Socialist Worker

Short has abandoned every shred of decent principle

Issue No. 1844

I AM a Labour Party member in the West Midlands who on several occasions met local MP Clare Short. I feel ashamed to have shaken her hand after last week. Within the party we were circulated her disgusting note trying to justify her betrayal-although from the language employed I very much doubt that she wrote it.

It has all the marks of some Labour official drawing it up and then getting Short to sign it. If I were charitable to Short I would say she might have been drugged or tortured in some way. But that would be much too charitable. Look at her reasoning:

'There have been a number of important developments over the last week: Firstly, the attorney general has made clear that military action would be legal under international law.' All this means is that some hired hack has declared mass murder to be legitimate.

'Second, the prime minister has persuaded President Bush that there must be a new UN resolution creating a UN mandate for the reconstruction of Iraq.' This is a pledge which Bush can continue with if it suits him or drop at will-just as the US always does with the UN. Has Short not noticed that the US does not exactly go along with UN edicts?

'Third, a UN resolution is to be tabled which will give Kofi Annan charge of the Oil for Food Programme and lead to the lifting of sanctions. This will rapidly improve the condition of the people of Iraq.' Yes, Clare, it will help if we stop killing people through sanctions, but then why did we implement them in the first place?

'Fourth, the road map to Palestinian statehood by 2005 is to be published.' But I bet there will soon be blocks on the road from Israel's Sharon and he will get the backing of Bush.

The truth is Short has put her own career before the views of Labour people or humanitarian morality. She deserves to be vilified at every future opportunity and has made a mockery of her supposed concern for the starving and the poor.

She provided an easy excuse for every Labour MP who wanted to keep in with Blair but to salve their conscience. They said they were giving in reluctantly and without withdrawing criticisms, 'just like Clare was'. Had Short resigned then perhaps another 30 MPs might have voted against Blair. He would be in an even greater crisis than he is already.

Short is a cynical, opportunist, unprincipled, manipulative careerist. And she was the one we used to have high hopes for! Many of us now face with renewed seriousness the question of whether we can stay in the Labour Party.
Mike Harrison, by e-mail


This road map will not lead to peace

A FEW days before unleashing war on Iraq, George Bush and Tony Blair paraded their commitment to 'peace in the Middle East' before the world's media. Few Palestinians will be comforted to know that the US president's 'road map' promises them a 'provisional state' this year, and a peace treaty with Israel in 2005.

Many will remember the failed hopes of the 1990s. George Bush's father promised to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last time round. Instead of peace, the Palestinians saw even more of their land stolen by illegal settlements, and thousands of their people killed when they tried to resist an ever more brutal occupation.

US arms and aid continue to flow into Israel-last week killing dozens of Palestinians, and one young international activist. Rachel Corrie, a US citizen, was crushed to death by a US-made armoured bulldozer as she tried to stop the Israeli army demolishing Palestinian homes. The 'road map' is already stained with blood.
Anne Alexander, West London


The fog of wars

CHRIS HARMAN (Socialist Worker, 15 March) is right to warn that 'experts' of all sorts will tell us soon that economic problems are the result of the war. The war may well worsen them, but these problems are the result of the profit system.

As one small example I note that wholesale gas prices leapt recently, which may well mean higher bills for us all in the summer. This is because British gas suppliers have built a pipeline from Bacton in East Anglia to Zeebrugge in Belgium and now chase the highest prices on the Continent. They then put up British prices.

Another case where 'competition' works against us.
Harry Lockwood, Norwich


Maximum fury & minimum pay

THE MINIMUM wage is going to rise to the magnificent sum of £4.50 an hour in October. All of us at the bottom of the pay scale are presumably supposed to rejoice. I work in a factory as a part-time cleaner (28 hours a week) and am on the minimum wage. I can therefore expect to see my wages go up by £8.40 a week (before stoppages).

By Christmas our family will have enjoyed about 12 weeks at the new rate, another £100 towards the holiday celebrations. But from April my husband, who works as a machine operative in the factory, will be paying 1 percent extra on his national insurance. He is full-time, slightly better paid and will lose around £2.80 a week because of this tax rise.

By Christmas the family will have suffered around 34 weeks at his new rate. This will be £100 less towards the holiday celebrations. Am I missing something or am I right to feel that people at the bottom of the pile are the victims of a total con?

While managers continue to get huge pay rises and other benefits, low paid workers are offered only pathetic rises or what turn out to be no rises at all.
Janet Middleton, by e-mail


Simple truths for the future

I HAVE made some resolutions after last week. As a member of the TGWU I will never vote for my union's money to go to the Labour Party in case it goes to any of the scum who voted for war.

I will only vote for it to go to decent Labour MPs and other socialists. I will also never vote for the re-election of any union official at any level who supported the war. This is the defining moment for our generation.
Bill Langley, by e-mail


Woman with a white feather

I CONFESS to being uneasy when Cherie Blair was criticised at the end of last year. I felt that perhaps she should not be dragged into the public eye, even if she was a bit barmy.

How wrong I was! I now learn that she was busy last week ringing woman MPs and urging them to vote for war 'for me, if not for Tony'. What a fraud she was in trying to pretend that she does not play a political role. Not only does she play such a role, it is a thoroughly rotten one.
Karen Davies, Maidstone, Kent


Edinburgh had such a great day

I AM a student from James Gillespie High School in Edinburgh who marched on Thursday of last week. We had had many threats from the school and were warned not to walk out.

Even so, around 150 pupils from James Gillespie's alone walked out. We marched to Parliament Square where we met with pupils from many other schools including Boroughmuir, St Thomas of Aquinas and Trinity. We then marched down to Princess Street Gardens and were joined by hundreds of other students.

Together we marched to the US consulate where police had completely blocked access to the road. We marched straight past them, found access through a tiny private gate and came out round the back of the police.

I have never before been on events so inspiring and empowering, or had such a sense of unity.
Kari Robertson, Edinburgh


It was great in Manchester too

MANCHESTER school and college students said 'No war for oil' as they walked out of school and assembled in the city centre last week. Reports put the demonstration as high as 3,000. The students demonstrated across the city centre and occupied many parts.

However, the day was marred by police violence against demonstrators. There were 12 arrests, and several protesters-some as young as 11-were beaten by riot police.

However, Kelly Chadderton, who attends Tameside College, said, 'Today has been really well organised, and everybody is supporting each other.' Many were not worried about what their schools might do to them as punishment for walking out.

Jenny Phung from Trinity High School in Hulme said, 'Loads of people here today don't really care about what our teachers have said, because it's for a good cause.'
Chris Leary, Manchester


Bleak message from BT's move

THE NEWS that BT is trying to move its directory enquiries work to India has wide implications. It shows how empty is the talk from Tony Blair and others that the 'new world' of information technology will provide secure jobs for all.

In fact such jobs are subject to the same pressures as other work-vulnerable to the whims of profit-hungry bosses.
Gail Kramer, by e-mail


Who now says the EU is bad?

IT IS now clear that, at least in the short term, the EU can be a challenge to US imperialism. This does not mean accepting all the froth about the wonders of European integration.

But I certainly could not vote against Britain joining the euro or against getting more deeply involved in EU institutions.
Andrew Boyd, North London


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Article information

Letters
Sat 29 Mar 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1844
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