Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2263

Abortion ‘counselling’ law is a Trojan horse

Tory MP Nadine Dorries and Labour MP Frank Field are proposing that women who are considering an abortion should have special counselling before they go ahead with a procedure they have already decided on.

Not only that, they say the organisation providing that service should not be the currently well‑regulated ones, such as BPAS and Marie Stopes.

It is argued that these groups have a vested interest in encouraging women to have abortions, so it should be a different organisation—for example the proscriptively anti-choice group Life.

Nadine Dorries is already on record as being anti-choice, so this is not about simply providing services for women.

This is about opening the door to anti-choice organisations, which serve to mislead women. They would be given access to formal counselling for women—women who, it is inferred, can’t make up their own minds about what to do with their own bodies.

The proposals may look harmless, but we should be clear that they are a Trojan horse being wheeled into NHS clinics and GP surgeries to delay and obstruct women accessing legal medical procedures.

Women already face many delays. Abortion is the only procedure that requires two GPs’ signatures—when 20 percent of GPs declare themselves to be anti-choice.

Delays also exist in referral waiting times as well as the distances women are often required to travel—particularly if the woman lives in, say, Belfast.

Abortion Rights campaigns for choice for women, and stands up with working women to expose and draw attention to these challenges to women’s right to choose.

We call on readers to write to their MPs and urge them to raise these points to ask the Department of Health to drop these proposals.

Abortion Rights has a struggle ahead and needs members to join in.

Please visit our website for articles, more information and to join our campaign at

Kerry Abel, Abortion Rights executive committee

Derby rally had big problems

As a former Bombardier worker, I went to the demonstration in Derby Thousands march for 'the future of Derby' to show my support for a struggle to save a historic and hugely important industrial site, the Litchurch Lane Train and Carriage Works.

I imagined that it would be a reasonably sized demonstration, with a fairly soft political line, begging the government to change its policies.

I was in for a shock: frankly, I think your report understated the seriousness of the problem.

The turnout was good—thousands, overwhelmingly from Derby—but the rally at the end of the demonstration was one of the worst political events I have ever witnessed.

Despite the initiative to call the demo having come from the unions, the platform included a boss at the owners of the works and even the Tory leader of Derby council.

Former Unite union leader Tony Woodley led off with a call, in the exact words, for “British jobs for British workers” and repeated it twice to rapturous applause. It is outrageous for any union leader, let alone a left winger like Woodley, to take such a position.

Bob Crow of the RMT made a bid to shift the tone away from hardline nationalism, but he was fighting a losing battle.

Woodley and Unite have opened the door to a xenophobic, “classless” response to the cuts and recession, while simultaneously closing any doors to sit-ins and calls for re‑nationalisation. How could they demand this if Bombardier and the Tories are “on our side”?

The left can’t afford to be complacent about this: we need to fight hard against the “British jobs for British workers” slogan.

It is a slogan that not only fails to deliver what it promises—legalistic, lobbying-type campaigns to stop work going overseas will never work.

It also actively argues against workers in Britain taking inspiration from and uniting with workers in the rest of the world.

Kieran Crowe, London

Would EDL ban drive them underground?

The English Defence League (EDL) have shot to infamous prominence last week with allegations that the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik was an admirer of its “cause”.

Speaking on Newsnight on Tuesday 26 July, the frontman of the EDL (Stephen Yaxley‑Lennon) issued a threat that unless the EDL is listened to, Britain could be “five or ten years away from an incident like Norway”.

This, therefore, raises a difficult moral question: Is it right to ban the EDL, the British National Party, or any other evidently racist and neo‑fascist unit in order to preserve the rich diversity that Britain enjoys?

For many, groups like the EDL hold bitter memories of intimidation and unprecedented acts of violence.

Certainly, during the wave of immigration to Britain in the early 1970s, many South East Asian and black Caribbean groups experienced levels of racial hatred that their children today could not imagine.

But the key point is not to allow these neo-fascists to gain the upper hand.

Although by banning them it may seem that we are “keeping a lid” on them, in reality it may pose a much graver threat in the future.

Shelley Angelie Saggar, London

Defend Obama against US racists

I appreciate that Obama’s spending plans are a terrible capitulation to Republican blackmail and will badly hit the poor in the US, especially people of colour US budget crisis: Obama will make poor pay for crisis.

But surely there is still a difference between the Democrats and Republicans. After all, the Republicans rejected Obama’s initial offer because it involved taxing the rich.

This enraged the Tea Party—a racist right wing movement that has gripped the Republican grassroots and pushes conspiracy theories that deny Obama’s right to be president.

These include claims that Obama is part of a Muslim-Marxist conspiracy theory—the same ideas that drove the Norwegian fascist killer Anders Breivik.

The Tea Party also pushes the deranged notion that Obama wasn’t born in the US. Donald Trump, recently touted as a presidential candidate, demanded his birth certificate.

Whatever the problems with Obama, the alternative is a Republican party that is driven by some very sinister forces indeed. It’s too simplistic to say “a plague on both your houses”.

Jiben Kumar, East London

Don’t tar all as Loyalists

A recent article Loyalist riots force exodus from Portadown discussed last month’s riot in Portadown in Northern Ireland.

It said, “Protestants use this [the marching season] as an excuse to take to the streets to display their supposed ‘superiority’ over Catholics.”

Socialist Worker has been crucial in making the arguments about the dangers of religious sectarianism and the way it masks the real divide in society.

So just as we argue against the idea that Islam equals terrorism, so we must not equate all Protestants with Loyalists.

Instead we must continue to point to the fact that it is in the interests of working class Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland to be part of a wider struggle against the system which fosters these divisions.

Joe Varney, Coventry

Coalition has quacked up

Well done for keeping up the pressure on the Murdoch scandal.

Now is the time for the Socialist Workers Party to get ahead of the game because Con/Lib and Labour are dead ducks.

Mike Goodfellow, Whitley Bay

‘Sir’ Royston Smith isn’t

Thanks for all your extensive coverage of our dispute in Socialist Worker.

One small point: Royston Smith, the Conservative leader of Southampton City Council, is not a “Sir”.

I am sure he would like to be knighted in the future, but at the moment he is just a “Mr”.

Mike Tucker, Southampton Unison

‘War on terror’ fuelled killer

It’s horrific to see what happened in Norway at the weekend. However, I am troubled about the cause of this man’s ridiculous views on Muslims.

This racist, bogus “war on terror” that Britain and the US are waging has fuelled the ignorance of these extreme right wing fanatics.

Governments in the West continually demonise Islamic countries, and the media present all Muslims as lunatics who seek to destroy our way of life.

Having helped to destroy Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Libya, you can be sure that we’ve made plenty of enemies around the world.

It now seems that we’ve helped to create new terrorists, from different countries, and different viewpoints.

Colin Crilly, South London

From Oslo to East London

I have just read the article by Thomas Kvilhaug of the International Socialists in Oslo Norway: 'Solidarity in response to attack on us all'. In it he says that there will be a demonstration after the period of burials and mourning.

It would be brilliant if this could be on 3 September, when we will be showing solidarity with Norway and getting the racist EDL off our streets in Tower Hamlets.

Kate Mayer, Leeds

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Article information

Tue 2 Aug 2011, 17:38 BST
Issue No. 2263
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