Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2241

Protesting in London in support of the revolutions in the Middle East	 (Pic: Smallman )

Protesting in London in support of the revolutions in the Middle East (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Support for Arab revolt helps fight in Britain

A packed meeting in solidarity with the Egyptian revolution at my work last week shows the strength of feeling about the issue in Britain—and I’m sure others could follow our example.

Around 80 staff and students crammed into a lecture theatre to hear first-hand accounts from three eyewitnesses who had just returned from Cairo.

The writer Anne Alexander spoke brilliantly as photographer Jess Hurd projected her images of the revolution.

This was followed by video footage, from film-maker Jason, of pro-Mubarak thugs being ejected from Tahrir Square.

The discussion was lively and political.

A Romanian student asked how we could ensure a real change to the system and avoid what happened in her country.

There the old leaders were overthrown but the system beneath them carried on as before.

A number of speakers pointed out that if it was possible to get rid of a violent dictator like Mubarak in Egypt then we in Britain should be able to kick out Nick Clegg and David Cameron.

The audience was so enthusiastic that we ran out of time and had to stop after 90 minutes.

But before we left, there was a call to join the big anti-cuts demonstration in London on 26 March. The audience cheered when the chair argued that on that day we should give Clegg and Cameron a taste of Tahrir.

Rob Murthwaite, Equalities officer, London Metropolitan University UCU union

Does David Cameron’s hypocrisy know no bounds?

He says Britain was wrong to “prop up” highly controlling regimes, but, at the same time, he tours the Middle East promoting Britain’s arms industry.

This is a desperate attempt to support their ruling classes who are, at long last, being challenged in the streets.

Cameron says that these movements are not “ideological”. I disagree. People are fighting to get rid of despots and to build fair and equal societies.

Peter Hendy, Buckinghamshire

Is SW wrong on the cuts?

Julie Sherry argued that we should oppose every one of the government’s cuts (Do we ‘need’ to make any cuts?, 19 February).

Has the paper shifted its position?

In recent years we’ve often said, “Cut Trident, war and ID cards—not public services.”

By doing so, we’ve highlighted the government’s perverse priorities. And I think this remains a key argument.

For example, do we oppose all cuts in the NHS?

Or, do we point out that by getting rid of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes, the internal market, drug company profiteering and layers of useless management, we would save billions of pounds that could be far better spent?

I agree it is important for us to argue, as Julie did, that “these cuts to our services aren’t necessary, they’re ideological, and driven by a desire to reshape society in the interests of the rich”.

But we must not allow ourselves to be pushed into a corner where we end up defending expenditure on aircraft carriers and other obscenities.

Ben Windsor, South London

Your report of the Right to Work’s People’s Convention (‘We’re about bringing this government down’, 19 February) said, in relation to Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist, that “unfortunately he also argued that we shouldn’t work with Labour councillors who don’t renounce all cuts”.

In Liverpool the Labour council has entered into a coalition with the Liberal Democrats and the Greens to implement cuts caused by a massive reduction in government funding.

Over 1,500 jobs are to go along with vital services and amenities.

The council says it has no alternative but to wield the Con‑Dem axe.

Why should we continue to work with those who do the government’s dirty work?

Mark Henzel, Liverpool

‘Endless growth’ is not to blame for floods

Barb Cookson attacks capitalism for the recent sharp rises in the price of food, and rightly points out that this is one of the reasons behind the spreading revolt in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond (Letters, 26 February).

But Barb is wrong to say that last year’s fires in Russia and the floods in Pakistan are the result of climate change and “endless growth” under capitalism.

Climate change did not cause the fires or the rainfall.

And it’s not true that the disasters were the result of too much economic growth—they were the result of capitalism’s distorted priorities. Floods in Pakistan, for example, were made much worse because of “mega projects” like the huge dams built with World Bank money.

They are designed to make a profit for contractors and big farmers, rather than benefit the poor.

We could, instead, use the technology and skills associated with advanced society to plan for better irrigation systems, crop use and forest planting.

This could help us with soil and riverbed erosion.

Science and economic development will be key to undoing some of the damage associated with rampant capitalism.

Jane Wilson, Cardiff

Not another Tory ‘lost generation’

I was shocked to see the latest unemployment figures showing that there are now 965,000 young people aged 16 to 24 unemployed.

Some recent reports say that, in the years to come, we can expect that up to a fifth of all young people will be without a job or college place—and that this situation might last for years on end.

Like many readers of this paper, as a young person I enjoyed an extended 15-month “holiday” courtesy of Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government in the 1980s.

I remember the feelings of despair and uselessness as one job application after another went unanswered, without even a note to say, “thanks for applying”.

Fortunately for me I was able to escape to college and get a qualification.

Finally, I got a job in the public sector. These are two routes out of unemployment that our millionaire-dominated government is determined to close off.

So I reckon there are at least 965,000 reasons why we should be demonstrating on Saturday 26 March.

We owe it to our young people to avoid another lost generation.

Jon Tennison, South London

Democracy not revolution

I’m a Labour Party member but more importantly I’m a socialist, so I agree with much of what Socialist Worker says.

You are right to insist that we must fight the Tories on picket lines and in the streets—just like people are fighting dictatorships in the Middle East.

But this simply isn’t an option here.

If we tried to make a revolution, the Tories would do what Gaddafi is doing to the people protesting in Libya. They would massacre us.

Obviously, we must oppose what they are doing to public services and employment, and strikes and protests are the right way to do this.

But they can only be marginally successful. The truth is the government is not afraid of us.

The only thing that scares them is losing their middle class voters.

The only real option we have is re-electing the Labour Party.

Don’t try revolution—try democracy instead.

David Smith, by email

Is a ‘reprieve’ a victory?

This is in response to your article on Tory plans to privatise everything ( Tories reveal plans to privatise everything , 26 February).

Any “reprieve” that allows the beleaguered public to continue using their local libraries should be welcomed.

But we should ask whether councils are announcing “reprieves” in order to wriggle out of the prospect of a judicial review.

Is that why the prime minister is reported to have intervened in Oxfordshire? Would a judicial review in his backyard be a bit too embarrassing?

Given the ideology of those in power, we cannot take anything at face value.

Shirley Burnham, Swindon

We need grey power!

A recently published report by a privately funded think tank speaks volumes about their lack of respect for senior citizens.

We’ve been scrimping and saving most of our lives just to make our old age comfortable.

But now right wing fiscal predators have their eagle eyes on our nest eggs.

This insult must rouse the “grey vote”.

If we utilise this effectively, alongside the unions, caring, political socialist ethics can crush the right wing thieves once and for all.

Bob Clark, by email

Small battle in very big war

I could not agree more that what we need is militant mass action that unites the majority of working people under attack from this government.

However, sometimes I think that it’s important that we celebrate small victories—like one by ordinary people in Oxfordshire who have defended their libraries.

The Oxfordshire Anti‑Cuts Alliance, made up of trade unionists and community groups, has brought people together to defend their services.

Libraries are not just a middle class luxury, and it has been mass meetings and mass protests that have shown the Tory council and David Cameron what we think of the “big society”.

Victories like this show what united campaigns can do as we prepare for bigger fights ahead.

Nick Evans, Oxford

Unions should lead pay fight

The economy is contracting but inflation is still climbing.

That creates problem for workers because our wages simply can’t keep up with the cost of life’s essentials.

What’s the answer from the Bank of England and the Tories?

Raise interest rates, they say—causing our mortgages to go through the roof.

Isn’t it time the unions led a fight over pay?

Steve White, by email

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Article information

Tue 1 Mar 2011, 18:46 GMT
Issue No. 2241
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