Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2245

Is it wrong to be against the West’s war in Libya?

Socialist Worker has argued consistently against military intervention by Western countries, and I have always agreed.

However, I think the situation in Libya makes this sound like knee-jerk rhetoric. The provisional government in Benghazi has requested intervention: a no-fly zone. They are not naive enough to ignore the interests of these powers and would not ask for intervention if they thought they could win alone, so it is a tactical question.

If you were to go to Benghazi now and collar the celebrating rebels, I doubt whether your arguments would find much of an audience.

Philip Foxe, North London

So what if the British establishment wants to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi so that BP can resume its oil contracts?

Socialists should still push for their governments to give military aid to the rebels and oppose our governments when they seek “to protect their interests” and kill those they pretend to help. It is possible to do both.

The prerequisite for a revolution is that there are revolutionaries alive. Condemning them to die with fine words is not only stupid, it is treachery.

Farid Abdi, Liverpool

The West showed indecent haste in wanting to attack Libya—your analysis is spot on.

In January 2009 the Israelis’ “Operation Cast Lead” against innocent Palestinians in the Gaza Strip gathered only polite condemnation.

A few years before that, the same Israeli air force bombed Beirut and southern Lebanon with no outcry from the UN.

If they are going after Gaddafi, then why not go after Israel?

Richard Manser, Paisley

There is one thing revolutionaries need to understand about the imposition of the “no-fly zone”: we must never, ever support action taken by our own ruling class.

We need only look back to the outcome of the Falklands War in 1982 to see what might happen next.

At the time, Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government was at its lowest ebb.

But on their return from their “great victory”, soldiers on at least one troop carrier stood above a banner saying that they would now smash the railway workers’ strike.

After all the jingoism of the Falklands victory we ended up with 15 more years of the Tories.

Alan Watts, North London

Lay off Jamie’s dreams

I’m shocked to find myself disagreeing with Michael Rosen—and others! I’ve really enjoyed watching Jamie’s Dream School.

I was concerned before the series started that its message would be that “inspirational” celebrity teachers can succeed where us boring professionals have failed.

However, what it has shown is that many young people who didn’t engage with school are interesting, vibrant and articulate people, who have often had difficult experiences during their childhood.

I believe Jamie Oliver is right to say that these young people have been failed by the system.

The programme has experimented with making classes optional and holding one-to-one tutorials. One teacher consulted students on how they think discipline should be run in the classroom.

I have seen things in the programme that I could use in my pupil referral unit classroom—and things I wish I could do, given freedom from the many restraints teachers in state schools face and the resources that should be available but are not.

I think the programme has highlighted lots of real issues for educators and for young people as well as being an interesting experiment in how better to tackle these issues.

Stephanie King, Derby

Buffett will eat words

The billionaire Warren Buffett was quoted in the newspapers here saying “There’s class warfare all right—but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Let’s hope that what has happened around the world in the last few weeks, especially in the Middle East, will mean Buffett has to eat his words.

Sergio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Working class way of life is at risk in cuts

I’m 35 years of age and served in the fire service through our last dispute in 2002.

I thought at that time I had felt and experienced the most raw of emotions and had hoped never to have to go through such a time again.

But that period simply pales into insignificance compared with what we’re going through right now.

This is without doubt the most important and threatening time of my life so far.

It is my belief that the livelihood and way of life of my family is seriously at risk—and I hear these same fears echoed every day.

From people at work or who I meet in the street, no longer is the weather or last night’s football the first topic of conversation.

I truly believe that the working class people in this country are having war declared upon them—and to simply stand by and let it happen would be unthinkable.

My own son is awaiting an eye operation. After waiting six months for an appointment I called the hospital to enquire about my son’s operation.

I was then told that I could not be given a date for his op—as they have no paediatric anesthetists available.

This is just one example of the effects of the cuts.

Gary Keary, Manchester

LGBT groups are Tories’ new target

I joined the protest on 26 March alongside thousands of other LGBT people.

The Tories are bent on privatising our services and handing over the work of supporting some of society’s more vulnerable people to charities and voluntary groups.

But the government’s funding cuts to the voluntary sector will make this impossible—they are part of a package of hidden cuts that isn’t being talked about.

I work in the voluntary sector for an LBGT charity. LGBT organisations are being devastated by funding cuts, totalling around £1 million across various organisations in London alone.

It doesn’t sound like a lot, but we are often small organisations doing work that is vital to the communities we serve.

Some have lost half their total income. Others have had their whole key frontline service budget removed.

The councils say it can be replaced with the “big society”.

But we are fighting back. The charities affected have gathered together to fight the cuts across London. You can find out more by going to

Rita McLoughlin, East London

Will Egypt fail without us?

Joseph Choonara argues in his article (Socialist Worker, 19 March) that “revolution in Britain is not an immediate prospect”.

However, if this is indeed the case then how can we continue to raise the prospect of permanent revolution in countries such as Egypt?

Without the rapid spread of revolution to countries such as Britain, any socialist society there is condemned to international isolation and inevitable failure.

So we either have to argue that revolution in Britain and countries like it is on the cards in the near future, or we’d better come up with an alternative analysis for revolutions in the Arab world. Something has to give.

Nick Martin, Nottingham

Unrest was really great

It was a pity that Joseph Choonara did not mention the 1910‑4 strikes in Britain commonly known as the Great Unrest.

It was a good example of how workers’ ideas can rapidly change. These strikes erupted and pulled in workers who had no previous history of militancy.

What happened before can happen again today with the proposed austerity measures.

Dave Tate, by email

Tories’ nasty business

Nasty toff David Cameron has launched a war against Colonel Gaddafi of Libya.

But didn’t Cameron do business with Gaddafi? Who will want to do business with Cameron after this?

Karöl Jedynak, Birmingham

Defend this law centre

The Tory council in Hammersmith and Fulham is where most of the brutal cuts to public services have been tested and perfected before being rolled out across the country. Cameron has often called it his “favourite council”.

Now Hammersmith Law Centre is being forced to close. The council has removed all of its funding in one go.

The law centre is the last line of defence for people who have lost their homes or jobs.

It defends asylum seekers and poor local residents alike.

We should rally to the law centre’s defence, and defend the people who defend the weak.

Colin Merrick, West London

Folk is full of protest songs

I was shocked to read on your reviews page that “the last few years have seen a dearth of decent protest songs” ( 33 Revolutions Per Minute , 19 March).

Matthew Cookson is clearly out of touch with the very political folk revival that has been going on for at least ten years.

Maybe he should catch David Rovics’ current tour, as I did last week in Leeds.

He has a series of outstanding protest songs from “Who Would Jesus Bomb?” to “Song for Bradley Manning” and “If I were Captain of the Pirates”.

Or he could check out Robb Johnson and Tracey Curtis and our very own Leeds-based Gary Kaye.

Unlike many of the artists mentioned in the review, the new folk protest singers actually go on the protests they write about so eloquently.

Steve Johnston, Leeds

Cameron gets into a Jam

A couple of years ago David Cameron told us that The Jam was one of his favourite bands.

I hope during the events of the last weeks he has found time to remember the lyrics to one of The Jam’s masterpieces, “Little Boy Soldiers”:

“We ruled the world—we killed and robbed
the fucking lot—but we don’t feel bad
It was done beneath the flag of democracy.”

Ian Birchall, Edmonton

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Article information

Tue 29 Mar 2011, 18:01 BST
Issue No. 2245
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