Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2275

Occupy London protesters outside St Paul’s Cathedral last week  (Pic: Smallman )

Occupy London protesters outside St Paul’s Cathedral last week (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Occupations show democracy is in demand

I have noticed that the media seem determined to downplay the continuing protest at St Paul’s Cathedral. They have dismissed it as left wing oddballs, clueless anti-capitalists, or just jobless bums. Well I was there last Saturday and the following Wednesday, and the amount of tents was still growing.

It is a well organised, conscientious group that is there to stay. The media just seem reluctant to accept this.

There are meetings every afternoon, workshops every evening, an information tent, a food tent and so on. Ideas are constantly raised and discussed. An initial statement was announced on Sunday regarding what the group stands for. The major points were a refusal to pay for the crisis, putting people before corporations, welfare not warfare and so on.

This movement has spread globally. On Saturday there were hundreds of cities around the world involved. “We are the 99 percent” is the name, and that is exactly what it represents. Let’s create a society that helps everyone, particularly those who need it most.

Get down there and help democracy take shape.

Clive Collins, Wandsworth

With Occupy Wall Street-type protests spreading worldwide and a massive public sector strike due in November, a real fightback is on the cards.

But these movements need to be armed with a concrete set of demands for making the rich pay for their crisis.

These should include: increase taxes on the rich, clamp down on their tax evasion and avoidance, stop wasting money on wars, scrap nuclear weapons, convert arms industries to useful production, and a public takeover of failing banks without compensation for the fatcats.

Phil Webster, Lancashire

It’s good to see people across our planet uniting against greed and injustice.

However I firmly believe that nearly all political parties—left and right—are in the pockets of banks and big business.

The greed of banks and big business, as everyone knows, is beyond belief.

In Britain we are already hearing that the Tories would like to give the rich a reduction in their income tax from 50 percent to 40 percent.

But I’d like to point out that the poor are paying well over 50 percent in tax too—just look at filling up a family car with petrol, and also the 20 percent VAT rate.

The poor are even being driven out of their home towns in areas like the south west due to multiple home ownership.

Yes we have to rise up against injustice. But will those people in power listen?

Nicholas Agnew, Leicester

Palestine prisoner deal leaves out left leaders

People in Palestine and across the world rejoiced last week as hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners were released from Israeli prisons.

In Palestine, thousands took to the streets and celebrated the Hamas-brokered exchange of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. And rightly so—every Palestinian in Israeli jails should be released.

But as in previous prisoner exchange deals, the Israeli government makes a clear statement in that Jewish lives are worth much more than Arab lives.

It is right for the Palestinian liberation movement to exploit these deals, but we should remind ourselves of the racism that drives Israeli governments to agree them in the first place.

The deal has problems. Most prisoners will be released but not allowed to return home. Many will be released into the overcrowded refugee camps of Syria and Jordan.

Two historic leftist leaders of the Palestinian struggle, Marwan Barghouti and Ahad Sadaat, were initially part of the deal. But they were pulled out at the last minute.

Neither the Israelis or the Palestinian Authority want to release them. In a time of revolution that would be bad news for all those who are afraid of the Palestinian masses—in Tel Aviv or Ramallah.

Simon Englert, East London

Who will mourn at Gaddafi’s funeral?

I do hope some of Colonel Gaddafi’s closest friends will be able to attend his funeral.

Representatives of the British state and arms industry should certainly be there to pay their last respects to so valued a customer.

British firms sold him £4.7 million worth of military equipment in 2010 and the British government failed to refuse a single arms export licence to Libya that year.

I trust that the governments of France, Italy, the US, Brazil and Germany—who all rushed to do business with his regime—will also send representatives to the funeral.

The British and US spy agencies should also be on hand to see Gaddafi off. After all, documents recently recovered show that both the CIA and MI6 built close ties with their Libyan counterparts during the “war on terror”.

And surely Gaddafi’s close friend Tony Blair will be there. When Blair went to Libya in 2004 to establish new trade agreements, MI6 helped to write Gaddafi’s speech.

As Britain’s “gunboat diplomacy” prime minister Lord Palmerston once said, “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.”

Sasha Simic, East London

Sweden beats the fascists

On Saturday 15 October, the southern Swedish city of Malmo was turned into an anti‑fascist zone.

A planned march by the racist Sweden Democratic Youth (SDU) was delayed and shortened as more than 2,000 anti-fascists of all ages and backgrounds blocked the streets.

The counter demonstration consisted of many different groups from all over Sweden and Denmark, young and old. Many local people also joined the protest.

The police put the city centre under siege. For the most part only racists were allowed the freedom to move.

A group of anti-fascists who had travelled from Denmark were rounded up and detained for over an hour at the side of the road after leaving the central station.

In the city square, police set up road blocks and used dogs and mounted police to try and force people away.

At 3pm, police used batons, pepper spray, dogs and a wall of moving police vans in an attempt to clear out the anti-fascists from the square before SDU began their march.

But we resisted peacefully, and those attacked with pepper spray received help in nearby shops. Anti-racists eventually reclaimed the square.

The racist march, which was delayed by an hour and was forced to scrap the original route, was drowned out by chants of “no racists on our streets”.

Several clothing stores in the city centre played a mixtape of anti-racist music that students at Malmo university had put together and distributed.

Approximately 140 fascists had to settle for a march of a few hundred metres behind fences and with a huge police escort. Only days earlier they had boasted this would be their “biggest demonstration ever”.

The police struggled to hold us back and people were jumping, dancing, singing and chanting. Not one word of the SDU’s voice was heard.

Tim Northover, Copenhagen

Letwin is a hypocrite

Tory minister Oliver Letwin has been dumping correspondence in park bins daily for several months.

He denies the material is sensitive—but if it is from people in his constituency, what about their privacy? It shows contempt for voters.

I refuse to refer to the government as anything else but a gang. This gang have no legitimacy for anything. They are unemployable and useless.

The only way out is to smash capitalism and to smash the state that props it up. As Leon Trotsky suggested, “On to the rubbish pile of history” with the lot of them.

Name withheld, Wembley

Why Tories need racism

Socialist Worker is absolutely right to highlight how immigration is used, both as a tool and a diversionary tactic, by this right wing government.

Yet there are many people, even some of my friends, who believe this poisoned rhetoric about immigration.

These are lies that this bunch churn out in order to distract from all the economic and social ills that they are creating through their policies.

John Hawkins, by email

Jobs not bombs?

Evey’s letter (Socialist Worker, 15 October) proposes that there is a major contradiction between our support for workers in the arms industry and for the Stop the War coalition. She is, of course, right.

The problem is that most of us don’t have a choice. We spend our lives doing boring jobs we would not choose to do in an ideal world.

Just imagine what highly skilled workers like those in the defence industry could be achieving if they worked for the good of us all.

Instead, they are forced to make profits for fat cat millionaires. They are the ones who have us build weapons of mass destruction to wipe out people just like us in Afghanistan.

Alan Watts, by email

Rising racism against Roma

I am in the Czech Republic, where there have been some disturbances against Roma people.

Housing association managers are evicting Roma from flats in the rest of the country and forcing them to move to northern Bohemia, which is very poor.

Residents are being mobilised against the Roma by the far right party Jobbik.

It is horribly reminiscent of the Nazi period when Roma were concentrated in one region before being deported to the extermination camp at Lety.

As these appalling echoes spread across Europe we watch the events at Dale Farm and extend our solidarity.

Name withheld, by email

Energy and the Tories

I’m never surprised that the government works hand in hand with business.

A perfect example is Tim Yeo, Tory MP and chairman of the energy and climate change select committee.

He is director of three renewable energy companies —which paid him £67,000 in the past year—while his committee was making recommendations that could affect those businesses.

Yeo is chairman and director for AFC Energy. He registered £37,500 in payments from the firm between September 2010 and July 2011.

A company behind plans for a carbon capture and storage (CCS) project indicated that it intends to use AFC’s fuel cells in its plant.

In May, Yeo’s select committee argued for more flexibility in the way subsidies are to be paid for CCS.

Amina Jonstone, South London

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Article information

Tue 25 Oct 2011, 17:45 BST
Issue No. 2275
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