Socialist Worker

A �900 million waste of space

Issue No. 1714

A �900 million waste of space

IT IS a bit rich to hear William Hague calling for the Dome to be closed when Labour has simply copied the Tories' plans. It's also a joke for Lord Falconer to claim that the Dome has brought jobs and regeneration to the borough of Greenwich. The latest �47 million brings the total spent on the Dome to around �900 million.

This money has not trickled down to those of us who live here. While millions were being wasted on the Dome, a local fire station was shut to save just �750,000 a year, as well as old people's homes and two local cinemas in the last two years.

Greenwich Hospital will close next year leaving only one hospital in the borough, which will be partly privatised. A local theatre and local libraries have been under threat of closure or have been shut for months on end due to lack of funding to carry out vital repairs.

Eight local schools are currently under threat of closure and the local university is threatening to pull out of Woolwich, which is already run down. The SE18 postcode, covering a large part of Greenwich borough, was recently found to be the poorest postcode area in London.

Two council housing estates have been sold off and now more face the same fate. The Dome has not and could never compensate for such destruction. This complete waste of money is nothing more than a symbol of Labour's support for big business over our needs.

It is one big advert for Ford, Boots, McDonald's and Sky. This is why it is so unpopular throughout Britain, and especially in Greenwich where only 40 percent of residents have visited the Dome even though we can get in for free!

Every community in Britain could find ways to spend nearly �1 billion, but no one would have chosen the Dome. No amount of spin from Labour will change this.

  • ADE WALTER, London SE18

Prague protest... Prague protest... 

Help others to go

I AM a Turkish asylum seeker and would love to go to Prague with my daughter to protest against globalisation. But neither of us has a passport. We feel like prisoners, unable to travel or plan our lives.

However, if we cannot go to Prague I still want to help others attend the demonstration. Recently I was in a garage getting my car repaired. I discovered that many of the workers were also refugees from Turkey, Kurdistan and other countries, working long hours for poor wages in bad conditions.

I asked them if they would support the Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers, and the Prague protest. Some of the workers gave me donations to help send people to Prague. They gave me details of two other garages who could offer support, phoning ahead to let them know I was coming.

The workers there were also very friendly. In total I collected �45 and sold four copies of Socialist Worker. My daughter and I are joining the protest in Brighton, and are looking forward to being part of the growing anti-capitalist movement in Britain.

  • DENIZ and GOZDE, London

Tune in to Big Brother

MARTIN Smith's piece on Big Brother (Socialist Worker, 26 August) is accurate when he acknowledges the programme's popularity. However, to dismiss all the contestants as "sad" and "desperate" is extremely unfair and somewhat elitist.

They are aware of their voluntary exploitation and can leave at any time. Their popularity lies in the fact that they are ordinary people who we can identify with. Many people enjoy this programme and don't feel exploited and debased by Channel 4.

  • NICK HOBBS, Glasgow

The same mood across the world

  • DEMONSTRATIONS greeted the arrival of Cottarelli, head of the IMF, in Turkey in August.

Over 500 people assembled for a lunchtime rally called by the Ankara Anti- Globalisation Campaign.

Speakers included the president of Tum Sosyal Sen, the white collar union. People then marched to another part of Ankara where a campaign table was opened for the build-up to the Prague protest.

In Istanbul 200 people attended a rally on the same day called by the Istanbul Trade Union Branches Forum. Striking council manual workers joined the rally. The IMF are pushing for faster privatisation in Turkey. The inflation target has been revised upwards but low wage rises have not changed.

But the government is nursing its wounds after teachers' action in June forced it to climb down over a scheme to move teachers from one school to another.

  • SOCIALIST, Turkey
  • A STUDENT doing research on the protests against the Narmarda Dam project in India recently sent back a report to me.

At the end of a five-day mobilising walk through villages there was a mass meeting for the boat and fisher people on the bank of the Narmarda. The writer Arundhati Roy was there.

Activists and the villagers saw the clear links between their struggle and those around the world against cut-throat capitalism.

  • PETER DWYER, Norwich
  • THERE SEEMS to be a pattern to most successful protest movements.

Stage one is when a group of people has finally had enough. They take to the streets to voice their anger.

The TV cameras come around, and their bravery is caught by the media and transmitted out into the mainstream consciousness.

We are at stage one now. Stage two is when the key messages of the movement are picked up and transmitted by two groups-the poets/ musicians and the students. We should be entering stage two shortly, where our campuses begin to buzz and musicians put our main ideas to song.

So keep the protests going, but also strap on your guitars and get out to college campuses to help spread the word.

  • CHRIS, Japan

  • ANY ILLUSIONS that Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow had left wing sympathies were shattered when he urged the P&O Stena Line boss to send his ships through the French blockade.
  • DAVE TAYLOR, Hampshire
  • IN THE article on what's behind the exam results (Socialist Worker, 26 August) it states the levels of attainment are improving despite underfunding in schools.

Can the success simply be put down to academic skills? New Labour needs to prove its education policies are a success and schools need good results to move up the league tables. Is it not possible that the exams are manipulated?

  • A Owens, London

The X-Men's roots are not radical

IN HIS review of the X-Men film (Socialist Worker, 2 September) Weyman Bennettt got some of his facts wrong. The creators of the X-Men comic in the 1960s weren't "a group of young black and white students and radicals".

Artist Jack Kirby and writer Stan Lee were two middle aged white conservatives. Kirby was the most dynamic comic artist of the 20th century. Most of his work ended up as the property of the companies he worked for, which continued to make profits from reprints while he died in relative poverty.

Nevertheless Kirby insisted capitalism was the best way to organise society. His politics went into the early Marvel comics. All their main characters were Cold Warriors who fought racist caricatures of "reds". Marvel comics began to change as the 60s unfolded in order to keep their readership.

They began to deal sympathetically with student unrest and challenges to authority. This process could also go into reverse, and in the Reagan years many of the comics regressed to their Cold Warrior roots.

  • SASHA SIMIC, London

Lively campaign wins

KIRKLEES COUNCIL first announced it was targeting our school, Birkdale High in Dewsbury, for closure in October 1998. Nearly two years later we are celebrating the removal of that closure threat. The High Court has ruled the council's decision invalid.

This was because two Labour councillors had "failed to declare an interest" as governors of a neighbouring school. But it was our determined campaign that won. We collected 8,000 signatures and lobbied every council meeting we could get to.

We had the biggest march in Dewsbury for years. We gained front pages in the local press week after week by being determined. We would like to thank all those who supported us. Our message to any other school, old people's home or hospital ward facing closure is if you fight, you can win.

  • DAVID GREEN, DENISE EDINBURGH, CAROL BROWN and seven other campaigners, Dewsbury

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Sat 16 Sep 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1714
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