Socialist Worker


Issue No. 1866

BNP thugs can't bury culture of violence

ALL IS not rosy in the BNP. The tensions between the national high command and the Burnley branch have been exposed by the out of favour Nazi councillor Luke Smith. This is in part due to the alleged glassing of a steward by Smith at this year's Red, White and Blue 'carnival'.

Smith claimed the leadership was jealous of Burnley. He was keen to ask FŸhrer Griffin and other BNP leaders why he had treated them so badly over the past year and not given them credit for their 'achievements'. Griffin didn't want the conversation and one of his heavies stepped in. Blows were exchanged and, in the words of Luke Smith, 'he came off second'. The main cause of the rift isn't just jealousy, as they claim.

Since Griffin came to power he has tried to mould the BNP into a seemingly respectable group, ditching the old skinheads and jackboots for the 'brute in a suit' look.

This has worked at the ballot box. But not everyone is comfortable about this makeover, and this includes the Burnley branch. Several times over the past year they have invited ex-leader John Tyndall to address meetings, to the disgust of Griffin. Tyndall was expelled from the BNP two weeks ago.

Such open dissent by Griffin's most successful branch had to be put down. Steve Smith, Luke Smith's uncle and Burnley organiser, was ousted from his role in the party. Luke Smith has already been banned from Burnley FC for life following a conviction for football hooliganism.

Griffin hauled him before a disciplinary hearing. Smith has now resigned as a councillor. After the alleged assault, Griffin said he wouldn't tolerate thuggish behaviour in the BNP. Was Griffin trying to replace Bernard Manning and inject some humour into the proceedings?

This whole unsavoury incident highlights yet again just how easily the mask of respectability can slip, and show up the Nazi BNP for what they really are.
Matthew Hartley, Blackburn

THE BNP's victory in the recent by-election in Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire, came against a backdrop of unprecedented levels of intimidation. Two days prior to polling day the BNP issued thousands of leaflets across the ward threatening to sue local anti-racists for calling them 'Nazis'! We responded with hundreds of leaflets offering to defend our stance in any court. We've yet to hear from them.

Everywhere the BNP appear we have to challenge and expose them as Nazis. Many of the people we've spoken to who actually voted for the BNP feel completely let down by the Labour government.

Labour are so out of touch that one local councillor on the eve of the election told me that they would 'walk it' with 50 percent of the vote. Those involved in trade unions and the labour movement need to begin talks with local Labour parties urgently.

Our aim over the coming months must be to build the broad-based mass movement that can challenge the BNP and counter racism. And when we do crush the Nazis, we must make sure they don't get back up.
Terry McKay, Dewsbury

Wrong on class and revolution?

JOHN REES is right to criticise the government (Socialist Worker, 2 August). But he seems to forget political realities, especially when talking of 'cross-class alliances'. We must remember that socialism is defined by principles and aims, such as true equality, not by methods, such as revolution.

Socialism is the aim to improve the community of man as a whole, primarily by helping those who are most disadvantaged in society. To refuse to use the existing system is self defeating. Marx wrote in 1879, 'If in England or the United States, for example, the working class were to gain a majority in parliament or congress, then it could by legal means set aside the laws and structures that lie in its way.'

What Marx meant by 'revolution' need not be violent or illegal. There are middle and upper class socialists, just as there are working class Tories. This diversity means that we, as socialists, should engage in the very form of 'cross-class alliances' that Rees abhors.

The great thing about the Stop the War Coalition is its diversity. While support for revolution seems lacking, we must mobilise those to the left of New Labour through elections or by demonstrating widespread left wing opposition. Without unity the left is nothing.
Will Haydock, Wiltshire

Gays can have no faith in new laws

WE MIGHT have come a long way in fighting discrimination in the last few decades, but we must be constantly vigilant. New changes to the law look set to effectively legalise workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments recently met to consider the draft legislation on equality in employment. Teaching unions are very concerned that the regulations add significant exemptions from protection from dismissal on the grounds of sexual orientation. This means that not only prospective but also current employees could be legally discriminated against or even dismissed purely on the basis of their sexual orientation if the employer can demonstrate a 'genuine occupational requirement'.

This has major implications for teachers and other staff employed in faith schools and academies. Organisations with a 'religious ethos' employ around 200,000 people, 100,000 of them in faith schools. This issue is one which all trade unionists and socialists should be becoming very vocal about.

These insidious and creeping changes to the law are continuously undermining much of our civil liberties, freedoms and rights.
Martin Edmonds

Look at Lenin

CHRIS NINEHAM suggested in a meeting at Marxism that we read Lenin's book State and Revolution. He is right to remind us of this Marxist classic. Lenin says the workers' state must be democratic in a new way for the proletariat and the propertyless, and dictatorial in a new way against the bourgeoisie.

Lenin explains that bourgeois states are, in the final analysis, the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. The transition from capitalism to communism will 'yield to a tremendous abundance and variety of political forms, but the essence will inevitably be the same-the dictatorship of the proletariat'. The dictatorship of the proletariat was key to Marx.
Jamie Rankin, Twickenham

BA checking off workers' rights

IN YOUR report on the BA staff walkout (Socialist Worker, 26 July) there was a reference to the new government-inspired Criminal Record Check scheme. It went live at the beginning of July, and affects all airport workers holding an airside pass.

Workers with convictions for a range of offences still on their records stand to lose their pass, and most likely their job. Anti-terrorist legislation was introduced in 2000. The government extended its remit as part of crime prevention across the aviation industry.

At the heart of this strategy was the belief that people with criminal records have 'tendencies' which lead them to compromise safety at airports. Many workers will lose their jobs as a result of this measure, which is bad enough. But there are even more worrying consequences.

Previously employers could exercise some discretion when employees got in trouble. The unions could negotiate for staff incurring criminal records. Now the situation is much more rigid.

This represents a fundamental erosion of workers' rights. Unions need to keep up the pressure on this wretched government, and to thus prevent the unjust and unnecessary job losses that will otherwise take place.
Gatwick airport worker

Can my mate beat his boss?

A FAMILY friend recently asked for my advice. Her husband, who came to live here from Pakistan last year, has not been paid for the last few months. He works in a local food production company and his boss is taking advantage of his lack of citizenship. And his boss knows he will find it difficult to find another job. I suggested going to the Citizens Advice Bureau, the low pay unit or forming a union. Any other suggestions?
Geoff, Middlesbrough

Theatre for us, not Tory toffs

THE CHELSEA Theatre is supposed to serve the poor and disadvantaged, the working class on the neighbouring World's End Estate who suffer the ravages of poverty and unemployment.

Instead this outfit has been hijacked by a collection of greedy, fat cat Tories. They have taken senior positions in the organisation. They plan to turn the popular resource into a pub, and then luxury flats. Don't trust the Tories. Chelsea Theatre deserves much better.
E Dawson, World's End Estate, London

Hutton to try bully bosses?

I AM pleased to report that Lord Hutton may indeed touch on important issues relating to death of Dr Kelly. Neglected areas such as bullying at work, the rise in stress, depressive illness and suicide have been raised with Lord Hutton by myself in correspondence. The secretaries have confirmed his thanks and said they will be considered in the inquiry.

Socialist Worker may give comfort to those subject to bullying by more discussion.
Patrick Cooper Duffy, London

Where are the poems of today?

DELIGHTED TO read extracts from Mike Rosen's talk on poetry at Marxism (Socialist Worker, 9 August), but surprised at the absence of poems written during recent struggles-against war on Iraq, against the poll tax, in support of the miners.

Many people will be displaying their verbal skills during National Poetry Week in October. Poetry Week could provide a platform for asylum seekers, school students and anyone else who wants to rant against the system. All that is needed is local support and publicity.
Julie Boston, Bristol

Poetry with radical roots

JUST TO let you know about a poetry and roots festival, Say It Loud, which provides a radical platform for poets and a poetry audience in St Pauls, Bristol. If you can somehow give the festival a mention that would be brilliant.
Rupert Hopkins, Bristol

Setting terms of the debate

WHAT A shame that Alex Callinicos spoiled a fascinating article on superstition (Socialist Worker, 16 July) by misusing the word 'schizophrenia'. This is a medical term referring to a dreamy state of mind punctuated by occasional hallucinations. As a schizophrenic I find its misuse>

Mark Donaldson, by email

Remember the other 9/11

WE will soon be told by politicians and the media to remember the events of 11 September 2001. But 11 September this year will also be significant in another respect. It will be the 30th anniversary of the brutal CIA-backed coup against the Socialist government of Salvadore Allende in Chile, when thousands were murdered or 'disappeared'.

This was an example of US 'regime change' 30 years ago. In Swansea we are going to be organising a forum to mark the anniversary with Mike Gonzalez and local Chilean exiles. I hope Socialist Worker readers across Britain will be staging similar events.
Leigh Richards, Swansea

  • Socialist Worker will be carrying an article on 13 September on the Chilean coup.

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    Sat 30 Aug 2003, 00:00 BST
    Issue No. 1866
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