Selling our woods? Let’s fight for the forests
The movement against the government’s plans to privatise the Forest Commission and sell off our woodlands is growing.
A demonstration of 3,000 took place in Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean last month.
It was followed by a 1,500-strong protest in Grizedale Forest in the Lake District. So far, over 450,000 have signed an online petition against the sell-off at 38degrees.org.
The Tory minister who tried to defend this on Question Time had not one friend in the audience.
It’s easy to see why people are angry—there’s a lot at stake.
Most of the 3,600 jobs at the Forestry Commission will go, with the loss of decades of expertise in forest management. Then there’s the threat to the trees, recreation and the environment.
And there’s climate change.
Approximately 20 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions come from changing land use—mainly cutting down forests.
In Britain, we need to plant many more forests to help stop climate change.
If the government sells off our forests, they will be unable to say anything to protect the rainforests like the Amazon—the lungs of the world.
The government is running a sham consultation until 21 April.
Many organisations are coming together to oppose them. These include local groups, 38degrees.org, the Campaign Against Climate Change, the Climate Alliance, and the forest workers’ trade unions—the PCS, Prospect, the GMB and Unite.
Together we are planning big public meetings, days of action and further demonstrations.
This is a campaign we can win. Socialists everywhere can play a part.
Our forests, our jobs, our planet.
Jonathan Neale, North London
To get involved email firstname.lastname@example.org. Public meeting: Saturday 12 March, 1pm. Bloomsbury Baptist Church, Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8EP
Countryside living is often presented as a rural idyll. Posh magazines are full of pictures of farmhouse kitchens and acres of green space.
But for working class people this image of village life rarely meets reality.
That was brought home this week as many local councils announced they would no longer subsidise certain bus routes.
The Tories have cut local funding so much that it seems that everything is being cut to ribbons.
That will almost certainly mean private firms that operate the buses in North Yorkshire will decide to stop serving whole areas. I’m sure it will affect many other areas too.
Unemployed people, and pensioners like myself who cannot afford to run a car, will be left stranded.
How are we supposed to get to the major shops? What do we do if we get sick and need to go to hospital? What if we just want to go on a day out, just for a bit of fun?
It seems the Tories’ answer is, if you cannot afford your own transport you must be a peasant!
Well, maybe that’s true.
But I should remind David Cameron and his 4x4-driving buddies that peasants can revolt.
And, that when they do, it is not uncommon for the rich to get what’s coming to them.
Brian Jackson, North Yorkshire
No advice from Clegg
OK, let’s get this straight.
The recession means the return of mass unemployment, and pay cuts for millions.
As a result, many of us have debts that we cannot afford to repay. The numbers seeking help from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau grow by the day—with queues outside their offices.
So what does the government do? Slash their funding and throw all the debt advisers on the dole. Well done, Nick Clegg!
Lee, by email
The Egyptian revolution is source of new hope
I remember attending a Socialist Worker meeting about 25 years ago.
There it was argued that the best hope for Palestinian liberation was for Palestinians to involve themselves in workers’ movements in Egypt and Jordan and bring down these regimes.
It seemed a bit fantastical at the time—until last month and the eruption of the Egyptian revolution.
The Israeli state has always depended on outside support to maintain its colonisation of Palestine.
Last week, the Israeli Haaretz newspaper published an editorial article, headlined “Without Mubarak, Israel is left with almost no friends”. It charts the series of dodgy alliances that has kept Israel afloat for the last 50 years.
It concludes that Israel has no friends left except the king of Jordan and the quisling Palestinian Authority, both too weak to be of any use.
Israel has no choice but to make new friends, and the most likely candidate is Syria.
But the Israelis are living in a fantasyland if they think the Syrian regime will switch sides at this time.
The Lebanese resistance group Hizbollah, which has received backing from Syria’s rulers, republished the article.
It was their way of warning off any regime that might consider backing Israel.
If the Egyptian revolution is successful Israel will indeed be friendless—and that will be a source of hope for the Palestinians.
Farid Abdi, by email
Is there a revolutionary party in Egypt that can provide leadership? Without one there is a danger that the vacuum left by Hosni Mubarak will be filled by opportunists, the military or the Muslim Brotherhood.
Gloria, Toronto, Canada
The US and Britain are backing Mubarak, their dictator friend, with meaningless advice to “avoid violence”.
We Egyptians are being slaughtered on the streets fighting to bring democracy to our country—the very democracy that the West is allegedly trying to bring to Afghanistan.
We need your support desperately.
Please organise protests in your universities, and spread word of the crisis into your unions.
Dr Ahmed Saad El Hadidy, by email
Speaking in his capacity as a “peace envoy”, Tony Blair declared sympathy for Mubarak, saying that he is “not Saddam Hussein,” and that he has done “an immense amount” for peace in the region.
David Cameron also defends Mubarak, tepidly insisting that Egypt needs “evolution not revolution”.
Mubarak is a brutal dictator who has run Egypt as a police state for 30 years with the blessing and support of the Western powers—Britain included.
Blair and Cameron seem to think that this is acceptable because he’s “our” butcher.
Mubarak—and his apologists—are beginning to learn that no amount of repression will save him from the anger of a people he has abused for over a generation.
Sasha Simic, East London
Disabled are no ‘soft touch’
The government are picking on disabled people even more viciously than the rest of us.
They are cutting Disability Living Allowance. Now the axe is falling on the Independent Living Fund that assists people to live as independently as possible.
Apparently, Nick Clegg and David Cameron think disabled people are a soft touch.
But why are so few people standing up for the vulnerable?
Is it because the media, the tabloid newspapers in particular, demonise disabled people as scroungers?
I am a carer for a disabled person and I am so angry about this. We should all be helping one another to fight.
After all, it could be you tomorrow.
Nadia, by email
Should we copy Eton?
Thanks for your article about Eton school ( Posh school that reveals class divide , 5 January).
I am against boarding schools on principle. I believe that parents who send their children away are unnatural. However, what’s wrong with Eton encouraging its pupils to pursue their dreams, think for themselves and have self-confidence?
Surely all schools should do that?
MJ Taylor, South London
Swan film not such a turkey
I agree with some of Despina Mavrou’s criticisms of Black Swan (Neither fish nor fowl , 5 February).
But I think you can see the film quite differently.
First, it brings Tchaikovsky’s music to life while at the same time transforming and adapting it.
Second, there are the beautiful shots of feet rhythmically hitting the floor.
Through the film one gets a feeling for the tremendous effort and self sacrifice it takes to become a ballet dancer.
Another strong element is the ambivalence of the mother.
She wants her daughter to be successful where she herself failed, but at the same time refuses to allow her any space to develop.
The horror aspects are a bit like in a Greek tragedy.
Seen in this way, the film is very enjoyable.
David Paenson, Frankfurt, Germany
When sorry is no apology
When Sky Sports presenters Andy Grey and Richard Keys got it in the neck for their sexist “banter”, the knuckle dragging presenters of Top Gear were quick to spring to their defence.
Just days later, they have been caught up in yet another controversy after a sustained racist tirade.
Richard Hammond and his pals “joked” that Mexican cars reflected national characteristics. They called Mexicans lazy and feckless.
Astonishingly, the BBC said, “sorry,” but then defended the attacks, saying “national stereotyping” was “part of British national humour”.
Perhaps, they think racist attacks are some sort of “national sport” too?
Rather than sticking up for this kind of drivel, the BBC should give the lot of them the boot and ditch their car crash of a TV show.
Chandra Singh Dhillon, Birmingham
Game makes me blue
Premiership football clubs spent over £200 million on players during the recent transfer window.
My club, Chelsea, splashed out an astonishing £50 million on Fernando Torres.
Meanwhile, the cost of a ticket to a game at Stamford Bridge is around £50.
You’d need to sell a kidney to pay for a family trip to a match.
Whatever happened to “the people’s game”?
Phil Burns, West London