Rebels take on fascists
THE GREAT protest against Haider recently in Vienna was joined by a group of young people from Britain. The transport was organised by the Rebel socialist youth group. We print views from some of those who went to the demo.
"THE demonstration against Haider had people from all over the world on it. The Austrians felt they had support and I felt unity with them. If fascism is a threat in one country it is a threat all over the world. It has made me more determined to be involved in activities that happen in Britain."
- MISHI FOX, Didsbury
"IT WAS really good to see so many young people inspired to take action. Seeing kids as young as 11 or 12 demonstrating and knowing what they want was great."
- JAKE ROSEMAN, Solihull
"THE PROTESTS against Haider can definitely make a difference. They can change things. There were so many students there. The Anti Nazi League placards were great and it was good to see so many people taking them. It is not just one single protest but an ongoing fight. Fascism should not be tolerated anywhere."
- LEONIE MORRIS, Manchester
"IT WAS a great experience and not only did it help the Austrians' fight, but it also allowed me to see how much people do care about their future. Everyone was united and it was fantastic."
- TRACEY THOMAS, Solihull
Employment Zones threatening workers and the unemployed
REED IN Partnership, a private firm, has won the contract to run the Liverpool and Sefton Employment Zone (EZ). EZs represent a move towards the privatisation of welfare. Pilot EZ schemes are being set up elsewhere in Britain. Conditions vary from one contract to another. In Liverpool it means that anyone unemployed for 18 months will have six months of Jobseeker's Allowance put into a "personal job account" controlled by Reed. If the jobseeker finds work during that period Reed keeps the balance as profit.
This is an incentive to force the unemployed into any low paid job or dodgy training scheme as soon as possible. EZs are part of a long list of free market policies from New Labour. They are bad news for the unemployed and workers. On Merseyside 70 jobs will be farmed out to a private company which does not recognise trade unions. There is real anger about Labour's worship of the free market. Socialists and trade unionists across Britain should build a campaign with the unemployed against the EZs.
- PAUL SINCLAIR, Liverpool
Your solutions are out of date
I AM not a constant reader of your newspaper, but I accept that much of what you say is relevant and serious. However, I cannot help but feel that many of your solutions to problems are taking politics back 50 years. Here I am of course talking about the nationalisation of railways. This does not mean that I think the current situation is acceptable in any way. But I do not like this nostalgic view that seems to be breeding about nationalisation.
The reality was that one company without competition became devoid of the concept of costs and became very expensive. You seem so obsessed with the New Labour and Conservative parties being "backward thinking", yet the ideas portrayed in your newspaper would take us back to the days of "class hate".
Over half the population in Britain is now what you labellers call middle class. Labour governments of the past were ineffective, unpopular and unsuccessful! Prime minister Callaghan left a country totally dominated by an organisation (the TUC) which used "bully boy" politics to run the economy and sent inflation through the roof! I am not rich. I am 17, living in Birmingham and doing my best to get by.
- DAVID, Birmingham
You have helped us
WE WISH to thank all those who showed us support during our battle for justice against the London borough of Islington. We want to give special thanks to branch secretary Rob Murthwaite, and all the stewards and members who supported us. We give special thanks to those who stayed out with us and in doing so lost their jobs.
Their action and ours has been vindicated by the ruling of the employment tribunal which found Islington council guilty of direct race discrimination, indirect race discrimination, direct and indirect sex discrimination, victimisation, unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal.
- CECILIA PROSPER, OLIVIA GERRAR, JENNIFER WILLCOCKS, JUDITH FERGUSON, LORRETTA MAYARS, North London
SOCIALISTS IN south London were saddened to hear of the death of Catherine Duffy. Catherine had fought for decades as leader of the Dorset Road Tenants Association. She battled for creches, after-school clubs, and adult education for those who spoke English as a second language.
Members of the SWP met her 16 years ago when we did weekly collections around the estate for the striking miners. When she joined the SWP last year she brought our meetings to life. We will sorely miss her accounts of daily battles with councillors and bureaucrats.
- CHRIS CHAPMAN, South London
Gandhi did not show a new way
FRANCIS KPPSCHALL (Letters, 26 February) is right to say that India is still a capitalist state. But he is wrong to say that this is because it has diverged from Gandhi's teachings. Gandhi explained that "we seek not to destroy capital or capitalists, but to regulate the relations between capital and labour." The Indian National Congress was an alliance between sections of the developing Indian capitalist class, and the urban and rural middle class.
Gandhi was financed by the leading industrialists of west India, including the Sarabhais textile magnates from his home state of Gujerat, and the Birlas, the second largest industrial group in India. Gandhi's "non-violence" did not prevent him from recruiting for the British in the First World War.
Gandhi adopted "Satyagraha" (civil disobedience) as a tactic to exert pressure on the British and gain concessions, but at the same time to keep mass activity strictly within limits and under his control. During the Royal Indian Navy mutiny in 1946 that formed part of a radical mass movement throughout India, Gandhi said that the ratings were setting "a bad and unbecoming example for India".
- UNJUM MIRZA, North London
All retreated on Section 28
The Scottish Executive's plan to scrap Section 28, Thatcher's infamous gay-bashing legislation, was one policy which suggested that the Edinburgh parliament might actually make a positive improvement in people's lives. Yet within only a matter of months of announcing the move the Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition has made a series of concessions to the bigots who have campaigned against gay equality.
The Executive is now pushing "guide lines" to replace Section 28. The Scottish National Party, which sometimes poses as a left alternative to Labour, was originally all for scrapping Section 28. Then some of its leading figures broke ranks. The leader, Alex Salmond, said his MSPs would have a free vote on the issue.
Now, opening the Ayr by-election campaign, Salmond has pushed for legal guidelines. The message from the major parties is clear. If you can get the leadership of the Catholic church to back you and get 1 million for your campaign from Stagecoach boss Brian Souter you can make policy in the Scottish Parliament. It is now down to trade unionists and socicalists throughout Scotland and Britain to step up the campaign to beat back the homophobic bigots.
- MARK BROWN, Glasgow
AS A Remploy worker in Neath I am disgusted at the way the government has threatened us with closure and left us so long feeling insecure. It is simply not practical for many of us to travel elsewhere to find work-and there is no suitable work available. I was chuffed to bits when Labour was elected. I thought they were about creating work and looking after people. Before Remploy I work ed for British Coal at Abernant, Blaenant and Tower collieries. Then, after closures and privatisation, there was no place for a "slow learner". We are like a happy family at Remploy, getting on with our working lives and making quality products. I hope that Labour will seriously listen to us and guarantee our futures.
- JOHN DAVIES, Aberdulais, South Wales
NEW LABOUR has given in to the BBC fat cats by agreeing to a 3 increase in the licence fee. This will be used for a 700 million subsidy to the digital television industry. Yet at the same time they are to cut widows' pensions. Then they break a solemn promise made after the Paddington disaster to take the safety control function away from Railtrack. At the next election it is time to turn away from this misnamed "people's government" and instead vote for a socialist alternative.
- JOE RUTHERFORD, Gateshead
I WOULD like to comment on your article on John Lennon (Socialist Worker, 26 February). The film documentary A Working Class Hero? shows Lennon singing "Revolution". When the rest of the Beatles were singing, "You can count me out", Lennon is clearly singing, "You can count me IN."
- BOB POUNDER, Manchester
I WAS very shocked to read in Socialist Worker (26 February) that one million children have died this year because their countries have to pay debts to governments and banks. If these people were dying in Europe there would be a tremendous outcry. I am very angry that European governments, including "caring New Labour", will not simply get rid of the debt. I am going to stay active around this issue until we win, because the morality is on our side.
- MICHAEL WILSON, school student, Coventry
I HOPE that the unity which we see among the left over the London elections can be carried forward afterwards. It is time for all socialists to forget about the quarrels of the past, and present a united front against capitalism.
- JANET MOORE, West London