Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2269

Thousands of anti-racists keep the EDL out of Tower Hamlets (Pic: Geoff Dexter)

Thousands of anti-racists keep the EDL out of Tower Hamlets (Pic: Geoff Dexter)

Proud to be anti-racist

The far right attempted to arrange a march through east London in April—based on the false argument that Muslims are extremely homophobic.

Last week we stopped the English Defence League (EDL) when they came openly.

In April members of the EDL, masquerading as local activists, were central to organising “East End Gay Pride”.

But the LGBT community came together—including Muslims and black people—and the event was cancelled. We had excellent support from the broader forces including Unite Against Fascism and trade unions like the RMT and Unison.

LGBT people are no less open to racism and Islamophobia than anyone else. For this reason we have to challenge backwardness among ourselves and oppose the arguments that cause divisions.

Unfortunately some LGBT groups called for the community to stay away from the recent protest against the EDL. Thankfully the call was widely ignored and as a result many LGBT were visible on the demonstration. We know only too well that if we leave the Muslim community to stand alone, then we will be next.

I was one of several LGBT people to speak from the platform. I have lived here for 40 years and am proud to be a gay man and an anti‑fascist.

We are now planning a real celebration of LGBT pride. On Saturday 24 September LGBT people in east London invite you to join us in celebration of the diversity of East London.

Our parade will start at Hackney Town Hall and end at Oxford House, on Derbyshire Street, just off Bethnal Green Road.

Terry Stewart, East London Pride

Abortion is not a ‘moral’ question

The defeat of Nadine Dorries’s amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill is welcome. But it was shocking that Labour MPs were given a free vote on the issue.

Posing abortion rights as a “moral” question sends the message that it is somehow OK to vote for measures that are damaging to women.

This shows there is still a long way to go when it comes to a woman’s right to choose.

Abortion rights are a political question, not a moral one.

All women should have the right to safe, legal abortion on demand. No women should be subject to distress and delay by being made to jump through yet more hoops.

Abortion rights are central to the fight for women’s liberation. If the Labour Party is serious about challenging sexism then its MPs need to stand up for a woman’s right to choose.

Amy Gilligan, Cambridge

Frack this dangerous gas drilling

This weekend a protest camp near Preston, Lancashire, will be campaigning against hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”.

This is a new technology for tapping reserves of natural gas which are hard to reach. It involves drilling down into a layer of shale rock and then injecting water and chemicals to force the gas to the surface.

The first rigs in Britain are near Blackpool and Preston, but the operator, Cuadrilla, has also applied for licenses to drill in South Wales and Kent.

Fracking is already widespread in the US—and has led to protests because it has caused huge environmental damage.

Fracking contaminates ground water with chemicals known to include benzene and lead. In some cases there has been so much methane in tap water that it can be set on fire.

Drilling at a site near Blackpool has been halted after a couple of small earthquakes. Local people have also reported breathing problems.

Fracking is also dangerous for the climate. It is another example of an “unconventional” fossil fuel, like the oil from the notorious tar sands in Canada.

Big energy companies and Western governments are turning towards these as other sources begin to run out.

Politicians argue shale gas can be a step on the way to a low carbon economy as gas has lower carbon emissions than coal. But shale gas will be used in addition to coal, not as a substitute for it.

Fracking can be stopped. There are moves to halt it in New York and Pittsburgh in the US. In France protests have led to a moratorium.

In Britain climate scientists supported by Green MP Caroline Lucas and others have recommended a moratorium. Tory energy minister Charles Hendry sees no need for one. It’s up to us to change his mind.

Judy Paskell, Manchester
For more information about Camp Frack see
To travel with others from Manchester, contact

Protests target ‘feared and loathed’ company

Atos Origin has a £100 million government contract to assess whether sick and disabled people are “fit for work” or eligible for Employment and Support Allowance benefit.

Bosses probably expected an easy ride, but they have been left reeling from the unexpected fightback by campaigning groups like Black Triangle and Disabled People Against Cuts.

Atos has suffered the humiliation of being labelled “the most feared and loathed company” in Britain at a Parliamentary Select Committee.

It has had to say goodbye to two employees who referred to disabled people as “down and outs” and “parasitic wankers”.

Atos has used legal warnings against critics, and shut down at least five websites or social media pages.

Disabled people have not caved in. Instead, we have set up secure websites abroad. We are determined to keep up the pressure.

We are organising a Day of Action against Atos on 30 September. There will be protests nationally, including at the British Medical Journal Conference in London where Atos are attempting to recruit.

Disabled people are asking our allies to join us and show solidarity with our struggle against “The Evil Empire”.

Sasha Callaghan, Black Triangle

Family evictions are Tory revenge

There is growing outrage in South London over the planned evictions by Tory and Labour councils over charges relating to the riots.

In Wandsworth a mother and daughter face eviction because of a theft charge against the son.

This is ugly, collective punishment, and a return to the sort of policies last seen in 19th century rural Ireland.

It is vicious Tory revenge.

The Eton fops and Bullingdon boys have seriously misjudged the public mood to believe they can suppress considerable anger at their policies by repressive measures. 

This is a new test case, not just for the law but for the working class movement. The Tories are, unfortunately, galloping once again down a legal path initially laid out by a Labour government.

They must be stopped before they try to make similar moves elsewhere.

Local residents are beginning to organise resistance. Wandsworth Against Cuts has called a demonstration outside the council meeting.

John Clossick, South London
Protest: Wednesday 21 September, 6.30pm, Wandsworth Town Hall, 58 Wandsworth High St, London SW18

Disgusting sexism

I found Prime Minister’s Questions this week particularly uncomfortable to watch as a socialist and as a woman.

It was a relief to see Nadine Dorries’s proposal to outsource abortion counselling to anti-choice organisations opposed by most MPs.

But the sexism and elitism that David Cameron used to undermine Dorries was disgusting.

He humiliated her and made sexual references—to the roars of approving laughter from the male-dominated parliament.

This lack of respect for women in politics exposes the vile Tories for what they are.

Francesca Byron, Merseyside

Well done from Norway

I’m a Norwegian and I must say that those opposing the EDL and BNP are good to see.

I really hope that people see that the EDL and BNP are nothing but Nazis.

They use the same arguments and the same language about Muslims today that Hitler and his allies used against Jews.

Tore Johnsrud, Norway

Punish the overclass

Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke has nothing to say about the “feral” overclass.

These hardcore destroyers of public services are, in fact, known Tories.

Putting them in office does nothing to rehabilitate the overclass. They learn nothing there except how to re-offend.

In the 1980s they destroyed communities, threw a generation on the dole and annihilated manufacturing.

Now they are looting what’s left of the welfare state, depriving the young of a future and privatising the NHS.

The leaders should be booted out of Downing Street.

Sasha Simic, Hackney

Wrong about e-petitions

In your article on e-petitions (Socialist Worker, 3 September), you are substituting narrow cynicism for any attempt at strategic political thought.

You mention the petitions calling for the return of capital punishment—but the petition to retain the ban is more successful.

Many petitions reflect long-standing campaigns against privatisation, and for justice for the victims of Hillsborough.

Of course, we shouldn’t see this as the main or only form of campaigning.

But if we can get 250,000 people to the March for the Alternative, it should be easy to get at least as many to sign a petition to save the NHS.

Rob Hardy, Leeds

Porter on the gravy train

It is great to see that our former NUS president Aaron Porter is touting himself as a consultant to university managers for £125 an hour.

Bowing to the wishes of the politicians clearly pays dividends for those on the gravy train.

On that kind of money Porter could pay off his student debt in a fortnight. I’m sure all those involved in the student protests will be very pleased for him.

Unfortunately, he seems to have forgotten every other student in the country! We all face higher fees, cuts and closures. 

Aiden Barlow, Warwick University

Remember Robespierre

Views on French revolutionary Maximilien Robespierre vary enormously.

But often what people believe about his life comes with no real background knowledge.

We are campaigning to redress this by calling for a museum dedicated to him to open in his birthplace, Arras.

Sign the petition at

Maria-Elena Pickett, Sevenoaks, Kent

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Article information

Tue 13 Sep 2011, 18:23 BST
Issue No. 2269
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