IDENTITY CARDS were abolished in this country because the then Tory government, led by Winston Churchill, described them as “draconian” and an “extreme measure”.
Home secretary David Blunkett is not content with removing our basic rights—now he wants to introduce a compulsory ID scheme.
The official reason is to stop terrorism and combat illegal immigration. But in reality ID cards will be used to harass and intimidate people, especially black, Asian and Muslim people.
It will cost £6 billion to bring in compulsory cards. And it will cost each individual between £75 and £125. Everyone will be expected to produce a card when a police officer requests to see it.
Blunkett wants to turn people running all our frontline services into immigration officers. Every nurse and every teacher will ask you to produce your card before you get access to services.
ID cards do not combat terrorism. And they always provoke mass opposition. In Australia four years ago a scheme to introduce the cards was abandoned when some two million joined the campaign against them.
No 2 ID is a new campaign established to oppose Blunkett’s plans. Over the next few months we will be mounting as big a campaign as possible. To join us go to www.no2id.net
Weyman Bennett, North London
I WANT to thank you for your continued unbiased coverage of my case. I think what you are doing is very honourable, brave and commendable—siding with what you believe to be the truth, despite the world’s other media printing rubbish about me without ascertaining any facts.
I still receive mail from Socialist Worker readers, and I wanted to thank you again for your free subscription. I like your “new look” paper. I think you are all doing an excellent job, especially in writing together and acting as a mouthpiece for the disaffected sections of the community. Well done, and keep it up!
Babar Ahmad, MX5383, HMP Woodhill, MK4 4DA
Blair is disaster on the home front
WE SHOULD all know by now that Tony Blair wants to destroy services and benefits for the elderly. But here is an example of what is already happening that I heard of recently.
A woman in her late 60s was made homeless when a private landlord sold the property her flat was in. The local council put her in one hostel after another.
All this time she was suffering from cancer of the neck. Hospital treatment left her unable to swallow, so she had to learn how to give herself essential nourishment through a tube in her side.
Eventually the council, a New Labour council, found her a flat and gave her a bed—no fridge, no cooker, no heating, not even curtains. Just a bed. She is wondering what it is all for.
We know about this case because a few days ago it happened by chance to drop into part of what’s left of the safety net.
What we don’t know of course is how many people fall through. And the holes in the net are getting bigger all the time.
Tony Blair likes to argue that he needs another term of office because he’s got a lot more to do. There are a million untold stories like this one that say he’s done quite enough already.
And that’s just on the home front.
Pete Glatter, London
A climate for change
The response to my article in Socialist Worker (“Beware, The Heat Is On”, 23 October) has been very heartening. I have received 31 e-mails—most from the continent of Africa, some from Europe and three from the US.
Nearly all see climate change as a threat (except for some Americans who are ready to see the world go to hell, so long as it does so with the price of gas kept low).
Most want to see us develop a concrete programme for change along the lines of what John Molyneux wrote (Letters, 30 October). Most are depressed about it actually happening!
So here is the challenge for us all. Can we get key demands into the programmes of trade unions, political movements and campaigns? Perhaps Socialist Worker should set out a short set of demands and campaign for unions, etc, to adopt them. We could do this internationally.
Please publish my e-mail if you think it would be useful for people to contact me.
Mzimasi Makiniki, firstname.lastname@example.org
I WAS really pleased Mzimasi Makiniki’s article on global warming was given such space and attention. For socialists the environment has to be central to the movement.
And I was very glad to see Socialist Worker’s editorial (23 October) on the need for investment in renewable energies.
The new wind farm off Great Yarmouth beach is not only a brilliant sight but also no danger to anyone—save the few fat cat corporate bosses. Socialism is about harnessing the world’s natural resources in an organic, respectful relationship.
Aggregates are trawled up off our coast to build roads. Huge ships literally suck up the sea bed. They not only destroy marine life—hence such low coastal fish stocks—the act of plundering the sea floor has led to the erosion of sea defences all along the East Anglian coast.
Rupert Mallin, Lowestoft
Wake up from the American nightmare
EVERYWHERE LOOKS on—complacency reigns.
The TV depicts the American Dream as the desire to leave behind the mass of society and join the supposed elite.
The immorality and slothfulness of the rich are today considered the greatest virtues. Our own exploitation is rubbed in our faces and yet we do nothing.
All the while we suffer from constant oppression by the rich, and from the day to day drudgery of making more money for the giant corporations.
We are only free to sell our bodies and minds to the rich to increase their profits.
But people’s frustration is either diluted with drink or lost in a dream of becoming rich.
This is the time to awaken from our slumber and join together.
The presidential election is nothing but a joke.
Here we have ample proof that we don’t live in a democracy. Bush and Kerry are practically the same candidate.
People incline towards Kerry because there is no hope under Bush, but they don’t realise he is no better, and may be worse.
Our problems run much deeper than Bush. Our whole system is decrepit.
There is no hope for justice under Bush or Kerry. The working class needs to stop putting their hopes in the capitalist system.
The time for revolution is now.
Ramsey Thomas Darling, US
Unions and the anti-war movement
MICK RIX of the Aslef rail workers’ union has resigned from the Stop the War Coalition steering committee.
Why does he think that troops staying in Iraq a moment longer will help Iraqis?
Could it be that he is following a long and consistent tradition of support for British imperialism demonstrated by the Labour Party at least since the Suez Crisis of 1956 and through the Falklands War of 1982?
Reformists struggle under the illusion that the British state is basically benign and that the majority, the working class, can argue successfully with the minority that run society.
Is it possible that implicit in Rix’s thinking is the idea of “the white man’s burden”—that Iraq couldn’t possibly help itself and that they need the help of the “superior” Anglo-Saxons?
We know that Tony Blair thinks like this, as he has said that he would like to sort out Africa.
Rix appears to have forgotten that the US and its allies went to war for oil, not peace and democracy, and to look after US interests in the Middle East.
We must put down the “white man’s burden” immediately before we do any more harm.
Jamie Rankin, Twickenham
School is an obstacle race
I sympathise with Franki’s dilemma (Letters, 23 October), and good luck to him or her for the tenacity shown in overcoming obstacles.
Both you and thousands of others make the point that it is kids with successful parents who are indulged and given freedom.
Believe me, there are those out there who do remember a particular teacher who helped them on their way.
The education system has not really changed that much in the last 60 years, even though we try to pretend it has.
Exam results, league tables and entrance into university still dominate decision-making in our schools.
Bob Miller , Essex
Great debate on women
Thank you! It’s great to see Lindsey German and Christine Delphy actually debating one another (Socialist Worker, 23 October).
But I wish they could get beyond the stock retorts and arguments. Christine always uses the farm as the paradigm of gender exploitation.
Lindsey, I think, overstates the commonality of men and women.
Surely one has to look at how gender and class intertwine, and at the specifics of how capitalism develops and how it takes advantage of vulnerable groups.
Class is always there, but not alone.
Anyway, there are no easy answers, but this exchange got me going!
Jesse, by e-mail
In defence of Liverpool
The controversial Spectator article about Liverpool people having a victim mentality after Ken Bigley’s dreadful death is sheer right wing prejudice.
In the real world, the people of Liverpool have no more of a victim mentality than the people of Norwich.
But with British troops now being redeployed to Baghdad, raising the prospect of more casualties, journals like the Spectator are now on the defensive because it will make the lies and distortions used to justify the invasion all the more poignant.
What they fear is that many people may regard Ken Bigley’s death as a direct consequence of our policy in Iraq.
Nick Vinehill, Norfolk
Get facts right on women
A hundred thousand women from Albania have been trafficked for the sex industry (Socialist Worker, 23 October)?
That’s about 7 percent of the female population of Albania.
I know nice large round numbers make for great “journalism” but you should keep them in check and not throw more gas on the fire.
Albanians have become just a name to slap on whoever hustles prostitutes.
Please stop this stereotyping.
Enkel Daljani, Baltimore, US
For fox sake go hunting?
THE FOX hunting crisis seems to me to be the lightning rod for rural people’s anger over the inexorable closing down of their schools, branch railways, bus services, police stations and hospitals.
And housing really is dire. With the expanding hardly used country cottage market, many people know that their children will not be able to live near them when they grow up.
We need to support this fight for better services.
I don’t like fox hunting. But foxes can be a serious pest. Could we shoot them? Recently a child was killed by a fox hunter’s bullet.
Gassing? Trapping? Poisoning? All cruel, all indiscriminate.
Regulated fox hunting is probably the least of the evils.
Moira Hope, London