Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2450

Demand justice for the 56, investigate the Bradford fire

The fire at Bradford City Football Club’s Valley Parade ground in May 1985 was a truly horrific and preventable disaster.

Bradford had just won the old third division championship and 11,000 people were in the ground to see them get the trophy. 

But as the game progressed fire ripped through the old wooden stand and killed 56 people.

An inquiry led by Mr Justice Oliver Popplewell reported that the fire was an accident waiting to happen. 

The ground had no safety certificate. The Health and Safety Executive (twice) and Bradford Council had written to the club warning of the dangerous nature of the stand and that it was a potential fire hazard.

Newspapers found underneath the stand were dated from up to 18 years earlier. The dried paper acted as perfect tinder for the fire.

Both organisations emphasised that proper escape routes had to be in place. Yet on the day many fans died because gates were closed and padlocked. 

Popplewell noted all these issues but praised the Bradford board for their conduct. He noted they were struggling financially.

But the financial pressures on a club who, two years earlier, were on the brink of liquidation perhaps point to another, darker explanation for the fire.

Evidence gathered by survivor Martin Fletcher suggests that Bradford’s owner at the time, Stafford Heginbotham, had seen eight fires at his businesses in the previous 18 years.

These had led to huge insurance pay outs. Fire experts suggest this level of coincidence is without precedence.

The case for a new inquiry is overwhelming. These new claims must be investigated and we must demand justice for the Bradford 56.

Michael Lavalette, Author of Capitalism and Sport: people, politics, protest and play

Support Ponty goes  to Pride

We are writing to you on behalf of the NEW College (Pontefract) feminism club.

Many of us have seen the film Pride and our college is located in what was the heart of the mining community before Tories closed the mines.

Our goal is to raise enough money to fund a coach trip to London Pride 2015.

So far the lads in our group have volunteered to be sponsored to walk a mile in high heels.

The original Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners group has pledged £50 towards our coach costs. 

We collected £336 at the recent NUT teachers’ union conference. But as sixth form students we are finding it hard to raise enough funds.

We know you have a deep connection with the LGBTQIA+ movements. And we as young people want to keep the memory of the link between these movements and the 1984/85 miners’ strike alive.

The local NUT association has agreed to help us manage our finances for this project. 

Cheques can be made out to Wakefield & District NUT and sent to NUT office, c/o Snapethorpe Primary School, St George’s Rd, Lupset, Wakefield WF2 8AA.  Or email us at

Yours in solidarity.

Rosa and Soraya and all at NEW College Feminism West Yorkshire

Don’t be fooled by lies that blame immigrants

It’s deeply disconcerting the way Ukip’s bigotry and intolerance has become part of the mainstream political landscape.

This has been assisted by David Cameron and George Osborne’s appeal to national “unity” and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

The Tories claim to represent all through the implausible cliche, “We’re all in it together”.

This is a squalid attempt to displace class antagonisms onto immigrants.

Immigrants are scapegoated as the primary source of problems such as a shortage of homes and jobs or inadequate public services.

The ultimate responsibility for problems in society lies with the large banks who were generously bailed out with enormous sums of taxpayers’ money.

As your front page declared, “Don’t get fleeced by the Tories” (Socialist Worker, 11 April).

Tom DavisEast London

Teachers are right to strike, Fiona Millar

Education campaigner and journalist Fiona Millar last week wrote an article opposing teachers’ strikes. 

This followed a decision at the NUT union’s annual conference to ballot for strikes if huge planned cuts to education funding are not withdrawn.

I understand Fiona’s point that strikes can divide people. And of course strikes can be difficult for parents.

But the problem teachers face is that no one is listening to our concerns. All the main parties, including Labour, are locked into a version of education that is subordinated to the logic of the market.

Unless this logic is broken, strikes will continue. Fiona is right to say we need a united campaign, involving parents, governors, teachers and others, against austerity—but where is it? 

In 1963 there was such a campaign—the National Campaign for Education (NCE). Unfortunately attempts to create a new NCE last year failed to do so.

Maybe after the election we could try again. Our children need a better education system.

Alasdair SmithNorth London

Boycott the Tory touts?

How about a front page calling for a boycott of Tory-touting businesses that are trying to tell us how to vote in the mainstream press?

Graham FudgerNorthants

People glad to hear of TUSC

I campaigned in Thornton Heath alongside other Socialist Workers Party members to make people aware of an alternative vote in the elections—Glen Hart of TUSC. 

The public was interested in who he is and what TUSC is about. 

They were glad to hear that a local man was standing up for the “little people”.

Juliet Adu-GyamfiSouth London

What about trains, Ukip?

UKIP has missed a trick in appealing to its core vote. There’s nothing in their manifesto about making the trains run on time!

John HeinEdinburgh

Starkey attack is a new low

Historian David Starkey has dismissed those who have fought institutional racism as “assuming the status of victims”.

He attacked Doreen Lawrence, who fought with dignity and courage to get justice for her son Stephen, who was killed by racist thugs in 1993.

This is the opposite of “assuming the status of a victim”.

Sasha SimicEast London

US polls are a family affair

I read with interest that Hillary Clinton is to stand in the US presidential elections.

It could be said that a series of family members standing since 1979 has duplicated policies that have been around since the 1970s.

The media will have us believe we are represented by a diverse political society.

In reality they are just one big happy family.

Graham ManleyLiverpool

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Article information

Tue 21 Apr 2015, 16:40 BST
Issue No. 2450
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