Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2224

Liverpool fans kick out millionaires

What a joyous day it was to see millionaires Tom Hicks and George Gillett bid farewell to Liverpool Football Club last week.

They took over Liverpool three years ago, promising financial investment, a new stadium and new players. But it looks like they were only interested in lining their own pockets.

Hicks and Gillett didn’t just buy a football team, they bought into half a city that lives and breathes red and white.

The campaign against them was not just about football—it was about working class people standing up for something they care about.

The media likes to make out it was the courts that beat the millionaires. They downplay the role of the new football supporters’ union Spirit of Shankly (SOS), which was set up both to kick the millionaire liars out and to stand up for working class fans.

Thousands rallied behind SOS, which has organised elections, regular mass meetings, boycotts and protests.

It is no coincidence that SOS quotes Liverpool’s great manager Bill Shankly’s vision of socialism as the motto on their webpage—“Everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of the rewards”.

Some fans—including us—were a bit sceptical about what SOS could do, but it has shown in practice what is possible when people stand up and act together.

It wants fans to have a bigger say in how the club is run and to negotiate better deals for fans—some of whom come from nearby areas like Walton, Breckfield and Birkenhead where poverty and unemployment is higher.

More than ever football is led by the rich, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying to have a say about how it is run.

Last week showed that millionaires are not invincible!

Stevie Rae and Kev Dudley, Merseyside
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Where are jobs for people like me?

I’m a 48-year-old mum with a disabled child. Our income is entirely made up of benefits.

I have worked for a good part of my adult life but I am now unable to as I have no one to care for my son.

My family can’t help me, even though they’re all workaholics. Some are caught in negative equity, others are busy training for the future.

I keep hearing about cuts in benefits and services.

I’m seriously worried about this week’s “spending review”.

The Tories are reducing child benefit for some people earning more than £43,000 per year and putting a cap on housing benefit.

It all leaves me asking “What’s next?” God knows.

Let’s hope that there’s some well paid jobs out there for knackered single parents like me, though I seriously doubt it.

Regards and keep up the good work.

Deb Taylor, by email

BBC union leaders’ mistake

The NUJ union general secretary Jeremy Dear is wrong to use “democracy” (Letters, 16 October) as an excuse for not recommending that BBC workers reject the shoddy new pensions offer.

On the day that reps took the decision to suspend strikes, the media was campaigning at full volume against them.

There was nothing democratic about the media pressure, but naturally reps worried that members might waver.

It was the union leadership’s responsibility to recognise that the new offer was rubbish, point to the huge strike vote, and guarantee full backing for action.

BBC workers look to Jeremy for a lead. Instead, he said let’s have another ballot.

So we now face the absurd situation where the left in the union—with Jeremy’s support —is calling to reject the offer, while the union has shifted to a mealy-mouthed “we don’t recommend acceptance”.

It is not “democracy” to throw every decision back to the membership after a massive strike vote.

It only makes workers think the union has no stomach for a fight, and the offer is the best they are going to get. This has put a spoke in the wheels of the pensions fight.

We have seen a massacre of jobs and conditions in our industry. What will it take for the NUJ to come out fighting?

Dave Crouch, NUJ rep, Financial Times (pc)

Jeremy Dear says Socialist Worker is wrong to say that the unions argued we had got the best possible deal.

At my consultation meeting we were told that it was unrealistic to believe we could defend the existing pension schemes. The new, infinitely worse, scheme was one that our union negotiators had worked out with BBC management.

Why did the unions not use their mandate to call strikes? If we had struck then, I believe we would have won far more than we can in talks.

BBC worker, Manchester

Sowing the seeds of revolt at Tate Modern

Tate Modern’s new Turbine Hall installation by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei may be a fascinating and political piece.

But when gallery staff spoke out about health and safety concerns relating to the work last week, management attempted to crush the seeds of discontent.

The piece consists of 100 million porcelain seeds made by Chinese artisans. Unfortunately, since it opened porcelain dust has started to spread across the site.

Some staff have experienced sore throats, coughs and asthma attacks. We have concerns over the serious illnesses that could be caused by exposure to the dust.

While art-handling staff are wearing protective masks, gallery and security staff have been refused masks.

At a briefing on Wednesday morning, managers tried to brush our concerns aside and we were ordered to continue our duties while tests were carried out.

We have had enough of being treated badly and we held an impromptu, if brief, refusal to staff the galleries. After this stand-off managers were forced to take our concerns seriously.

Staff were able to opt out of covering the installation and on Thursday it was closed until further notice.

This came after a period of redundancies and attacks on conditions that has left some people demoralised. But our action shows that we can achieve results if we stand together.

Tate Modern workers, London

Why they want to destroy Tommy

It beggars belief that the Scottish legal authorities have so far wasted over £2 million on the prosecution of Tommy Sheridan.

He is being charged with perjury supposedly committed during his successful libel case against the News of the World.

The question is: why are Rupert Murdoch and others so determined to go to such extreme lengths to destroy his reputation?

Tommy has a long track record of fighting for the working class. He played a central role in defeating the poll tax.

He went to prison for six months for resisting warrant sales—sales of property seized by sheriff officers.

He has raised his voice in support of every group of workers in struggle.

He was a leading and principled opponent of the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan and played a significant role in supporting Military Families Against the War.

The attempt to whip up a scandal to discredit socialists and fighters for justice is one of the oldest tricks in the book.

It is crystal clear to me which side we should be on.

Keir Mckechnie, Glasgow

Racism in prison system

The recent Equality and Human Rights Commission report ( Inequality stunts the lives of millions, 16 October) highlighted another shocking aspect of unfair Britain.

It shows that the proportion of people of African-Caribbean and African descent incarcerated in this country is almost seven times greater than in the general population.

This is worse than in the US, where the proportion of black prisoners to the population is about four times greater.

The racism in the system extends to the high rate of black people being stopped and searched, and excluded from school.

The report gave socialists lots of ammunition against the system.

Katherine Branney, East London

Head’s wealth can aid state

Zimbabwe is a country where the government has a large foreign debt.

There are few in Britain who would oppose the idea that the head of state should liquidate most of his personal wealth to pay off that debt.

But wait. Britain is also a country with a large foreign debt. The queen should liquidate her considerable personal wealth in order to pay off this debt to solve a lot of Britain’s problems.

Which of these heads of state will step forward voluntarily? Don’t hold your breath.

Alex Weir, Harare, Zimbabwe

All migrants have X factor

The continuing fight to stop X Factor contestant Gamu Nhengu from being deported from Britain has highlighted the state’s treatment of migrants and asylum seekers.

Large numbers of people protested in Gamu’s home town of Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, in support of her right to remain in Britain.

This is proof that ordinary people will defend migrants if they come to know them.

This terrifies the state, and is the reason why it is attempting to more speedily remove them and keep them apart from the general population.

It shouldn’t matter whether you can sing well, are a brilliant scientist or whether you are here to make a better life whatever way you can.

I say everyone is welcome in Britain and no one is illegal.

Simone Murray, Carlisle

Solicitor beat the jobs axe

One of the quangos not abolished by the Con-Dems in last week’s orgy of job losses was the Official Solicitor.

This is slightly surprising since one of the last public appearances of the Official Solicitor was in July 1972, and so surely they’re a prime candidate for redundancy.

That intervention was to get dockers who had defied the then Tory government’s anti-union laws out of jail before a TUC-called general strike against Edward Heath’s Tory government. Clearly someone in government has a memory and a sense of where they are headed.

Keith Flett, North London

This country is undemocratic

If democracy is defined as rule by elected representatives, then this country has only a facade of being one.

The reality is that corporate power motivates rule. Those wielding it have direct communication with government.

The Tories want us to believe that they work in the national interest, but they work for corporate interests.

They plan to dismantle the welfare state and allow the private sector to take over.

Unless corporate interests are resisted, unemployment, inequality, injustice and a debased health and social system will come about.

Edward Davies, Stourbridge

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Tue 19 Oct 2010, 18:53 BST
Issue No. 2224
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