Socialist Worker

Ken Livingstone is on the wrong track

Issue No. 1921

THE RACIST harassment of asylum seekers on the London Underground described by K Babasola (Socialist Worker, 18 September) is not the only form of harassment now happening on London’s transport.

It is now common to see a vanload of police, along with a couple of inspectors, stop a bus and harass those who are thought not to have tickets, who will often be young, black or Asian, and often suspected asylum seekers.

I attended a meeting on my estate in Hackney, east London, called by the police, and intervened to argue against measures like curfews and Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. After the meeting I asked one of the officers what was happening when I saw buses being stopped by the police.

He said that “thousands” (his word) of Metropolitan Police were seconded to Transport for London, which is run by London mayor Ken Livingstone. The policy of stopping large numbers of suspected fare evaders follows a police survey claiming that fare evaders were more likely to commit crime.

This is a new “Sus” law under a different name. Under the notorious Sus laws the police could arrest people suspected of committing a crime. Those arrested were disproportionately black people.

Ken Livingstone should have no need for all these police when statistics show that crime is falling. Yet there are more police on the streets than ever before.

This can only lead to more harassment.

Since Ken rejoined New Labour he has pushed Blair and home secretary Blunkett’s nasty “law and order” agenda. Perhaps he thinks it is a trade off in return for better transport and a social Olympic deal from them.

This is very naive—New Labour is Thatcherite, not a left of centre social democratic government from which ordinary Londoners can benefit.

All Ken will get from Blair will be Private Finance Initiative bonanzas for fat cats, a yuppie Olympic village, and unstaffed, unsafe tube stations. Areas like Hackney Marshes will be wrecked by new roads and we will face more police harassment.

Sadly, Ken is now on the wrong track and no longer has my vote. <

Paul Murphy East London

KEN LIVINGSTONE ran for mayor of London campaigning on a “Fares Fair” policy, promising that he would not raise travel fares except in line with inflation. But now we are to be clobbered with a massive fare hike.

We already have the highest priced public transport system in Europe. The low paid will be the ones who feel the impact of the fare rises the most.

Keith A Mallinson London

Will Hugo Chavez go beyond capitalism?

IN THE article entitled “Debate Makes Us All Stronger” (Socialist Worker, 4 September) there are some comments regarding the ideological direction of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez that I believe underestimate his radical commitment.

Chavez has said many times that he believes Venezuela needs to move away from capitalism.

He also believes that representative democracy is inherently undemocratic, and what is needed is participatory democracy built upon popular assemblies with the right to nominate, sanction and recall all elected persons.

Chavez says that political democracy can’t exist without economic democracy, and so Venezuela needs social ownership of production under workers’ self management. He thinks that military power itself needs to be democratised through the creation of worker and peasant militias.

He has also made it very clear that he, or the government, can’t carry through this process alone, but that it must be done from below. Any problems with that?

The situation screams for a mass party of revolution, for social movements and trade unions to become the motor of the revolution, rather than relying upon the initiative of the government and Chavez in particular.

However, the creation of the “Comando Maisanto”, which unites neighbourhood and workplace groups, parties and social movements into democratic assemblies to decide on which way to move forward, is definitely a step in the right direction.

Chris Kerr by e-mail

Brian Clough’s courageous stand

I WAS very sorry to hear of the death of Brian Clough last week. It reminded me of the vital role he played in the founding of the Anti Nazi League (ANL) in November 1977.

At a time when it was very unusual for leading figures in sport to express any controversial opinion, Brian was prepared to stick his neck out and become one of the original sponsors of the ANL.

His open support enabled the ANL to go beyond the anti-fascist left, and draw in the large numbers of new and often young people who were alarmed at the serious threat that the Nazi National Front (NF) presented at the time.

The result was a huge campaign, including the two spectacular carnivals organised by the ANL and Rock Against Racism, and the humiliation of the NF in the 1979 general election.

When Clough appeared on the Parkinson show around the same time he was challenged to condemn Socialist Worker supporters for confronting the Nazis.

His reply was typically straightforward—if they are attacking the fascists, they can’t be all that bad!

With the recent Nazi vote in the Euro elections and a BNP councillor elected last week in Dagenham, some of today’s leading sporting figures could do worse than follow Brian Clough’s courageous stand.

Paul Holborow South London

Where is Nader’s campaign?

IN ANALYSING the current crucial period in US politics we have to be brutally honest, even with our preferred options.

Kerry is certainly a disgusting opportunist, but in saying, “The Nader campaign points in the right direction” (Socialist Worker, 25 September), we need to ask if he has such a campaign.

During a month spent in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York I came across not one public meeting, street stall, poster or leaflet for the Nader campaign.

Even though these areas are the liberal heartlands of the US, where he may not have wanted to focus his resources, Nader’s only national presence was in press reports of his legal fights to get on the maximum number of state ballots.

On the other hand, there were regular Democratic Party recruitment and registration stalls in shopping areas, music gigs and travel points—precisely the kind of activity we would take for granted around a Respect campaign here. We wouldn’t just say “Vote Galloway” and leave it at that.

On the huge anti-Bush protest on 29 August I saw one solitary Nader placard. Despite prompting from me in video interviews I conducted, I couldn’t find any pro-Nader marchers.

Even the hardened anti-imperialists I met were asking what Nader had done since the 2000 election to galvanise the numerically huge vote he got then, and why he has recently taken funds from supporters of maverick right winger Pat Buchanan.

It is hugely frustrating to see that in the nation where the stakes are highest, left wing organisation is weakest.

But if we abstractly call for support for Nader when there is nothing tangible on the ground, we risk alienating the “anyone but Bush” masses.

I conclude that we certainly can’t call for a Kerry vote—but we must also be extremely sceptical about what support for Nader means.

Nick Grant West London

Magic moments from history

HOW GREAT to read the “Revolutionary Moments” article about Hungarian workers fighting back in the 1950s against Stalinism (Socialist Worker, 25 September). This kind of historical story deserves publicity.

This is what we need—concrete examples of workers organising the economy and wider society themselves. This is the proof that socialism can work.

Spain in the 1930s also provides evidence that workers can run things better that capitalist bosses or Stalinist officials. No wonder we’re not told the full story about such revolts in the mainstream press.

One day we’ll read a column about how it was done in Britain!

Graeme Kemp


The splendour of the Iron Age

CHARLIE KIMBER says in his article on Sudan that Iron Age Britain was a society incapable of building spectacular temples and pyramids (Socialist Worker, 18 September). Nonsense!

Across Britain and Ireland there are thousands of Iron Age barrows and burial mounds, and hundreds of Iron Age hill forts.

He should take a trip to Silbury Hill or down to Dorchester to see the gigantic Maiden Castle.

There are no remains of stone palaces because in Iron Age Britain and Ireland there was a super-abundance of a building material relatively scare in the semi-arid regions of North Africa and the Middle East—wood.

You don’t build in stone when you have great tracts of forest outside your back door.

Eamonn Lynch Birmingham

Inspired by Vanunu’s fight

THE INTERVIEW with Mordechai Vanunu, who was imprisoned by the Israeli government for blowing the whistle on their secret nuclear programme (Socialist Worker, 18 September), was extremely moving and very well written.

I enjoyed reading it, and it has brought out a feeling of anger towards our governments who run this world.

It encouraged me to write to Vanunu himself and give him my support. I hope we can all learn from each other and do what’s right for this world.

We need justice to run freely, and justice will never be carried out as long as the capitalist scum run amok.

I praise Vanunu for his bravery and his willpower to break through the walls of death and come out strong. I wish him and his campaigners all the best.

Bradley Heanes


Fat cats grab football club

SOCIALIST WORKER readers may be interested in the recent developments at Wrexham Football Club.

A Manchester-based property developer bought our club two years ago and now wants to knock the ground down either for housing or retail development, making vast profits for himself.

We thought the club was owned by Mark Guterman. It turns out that he was just a front man for Alex Hamilton, who owned the club all along. We also found out our ground lease had been bought for £300,000 and transferred to a company owned by Hamilton called Damens.

Therefore Mr Hamilton now owns 78 percent of the football club and the freehold to the ground.

I feel as if he is trying to ride roughshod over the people of Wrexham—it’s a classic case of big business trying to overrun ordinary people.

Stephen Wrexham

Revealing truth on AWOL troops

I’M WORKING on a new website:

The gist is that it seems, according to your report “Generals Fear Army Revolt” (Socialist Worker, 11 September), that the military top brass have given an amber, if not a green, light to absent without leave status for armed forces members who aren’t happy with Blair’s criminal shenanigans.

Dennis Revell US

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Article information

Sat 2 Oct 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1921
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