We found hope amid the horror in Calais and Dunkirk
Last week was half term for many teachers in England. Over 50 of us joined other trade unionists in a delegation of Trade Unionists for Calais to the refugee camp.
Some came for a day and some for the whole week.
A school has been built, including a room for adults, where around 30 people come every day for lessons in English and French.
There are teams of volunteer teachers who turn up every day.
The biggest worry is now the threat to demolish the camp.
There has been so much effort to make sure everyone has shelter, clothes and food.
And there is a sense of community and support from the hundreds of volunteers and visitors bringing solidarity.
But the worry now is that refugees will be left with nowhere to go, and no support networks.
A ten day reprieve gives a small window to build the movement to defend the camp.
We should tell our politicians in Britian that they must let refugees in and put an end to this shocking scandal on our doorstep.
Teachers should join the movement to defend the school and education centres which offer so much hope and human warmth.
Sara Tomlinson, South London
We have just returned from a visit to the refugee camps at Calais and Dunkirk.
The conditions that these courageous men, women and children are expected to endure in Dunkirk are dismal. The mud is deep and smelly. Tents are being erected on pallets but all construction materials are banned from coming on to the camp.
This is rigidly enforced by police at the gate checking handbags for smuggled tents and pallets!
In Calais a real community has been built under difficult conditions.
There is a sense of hope but also fear as the French authorities are threatening to bulldoze half of what is left. People living here have fled warzones for the perceived sanctuary and safety of Europe.
Now they are ignored and expected to live like animals in a field. They have nowhere to go—the camps are a humanitarian disaster on our doorstep!
Leda Prest and Sally Kincaid, We Are Wakefield
Much has been written about the French government’s plan to destroy community areas in the Calais Jungle, including religious buildings and schools.
Less has been written about their replacement. The French government has erected collections of white shipping containers fitted with bunk beds.
Access is gained via an entry code and a palm scan, isolating refugees from their communities, families and friends.
Doctors often find it difficult to gain entry.
More pernicious still are the lies being told—come to the new camp and you’ll get a French passport. We all know the opposite is true.
They’re trying to divide refugee communities in London and Paris from within a refugee slum.
Danny Rees, Birmingham
When cops ran riot
Forty years almost to the day this week I set off as part of the 1976 Right to Work unemployment march from Manchester to London.
We were protesting at the appalling level of unemployment—with a Labour government in charge.
On the last day of the march police attacked us in north London.
I was acting as the medic of the march.
But I was arrested and badly beaten inside the police station.
I was charged and found guilty of obstruction—but was later cleared after appealing.
I was never awarded any compensation.
And no police officer was ever prosecuted for perjury or giving false evidence.
We should hold a memorial demo and look back at the original Right to Work charter.
Its demands included opposition to all forms of redundancy, opposition to racism, and full trade union rights and wages for the unemployed.
Joe Cronshaw, Wigan
Unfair on EU debate
Is it not wrong for Socialist Worker (“Tories’ division over the EU referendum is a chance to beat back this rotten government”, online, 20 February) to attempt to taint socialists by writing, “Those on the left pushing to stay should remember that they are lining up alongside David Cameron, the large majority of the Tory cabinet, the austerity-imposing ruling elites across Europe, the majority of Britain’s top bosses and bankers, and the US ruling class”?
Socialist Worker does not also write, “Those on the left pushing to leave should remember they are lining up alongside Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and other austerity-imposing Tory ministers, Ukip, the EDL and a vast number of European racists, xenophobes, assorted fascists and Nazis.”
Jim Nichol, East London
Your editorial last week is wrong to call for a vote to leave the EU (Socialist Worker, 17 February). Socialists should fight to protect free movement of people.
Jake Baldwin, Bristol
Below the baseline
Interesting article on baseline testing (Socialist Worker, 17 February). But why are the Tories stopping at testing four year olds?
There’s an opening for private enterprise to test the aptitude of babies in the womb.
Ross Wilson, Cambridgeshire
Totally agree with teachers that baseline tests for four year olds are unfair and innaccurate.
No four year olds are identical in cognitive, spatial or physical ability.
Dirk Jansen, on Twitter
Get dirty to beat Tories
You’re right—striking is the only way the junior doctors can beat these bastards (Socialist Worker online, 12 February).
Get dirty. Fight force with superior force.
Eddie, on Twitter
Tories target BDS campaign
What a coincidence that Tory minister Matthew Hancock announced plans to stop councils boycotting Israel while on a trip to meet Israeli technology companies.
Israel has a budget of £18 million this year to counter boycott campaigns. Some of that is for tech companies to spy on them.
Alice Clark, Cardiff
Millions more must march
Thirteen years ago last week two million people marched in London against the Iraq war.
It may take a few marches on the same scale to bring the present government into line.
Dave Turner, Watford