‘My message is—fight’
We have won a fantastic victory in Blackburn against the shutting of our local leisure centre and have helped changed the balance of power on Blackburn and Darwen council.
Our battle began when rumours circulated about the closure of Shadsworth leisure centre—we were shocked and angry.
So we started a petition and used Facebook to organise a protest alongside other anti-cuts campaigners.
We informed local papers and radio stations. ITV approached us. We handed in a petition signed by 6,000 people. An extraordinary council meeting was set up in July as a result of our campaigning.
We organised a letter of complaint—hundreds were hand-posted to the town hall. At the meeting the council was forced to take another look at the closure—but they still only offered 4pm till 10pm opening, with no pool.
We were disappointed but relieved that we had stopped the full closure. But some members of the governing Tory/Lib Dem/For Darwen coalition weren’t happy—two council members resigned and became independents.
The Labour Party entered a vote of no confidence against the coalition and council leader, creating another media storm—the Politics Show, newspapers and radio spoke to us.
At the meeting, councillors who had resigned voted with the Labour Party—and for the first time since 2007 Labour were back in power.
Councillors, campaigners and centre staff then got together and came up with a proposal to increase dry facility hours and to reopen the pool.
My message to everyone is—fight! Fight for your beliefs. Decisions can be overturned if you shout loud enough and are organised.
Celia Allen, Blackburn
Lib Dem moderates? Future roadkill
So Vince Cable is a Marxist? Tell that to the trade unionists, community activists and Right to Work campaigners who’ll be challenging cuts outside the Tory conference on Sunday 3 October.
The laugh-out-loud moment came when he attacked “City spivs and gamblers,” to the anger of City bosses and Tory newspaper editors.
At the same time he referred to the selling off of Royal Mail, which will involve the decimation of jobs and services. On the same day, his coalition government changed housing benefit rules for private tenants. London councils say up to 82,000 households could lose their homes.
This is Cable’s “radical, free-thinking alternative”—backing the rights of small businesses in the face of uncontrolled finance capital which “kills competition.”
He aspires to the welfare capitalism of the past, but his perfect competition is unattainable. The reality is one of ever-growing dominating, profit hungry corporations. The unfortunate history of coalition moderates who walk the middle of the road is they get hit by juggernauts from both sides, and have to be hosed off.
John Clossick, South London
Solidarity with Roma
It was good to see Socialist Worker highlight the appalling treatment of Roma and Traveller communities in Britain (Wrenched from their homes at an hour's notice, 18 September).
Forced evictions are just one aspect of the discrimination Roma face.
In Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Roma children are often segregated into Roma-only classes in mainstream schools.
In Romania, around 100 Roma families live in metal cabins behind a sewage plant after being forcibly evicted.
Several thousand Roma have been forcibly deported to Kosovo from Austria, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland.
Governments across Europe are increasingly scapegoating the most vulnerable and Roma and Traveller communities are going to need support and solidarity.
The protest called by Unite Against Fascism—supported by the TUC and Muslim Council of Britain—against racism and Islamophobia on 6 November will play an important role in this.
DM, East London
John Stewart’s missed it
In your otherwise insightful article on the Tea Party in the US (A bitter brew, 25 September), Emma Davis mentions Jon Stewart’s planned rally for sanity on 30 October.
I am a Stewart fan, but on this occasion he has missed the bus.
The AFL-CIO (the American TUC) and civil rights groups, have called a “One Nation” rally in Washington on 2 October.
Demands include extending unemployment payments, raising the minimum wage, ending the foreclosure epidemic, and an end to racial profiling and re-segregation.
Unions from my New York area alone have booked thousands on buses to attend.
It will be a moment not to be missed. To ignore it and build a comic rally asking both sides to “take it down a notch, for America” is a rare political mistake for Stewart.
Eric Fretz, Keep Left, New York
Made redundant—but determined to resist
I am a public sector worker helping extremely vulnerable children and families.
Myself and 59 other workers from various education support teams have just received notice of redundancy.
We will be sacked on 31 December. So I will now call my union to find out when we are balloting for action to defend our jobs.
The growing anger around Liverpool and Sefton to the cuts and attacks on services is palpable.
The demo against the Lib Dems in Liverpool last Sunday attracted thousands of marchers in torrential rain.
The mood was really positive and people seem confident that together we can successfully oppose this disgusting ideological attack on our jobs and services.
In my local pub young and old are taking an interest in politics.
The Socialist Worker anti-cuts spread is proving incredibly popular as it explains very clearly that the cuts are ideological and not unavoidable.
I have just given a copy of the poster to the director of children’s services as he handed me my notice—even he can understand it!
We can win if we fight. That’s why everyone should mobilise on 3 October to protest outside the Tory conference and make our anger heard.
Sonny Phillips, Liverpool
Kicking racism out of football
Fans of premier league club West Bromwich Albion have made a stand against racism.
The club signed Peter Odemwingie—a Nigerian international from Lokomotiv Moscow.
After his transfer to West Brom, some Lokomotiv fans unfurled a banner bearing a message with the image of a banana and the sarcastic send off “Thanks West Brom”.
In response West Brom fans have raised money to produce a banner which reads “Thanks Lokomotiv” with the image of Odemwinge scoring on his home debut.
The banner was displayed at the home game against Birmingham City on Saturday 18 September with support from the Kick Racism out of Football campaign.
Cyrille Regis, a respected ex-Albion player, was signing his book “My Story” in the club shop the week before.
He writes about how he and other black players had to withstand racist abuse and banana-throwing in the 1970s and 80s.
West Brom fans should be proud of their stance against racism, but this example shows that the campaign to drive racism out the game needs to continue.
Paul Bolton, Dudley
Disabled on the scrapheap
Disabled workers at Blindcraft—an Edinburgh bed factory founded in 1793—are being sacked by the SNP-Liberal run council who own it.
Most workers don’t believe they will find another job.
Workers have walked out before and hopefully will do so again.
Mary Ross, Edinburgh
Notts miners do strike!
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has produced an account of the experience of Nottingham miners during the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike.
It is an important piece of history written by Keith Stanley—NUM Nottingham area general secretary and vice president.
Nottingham Miners Do Strike is available from Bookmarks bookshop at www.bookmarksbookshop.co.uk
Danny Phillips, Nottingham
Let’s boycott Israeli goods
It was heartening to read about Jim Nichol joining the convoy to Palestine ( British aid convoy heads for Palestine , 18 September).
In July there were over 6,000 Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel, including members of the Palestinian legislative council.
Hundreds have never been tried, but are held in detention.
Most of us will not be going on a convoy, but we can support the boycott of Israeli goods, particularly those derived from stolen Palestinian resources like those used by Israeli company Ahava.
Activists hold a picket of Ahava in Monmouth Street, London, regularly on Saturdays.
Nasser Baston, North London
SW is wrong on religion
As a long-time reader of your paper and occasional correspondent, I have never before read anything in it that has made me so angry as the atrocious slur on Richard Dawkins’ philosophical and scientific arguments by such selective quotation ( Is religon the cause of the world's ills? , 25 September).
Marx’s point about religion was that it was not the enemy, but a symptom. We defend people’s right to worship, but not their right to impose it on others.
This position should include criticising any violent response by religious people to perceived insults to their religion, removing from religion any special state status and funding, and supporting all attempts to teach rationality and science in its place.
Defending people against discrimination should not include reinforcing their religious beliefs by defending those beliefs from ridicule.
Jon Fanning, York
Everyone has a right to work
As the coalition government’s nasty cuts begin to bite and many face losing their jobs, we must mount a huge campaign for the right to work, which is as much a part of a truly civilised society as the right to vote.
Everyone who wants to work should be able to, based upon their needs and abilities. I am on disability benefits because I’m unable to secure and sustain paid employment.
Unemployment is hell on earth, making you feel redundant and angry. Only a socialist society can guarantee work and dignity for all.
Anna Lansley, West Sussex
Resist these transport cuts
Transport authority Metro has been told to expect a 40 percent cut in its budget.
It will mean job losses, closures of bus stations and a savage reduction in services.
We need to organise campaigns against every cut in services, the length and breadth of the country.
John Appleyard, West Yorkshire
Romania in revolt
I was in Romania last week for my work. I arrived on Wednesday to find Bucharest gridlocked by strikes across the public sector and a massive demonstration in the city centre.
TV News showed large numbers of riot police holding back strikers outside the parliament building. The government has already imposed a 25 percent pay cut for all public sector workers and the state pension has been cut by 10 percent.
To head off workers’ revolt, the minister of labour was sacked three weeks ago – but the movement seems to be getting bigger.
The centre of the capital, Bucharest, is full of monuments to the 1989 revolution against Ceacescu’s 'Communist' regime, which was smashed by a mass workers' movement – the parallels are obvious.
Interestingly, Romanian TV News also covered mass demos in Greece (workers appeared to be storming a council or government building) and a huge demo against cuts in Prague.
The Bankers Broadcasting Corporation are keeping all this news from us to try to weaken our resistance. Socialist Worker is needed now more than ever.
Simon Hester, North London