We don’t need to accept the rubbish the media dishes up
TV company Love Productions came to Southampton’s Derby Road this year to make a series about immigration in the style of last year’s Benefits Street.
This would have pushed immigration further up the political agenda ahead of the election.
A campaign of local opposition made sure they did not succeed.
People worried that distorted and sensational coverage might cause divisions in the community and could open the area up to the attention of the far right.
People were aware of the harm that had been caused to some of those portrayed in Benefits Street in Birmingham.
And they’re angry at Channel 4’s title Immigration Street. Just as in Benefits Street most residents are not actually on benefits, so in Immigration Street are most not immigrants.
Many peoples’ families have lived in the area for two or three generations. But it seems that for Channel 4 if you don’t have white skin then you are automatically an immigrant.
Local residents set up a campaign to oppose the making of the programmes. There were several large public meetings and a demonstration outside Channel 4 headquarters in London.
Many homes and shops carried window posters against the filming.
What the producers ended up with fell far short of their intentions. Very few locals were willing to take part.
Much of the programme focused on the difficulties the production team faced because of overwhelming local opposition.
The result was a mean spirited attempt to portray the area as violent and criminal.
Just one episode was made, rather than six. And the viewing figures were much lower than for Benefits Street.
The success of the campaign shows that we don’t have to just sit back and accept any old rubbish the media dishes up.
Ian Hogg, Southampton
Demand SNP gives top cop the boot
Anger is building about Police Scotland’s stop and search policy. The policy has been rolled out since the controversial creation of a single Scottish force under top cop Stephen House. This has led to more stops per year than are performed by London’s Met.
There is particular concern about “consensual” stops of children as young as nine. After a debate in parliament the police said they would cease the practice. But they simply continued as before.
When challenged on this, House arrogantly accused MSPs of political interference. Under parliamentary scrutiny last week he gave very poor justifications for the policy and his behaviour.
It comes just months after the row about House’s policy of having some officers on routine duties armed. People have been shocked to see armed police on traffic duty or policing a peaceful demo.
There are demands for legislation to ensure that all stop and search is statutory and the police obey the law.
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has replaced Kenny McAskill, the justice minister who supported these policies. Now she needs to demand the resignation of Stephen House.
Margaret Woods, Glasgow
End the nightmare of railway privatisation
Since privatisation the cost of rail travel has risen disproportionately compared to inflation.
But the standards of virtually every rail company has dropped year on year.
The East Coast mainline franchise made a profit of £13 million last year with the cash returned to the Treasury.
This is in stark contrast to Northern Rail. It has shocking punctuality records and a record of treating its staff appallingly.
Northern Rail plans to temporarily plug a gap in its rolling stock with ageing old London Tube trains to replace even older and more unreliable Pacers.
We need decent prices and comfortable, reliable trains, adequately staffed by workers with decent conditions.
But rail bosses only care about profits and their own bonuses. The only way to ensure they are run in our interests is to renationalise the railways.
Katrina Lawrie, Wigan
A call for solidarity
An increasingly repressive Tory government in Spain has ordered the arrest and jailing of seven anarchists in Catalonia.
They have been transferred to a court in Madrid. An effective defence cannot be prepared as they haven’t been charged.
I urge Socialist Worker readers to support protests on Friday of this week in London, Dublin, Belfast and Edinburgh (12 noon to 2pm, Spanish Consulate, Castle St).
The excuse of fighting “terrorism” is being used in Spain, as in Britain, to attack our rights and freedoms. International solidarity is crucial.
Gordon Davie, Edinburgh
Ukippers are repugnant
Another day, another expulsion from Ukip. This time it’s Thanet councillor Rozanne Duncan who said she really has a problem with people with “negroid features”.
I have lost count how many people Ukip has expelled for such racist views. I suspect there are plenty still in the party and believe it’s more than happy to have them—until they are uncovered.
I thank Socialist Worker for its excellent reporting that exposes racism in society. And I encourage readers to join the anti-racist demonstrations on 21 March. I will be marching in Cardiff.
Martin Webb, Swindon
NHS robbed of thirty nurses
disgraced cash for access Tory MP Malcolm Rifkind’s role in the awarding of an NHS contract to Alliance Medical is being questioned.
Rifkind is a director of the private company that won the bid to deliver cancer scanning services in North Staffordshire, despite a rival NHS bid being £7 million cheaper.
That money could’ve been used to employ an extra 30 nurses over the 10 years of the contract.
Fran Manning, West London
Care UK sells off services
i read that Care UK is to sell off three of its divisions including learning disabilities services. So we could be sold to another company.
Everybody wonders what is happening. We struck against them for the best part of last year.
I’d be glad to see them go. We were right to strike for what we believed in.
Privatisation has done nothing for us. Labour did not fight for us, but now they’re using the NHS as a vote catcher. It should have supported us NHS staff from the start.
Theresa Rollinson, Doncaster
Not lovin’ the tax dodging
McDonalds has dodged more than £800 million tax in Britain between 2009 and 2013, according to new research.
All made possible by shifting its European intellectual property and franchising rights to a Luxembourg-based subsidiary—with just 13 employees.
I bet they’re lovin’ it.
George Connelly, Vancouver
Fifty shades of neoliberalism
Don’t know about Fifty Shades of Grey, but all the three main parties are offering in the general election are Fifty Shades of Neoliberalism.
We are all expected to enjoy sado-austerity. But it looks to me as if the people inflicting it are enjoying the experience a lot more than those suffering it.
John Newsinger, Brighton