Socialist Worker

The union leaders who vote for murder

Issue No. 1923

AT THE recent Labour conference the big four unions—including my own, the TGWU—voted to endorse the war in Iraq.

That meant they voted for the theft of that country’s resources by the US and Britain.

They voted for the continued bombing, and the murder and torture of Iraq’s freedom fighters.

They voted for the abuse and arbitrary detention of thousands of other innocent Iraqis—many of them women.

As a trade unionist I am outraged by the TGWU using my vote for such perverse ends, putting itself on the same side as the war criminals Tony Blair and Jack Straw.

None of the members of my union branch expected the TGWU to vote in favour of the war as a result of a vile backstairs deal.

At our branch we are calling for a special delegate conference to be convened to discuss the union’s support for President Bush.

The suggestion by Jack Straw that there is no occupation of Iraq is ludicrous.

Of course there is an occupation. That occupation is brutal and savage.

It follows a war based on a lie—indeed, a whole series of lies.

While our union delegates at Brighton were making all these obscene compromises, men and women in Iraq were dying under the barrage of US missiles and indiscriminate bombing.

A members’ petition is being launched asking the TGWU to support the impeachment of Blair and to disaffiliate from the Labour Party.

For details please phone 020 8376 1454 or send me an e-mail.

William Spring, North London, [email protected]

Awkward squad or doormats?

AS A delegate to this year’s Trade Union Congress I watched with dismay as the trade union leaders succeeded in smoothing the path for Tony Blair.

The agreements at Warwick, they said, meant that the escalating anger between trade unionists and New Labour could now be set aside.

Despite a reportedly “union friendly” speech, Blair was listened to in silence—mainly through gritted teeth.

Delegates around me laughed at him when he could not even bring himself to recommend that workers should join a trade union. But the TUC plan worked—to a degree.

There was no open revolt against Blair. Why and how could this happen after Iraq, the firefighters, privatisation and the endless list of shocking right wing policies?

Running through the TUC was the desperate desire to get Blair elected—in order to get Brown into Number 10 pretty damn quick.

Nobody trusts Blair but many, bizarrely, do trust Butcher Brown.

Blair’s supposedly “conversational” approach at the Labour Party conference seemed to confirm a new, gentler Blairism and, true to form, the union leaders rolled over as he tickled their tummies.

Labour’s so called awkward squad of union leaders have been turned into doormats.

Blair’s announcement that he will now go on for a full third term is a kick in the guts for these trade union leaders—they have been mugged by Blair again.

Simon Hester, North London

We will be greener

HANNAH Williamson’s comments about the sustainability of a socialist economy (Letters, 9 October) were very interesting. But they are based on some common misconceptions about a socialist economy putting industrial production first, and not worrying about environmental consequences.

It is true that this is how the state capitalist economies of the old USSR and Eastern Europe acted. They did this to compete militarily with the West at the expense of workers’ lives and the environment.

But in a truly socialist society—unlike the state capitalist or Western “free market” models—the decisions about how much to produce and how to distribute it would be taken democratically through some sort of mass participatory democracy based in workplaces and communities.

I find it hard to imagine that a truly democratically run economy would prioritise destruction of the environment through mass production of cars when other, more environmentally friendly, forms of transport could be used.

Also, with the competitive slavery of the profit system gone, we could spend more on researching environmentally safe methods to boost production.

Jon Tennison, South London

Keep the good bits

GOOD LUCK with the relaunch of Socialist Worker—and I very much agree that we need a paper that immerses itself in the new movements.

However, I hope at the same time that the paper does not lose its unrivalled coverage of strikes and workers’ protests.

These are no longer regarded as central by so many political traditions. Yet I believe they are crucial to fundamental social change.

Workers infused with the political energy of the new movements have the power to win.

Alan Hanley, South London

Chained to the railings to highlight Vanunu

30 SeptembeR this year was the 18th anniversary of Mordechai Vanunu’s kidnap from Rome by Israeli spies to stand secret trial in Israel.

On the day, members of the British Campaign to Free Vanunu and for a Nuclear-Free Middle East highlighted Vanunu’s continued punishment by the Israeli authorities.

We evaded armed embassy police and chained ourselves to the gates of the Israeli embassy in Kensington wearing Vanunu masks and T-shirts bearing the message “Let Vanunu go”.*

When approached by police, we all gave our names as Mordechai Vanunu. After about an hour the police managed to break our chains with boltcutters.

Then they merely escorted or carried us out to Kensington High Street. Clearly the police were under orders to keep the protest as low key as possible.

However, it still won publicity in the Guardian and elsewhere.

Ernest Reddiker, [email protected]

Colombian killed who came to ESF

NEWS CAME through last week that trade union leader Pedro Jaime Mosquera has been found assassinated with signs of torture in the north eastern Colombian region of Arauca.

The circumstances surrounding Pedro’s death are still unclear, although his union have said that they believe the Colombian state is responsible for the murder.

Pedro was the vice-president of Fensuagro (the union representing agricultural workers) in the region of Arauca, and was well known internationally, having represented Colombia at the first European Social Forum in Florence, Italy, two years ago.

Please send a message of protest to the Colombian president demanding a full investigation into Pedro Mosquera’s death, and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Please also write to Bill Rammell MP, the Foreign Office minister responsible for relations with Colombia.

For President Alvaro Uribe Velez go to www.presidencia. then scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Escribale al Presidente” to send a message.

For Bill Rammell MP e-mail [email protected]

Terry Riley, Liverpool

War is Bush’s Achilles’ heel

I WAS in the US recently, and watched the debate between Bush and Kerry.

Before the debate Kerry had been behind in the polls and had let Bush make all the running. However, the debate turned everything around.

Kerry looked like having Bush on the run and, for the first time, it seemed as if he could win.

The main reason is that Kerry has managed at last to come out against the way the war is being conducted.

However, Kerry himself is not against the war. His main plank is that there needs to be more, not fewer, troops.

Tragically everyone now seems to have decided that there is no room for an alternative to the Democrats.

If Kerry wins it will be because he is seen to be opposed to the war, and that can only be a good thing, no matter how useless he will be once elected.

Seth Harman, East London

A Kerry vote makes sense

A KERRY victory in the US presidential election would give confidence to the thousands of activists who are campaigning against Bush, while dispelling the myth that the Democrats are significantly different to the Republicans.

A Bush victory would demoralise those same activists and perpetuate the idea that the answer lies in getting the Democrats elected. Surely, in this context, a vote for the Democrats in swing states makes sense?

Dave Randall, London

No democracy after the lies

THE LATEST revelations about the non-existence of Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” prove we are not living in a democracy.

Bush and Blair lied, they get found out—but nothing happens.

They say they act in the nation’s best interests. They say they know what’s best for us because they’re educated. These “leaders” couldn’t be further from the truth.

They are condemning this world to oblivion.

One day, maybe sooner than later, these “democratic” powers will meet an enemy so strong they will fall beneath the waves of rebellion. That enemy is us!

We can bring this injustice to an end. We can save our world from this hateful injustice being carried out by these murderers.

Bradley Heanes, Coventry

Old Blair was just as bad

TONY BLAIR made many ludicrous claims in his speech to the Labour Party conference.

But perhaps the most ludicrous was his claim that “people tell me they want the old Tony Blair back”.

Has anyone seriously heard this plaintive cry?

Presumably the old Tony Blair was the one who forced through the cuts in disability benefits, introduced university tuition fees, dumped Clause Four and turned the conference into a rally.

Everything he has done subsequently has been built on those rocky foundations.

Jane King, Wolverhampton

The gulf is getting wider

A REPORT last week showed that the pay gap between directors in the boardroom and the workforce is continuing to widen.

Over the year to 30 June 2004, the average total earnings received by directors of Britain’s 350 leading firms rose by 16.1 percent.

Yet the average total earnings of all employees increased by only 4.3 percent over the same period, according to Incomes Data Services.

All the talk about shareholder campaigns restraining fat cat pay is so much hot air. The report also shows how much money could be raised if the rich paid tax at a decent rate.

Maureen Bowler, Exeter

[email protected]

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Article information

Wed 13 Oct 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1923
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