Racist attack in Dublin
Politicians to blame
DAVID Richardson lies in a critical condition in hospital after a brutal racist attack. He had been visiting Dublin with his wife to see his son. He was attacked because of the colour of his family's skin. As he walked through the inner city, thugs shouted racist abuse and attacked him and his family, stabbing him repeatedly.
The blame for this vicious attack lies in two places-with the thugs who carried out the attack and also with the Irish government, which has been scapegoating immigrants.
Irish justice minister John O'Donoghue criticised the attack and then proceeded to meet British home secretary Jack Straw to organise the fingerprinting and the deportation of refugees.
Ireland has a trickle of refugees, but a corrupt and desperate government, along with the right wing media, have created hysteria over the issue. This has created a climate where physical attacks on immigrants are rising at an appalling rate.
Tony O'Reilly, the richest man in Ireland, uses his newspapers to argue that refugees are scroungers, yet he lives in the Bahamas in order to avoid paying tax.
While the racist hysteria led to its logical conclusion-a man being knifed on the street-the response of local people to the attack was brilliant. People were disgusted and appalled by the news. Some 200 people from the area joined an Anti Nazi League protest at the scene of the attack.
- SIMON BASKETTER, Dublin
IMF stung by criticism and protest
OVER 100 staff and students packed into a seminar at the Institute of Development Studies in Brighton last week to debate with representatives of the IMF. Flemming Larsen, the director of the IMF's European office, and Brian Ames, of the IMF's "Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility" in Washington, came to Brighton to "listen and learn".
Larsen made it clear from the start that the IMF had been shaken by the protests in Seattle and Washington. He agreed that the gap between rich and poor was widening, and that many of the concerns about globalisation are justified.
The IMF even says it will rename its notorious "Structural Adjustment Facilities" as "Poverty Reduction and Growth Facilities". However, both Larsen and Ames argued that, although these global problems are a challenge to institutions like the IMF, their solutions lie in creating faster growth and more liberalisation.
The audience destroyed the IMF's arguments. "Isn't this just an even greater deception of developing countries?" asked one speaker.
Two contributors from Nigeria savaged the IMF, explaining how Structural Adjustment Programmes have wrecked the economy and ruined the lives of the poor. Other speakers questioned whether the IMF was really interested in creating a global economy where developing countries could compete and develop.
The economic crises in South East Asia and Russia were cited as examples of where the IMF was incapable of intervening to protect developing economies. Larsen and Ames found it difficult to answer most of the objections. Indeed, at one point Ames blamed the people of developing countries for their poverty, saying they should force their leaders to implement the IMF strategies "properly".
The loudest applause of the day came when someone said, "We should continue this debate on the streets of Prague!"
- ANDY PLAYER, Brighton
Build for Prague
AFTER BEING present at one of the greatest demonstrations so far this century-by this I mean the anti-Haider demo in Vienna-I feel I have to be at what looks like being the next one.
This is why I will be travelling with Rebel comrades to Prague to show our disgust at the way the IMF and World Bank treat the ordinary people of this world. Raising money will be no easy task, so that is why we must start collecting now. I collected �100 from fellow school students and my teachers to go to Vienna.
Now I plan to try and get funding from local trade unions and other organisations for Prague, and suggest that others do the same. It is so important to let the voice of the working class from all of Europe be heard. See you in Prague!
- STAN GRANT, West London
I WAS disgusted and angered to hear Doug McAvoy of the NUT support the Tory Hague in his call to exclude "problem" kids from mainstream schools. It is not the kids who are a problem, it is a system that puts profit before need. Every kid should be entitled to a decent education, no matter what the cost. I'm having this argument in my school at the moment. We have to fight for more resources rather than accept that the victims of the system are to blame.
Blair is not invincible-he lost the capital city. It's high time that McAvoy started listening to his members and not Tories. Getting rid of children with difficulties won't win more resources. We need to stand up for these kids. We must fight for more resources and put the blame where it belongs-with the league tables, the market and private business in education, and the way New Labour goes along with it.
- MARION O'MALLEY, East London
War on PC?
BECKY JAMES'S article about the recent attacks on "Political Correctness" (Socialist Worker, 17 June) was spot on. Those of us who teach at Stockport College felt the full brunt of this media campaign last week.
Articles in the Sunday Telegraph and Sun slammed the college for Political Correctness, claiming that words like "history" and phrases like "slaving over a hot stove" are banned by managers.
The local New Labour MP, Anne Coffey, jumped on the bandwagon, claiming the college had been reduced to a laughing stock. The press has taken a document which is used during staff equal opportunities training and claimed that the sayings in it are banned. In fact the document lists a series of terms which are discussed by staff as part of the training.
In the session I attended this was a useful exercise. No one was in favour of banning words like "history", but we were able to have a discussion about why many black people find the term "coloureds" offensive. The Macpherson report exposed racism in the police, and opened the door to a discussion about racism in all institutions. The recent attacks on PC are an attempt to stop this process in its tracks.
- JOHN BAXTER, secretary, Stockport College NATFHE
I WENT to a conference on gay and lesbian history recently. It was one of the best gay events that I have been to in years. The mood was for building a united left fightback over issues like Section 28. People spoke of the historical link between the high points in trade union struggle and victories for gay liberation.
Everyone was disgusted by the bigotry and hatred being whipped up by the Tories with the backing of New Labour and "Jackboots" Straw. We agreed to mass leaflet the gay pubs and clubs in Soho for the asylum demonstration on 24 June and to march as a contingent behind a banner. If you want to join the contingent, meet up outside Holborn tube station at 12.30pm. United we can fight the bigots and win!
- VIV SMITH, East London
Wycombe fights back over sell-off
WYCOMBE District Council tenants are stepping up their fight against transfer to a new private sector housing company. The offer document and propaganda videos have gone out. One woman was visited recently by four council employees at once who wanted to "discuss" the case for transfer.
Several angry meetings at the Star Blocks Estate, which is scheduled for demolition and redevelopment under the transfer scheme, have seen tenants reject transfer as the way forward. Campaigners are demanding the release of �30 million in local "right to buy" receipts, still frozen despite an emphatic commitment on "phased release" of all these assets in Labour's general election manifesto.
A public meeting addressed by Labour MP John McDonnell was attended by 40 people recently. He spoke of his commitment to the future of council housing and how four years of campaigning led to success in two transfer ballots in his west London constituency.
He emphasised the need to end the Labour government's support for transfers. The meeting agreed to support the lobby of the House of Commons over housing privatisation on Wednesday 19 July. This is likely to be during the first week of our transfer ballot. It will be an excellent focus for opposition to New Labour's great housing sell-off.
- MILES HUBBARD, High Wycombe
Pensioners are bitter
I AM a 72 year old OAP and wish to put to you the concerns, which I believe are shared by millions of other pensioners in this country at the shabby and disgraceful treatment imposed on us by Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and Co. During my working life I contributed to company pensions in the belief that I would have sufficient funds to sustain a reasonable standard of living when I retired.
Now I find the annual increase to my company pension has this year been limited to 1.1 percent. Surely pensioners deserve better treatment than a 1.1 percent increase? Pensioners are disillusioned and rapidly losing faith and trust in this New Labour government.
- RON WING, retired bus worker, North London
EALING BRANCH of the National Union of Teachers wants to counter the lies, hypocrisy and prejudice surrounding the fate of refugees and asylum seekers. We want to publish a pack of materials for teachers to use with students of all ages and abilities. Anyone who wants to contribute please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- NICK GRANT, Ealing
FUTURE political power lies in the hands of the young. You spend too much time trying to convert the adult population. It is only when you are young that you are not yet a full part of the system-national insurance, tax, the need to work. So truly revolutionary ideas have a chance to take root before they are stamped out by the need to survive and by the media machine.
- RAPHAEL HOLMES, aged 15, Middlesex
I'M A Green Somerset district councillor standing to become a members' nominated director of the Nationwide Building Society. Last year I got 250,000 votes for my stance to keep the Nationwide a fully mutual building society. I would urge Socialist Worker readers to back my campaign in the postal ballot taking place this month.
- ALAN DEBENHAM, Taunton