Fight to free Cambridge Two
AROUND 1,000 people attended a demonstration last Saturday in London in support of Ruth Wyner and John Brock, the Cambridge Two. Ruth and John were sent to prison for four and five years respectively last December.
Their crime was to have run a centre, Winter Comfort, at which it was alleged that drug dealing had taken place. At no point was it alleged that Ruth and John had been dealing in drugs themselves, but simply that they must have known what was going on. This is an obvious injustice. The issue has wider implications. One of the key issues was whether John and Ruth should give the names of suspected drug takers to the police.
They argued they could not as this would break the relationship between the centre and its clients. The only way for the problem of drug use to be tackled amongst the homeless was to make people feel safe, which could only happen on the basis of trust and confidentiality. The MSF London housing branch, the TGWU housing branch, Camden UNISON, MSF London region and others back the campaign. Ruth and John are fighting injustice and need all the support they can get. To find out more phone 01223 513033, or contact 6 Hertford Street, Cambridge CB4 3AJ.
- SETH HARMAN, chair MSF London housing branch
I AM the mother of Donna Daniel. Donna went missing from her Bradford home in 1991 after suffering from post-natal depression. I asked the Salvation Army to help find her. In 1996 they notified me that Donna had died at a privately run women's refuge in Kent and was cremated. On examining the medical notes I realised that the dead woman was not my daughter. Donna is Afro-Caribbean. Descriptions of the dead woman vary from Asian to blonde-haired white woman.
Last Thursday 15 people from Bradford picketed the coroner's office in Kent. We received a brilliant response from local people. It is the pressure of working people that will reopen this case. The establishment and the New Labour government keep talking about family friendly policies-but they have done nothing but put obstacles and anguish in the way of family. We are asking the Attorney General to reopen the inquest. Please support us. Contact Bradford Against Injustice, Bradford Resource Centre, 17-21 Chapel Street, Little Germany, Bradford BD1 5DT.
- Felicia Daniel, Bradford
Turn fire on the right target, Ken
KEN LIVINGSTONE'S massive support among workers across Britain inspires all of us who want to see a growing socialist alternative to New Labour. So it was galling to hear Ken say on TV that police should "crack down" on refugees begging as their behaviour amounted to abuse of their children through neglect.
Ken has been around long enough to know that beggars are not the enemy of working people. When leader of the Greater London Council he rightly argued and fought for the rights of refugees and others. The very same Tory papers that attacked Ken then for promoting anti-discriminatory policies are now targeting new groups such as the Roma. Ken probably detests the racist scapegoating of refugees as much as anyone. In the past he has paid tribute to the contribution made by immigrants to a multi-cultural Britain.
I would love to see Ken get stuck into the real parasites in Britain. Were he to shout from the rooftops that asylum seekers aren't massacring jobs at Longbridge or Dagenham it would be fantastic ammunition against the bigots. It would help swing opinion against scapegoating. So come on, Ken. Help us nail the Daily Mail and the rest.
- PAUL SILLET, East London
Oppose sanctions horror
YOUR READERS will have been appalled at the revelations in John Pilger's recent documentary about the effects of United Nations sanctions, supported by our own government, on the Iraqi people. The sanctions regime has so far caused the deaths of over one million people. How does this relate to the British government's "ethical foreign policy"? The Mariam Appeal invites you to a day school on Iraq on Saturday 6 May at Kensington Town Hall, Hornton Street, London W8. There will be discussion, workshops and a number of high profile guest speakers. To book tickets or for further information call the Mariam Appeal on 020 7872 5451 or 07932 742 633.
- TRISH MEEHAN, Mariam Appeal, London
Labour debate opens in unions
THE LONDON mayoral election is opening up a real debate in the trade unions on our relations with the Labour Party-and the alternative. There was a meeting last week of political officers of London postal branches of the Communications Workers Union to discuss the London election. In our union, and at such meetings, it would usually be taken for granted that we back Labour and the Labour candidates. Not any more.
Our union leaders had issued a letter saying we had to toe the line and back Frank Dobson and the Labour Party. Senior union leaders were at the meeting. Many of the reps at the meeting were in the Labour Party, and some are Labour councillors. But after debate the meeting voted narrowly against the union leaders' line, rejected supporting Labour candidates and voted to back Ken Livingstone. Already most London postal branches of the union have gone further, coming out in favour of Livingstone, with many donating money to the campaign.
- Postal worker, London
Mood is buzzing
SOME 500 students at Warwick University occupied our administration block last week. Only last term the university was lambasted in the Big Issue as the most apathetic in Britain. It was the first sit-in here for 11 years, and the biggest since 1973. Even a few days beforehand the prospect of such action seemed remote.
We occupied because Warwick had just hosted a conference discussing how to create a privatised "Ivy League" of elite universities. The proposals list unlimited top-up fees as a "prime opportunity"-an opportunity for our fat cat vice chancellor, perhaps, but a kick in the face for working class kids hoping to go to university. The occupation ended after seven hours, and the term here ended buzzing with discussion about how to take the fight forwards.
- ANDREW STONE, Warwick University
AS A Leyton Orient football club fan I am outraged by the remarks made by the club chairman Barry Hearn recently. In a radio interview he said it was "disgraceful we let all those people [asylum seekers] into the country". This comes from someone who has made money from sports stars who themselves have emigrated to this country.
His cynicism is doubly offensive to all supporters, as the club has a good record on anti-racism and one of the up and coming players in the youth team is a Kosovan refugee. The club fanzine, the Leyton Orienteer, written by supporters, has denounced Hearn's remarks. Supporters from Orient and all other clubs should show their disgust at his remarks.
- TIM LEGGATT, East London
THE CURRENT state of "carer" welfare is appalling. A severely disabled person receives a home help for a couple of two hour sessions per week paid for by the state. However, should that person have a carer things are different. Then, unless that carer works for over 35 hours a week to help the disabled person, they will receive nothing from the state. The obvious solution is to pay a carer who is unable to find work, or only parttime work, a carer's allowance. That would at least be a start in addressing this appalling deficiency.
- READER, Edinburgh
THE GRANTING of independence to the Bank of England by the Labour government is directed to the establishment in Britain of the single European currency, the euro, in the next two years. Economic policy will then be decided by capitalist bankers from each member country of the European Union. These bankers will not face any election, so whoever we vote for will be excluded from any real decision making. This can only be challenged by united action by the working class.
- RAYMOND HOGAN