I feel betrayed by the Labour Party
As a firefighter I am at the end of my tether with the Labour Party, a party which I have been a member of for around 18 years since I left the Royal Navy. At our last FBU union conference our general secretary, Andy Gilchrist, argued strongly that the union had to continue to fund Labour, and only Labour. We voted loyally to stick with Labour.
But we have been treated with arrogant contempt. The government stepped in to scupper a potential deal and decided to attack firefighters and their union. Under the Tories the fire service suffered cuts, cuts and more cuts.
We expected a change under Labour, and indeed there is a change – it's attack, attack, attack on our pay and conditions, backed up by the threat of 10,000 job losses. When New Labour got in there was a warning straight away when we were told there would be 'no favours' for trade unions.
The Tories, of course, looked after their class ruthlessly. But Labour won't stand up for working people. I had hopes of getting involved in the local political scene in Gloucester for the Labour Party. I would now see that as a betrayal of my beliefs and a betrayal of my comrades. Sickened by what the last few weeks have exposed about the party, I am leaving Labour.
Phil Jordan, firefighter, Gloucester
He has spurned his roots
We are spitting feathers that Jim Fitzpatrick, the MP for Poplar & Canning Town, has refused to speak out in favour of the firefighters. Jim Fitzpatrick was a firefighter in London from 1974 to 1997 and on the national executive of the firefighters' FBU union from 1988 to 1997.
He went through the bitter firefighters' strike in the 1970s, and knows what it is like to be attacked by a Labour government and the press. But he has totally refused to back us, and instead lined up fully with the government that has attacked us so harshly. Jim 'Judas' Fitzpatrick has sold his soul to New Labour and obviously prefers the company he keeps now to the people he used to represent.
When Ken Livingstone and Frank Dobson were standing for mayor of London, Fitzpatrick told us it was vital that as firefighters we backed Labour. What has Labour done for us now, Jim? Without the FBU Jim Fitzpatrick would never have made his career. But he has now turned his back on those who put him in parliament.
Sian Griffiths, firefighter, Willesden, North London
MDC expels socialist MP in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main electoral opposition to Robert Mugabe, has announced the expulsion from the MDC of the working class activist and leader Highfield MP Munyaradzi Gwisai. He is also a leading member of the International Socialist Organisation (ISO), and is a regular visitor and speaker at the Marxism event each summer in London. Gwisai was found 'guilty' of six charges.
These included urging workers to use direct action to force bosses and the government to give them better wages, denouncing the IMF, World Bank, George Bush and Tony Blair as enemies of working people, and saying that MDC leaders have forgotten the masses who elected them. These charges and the expulsion in fact show how authoritarian, undemocratic and neo-liberal the MDC leadership has become.
Over the last three years the ISO has championed the cause of workers fearlessly and tirelessly. Gwisai had led the struggle to pass pro-worker measures in the new labour bill due to come before parliament soon. This has enraged the bosses. The expulsion of Gwisai signals the climaxing of the war that the rich, the farmers and the industrialists, backed by their imperialist masters like Tony Blair, have been waging against ordinary people.
The MDC Highfield district and wards have overwhelmingly rejected the expulsion. Students are threatening demonstrations opposing it. For solidarity messages or donations to assist us to produce leaflets and posters and hold meetings, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
International Socialist Organisation, Zimbabwe
Salford students take on Nazi BNP and say they will not be intimidated
We were horrified to learn that a first year politics student at Salford University, Tony Wentworth, had been 'promoted' to the position of national youth leader of the Nazi BNP. He follows Mark Collett, who was exposed as an admirer of Hitler's policies on the Channel 4 documentary Young, Nazi and Proud.
Wentworth's views are equally racist and disgusting. He has publicly stated that he believes 'genocide is being committed against the white Aryan race in Britain because of intermarriage and immigration'. Last week Anti Nazi League students organised a picket outside his lectures and seminars. The response has been fantastic.
Over two days we collected over 200 signatures, handed out 700 leaflets, sold badges and T-shirts, and postered and stickered everywhere. Disgracefully, I have been charged with a public order offence by the local police. The charges were pressed by Nazi Mick Treacey.
He was allowed to photograph us from the back of a police van. We immediately demanded that the duty inspector at Salford police station investigated. He confirmed that Treacey was in the van and had indeed taken nine photos of us. But we are not intimidated and are determined to build a massive anti-racist resistance to this Nazi on campus. Some students are organising a 'Love Music Hate Racism' gig at Salford. Radio 1 DJ Tim Westwood has agreed to perform. We are determined to make Salford University a Nazi-free zone!
Gary Duke, Salford University Anti Nazi League
I was delighted to see Socialist Worker (16 November) offering an alternative list of 'Great Britons' to the thugs, buffoons and parasites foisted on us by the BBC. But where was William Morris? A major artist and writer, a tireless propagandist for socialism and an important Marxist thinker who gave an original development to some of Marx's ideas.
Ian Birchall, North London
The BBC poll found the greatest ever Briton was Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill was a conservative and a warmonger who once sent in the troops to smash the miners in Tonypandy, South Wales. Blair is a ÒconservativeÓ and a warmonger who is attempting to smash the firefighters by use of the army. The only difference between Churchill and Blair is that while Sir Winston ate all the pies, at least Blair leaves that to his deputy, Prescott.
David Deakin, London
I liked Jonathan Neale's article on a future socialist society (30 November). Can I add (perhaps he thought it too obvious to mention) that the abolition of capitalist competition would also remove the drive towards war.
Mary Allinson, by e-mail
Many reports on the recent NATO summit in Prague in the Czech Republic did not mention that there were significant demonstrations against it. Many people were interested in our anti-war contingent and lots signed a petition against war on Iraq. We will play a full part in the 15 February Europe-wide demonstrations.
Jan Majicek, Socialisticka Solidarita, Czech Republic