Cops’ case against us was supposed to scare others
I and four other anti-fascists had cases against us dismissed out of court last week (Socialist Worker, 19 April).
Our crime was to protest against the Nazi British National Party (BNP) last summer in London.
BNP fuhrer Nick Griffin hoped to whip up race hatred in the wake of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby with a march on the cenotaph.
The Unite Against Fascism protest that day made sure the fascists got nowhere near it.
But many anti-fascists were arrested for doing nothing more than insist these fascists be denied any oxygen for their vile ideas.
Those arrested had draconian bail conditions slapped on us. We were banned from any protest against the BNP in central London until a court heard our case.
If any of us were to rightly oppose the fascists marching again we could be in contempt of court.
Five, myself included, were charged under a section 14 notice and finally had to appear in court over ten months later.
But the police couldn’t even be bothered to ensure their key witness—the cop who issued the notice we were charged under— turned up to give evidence.
Recently, many of those who do get dragged to court are seeing their case thrown out.
Our rulers claim we live in a democracy but what we are seeing on these protests is collective punishment. People’s democratic rights are being infringed by a system of mass arrests and bail conditions that restrict the freedom to protest.
And even when some cases make it to court the state can’t even get its act together to offer any evidence to prosecute.
That tells us that what they are doing is part of a deliberate strategy of repression.
We can’t just let them off the hook. We’re seeing the politicisation of the policing of protests.
It’s not a new thing but we should demand that the cops are held accountable and start answering some questions.
Sandy Nicoll, Central London
GPs are stretched to the limit
Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt claims that new longer GP surgery opening hours in England will benefit 5.5 million patients.
That’s ten times what the £50 million GP Access Fund was set up for last October, yet Hunt’s department says there is no new funding.
GPs would love to offer more appointments but are at full stretch covering unfilled posts. There are simply not enough of them.
A former GP myself, I know colleagues in their 50s who had a spring in their step about their work ten years ago. Now they are gloomy and exhausted, doing 13-hour days and still taking work home.
Workloads have increased to dangerous levels.
The government solution is to say there will be more GPs but, there is nothing to attract doctors into general practice. The pay rise of 2007 has now disappeared in year on year cuts to pay.
The Tories and New Labour before them have piled work on while cutting the proportion of NHS funding that goes into primary care including general practice.
A recent poll of GPs shows that over half rate their morale as low or very low and their current workload to be unmanageable or unsustainable.
Some 60 percent have considered retiring early and 37 percent were in the process of planning early retirement. While GPs are well paid compared to average workers, they really are fed up.
Dr Gerard Reissman, Newcastle
On yer bike Nigel, say cyclists
The European parliament has voted through legislation that could make lorries safer around cyclists and pedestrians.
Designing trucks so the driver can see more road users is not the complete answer to safer streets.
But given that cyclists are the most vulnerable road users we should welcome the fact this has been passed, even if it will take years to take effect.
More British MEPs voted against the measure than any other European country. Half were Ukip members—six of them, including leader Nigel Farage.
The one remaining Ukip MEP didn’t vote.
There are many reasons to oppose the openly racist anti-immigrant bigots of Ukip but cyclists now have one more.
Nilufer Erdem, West London
We can resist Gove’s tests
‘Don’t Test Tots’ argued Richard House and Simon Boxley (Letters, 5 April) and they are absolutely right.
They’re also right that those who work with young children should have nothing to do with these tests. We need what’s called “principled non-compliance”.
There is real potential to build a grass roots campaign against perhaps the most extreme of Michael Gove’s attacks on education and children.
Terry Sullivan, North London
Don’t believe the Tory hype
The government has made much of how it’s taken more people out of the tax threshold to make them better off.
Sadly, in the public sector, not only have we seen no pay rises on top of a cost of living crisis, but this government has also increased our pension contributions.
We pay more and the employer pays less. This leaves me poorer.So despite the hype I’m worse off than I was last month.
Jo Rust, Norfolk
Did so many need to die?
The facts emerging about the sinking of a South Korean ferry show the impact of lax health and safety.
Initial reports say few passengers made it to lifeboats and that just two of them were put to use, when over 40 were available. But that was for several hundred passengers.
Politicians often argue to reduce health and safety regulation to win favour with businesses.
Tragedies like this make clear how essential those procedures are.
Name and address supplied
You have to fight to win
I was delighted to hear that the Soas cleaners have scored a victory (Socialist Worker online).
There have been a few successful strikes like this in recent months.
Fighting back seems to get results.
Myra Jones, North Wales