Socialist Worker

I was the heckler at the conference

Issue No. 1922

Just under a month ago, at the launch of our Save Our World charity concert in North Devon, myself and mutual friends put our heads together.

We planned to get into Labour’s conference, scatter ourselves throughout the balcony, then start a loud slow clap in the hope others would join in and clap Blair out of the conference hall, and office.

However, I was the only one to get a conference pass. Even with two security and police checks the Friday before, and on the Sunday when my pass was initially rejected, they clearly didn’t put my name into the internet.

They would have found a list of protests and convictions—including a short prison sentence—as long as your arm.

Blair came out to a fanfare. I was ready to start the clap when Blair got his “compassionate” look on and expressed his condolences to the Bigley family.

He then cheered up enormously and said, “And now for my speech.”

I started the slow clap and saw security mobilising rapidly.

I asked people to join us in clapping Blair out of conference and office. I said I was sick of his lies, spin and deception, and sick to death at him carrying on the work of the Conservatives by embracing privatisation—and I then called him a terrorist.

Security were on me, and I angrily yelled out, “How can you (Blair) sleep at night with so much blood on your hands?” and, “Do you know how much the soldiers hate you for sending them to an illegal war? Shame on you.”

As I was being dragged down the corridor, with the police tightening the handcuffs, I said that if Tony Blair was serious about poverty, he must demand that George W Bush allows affordable generic AIDS drugs from India into Africa.

He must drop the debt owed to the UK and the financial institutions it controls, abolish tariffs on Third World produce, and stop our subsidised goods being dumped back on them.

Blair said as I was dragged off, “Isn’t it good we have a democracy and free speech in this country so this man can speak?” Eh?

I will continue a life of direct action, whatever the consequences.

I will go on until we can change the world that is currently fuelled by spin, lies, deception, war and power-hungry, greedy egomaniacs.

I’ve got kids, and simply want to leave them a world fit for them and their children.

But there isn’t going to be such a better world unless we collectively rise up together, unite on the crucial issues and enforce the change ourselves.
Hector Christie, North Devon

Practise as you preach

A NUMBER of aspects of Tony Blair’s speech to the TUC in Brighton require comment.

Mr Blair said, “Our and my main priority is and always will be the lives, living standards and quality of life of Britain’s hard- working families—the men and women who play by the rules and expect others to do the same.”

The PCS civil service workers’ union calls upon the prime minister to apply this to his own employees. The threat of 104,000 job cuts, low and unequal pay, forcing people to work longer for their pensions—all these need to be addressed.

Mr Blair said, “Successful employers don’t succeed by abusing their employees—quality public services don’t achieve excellence by undervaluing public servants.”

PCS says practise what you preach, Mr Blair.

Mr Blair said, “Work with us to get these changes. Help us to fashion them in a way that most benefits your members.”

PCS says Mr Blair could start by applying this approach with his own employees.

Mr Blair spoke about his range of policies for Labour’s third term. It will take civil servants to deliver them and his programme. You can’t do that by cutting over 104,000 of them.
[email protected]

How green is red?

I HAVE recently become interested in politics, and agree with your reader (Letters, 25 September) that capitalism is threatening the environment.

However, I am also worried that traditional versions of socialism prioritise industrial development over sustainability.

Are you prepared to tell workers in Britain or India that they will not all get cars, televisions in every room or computers in every home in a socialist society?

The truth is we can’t have this scale of consumption—two billion cars, six billion computers—and a safe, sustainable world.
Hannah Williamson, Southampton

Respect delegation to Rome finds welcome

A RESPECT delegation has recently returned from Rome, where we attended a very successful festival organised by Rifondazione Comunista.

The reason for this visit was that Salma Yaqoob, national deputy chair of Respect, had been invited to speak at a meeting about the status of the anti-capitalist movement.

The delegation took part in a vibrant, multi-ethnic, 80,000-strong anti-war march in support of the release of two Italian hostages in Iraq.

The meeting where Salma spoke attracted 300 people. Her speech addressed the issue of terrorism.

She made it crystal clear that, in order to stop terrorism, Bush, Blair, Sharon and Putin must stop being terrorists themselves.

It is worthwhile to point out that the Italian anti-war movement is still quite strong and diverse, and at the same time the level of industrial struggle in Italy is quite high too.

An example is provided by 11 cleaners employed as contract workers in the Italian ministry of labour. They were illegally sacked at the end of August.

After the workers occupied a room in the ministry, police crashed into the building and attacked the workers, causing serious injuries to one of them.

The workers have been protesting since, and need solidarity as well as financial support.

Please e-mail me at [email protected] to send on messages of support and donations.
Carlo Ungarelli, Birmingham

We’ve been fined for cartoon of PM

CAN I bring to your readers’ attention that our newspaper is facing a large fine (around £5,000) and further legal action for publishing a caricature of our Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan?

This kind of intolerance displayed by Erdogan towards a caricature that satirises him cannot be accepted in any way.

There has been tolerance towards satire even in the times of some of the most despotic rulers.

Erdogan likes to talk about democratisation.

He is actually way behind even the logic of the sultanate.

That the Turkish law courts, instead of taking an attitude on the side of freedom of the press, prefer to take decisions that will please the state power demonstrates clearly the deplorable situation our legal system is in.

A democracy that imprisons humour is one that is tragicomic more than anything.

However, our newspaper will not permit the suppression of freedom of expression through such blackmail.

We condemn this decision, and appeal to all those who are on the side of democracy and freedom of the press to take a stand against it.

Please fax protest messages to the prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on 0090 312 419 1326.
Ihsan Caralan, editor in chief Daily Evrensel

Proud legacy of Wedderburn

IT WAS good to see Robert Wedderburn getting some recognition (Socialist Worker, 2 October).

The home secretary of the time called him a “notorious firebrand”, and his oratory was so powerful that he was put on the government’s secret list of 33 leading reformers.

I have just written a book about him called The Axe Laid to the Root: The Story of Robert Wedderburn, published this month by Hansib.

It will be launched at a conference on 16 October at the Museum in Docklands as part of Black History Month.

As well as talks about his politics and religion, there will be performance poetry by Asher Hoyles, and Shango Baku will re-enact a short speech of Wedderburn’s.
Martin Hoyles, East London

Don’t doubt a vote for Nader

NICK GRANT (Letters, 2 October) suggests some doubts about the Nader campaign. There are parts of his letter which could be taken as a reluctance to enthusiastically endorse a vote for Nader.

Of course there are problems with Nader’s campaign—and aspects of his whole political approach.

But this should not make us pause for a second before backing a Nader vote. In recent weeks my impression is that Nader’s campaign has improved, and has taken up more clearly issues such as Palestine.
Mary Willett, South London

Bad memory of Brian Clough

UNLIKE PAUL Holborow (Letters, 2 October), I wasn’t sorry to hear of the death of Brian Clough.

Most of all I remember him as the man who said Liverpool fans killed Liverpool fans at Hillsborough.

The week after Hillsborough you carried my account in Socialist Worker of what took place.

Years after it had been proven that Liverpool fans were not to blame. Clough came out with his vile anti working class garbage to help him sell a book. That’s why there was no minute’s silence at Liverpool’s ground.
Rob Barton, Liverpool

Neil Kinnock’s golden future

I NOTE that Neil Kinnock is to retire from the European Commission with a £272,000 golden handshake and an annual £63,000 EU pension.

I have been a lifelong socialist, and remember Neil Kinnock in the 1970s as a left winger.

However, the lure of wealth made him change his outlook. During the 1984-5 miners’ strike Kinnock was leader of the Labour Party and Norman Willis leader of the TUC.

These two were as much to blame for the miners’ defeat as Thatcher was—they did not unite the labour movement against the Tories.
John Davies, Neath

Working class die younger

INSIDE THE System (25 September) pointed out the ten-year gap in life expectancy between rich and poor.

Here in the London borough of Enfield the council has published figures showing that a man in Edmonton Green ward has a life expectancy of just 72.2 years.

A couple of miles up the road, in the more prosperous Grange ward, a man can hope to live for 80.8 years.

Fortunately people seem to be aware of the implications. In June’s London elections over 11 percent of Edmonton Green voters chose Respect (it was under 2 percent in Grange).

This is one more indication that Respect relates to the reality of inequality in Blair’s Britain.
Ian Birchall, North London

Thanks from Indonesia

IN YOUR issue of 18 September you wrote about the activities of Newmont Mining Corporation in Indonesia.

You detailed the health problems which people have in the areas where Newmont operates.

May I thank you for publicising our case.
Dr Jane Pangemanan, Indonesia

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Sat 9 Oct 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1922
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