Legacy of fascism still poisons French politics
I read with interest your story on the 1961 mass killing of Algerian protesters by French police (Socialist Worker, 8 October).
A crucial part of the story of France in the 20th century is that sections of the French ruling class and middle ranking officials have enjoyed the taste of fascism.
Under the Vichy government and the occupation of France by the Nazis, many French officials and members of government eagerly collaborated with the fascists.
They took part in breaking up working class organisations, organising production for the benefit of the occupiers and shipping hundreds of thousands of young men off to forced labour camps.
They helped in organising the “Milice”—the French fascist militia. They drew up lists of Jews—including, as it happens, my father’s uncles and aunt—and aided in their dispossession and deportation to Auschwitz.
The Algerian war of independence gave fascist veterans from the Second World War an opportunity to pick up where they left off in 1945, persecuting and torturing Algerians, aiding General de Gaulle’s coup and then turning on him when he didn’t deliver what they were looking for.
The story of the right wing and of imperialism in France is also in part a story of French fascism.
Its origins lie in monarchist-nationalist-Catholic agitation at the time of the Dreyfus case at the end of the 19th century and its legacy can be found in Le Pen’s fascist National Front party today.
Michael Rosen, North London
We have no choice but to strike
To me, striking is a last resort—but I’m planning to vote yes in Unison’s ballot for action against the government’s raid on my pension.
It makes me really angry when I hear it said that public service workers get “gold‑plated” pensions. It’s simply not true.
The average pension in local government is around £4,000 a year, falling to £2,800 for women.
In the NHS the sum is about £7,500, but this includes higher paid consultants and doctors. For women this again falls to around £3,000—I don’t call that a fortune.
The pension scheme is not in crisis. In fact workers pay more into the local government scheme and the health scheme than they get back, to the tune of billions of pounds.
The government wants to set private sector workers against those in the public sector, but the truth is that everyone should have a decent pension.
JoAnne Rust, King’s Lynn, Norfolk
Energy plan is big business
Lib Dem energy secretary Chris Huhne announced last week that he wants to build eight new nuclear power plants.
He claimed that the disaster at Fukushima earlier in the year should not stop us building reactors here.
Huhne seems to have changed his mind since joining the coalition. In 2007 he described nuclear power as “a tried, tested and failed technology” and opposed any further investment in it.
Huhne now argues that nuclear is needed to power homes, reduce carbon emissions and create jobs. But it seems doubtful that he is interested in the needs of ordinary people.
Nuclear power is not only dangerous, but hugely expensive and reliant upon public subsidies.
Nuclear power would also create far fewer jobs than other energy sources, especially compared to wind power.
Huhne has also resisted further regulation on fracking for shale gas. This practice—which involves injecting water, sand and chemical agents into underground rocks—is already being trialled in Lancashire.
However, this has raised concerns about pollution and has even been blamed for earthquakes.
The government has also lobbied against measures in an EU directive aimed at discouraging the use of incredibly destructive oil from the tar sands in Canada.
Environmentalists have rightly argued that we should be turning away from any source of energy involving burning more fossil fuels.
Energy is big business, and if governments subsidise these technologies companies will rush to introduce them.
Socialists should oppose both nuclear power and “alternative” fossil fuel sources. Instead of investing in them the government should encourage renewable technologies such as wind and solar power, and put in place energy saving measures such as home insulation.
Camilla Royle, North London
This citizenship test is absurd and unfair
Today a friend suggested I should take the UK citizenship test, which is being revamped after David Cameron’s latest speech on immigration.
Having been born and lived in the UK for 20 years, I made the reasonable assumption that I’d have fairly good grasp on life here.
How wrong was I? I was gobsmacked at the questions in the test.
Candidates are expected to memorise specific dates of various legislation, the immigration statistics of past decades and the inner workings of the parliamentary system.
They have to memorise the number of constituencies and various other bafflingly specific pieces of frankly useless information. I wasn’t taught these things at school, and I most certainly haven’t needed them in order to get through life here.
Perhaps the absurdity of the questions in the test is an indicator of the real issue. It’s absurd to make anybody take a test to qualify to live somewhere to begin with.
What gives someone the authority to say whether someone else should have the right to live here or not?
Needless to say, I failed the test.
I can only count myself lucky that the authorities haven’t yet realised what an unworthy citizen I am.
Rosie Warren, Sheffield
We must support fight for BAE jobs
Evey (Letters, Socialist Worker, 8 October) argues that it is a contradiction for anti-war socialists to support the workers who manufacture fighter planes at arms firm BAE Systems.
But the contradiction is on the part of capitalism.
We live in a system where the vast majority of workers have no say in how their labour is used.
A week ago I marched through Hull with around 400 BAE workers and supporters from the plant in Brough.
That plant—and the workers’ skills—could be used to make things which are actually useful, such as wind turbines.
That’s what many of the workers would prefer.
But the site is being shut down because the company thinks it can make more profit.
The rate of unemployment in parts of Hull is as high as 63 people to every one job, and losing 900 jobs at BAE will make this worse.
If we are going to fight for a world where imperialist wars are a thing of the past then we need to support workers’ struggle.
Workers should occupy that site—and demand it is turned into something useful.
Josh Hollands, Hull
Bosses ruin workers’ lives
My husband used to work for Wyndeham Impact in Basingstoke. His life has been ruined by the evil man in charge.
He was retired off in April after 40 years, without a goodbye or a thank you. He just had to finish his shift and leave the premises.
How disgusting is that?
Former worker’s wife, Uxbridge
Is Cameron breaking law?
David Cameron has admitted there was “state collusion” in the facts surrounding the murder of Pat Finucane (Socialist Worker online).
It is against the law for anyone, including the prime minister, to admit that he knows of an illegal act and not make sure that the criminal(s) are brought to justice.
But in this statement he appears to have agreed to allow the law to be broken.
Sue Verel, Lincolnshire
SW is right about Labour
Those of us on the left who attended the Labour Party conference in Liverpool last month will recognise the truth of Tom Walker’s superb columns concerning the undue influence of “Blue” Labour peer, Maurice Glasman.
Larry Iles, Eastbourne
The monsters have got to go
Has anyone else noticed how the Conservative politicians of 2011 are starting to look increasingly like the “Monster Club”?
David Cameron is the archetypal Dr Frankenstein, who no doubt has plans to rule the world.
George Osborne looks like a less charming Count Dracula. Boris Johnson lives in the cellar, spending most of his time gnawing on rats.
Do we really want the likes of this gruesome group governing the country?
Cameron’s main aim does not appear to be creating a better and equal society, but keeping the wealth and power among a select and monstrous few.
Tories are still homophobic
The disgusting comments of James Malliff, Tory councillor for Wycombe, show that homophobia continues to exist in the Tory party.
He said on Twitter that if the party supports gay marriage, they “may as well legalise marriage with animals”.
The Tory party has an appalling record. Most of its leadership voted to keep Section 28, which prohibited the open discussion of homosexuality in schools.
Today the cuts have a disproportionate effect on LGBT people. Welfare, housing and health organisations face closure.
Any discussion of LGBT rights that includes the Tories will be shaped by homophobic attitudes and values.
Rachel Harger, East London
US is world’s worst terrorist
Politicians and pundits seemingly never tire of telling us that the 2001 attack on the Twin Towers in New York was the greatest terrorist outrage ever committed.
I beg to differ.
The atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima killed far more civilians, and thousands are still affected by the ensuing radiation.
One million people still suffer from the effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam.
These terrorist attacks have been going on for six decades.
They are perpetrated by people who deliberately developed a flammable material designed to stick to people’s skin when dropped from helicopters.
Dave Ramsden, Bradford