Socialist Worker


Issue No. 1825

What the butler saw but we can't

WE ALWAYS knew the royals to be a bunch of greedy ruthless parasites. Now we know they would happily withhold evidence and send a innocent man to jail just to save their own faces. Butler Paul Burrell said he wanted to be 'a rock' to Princess Diana, a vain selfish clotheshorse.

A police search of Burrell's house found he had kept just a few of Diana's vast collection of clothes, a modest 20 suits, 37 hats and 75 sweaters! Burrell's obsession with the royals makes him a very sad man but not the thief the police accused him of being. His slavish loyalty certainly didn't stop the royal family plotting to crush him.

The queen conveniently forgot a conversation where Burrell told her he was keeping some of Diana's clutter until her sons were older. Presumably they would then be able to take the shock of knowing the extent of their mother's wardrobe – the size of a row of terraced houses.

The queen conveniently remembered the conversation just before Burrell was due to take the stand when he would almost certainly have revealed royal secrets, affairs and cruelties. The royals were terrified of Burrell because they 'treated him like wallpaper'. He knew everything about them because to them he was 'below stairs' and therefore subhuman. But it's not just the royals.

The judge at Burrell's trial seemed to think protecting the royal family was more important than seeing justice done. Any sane politician would seize on widespread revulsion with the royals to press for the abolition of the discredited monarchy and everything it stands for. Blair, of course, fell over himself to grovel before the queen.

She should pay the £3 million trial costs – as a last act before her and her horrible brood shuffle off into obscurity. Liz Wall, east London

Poland's workers are squeezed by EU enlargement

THE BIGGEST con since we were told that the introduction of 'shock therapy' (unemployment, privatisation, cuts) at the beginning of the 1990s would improve our lives. That is how many people in Poland see the Polish government's massive advertising campaign on voting yes in next year's referendum on European Union (EU) membership.

In 1994 around 80 percent wanted to join the EU. Today the figure is 60 percent. And that is after a massive pro-EU campaign. Poland's richest bosses are anxious to see EU enlargement go ahead. People like Poland's richest businessman, dollar billionaire Jan Kulczyk, see the prospect of bigger profits.

The leaders of the existing EU states want to guarantee neo-liberal policies will continue. In October the European Commission warned the new member states would be subject to 'monitoring'. Poland was criticised for not 'restructuring' enough.

The restructuring has already meant mass sackings. Unemployment is officially at 18 percent, with 80 percent of those not entitled to benefits. For months shipyard workers have been staging angry demonstrations, including blockading the streets because of redundancies and not being paid for months on end.

Last month they and miners fought with police two weeks running in front of the prime minister's office in Warsaw. As for Poland's two million farmers, the poorest two thirds are expected to go to the wall following EU entry.

Money from the EU has already been used to help 'restructure'. It has also contributed to the 'sealing' of Poland's eastern borders to prevent illegal immigrants entering Poland. These are the priorities of the EU and Polish bosses in a nutshell.
Andy Zebrowski, Workers' Democracy, Poland

Racist attacks rise where BNP organises

THE BRITISH National Party (BNP) holds itself up to be a respectable political party. It has been helped by papers such as the Guardian as well as the BBC, which have offered it plenty of column inches and airtime. But the true nature of the BNP has been revealed yet again.

In two areas where it is trying to build – Oldham and Burnley – the number of racist attacks has increased dramatically over the last year. A Greater Manchester Police report on racially motivated crimes has shown that these increased by more than a quarter. More than a third of all the racially motivated crimes which took place in Greater Manchester last year occurred in Oldham.

It also found that 68.1 percent of perpetrators of racist crimes are white. This is in stark contrast to some of the myths pushed by the local and national media. And these figures are according to the police statistics. Community organisations know that many Asians will not report such attacks to the police.

In Burnley the police's own figures again emphasise the extent to which the Asian community is terrorised by white racists. The BNP is a violent Nazi party. To continue to give these thugs coverage in the media will mean these horrific incidents will continue to rise.
Karen Evans and Michael Lavalette, Lancashire

We've won a battle in the housing war

SHEFFIELD CITY Council has decided to withdraw its 62,000 council homes from the government's stock transfer list. This is a tremendous victory for tenants and aspiring tenants everywhere. After the inspirational victory of tenants in Birmingham last March, and following pressure in its own city, Sheffield council has decided not even to ballot.

People in two of the biggest cities in the country have now rejected privatisation of council housing within a few months. We have not yet won the war, but this is a very important battle. The council may now go ahead with Arm's Length Management Organisations (ALMOs-ALMOst privatisation), or more likely try to deal with stock transfer piece by piece to divide and rule.

Its plans for demolition have barely altered – the demolition of perfectly good housing in order to sell off the land to speculators. We must still fight against all this. We would like to thank everyone everywhere who has helped us, especially campaigners from Birmingham.

We stand by our slogan: 'Sheffield says no! No demolition, no stock transfer, no privatisation!'
Ian Storey, chair Sheffield Defend Council Housing

Thanks from FBU

I CANNOT thank you enough for the support you have shown to the membership of the FBU. The FBU has always tried to be in the forefront in securing a better deal for its membership, and in the long term a better and more secure future for other trade union members.

In our national campaign we have called upon the assistance of other trade unions and like-minded people. When we turned around, who were right behind us? The SWP. Thank you never seems big enough. But when it is said from the heart and with feeling, I think you understand where I am coming from.

Thank you for your support on Saturday. We believe that we have shown the people in Bristol that we are strong and we will fight for a better deal. I believe the people of Bristol have shown that they support us and will not be taken in by the media lies.
Kevin Herniman, brigade chair FBU Avon

The Amicus clique looks after its own

CHARLIE McKENZIE was the campaign manager for Amicus joint general secretary Sir Ken Jackson in his failed attempt to cling on to office. Now we've learnt that McKenzie is to retire two days before Sir Ken leaves office, but will get a package worth £320,000 and a car.

This comes hard on the heels of the news that the executive of the MSF section has extended the contract of Roger Lyons, the other joint general secretary, until 2007. We had no say in this decision, which will cost the union hundreds of thousands of pounds, all for the privilege of having a 'spare' general secretary for a few extra years. These events are no coincidence.

Despite Derek Simpson's election, the Amicus national executives are still dominated by the old right wing clique, looking after its own. Roger Lyons has taken over Jackson's mantle as Blair's most reliable ally in the trade union movement.

All the more reason for Amicus members to press for a full inquiry into claims that officials interfered in the elections or covered up for those who did.
Ian Allinson, Amicus member, Manchester

Anti-war voices from heart of beast

IN SAN Francisco the march against the war on 26 October had between 60,000 and 100,000 coming out for the biggest demonstration in San Francisco since the Gulf War.

The mood was spirited, with participants from the Greens, peace activists, anti-capitalists, and many newcomers who had never previously attended a march. The metro was flooded with families with their placards, Bush imitators and musicians.

That we have had such large and radical mobilisations this early shows the potential to build a strong anti-war movement. Here a coalition of anti-war activists pulled off an all-night vigil at a federal building.

There was music, discussion and planning against the war. In the morning hundreds of activists surrounded the building and shut it down until midday. We have heard of creative direct actions against the war across the country which don't make it through the media blackout.
Sasha Wright, San Francisco

THE anti-war demonstration in Washington on 26 October was massive – somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000. People on the demo were of all ages and backgrounds. Buses brought in thousands of demonstrators from colleges and people from towns outside Washington. One of the striking things about this new and growing anti-war movement is people's desire to take direct action.

Activists feel the usual demos are not enough and the gravity of the situation demands more confrontational tactics. Our coalition in New York, 'No Blood for Oil', has occupied Hilary Clinton's office and the UN General Assembly.

This sense of unease about war in Iraq is combined with the continued souring of the economy, corporate scandals and a broad feeling of job insecurity.
Brian Campbell, New York

AS AN American I am not 'with' our president on the war, and I never have been. I am by no means alone in this. More of the US population have been roused up together to 'stop this war before it starts' than ever cumulatively protested against the Vietnam War.

Many thousands of people across the US are in strong and principled opposition to Bush's efforts to antagonise and bully the rest of the world.
Kat Zethmayr, Illinois

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Article information

Sat 9 Nov 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1825
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