Socialist Worker

They said I would fail

Issue No. 1924

THANKS TO your paper my eyes have been well and truly opened. I didn’t realise there was so much that they don’t tell the general population.

At least now they have admitted that they were wrong to go to war in Iraq. But that does not bring back those who have already died. Why is it that we never get figures on how many have died? They have sacrificed the lives of so many. Why is it not murder? They say that they are sorry, but they send more and more to fight a battle against people they went in there to save.

On a completely different note, I have just finished The Communist Manifesto. Although some would say that it is not relevant today, I disagree. There are so many issues that needed to be addressed and still need to be addressed.

Through school I was told that if I worked hard I would do well. This is not true. I worked hard and, at the age of 11, I had my first migraine. Now, aged 17, I have established a relationship between my migraines and stress.

I have panic attacks and stomach problems when I feel pressured. These pressures were brought on by school. My school never offered help, and tried to take my mother to court because they had lost a note from my doctor that proved why I had not been at school.

They tried to take me off some of my courses, as they didn’t think I would pass the exam and that would bring down the class average. My teacher had never had a fail in his class, and I was not about to be his first.

My maths teacher told me that I was going to fail all my GCSEs and not get into college. This sent me into a panic attack and I passed out. I passed all my GCSEs with none below a grade C.

I am telling you this to try and show how the current system fails people, and that the way our education system is organised looks after those who do well and ignores the weaker pupils.
Franki, Essex


China’s boom ‘dead end’ for many

CHINA’S COMMUNIST Party celebrated the 55th anniversary of its coming to power last week. It has a new uncontested leader, Hu Jintao, at its helm.

Hu inherits from Jiang Zemin an economy based upon the free market. Liberalisation of the economy has resulted in fantastic growth rates, especially in the Special Economic Zones (SEZ).

Living standards have vastly improved in these areas over the past decade. However, the gap between the SEZ and rural provinces is stark.

Some estimates suggest that 18 percent of China’s over one billion population live below the official UN poverty line. Strikes for higher wages and shorter working hours were reported last week in several provinces.

Some hope President Hu will be more open to political reform than his predecessors. But he has dismissed multi-party democracy as “a dead end for China”.

Hu has to contend with the call for universal suffrage for elected public bodies in Hong Kong by 2007. Last week a revolutionary socialist, Leung Kwok-heung, was sworn into the Hong Kong legislative council after being elected in late September.

Leung stood on a platform of democracy and collective bargaining rights for trade unions.

At his inaugaration Leung swore an oath to the working people who elected him while denouncing Beijing’s rule and rising inequality in society.

Many on the mainland will share Leung’s sentiments.
David Wilson, Shanghai


Share our struggle

AS YOU will be aware from features published in your paper, there are now 100 childcare social workers in Liverpool involved in a dispute with the Liberal Democrat council.

We have now been on strike for eight weeks. The striking social workers in Liverpool would like to express their gratitude to the numerous unions in Nottingham who welcomed us during our whistle-stop tour over 6 and 7 October

Some £800 was raised for our hardship fund, with promises of more to come through levies and workplace collections.

Although financial support is a key issue, equally important was the strong message of solidarity and support we were able to take back to Liverpool.

A special thanks must go to the members of the Socialist Workers Party who arranged a gruelling itinerary along with transport and accommodation.

Support and encouragement of this nature has enabled us to persevere with our action. Any success will be in no small part due to their effort.
Striking social workers, Liverpool


Union dues not for war

NO UNION should vote in favour of ANY government that is involved in the mass murder of innocent men, women and children. Is this really what we pay our subs for?

Saddam is an evil man, but let’s be honest—he’s our leaders’ hired evil man. Since when did they pick and choose where to send their hired killers to?

I find Tony Bliar’s logic for going to war quite interesting. We had to go to war simply to stop Saddam killing his people.

Bliar’s logic suggested that the only way to do this was to kill them ourselves. So if I want to end the violent muggings of the elderly in Britain, Tony’s idea would be that I mugged them myself!

In Iraq, like at all the wedding parties where the allies have murdered innocents, we are totally uninvited.
Phil Reilly, Wirral


Supermarket punishes workers for being sick

SINCE THE interview I gave to Socialist Worker (9 October) Tesco management have made some more changes to the sick policy at the warehouse I work in.

From 24 October all new workers will be on the new sick day policy, where you do not get paid for the first three days off sick.

A new policy is also being introduced for all staff, where if you take 5 percent of your rostered time off sick in a six-month period you will automatically move up a stage. For most full time workers who work a 44-hour week, that means if they take more than 42 hours off in six months.

If new staff take 5 percent off during their first six months they are immediately placed on a stage three.

Management have also stopped all overtime for people who are on stage three.

The basic pay isn’t all that much, and most people rely on the overtime to get by.

Management isn’t even planning to tell people of the changes—just put a notice up on the board.

A man came back to work today after taking 26 weeks sick leave because he was hit by a forklift at work.

A couple of hours after he returned to work management started disciplinary action against him. They say he should have been looking where he was going.
Tesco worker, Hertfordshire


Nottingham needs better solutions

A huge outcry has greeted the death of Danielle Beccan. I have a daughter the same age. Everyone feels grief for this needless death.

Nottingham is being described as having a huge gun culture. The press is full of graphic stories of Yardies, and African-Caribbean and Asian gangs.

Nottinghamshire’s chief of police, Steve Green, is calling for more police on the streets.

He supports the idea of “zero tolerance”, especially for drugs. Some 60 percent of those charged with criminal offences in the city tested positive for drugs.

But I don’t believe “zero tolerance” towards drugs will solve this problem—we need more tolerance, not less.

Youth services in Nottingham have been cut back over recent years. People with drug problems don’t get the help and support they need. Imprisoning them simply means more people locked into a cycle of addiction, despair and violence.
Tracy Payne, Nottingham


No WMD—so why the war?

JACK Straw has admitted that the government’s claim, made in the September 2002 dossier, that Saddam Hussein could use weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes was completely wrong and misleading.

This beggars a far more serious question. Why did we go to war?

Straw insists that “even with hindsight” knowing that Saddam had not had WMD, the war was right.

This statement could have at least two possible meanings, both of which exonerate the speaker of any blame.

Either he really doesn’t know why the intelligence was so wrong—in which case he ought to resign, or be fired on grounds of sheer incompetence—or he does know but would rather not say.

I am inclined to go with the latter.
Alan Haynes, Kent


What is Blair sorry for?

WHAT IS it exactly that Tony Blair is admitting to having done when he says he is sorry for “mistakes in the pre-war intelligence”?

Is Blair sorry for misrepresenting the intelligence to the public? No, for he vehemently denies having done this.

So can it be that he is sorry for misinterpreting the intelligence?

Once again no, for Blair has never hinted that his judgement is faulty.

One cannot escape the conclusion that our prime minister’s apology was made on behalf of the intelligence services—which is no apology at all.
Joseph Dormer, Scarborough


Courage without hate

I AM a lawyer living in Milan, Italy. I am involved in campaigns for peace and a socialist democracy that could help people of all the world to live together without hate and injustice.

I read and appreciated your interviews with Paul Bigley about his struggle for his brother’s life.

He spoke without hate against Muslim people, and condemned the British government that took part in this absurd war and did nothing to save a human being.

After the horrible death of the hostage we would like to send a message to Paul Bigley.

We will not forget his courage. And neither will we forget the British government’s hypocrisy.
Guido Salvini, Milan, Italy


Redesign hits the mark

I WANT to tell you how impressed I am with both with the style and content of the new Socialist Worker.

I have been reading the paper for about 20 years, and this new format is the best yet.
Katie Wheatley, by e-mail


Chagos film has big impact

The public reaction to my film about the Chagos islanders, Stealing a Nation, has been extraordinary.

Even though it went to air at a late hour, people have e-mailed and called in their hundreds, eager to help and give advice.

Times are changing. The awareness that the invasion of Iraq has given to a great many people is now alive and kicking.
John Pilger, South London


Bigot was fan of Mussolini

IS THE Italian minister, Mirko Tremaglia, who complains about what he calls “queers” taking over Europe, the same Mirko Tremaglia who fought for Mussolini’s puppet Salo Republic?

Two years ago he said about the Second World War, “We lost. It would have been better if we had won” (Searchlight, September 2002).

Tremaglia fought in an unsuccessful takeover bid for Europe which left millions of gays, Jews, Roma and others dead in its death camps.
Carlo Terracini, West London

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Article information

Letters
Sat 23 Oct 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1924
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