signed up to after the post strikes last year paved the way for this to happen. It was effectively a no-strike deal.

It promised a new relationship between workers and management. But all we’ve had is the same old bullying.

Here they’re disciplining drivers at the drop of a hat.

We’ve got a strike mandate—but we’re being told we won’t get a ballot.

We warned about this at the time. The officials told us the deal was the only game in town.

They didn’t have the stomach for a fight. Now they’ve signed our jobs away.

We’ve got to fight. If the bureaucracy isn’t going to do it, we’ll have to do it ourselves.

Fran Choules, Exeter

A century of struggle in Llanelli

We are fast approaching the centenary of a great time of class struggle in Britain.

In 1911, mass action by transport workers, dockers and miners shook the government.

And in August union leaders were forced to call the first national railway strike.

The key conflict happened in the Welsh town of Llanelli, where town magistrates called in the military to put down the strikes.

As crowds confronted the troops, the major in charge gave the order to fire. Two workers were killed: John “Jac” John and Leonard Worsell.

The deaths sparked an uprising in the town, and fears of mutiny.

A century on, we are planning a five-day festival in Llanelli to put the strike back in its rightful place in our history. To contact the organisers, please email me.

Tim Evans,

Woolas leaflet in court

Oldham Labour MP Phil Woolas is being taken to court over his disgusting election leaflets. It’s easy to see why.

The leaflet says, “The Lib Dems plan to give hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants the right to stay. It is up to you.

“Do you want the extremists to win?” it adds. “Stand by Phil. Stop the extremists in their tracks.”

This leaflet is a disgrace—borrowing some of its imagery and language from the far right.

Woolas must not be allowed to get away with it.

Jane Michaels, Manchester

‘VJ day’ celebrates terrible slaughter

The reporting by most of the mainstream media on the 65th anniversary of “Victory over Japan day” (VJ Day) has failed to reflect on the full tragedy which should be remembered.

The BBC focused on the Japanese government’s brutal treatment of prisoners of war and the death of 30,000 British solders in Japan.

But it failed to even mention the tragedies of millions of Japanese civilians and solders who suffered at the hands of Western forces during the bringing about of this “victory”.

Millions of innocent civilians were killed by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Millions still are suffering horrifically from the lasting effects of the radiation.

Hundreds of thousands were killed, and millions injured and made homeless, by the horrific firebombing of Tokyo.

This destroyed

50 percent of the city.

By failing to mention all of this, the media have used the anniversary to paint a false picture of a “victory”.

In reality it was an imperialist slaughter of the Japanese people by the West.

Martin Percival, Sheffield

Searchlight misses target

I subscribe to anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, but I’m thinking of cancelling—because of their editorial telling people not to demonstrate in Bradford.

This attitude is the same as that of the Jewish Board of Deputies and the Labour leadership when faced with Oswald Mosley’s march through the Jewish East End in 1936.

Had it not been for people standing up to his fascists, they would have run riot in Cable Street.

Although I’m not a Muslim myself, I for one will be proud to march alongside Muslim brothers and sisters in Bradford—or anywhere else these Nazi scumbags choose to attack.

Mitch Mitchell, March, Cambridgeshire

Hunger strike in Hastings

Protester Graeme Morgan began a hunger strike last week after Hastings’ Amicus Horizon housing association said he must move (Socialist Worker, 21 August).

Graeme says that he will not give in to bullying from any landlord no matter how powerful they are.

If he is well enough Graeme will take his banners to the 3 October demonstration at the Tory Party conference.

In the meantime he will continue to picket Amicus Horizon offices and Hastings town hall with fellow supporters.

Lisa Morgan, Hastings

Don’t make my son an ‘asset’

The rich are trying to profit from my disabled son.

Almost all the care placements we are being offered by the local authority are with portfolio companies such as GI Associates, Bridgepoint and Venus.

On a portfolio my son would be seen as a lucrative asset.

Meanwhile the care workers are poorly paid.

Julie Maidens, South London

Candy floss capitalism

The bosses’ paper the Financial Times recently described capitalism as a huge ball of candy floss.

So a tiny bit of cash is spun by the bankers into bigger and bigger balls of loans as phoney collateral is traded.

We need steel wool resistance to scour these billionaire scroungers out of power.

Julie Maidens, Sheffield

Did state kill David Kelly?

Doctors are coming out to say that Dr David Kelly’s death can’t have been suicide.

I’m no conspiracy theorist, but there are real questions over how Dr Kelly died. There should be a full inquest.

And suicide or not, it’s Tony Blair who’s to blame for his death—and the deaths of millions of Iraqis.

Anne Manning, Sedgefield

Stop this PFI in Liverpool

Sam Semoff of Keep Our NHS Public is pushing for a legal review of a PFI hospital project in Liverpool.

The new Liverpool Royal Hospital is set to cost an incredible

£1.2 billion over 34 years.

Without PFI it would be a fraction of the price. Let’s hope it can be stopped.

Samantha McDonald, Liverpool

‘Ground zero’ mosque is ok

The US right is whipping itself into a frenzy over plans for a mosque near New York’s “Ground Zero”, where the twin towers once stood.

Absurdly, the Republican Party says it would be an insult to those who died on September 11. They call for special attention for the victims.

They might consider how many Ground Zeros US bombs have created all over the Middle East.

We should support people’s right to build this mosque.

Gill Brown , New York

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Tue 24 Aug 2010, 17:30 BST
Issue No. 2216
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