Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2305

We stand against attacks on young, poor people in Derry

Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) has terrorised the youth of Derry and the North West of Ireland for around three years.

In this time it has exiled over 100 young people and carried out over 80 punishment beatings and shootings.

The British and Irish media has largely ignored this. This is partly because RAAD claimed to support the “peace process”.

Socialists in Derry formed the campaign group “RAAD—Not in our Name” almost three years ago.

It organises against RAAD and other paramilitary groups who carry out “punishment attacks”.

The group has organised several large demonstrations in the last five months since RAAD executed 24 year old Andrew Allen.

RAAD exiled Andrew from Derry for so called anti-social behaviour. It separated him from his partner and children and then brutally murdered him.

Campaigning has given many people threatened by RAAD confidence to speak out.

RAAD—Not in Our Name has refused to join in the media hysteria around drugs.

Local politicians have condemned RAAD, yet have typically called for more powers for the police.

Our campaign group has argued for treatment facilities for those with drug problems. We have argued you can only address the problem by tackling deprivation.

We have also tried to force a debate on the continued criminalisation of young people for taking drugs.

The group plans a major conference in June and protests against RAAD will continue.

Each protest so far has been bigger than the previous despite threats and intimidation.

We will continue to build a movement against beatings, the exiling of our young people and give a voice to those left behind by the “peace process”. The actions of RAAD are not in our name.

Davy McAuley, Derry

Iain Duncan Smith is a disgrace

As representatives of Disabled People’s organisations we wish to express our disgust with views expressed by Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith recently in the Daily Telegraph.

Duncan Smith believes that the current system of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) application conceals “massive fraud”.

What evidence does he base this assertion on?

His own Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)estimates that fraud accounts for only 0.5 percent of DLA claims.

Since when did 1 in 200 become “massive”? In fact DLA is one of the benefits with the lowest levels of fraud.

Secondly there is Duncan Smith’s use of the phrase “festering at home” to describe disabled people with lifetime awards of DLA.

This betrays a complete misunderstanding of DLA.

Many thousands of disabled people use it to maintain themselves in work.

The DWP estimates that 550,000 people will lose all or part of their mobility support when the Personal Independence Payment is introduced.

So when that support is withdrawn, tens of thousands of disabled people will become unable to afford to go to work.

Linda Burnip, Disabled People Against Cuts

More than 400 people have signed this letter. Yet the Daily Telegraph, so far, has refused to print it

Cameron fears an Olympic showdown

Regarding your article on the 1968 Mexico Olympics (Socialist Worker, 26 May), the parallels to 2012 are stunning!

I quote, “In 1968 the games offered an opportunity to expose the rottenness of the government of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz. The regime was well prepared.”

This year the world’s focus will be on David Cameron and his rotten government.

The Olympics are a great opportunity for opposition to draw attention to Cameron’s regime. However Cameron, like Díaz Ordaz, is well prepared.

Do you really think that all that military presence is about the slim chance of a terrorist attack?

No. It is there so Cameron can turn the armed forces on the citizens of Britain if they rebel during his hoped for moment of glory.

Nicholas John Batty, on Facebook

Downhills School teachers say thank you

NUT union members at Downhills Primary School have asked us to convey our warmest thanks to Socialist Worker readers who supported our strike.

We struck last week against Michael Gove’s attempts to force us to become an academy.

We received so many messages of support—there were just too many to reply to individually.

The support we received was truly inspirational and shows how much resistance there is to the privitisation of education.

Many schools from across London joined us on the picket line and later in a solidarity event organised by parents.

From next door’s secondary school alone, 14 members of staff joined us! Roma, Caribbean, African, Asian and East European parents came together to defend our community school.

Our campaign will continue and we are considering taking further strike action with our sisters and brothers in the Unison union.

We we hope that our small example should inspire others to fight academies. Thank you once again to everyone.

Phil Brett and Jane Coxon, NUT reps, Downhills Primary School

Tories’ lies on joblessness

If you have had employment breaks in the past two years you can’t get Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA).

This is because you won’t have paid enough in national insurance contributions.

Please highlight this manipulation of unemployment figures.

Jayne McDermott, Shropshire

Please don’t be so negative

It is great that Socialist Worker is an alternative source of news, but it is full of negativity.

Criticism of Britain’s flag or the Olympic flame is absurd. Britain’s flag is a symbol of unity.

A travelling torch brings a bit of spirituality to the Olympics.

Be more positive.

Tomas Nork, on Facebook

‘Scum’: mind your language

I bought your paper last week and was impressed with how thoughtful and analytical it was.

One tiny jarring note was your phrase, “Tea Party scum”.

Scum is the language of the gutter press. It can alienate the intelligent, uncommitted reader.

Jenny Flintoft, Portsmouth

Charged for flying a flag

Myself and another individual were charged under the offensive behaviour at football legislation at a football game last month.

We had been flying a starry plough and were told that we were showing support for a prescribed terrorist organisation.

Please publish this to raise awareness.

Jonathan Keenan, Glasgow

Finish off this weak coalition

The idea that Vince Cable is a socialist shows how weak the coalition is.

Any slight criticism creates fear and infighting. Could more resistance split them?

Leanne West, Nottingham

An open letter regarding the Greek left

Disagreements are not only normal and, in any case, unavoidable within the left. They can also be productive provided they are formulated in terms that do not excessively distort the positions of the interlocutor.

In a recent issue of Socialist Worker answering the question “What shape has Greek reformism taken?” (the terms of the question seem already biased to me), Panos Garganas summed up Syriza’s position in the current situation as follows: “Syriza’s leaders promise we can escape from austerity by reforming the EU.

“They say a left government shouldn't take unilateral steps like cancelling the debt and breaking with the euro. They seek a negotiated exit from austerity. They claim a budget with a surplus would strengthen Greece’s negotiating position with its creditors.

“This effectively postpones the promise to end austerity until the German government and banks agree to it. That’s why Antarsya says we need a strong anti-capitalist left and a continuation of the strikes.”

With the exception of the last sentence, I’m afraid this statement is quite far from giving an adequate picture of Syriza’s position but also of the lines of demarcation within the radical left and, more broadly, within the current conjuncture.

It is true that Syriza’s general position is in favour of an internal transformation of the EU, but on the basis of denouncing all the existing European Treaties (Maastricht, Lisbon etc).

It is also true that Syriza is against exiting the eurozone, although significant currents both within Synaspismos and in other components of this political front (which, by the way, also includes many significant organizations of the Greek far Left, mostly from Maoist and Trotskyist backgrounds) are in favour of such an exit (or of considering it as an unavoidable consequence).

But Syriza won the support of the majority of the left electorate, and, as its leading position in recent polls suggest, probably of a relative majority of the Greek people as a whole, not by proposing to wait for an EU reform or negotiations to end austerity but by electing a unitary government of all the anti-austerity forces of the left.

Such a government would immediately, as “its founding act” like Alexis Tsipras keeps on repeating, abrogate, by a vote in Parliament, the whole framework of the infamous Memorandums. The Memorandum is non-negotiable, stating the contrary would be like “trying to negotiate hell” as Tsipras also recently said.

On that basis, and that unilateral move, an anti-austerity government would ask for a renegotiation of the debt in order to write-off the major part. If this demand for renegotiation is rejected then Greece would stop the repayment of the debt, declare a moratorium which would last as long as necessary in order to allow a favourable outcome of the renegotiation, along the lines that similar negotiations have taken in the past (more recently in Argentina).

Syriza says that these moves will not entail an exit from the eurozone nor the interruption of the current payments to the country given as part of the bailout plan.

The statements of EU officials and European leaders claiming the contrary are presented as a propaganda war aiming at putting pressure on the electorate and blocking the rise of Syriza. This position, it should be stressed, reflects the mood of the vast majority of the Greek population, which rejects austerity but doesn’t want an exit from the eurozone.

It also corresponds to the fact that, as Larry Elliott wrote in yesterday’s Guardian, ‘Europe has form when it comes to ensuring that electorates vote the ‘right’ way’.

It is nonetheless true that it seems extremely unlikely that the EU, representing the interests of Greece’s creditors, and more broadly of European finance capital, would not react to the unilateral exit from the Memorandum-based austerity framework.

Recent statements of Syriza leaders show an awareness of the necessity for such a contingency plan, but its lines remain very unclear, since it would almost inevitably amount to exiting the euro and immediately defaulting on the debt.

The two logical possibilities that appear, if Syriza wins the June 17 elections and leads the next government, are either surrender and reneging on the commitment to abrogate the memorandum, which would amount to an unmitigated disaster not only for Syriza but for the entire radical Left and, moreover, for the Greek people, or engaging in a protracted battle which would almost certainly lead to results that go beyond the current objectives put forward by Syriza.

This would conform I think to a quite familiar in history pattern of processes of social and political change, where the dynamic of the situation, boosted of course by the pressure of popular mobilization, pushes actors (or at least some of them) beyond their initial intentions. This is what scares most the dominant forces in Greece and in Europe and explains their hysterical campaign against Syriza and the perspective opened up by its possible coming to power.

The stakes of this battle are immense, probably the more significant we had in Europe since the Portuguese Carnation Revolution. In such a context, all the forces of the radical Left should work together as closely as possibly, not only on the terrain of struggles and mobilizations, which is the indispensable starting point, but also politically, to help the situation to radicalise and to unleash its full potential.

Sterile polemics, reiterating the all-too familiar pattern of ‘unmasking the reformist enemy’, should therefore be avoided in favour of fraternal discussion, which includes of course in-depth clarifications of the real and welcomed disagreements between the forces of our camp. Our responsibilities are huge, millions of progressive people have their eyes turned to Greece as a name, and place, for hope, and of a concrete possibility for a long-overdue popular victory.

Stathis Kouvelakis, London

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Tue 29 May 2012, 18:45 BST
Issue No. 2305
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