Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2277

Free schools will divide students and entrench business in education—that’s why people are organising to stop them

Free schools will divide students and entrench business in education—that’s why people are organising to stop them

Free school vultures swoop on east London

I go to a school in Newham, east London. The other day a group of about 30 of us who they called “gifted and talented” were asked to go into a room after assembly.

There are more than 200 students in my year. They don’t explain how you can tell who is gifted and talented. So that just left most people feeling rubbish.

Our small group was shown a powerpoint presentation about the London Academy of Excellence. This is a free school sixth form that expects to open in September next year.

Eton College, Brighton College and some other private colleges are funding it.

The open day will be held at HSBC bank in Canary Wharf, because the school isn’t built yet. It will only offer certain subjects, like maths and science, and no fun things.

The people in the photo promoting it were all white, while most people at my school are Bengali.

When the teacher said it was a free school, I said, “I’m not going.”

The whole way it was presented was wrong. It implies that Newham colleges aren’t good enough for us. But that’s because they aren’t funded correctly.

The academy would choose the brightest students and get better results. Then all the other colleges would get worse results.

But that would be because the academy has taken the cleverest people and has more money.

People are asking, why do a few people get to go to a properly funded college while the rest get stuck with nothing? It doesn’t make sense to anyone.

Shereen Prasad, East London

Support young people in prison

Young people are being treated so unfairly in today’s world. It’s heartbreaking.

In every aspect of life, from education to health, jobs to housing, young people are getting abused and mistreated.

I have been sending emails to a young art student who is currently in jail.

He has been imprisoned as a result of being involved in last year’s student demonstrations.

I am writing to encourage other Socialist Worker readers to support these young people by writing to them in jail, and in any other way they can.

Could Socialist Worker publish the names of those sent, or who are being sent, to jail, their prison numbers and prison addresses?

We need to have regular communication with our young political prisoners of today.

Sophie Jongman, Kent

Plays are result of teamwork

As a working playwright/performer, I understand that Shakespeare was not De Vere or Sir Francis Bacon or any other single individual (Socialist Worker, 5 November).

He was part of a collaborative theatre troupe.

Shakespeare supplied the main thrust of the text. But the dialogues performed at the Globe theatre were continuously changing depending on who was performing and to what audience.

Whatever improvised text worked was kept in and finally printed. Academics can’t see that because they don’t usually practice theatre and perform for a living.

The many layers of meaning and depth that we admire in Shakespeare are a consequence of the collaboration of other unknown members of Shakespeare’s ensemble.

As the playwright Bertolt Brecht said, why try to build the Versailles Palace on your own?

David Fennario, Quebec, Canada

Rulers and revolution

I couldn’t help but see the irony when the King of Bahrain claimed last week that the Egyptian Revolution is an inspiration to all Arabs.

The Egyptian Revolution is an inspiration—to workers and oppressed peoples of the world.

But the monarch said, “We appreciate Egypt’s honorable positions, leadership and people.” He was referring to the counter-revolutionary role that Egypt’s ruling Army officers are playing.

The roots of Egypt’s revolution lie in mass strikes, and the fight against neoliberalism and the “little Mubarak” bosses in the workplaces. It isn’t finished.

If successful we will see the democratisation of all society. That is something the Bahraini king has no interest in.

Matt Hale, Manchester

The danger of blaming bankers for the crisis

It’s interesting that whenever the capitalist system is in crisis the financial sector gets the blame (Socialist Worker, 5 November).

This is easy to understand. Bankers and hedge fund managers produce nothing but control vast amounts of wealth in their own interests. They also make decisions that affect whether the rest of us work.

However, simply to blame financiers can be dangerously misleading.

In the 19th century it gave rise to vicious antisemitism.

There were few established financial institutions and the monetary transactions needed to expand capitalism depended on informal networks of Jewish families like the Rothschilds.

Today it leads us to blame the crisis on human greed and incidental injustices. This allows much of the capitalist system, the so-called “real economy”, to go unchallenged.

The banking crisis is a symptom of deeper, structural problems that are inevitable in a system based on competition and exploitation.

A tax on financial transactions, like that suggested by the Archbishop of Canterbury, would do nothing to put that right.

If we are really to create a better world, as everyone seems to want, anti-capitalism has to be much more than anti the banks.

Ken Montague, North London

US sets sights on Uganda oil wealth

Socialist Worker reported the sending of 100 US “military advisers” to Uganda to assist the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army (Socialist Worker, 29 October).

The report points out that it is no coincidence that this followed Nato’s victory in Libya.

It is also no coincidence that the Lake Albert field, the centerpiece of Uganda’s nascent oil industry, is at the heart of these border regions.

Uganda’s president, General Yoweri Museveni, has been in office for over 26 years and has brought some development to the country.

The West is grateful—but the people of Uganda feel less gratitude.

They are suffering rapidly rising prices, corruption, nepotism, harassment of democratic opposition, and violation of human rights. They think it’s time for him to go.

The intervention is a move to ensure that the US gets its cut of the potential oil wealth in competition with China and Europe.

This would position it to either prop up or dispose of the unpopular Museveni regime, depending on which way the wind blows.

Simon Andrewes, by email

Food industry is full of waste

Your editorial comment that there is enough food in the world to feed everyone (Socialist Worker, 29 October) is too simplistic.

Sure there is—but it would mean shifting millions of tons of it around the world to feed those most in need.

That is a waste of time and resources.

The food needs to be produced where it is needed.

That is possible if farming and land use is planned according to the needs of the hungry.

Many multinationals are taking over vast tracts of land in Africa, South America and Asia to produce food and other material for export and profit.

Meanwhile they leave the local population to starve.

Norman Biddlecombe, South London

Health reform hits the poor

Why do ideas for improving health always involve making poor people pay more?

A study from Oxford University this week claimed that a typical “English” diet is healthier than those in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

It then raised the idea of a tax on unhealthy foods.

I think this would be unfair as the poorest would have even less choice. Should the government ban firms from making unhealthy foods instead?

Claire Woods, Liverpool

Money’s no object for war

Workers are told there’s no money to invest in jobs or services, or to give us decent pensions.

Yet the government now says it wouldn’t hestitate to attack Iran.

It is already looking into where to deploy ships and submarines.

How much is that costing? How much would it cost if Britain is involved in an attack?

And what’s it got to do with us if Iran, like many countries, has nuclear weapons?

Ann Thomas, Brighton

Tory lies about lazy workers

Did people see how many people applied for temporary work with Royal Mail over Christmas?

Eighty thousand people applied for the jobs. It was 70,000 last year, so that’s a big rise.

There are only around 18,000 of these seasonal jobs.

It shows how desperate people are for work, even willing to take jobs that last just for a few weeks.

It’s not true that people out of work are lazy, despite what the Tories say.

Louise Drapall, Dumfries

Support the right to squat

The government wants to ban squatting in residential buildings—despite 95 percent of responses to its “consultation” opposing any further legislation.

On Monday of last week the Squash Campaign called a demo outside the offices of the Evening Standard newspaper, which has backed the criminalisation of squatting.

Some went to parliament. Police arrested 15 people for “illegally” protesting.

The next day activists, together with left wing Labour MP John McDonnell, lobbied parliament.

Ushers and police then kicked people out for things ranging from clapping to going to the toilet.

You can go to to get involved.

Marcus Trower, Guildford

Stop racists spouting lies

Re your piece on Migration Watch and its e-petition (Socialist Worker, 29 October).

I always complain to the BBC every time it accepts as fact the spurious figures this organisation puts out.

It is worthwhile keeping up the pressure as presumably the BBC pays them for use of their statistics.

I urge others to do the same.

Mitch Mitchell, Cambridgeshire

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Article information

Tue 8 Nov 2011, 18:05 GMT
Issue No. 2277
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