Libya, revolution and imperial interference
Socialist Worker (27 August) is certainly right about the West trying to get its hands on power in Libya.
However, this is not just true there. Even without military involvement, this process is also taking place in Egypt.
What seems missing from Socialist Worker’s coverage is an analysis of the contradictory nature of the forces on the ground across the whole of the Arab Spring.
Given this, we can’t take a different stance on the Libyan rebels than we do to others. We must support all of their struggles.
Doing this doesn’t mean we can’t also then call for them to go further in terms of social justice and be truly independent of imperialism.
Joseph Kisolo-ssonko, Manchester
The BBC, a mouthpiece for British power, has been flooding us with scenes from Tripoli, trying to make comparisons with the events in Egypt. But apart from the apparent toppling of its leader, there are few similarities. Cairo’s Tahrir Square was an image of heroic people power. Libya is mostly a result of Nato air power.
The Egyptian people overthrew their leader with no outside help. Libya was an excuse for Nato to gatecrash the Arab Spring, to try to influence how their neighbours in Egypt and Tunisia turn out.
Nato illegally went beyond its mandate, picked sides and decided on regime change. It has now armed the whole country, and the anti‑Gaddafi fighters are very divided.
The Transitional National Council (TNC) is just a fraction of the opposition, but now look to be getting most or all of the leadership.
Far from the West now stepping back, it has clambered to support the TNC, and to ensure oil contracts are won. Permanent Western military bases will now appear.
So the so-called humanitarian intervention did have strings attached.
Colin Crilly, South London
System is weighted against women
The dropping of rape charges against former International Monetary Fund boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn last week was disappointing—but not surprising.
US prosecutors said that there were “questions” around Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel cleaner who accused Strauss-Kahn of raping her.
These relate to her lying about things in the past and inconsistencies in her account of her movements after the incident.
But Strauss-Kahn’s semen was found on her, and she had vaginal bruising. Despite this, Diallo found herself on trial in the world’s media.
The system is weighted against women making rape accusations—especially when they are poor and black and the man is rich and white.
Katherine Branney, East London
Proud to be a class warrior
If I was in government—perish the thought as I’m much too honest—and wanted to pick a fight with a section of the community, I would naturally choose those with the least political clout.
That would mean students, disabled people, those on various types of benefit, pensioners, the armed forces, the NHS or the teaching profession. This is what the present coalition is doing.
Most surprisingly of all for a Tory-led government is that they included the police services in the attack. Workforces are living under threat of losing their employment, pay, pensions and allowances.
Doctors, nurses and other NHS staff are reluctant to take industrial action because they do not want to harm or affect the sick and infirm.
In a previous life, as a coastguard officer, I was required to make occasional visits to schools, giving talks on beach, coastal and maritime safety. I realised then that teaching was indeed a vocation.
At the same time public services were being singled out for cuts and job losses, City financiers and bankers’ bonuses were being left unscathed.
Tory millionaire and cabinet minister Oliver Letwin says that doctors, nurses and teachers need a reign of terror to make them work harder. Reminds me again why I’m proud to be an ageing class warrior.
Letwin also said that job losses in education and health were an “inevitable and intended” consequence of government policy.
This was the latest blunt expression of the Tories’ contempt for public sector workers.
It follows the announcement that pension cuts would steal over £1 billion from workers next year. Union leaders said the moves were a “tax on pensions”.
Mark Serwotka, my own PCS union general secretary said, “It was time to build for more industrial action.”
“Dutchy” Holland, Distinguished life member and chair, PCS Associate and Retired Members
Riots were an angry outburst at society
I wish to respond to Annie Nehmad (Letters, 20 August) and her criticism of the riots.
No one set fire to buildings where people lived, as she said. They set fire to shops at ground level, and this extended to the flats above, where people lived.
Annie’s final sentence I find disgusting: “These looters are as alienated and as effective as people who piss in the lift of their own council block.”
“These looters” are mostly poverty-stricken, unemployed youth. Some 41 percent of suspects live in one of the top 10 percent of the most deprived places in the country.
What they want is what is normal for many people—electronic goods, decent clothes and food, etc. They want the end of cuts to youth services. In Tottenham eight out of 12 youth clubs have been shut recently.
Their other gripe is against the police and racism—black people are much more likely to be stopped and searched than whites.
Small businesses and the homeless are being subsidised and helped. Who is helping the young, poor and unemployed? The answer is, nobody.
Riots are angry outbursts—unpolitical (except in a much broader, philosophical sense). A general strike can help people learn about how to direct their actions against the government.
I hope Annie thinks again.
Chanie Rosenberg, East London
Tory change will ruin our pensions
I’m a civil servant and I am writing to ask for your support.
I’ve recently set up an e-petition on the Directgov website against the government’s decision to link future public sector and some private sector pension increases to the CPI, rather than RPI, inflation measure.
It’s estimated that over the years this change will wipe between 15 to 20 percent from the value of our pensions.
Support for the e‑petition has been going well and I am very keen to maintain the momentum.
However, we could be doing better and that’s why I’m writing to ask for your support.
The link to my petition is http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/1535
The government has stated its intention to debate any e-petitions that achieve 100,000-plus signatures. This should be achievable given the large number of current and future pensioners that this change affects.
Anything that you are able to do to encourage support for this petition would be very much appreciated. Any action that we can take to keep this subject high on the political agenda is very worthwhile.
Jim Singer, Aberdeen
Theatre exit is a tragedy
Many thanks for your interview with the Tricycle theatre’s artistic director, Nicolas Kent (Socialist Worker, 20 August).
I grew up and went to school in Kilburn, west London, and can still remember going to see Kent’s first play at the Tricycle, The Playboy of the West Indies, nearly 30 years ago.
Given that there is little memorable at the moment in either education or theatre, it is nothing short of a tragedy that Tory cuts have forced Kent out of a job.
This is yet another reason to demonstrate alongside thousands of others at the Tory Party conference in Manchester on 2 October.
Terry Sullivan, North London
Blame Tories for problems
Socialist Worker’s reporting of the riots has been spot on and a breath of fresh air.
Most ordinary people understand why the uprisings happened.
But too often they qualify their position with something like “but obviously I condemn what happened, they attacked their own communities”.
This weakens the argument against the Tories and implies that the powerless are partly responsible for the injustices of the system.
Potentially this could be the beginning of the end for this rotten government. Let’s put the blame firmly where it belongs—and we’ll see the back of David Cameron.
Tom Jenkins, Aintree
Riot debates in Liverpool
The riots in Liverpool sparked off a series of community meetings in the areas affected, with between 100–250 people attending.
The first meeting started off with the tone of “these weren’t like the riots in 1981”
So it focused on protecting the community from the devastating effects of the riots.
At first there was a real hesitancy on political discussion.
After the riots, the community group kept up the meetings and opinions changed.
The group became more of an open forum about the cause of the riots and the sprouting of a campaign group.
One meeting addressed housing, youth provisions, police and unemployment.
There is a lot to be learned from grassroots groups such as this.
Although it has been challenging, it has been exciting to open up our socialist circle to people who want to fight against the devastation of the cuts and police brutality.
Francesca Byron, Toxteth, Liverpool
Little justice for protester
The IPCC police “watchdog” last week upheld a complaint over the policing of the student protests last December.
Jody McIntyre was struck by a baton, taken from his wheelchair and dragged along the road by police.
The IPCC admitted that the police may have committed “a criminal offence of common assault” against him.
This may well have resulted in a conviction had it been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
However, the six month time limit to take the case to the CPS “had already passed by the time [McIntyre’s] appeal was lodged”.
Jody McIntyre can forget about getting any justice. The system is quick to jail anyone involved in the riots. But when it comes to getting justice for a young disabled man it moves very slowly.
Sasha Simic, East London
Let’s change environment
Humans, including those rioting, are made by the environment in which they live.
We are responsible for that environment. Should we not alter it?
Red Ron Acock, Ilkeston, Derbyshire