Socialist Worker

Blair should be worried

Issue No. 1847

EAST OXFORD's Labour MP, Andrew Smith, is a senior foreign office minister who sits in the cabinet. There have been angry anti-war demonstrations each time Smith has held his constituency surgery in Oxford. Many people in the Labour Party are angry with Smith because of his support for the war.

But it is activists outside the Labour Party and the revolutionary left who are really pissed off. One of them, off his own back, paid for 1,000 badges saying 'Deselect Smith'. As of the last protest against the war in Oxford he had sold 970 of them. Oxford City Council has passed a unanimous motion against the war. The disillusionment with Labour inside and, even more, outside the party runs deep.
Jonathan Neale, Oxford

TONY BLAIR may think that he is out of the fire as far as the war in Iraq is concerned, but the experience from Croydon in south London is that he has plenty to worry about. Both of Croydon's Labour MPs, Malcolm Wicks and Geraint Davies, are pro-war. Their Constituency Labour Parties have passed motions in opposition to the war, and members are openly talking about deselecting the MPs.

Some of the loudest applause from the 200 people at last week's Stop the War Coalition rally in Croydon was when speakers called for Wicks and Davies's deselection. Wicks, a junior minister in Blair's cabinet, should be especially worried, as even if he manages to get selected, his constituency includes a large Muslim population totally opposed to this war.

Many Labour councillors in the area have come out in opposition to the war, and are active in the local Stop the War Coalition.
Dave Franklin, coordinator Croydon Stop the War Coalition

THE SUN is getting the knives out for left wing Labour MP George Galloway. He would certainly be welcomed in Newham in east London to be the East Ham MP instead of Stephen 'career before humanity' Timms. War is especially unpopular in a mixed area like this.

Stephen Timms doesn't reflect the anti-war feeling so prevalent around here. I'm sure that Stephen Timms doesn't think he's being hypocritical. There are many of us in both Newham and Baghdad who would disagree.
Colin Yates, East London

An act of heroism

TWO BRITISH servicemen have been sent home after refusing to fight in Iraq because of the civilian casualties being caused. They face up to two years imprisonment. Every anti-war activist should send them a letter of support.

Being a poll tax prisoner, I can fully understand what they are going through. We managed to turn the imprisonment of people who refused to pay that tax into campaigns that embarrassed local authorities for punishing people in such a way. I think we could launch a similar campaign for 'our boys' in Colchester barracks.
Andy Smalley, Aberdeen

  • Write to their solicitor: Gilbert Blades, Wilkin Chapman Epton and Blades, Bank Street, Lincoln LN2 1DR.

  • Millions are still not convinced

    BRITAIN AND the US may be able to militarily defeat Iraq, but that doesn't mean they will win politically. On the day that the news reported the toppling of Saddam Hussein I watched BBC's Question Time. I assumed the media's coverage of events would sway the audience in favour of war. Far from it.

    The level of anger and mistrust of Bush and Blair struck me. The Socialist Alliance supporter and Independent columnist Mark Steel did a fantastic job in smashing the pro-war arguments. It was clear that the majority of the audience were questioning the real motives for the war and what it would deliver for Iraqis.
    Andrew Baisley, East London

    THE TIMES saw fit to celebrate the downfall of Saddam Hussein's regime by reprinting Shelley's poem 'Ozymandias'. It depicts how mighty tyrants can fall into the dustbin of history. The verse seems appropriate, but they could have found more troubling poems from Shelley.

    Shelley staunchly opposed the militarism of our rulers. In 'Queen Mab' he wrote: 'War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight/The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade/And, to those royal murderers, whose mean thrones/Are bought by crimes of treachery and gore/The bread they eat, the staff on which they lean.'
    Mark Harvey, South East London

    Take heart from our experience

    THE ANTI Nazi League (ANL) has stopped the Nazi BNP from standing in Barrow's local elections on 1 May. After much confident talk, BNP prospective candidate Charles Bickerstaffe backed down following a strong anti-Nazi campaign in the north west town. Our campaign sprang into action at the first whiff of local Nazi activity. We exposed the BNP as the racists they are.

    Bickerstaffe was photographed holding a picture of his mixed-race grandchildren. This was published in the Barrow Evening Mail where he claimed to be non-racist. This was then printed in the BNP's Freedom magazine, causing many BNP members to burn their copies and demand his expulsion.

    BNP member Guy Thomas said, 'We don't think being mixed race is a good thing.' The ANL has stopped the BNP hijacking an anti-war protest, petitioned, organised a 450-strong ANL gig, removed their leaflets from phone boxes and much more.

    This caused their climbdown. Every activist should take confidence from our experience. Every little bit you do can make a difference in stopping the BNP.
    Anti Nazi League member

    The Mirror has let us down

    AS A Daily Mirror reader I am angry to see that the paper no longer has a clear anti-war stance. Until recently the Mirror stood out from all the tabloids and many broadsheets as it opposed the war. It campaigned and mobilised people. Unfortunately, the editor Piers Morgan says he is worried about sales and the paper has switched to call for support for 'our troops'. While still critical of Bush and Blair, the Mirror is not a campaigning anti-war paper.

    Now more than ever we need a paper to expose the truth about this war and the US occupation. Fortunately the anti-war movement has Socialist Worker.
    Sam Birnie, East London

    Troops with a very bad record

    NEWSPAPERS LIKE the Daily Record have given uncritical support for the 'brave lads' in the Scottish regiments. Their fine military record includes the massacring of Native Americans in the French and Indian wars in 1756-63, the plundering and slaughter of the sultanate of Mysore in 1799 and the destruction of old Delhi in 1856. All the main parties and papers support 'our boys'.
    John Brown, Glasgow

    Warriors march against war

    NEARLY 4,000 ex-British Gurkha families marched on the streets of the capital Katmandu in Nepal on 15 February saying no to war on Iraq. You can find more details about it from
    Tham Sarki, by e-mail

    US didn't bring freedom for all

    IN SOCIALIST Worker (Letters, 5 April) Jamie Rankin says that in the Second World War the Allies, including the US, invaded France, Germany and Japan bringing democracy.

    But the Allies left a large amount of the Nazi infrastructure in place in West Germany and did a similar thing for the establishment in Japan. The US dispatched Lucky Luciano to organise social control in south Italy using his Mafia contacts.
    Donald Casson, Lancashire

    We need schools not weapons

    I AM standing in the council elections as the Socialist Alliance - Welfare not Warfare candidate. I am part of the campaign to save Lowfield school. We are determined not to see our brilliant multi-ethnic school shut down. We want to highlight its great anti-racist track record and how it is the heart of our community.

    The anti-war movement plus a socialist alternative of welfare not warfare is central to creating a world free of poverty, prejudice and intolerance.
    Angela Shann, Sheffield

    Leaders must call action

    THE TUC's statement issued on the outbreak of war was gutless. Many of the European trade unions were much better, calling for protests and strike action. In Britain the left wing union leaders known as 'The Awkward Squad' such as Bob Crow, Mark Serwotka, and Paul Mackney of the college lecturers' union Natfhe have been tireless in promoting the anti-war message.

    Many lecturers walked out with students and other staff on the day war broke out. Management hasn't disciplined one person. If the TUC had given the same support, the effect would have been hugely magnified.

    The left union leaders should issue a call for action in our workplaces for peace on 1 May.
    Howard Miles, Natfhe member, Bradford College

    State wants to intimidate us

    SATURDAY 29 March was a bad day for peaceful dissent. I was on the protest from the BBC to the US Embassy in central London that day. There were hordes of police - van after van, groups of motorcyclists and a helicopter.

    The aim was to intimidate. I felt trapped. It is freedom of speech that is being shot dead by this war.
    Zekria Ibrahimi, West London

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    Article information

    Sat 19 Apr 2003, 00:00 BST
    Issue No. 1847
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