One month ago Leanne Mohamad, a girl from Wanstead High School in east London, won the Redbridge Speak Out challenge with her speech Birds Not Bombs.
It was brilliant to hear a student speak passionately and eloquently about her feelings and experiences of being a Palestinian/British student.
The speech was an anti-racist plea for peace that celebrated the struggle for Palestinian rights.
She won the competition on merit. A video of her speech was posted on the Speak Out website and she was expected to progress to the London final.
However, instead, Leanne was subjected to intense personal and racist abuse on social media. The abuse expressed racist and Islamophobic attitudes towards young Muslims and to Palestinians in particular.
Shockingly, her video was taken down from the website and she was not allowed to progress to the final. This sent out the wrong message and was clearly influenced by outside pressure and the climate of hostility created over the issue of Palestine.
As teachers we feel that this is an outrageous way to treat a fifteen year old girl.
It is appalling that she and her school have been treated so unfairly. It is an attack on free speech in schools.
It is also a dangerous sign that Islamophobia is growing.
Our NUT association unanimously backed Leanne and her school in Redbridge this week. After a wave of protest in Britain and across the world, Leanne's video was reinstated on the website.
We want to express our complete support for Leanne, her teachers and her school. We cannot let reactionary, racist views about the Palestinian struggle and the Muslim population win out.
We believe that it is vital that students have the right to speak out against racism.
If they are attacked for doing so, then we stand with them 100 percent in solidarity.
NUT members, Redbridge
I’ll defy court over fracking
I will be in Blackpool Law Courts on 24 June. The court wants me to pay £55,342.37 in court costs for an “eviction” of a 3-week camp in 2014.
The camp was in a field earmarked for fracking by Cuadrilla. There was no eviction as we’d already gone.
I am standing against my government and demanding a frack-free Britain. I don’t want to do this—it’s such a bloody time-consuming, life-eating thing.
I’m one of many regular people thrown out of my comfort zone.
The past five years should have been spent enjoying my granddaughter passing from a child of six to a beautiful young girl of 11.
Instead they’ve been spent at roadsides, campsites, courtrooms, meetings, marches.
But I have to object to plans to take risks with our air and water. I am not willing to risk the health and wellbeing of our children.
I know this is being done to make an example—to show that if you do stand up, there is a price to pay.
I can’t pay the costs. But the real issue is that I will not pay criminals or contribute in any way to harm.
If people want to support me I would ask them to take action against this industry. Such action has contributed to Britain remaining frack-free for five years.
Tina Louise Rothery, Blackpool
Why I decided to leave the Labour Party
As an active Labour Party member I was very happy and excited when Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader.
But I have become disillusioned. Corbyn is completely hamstrung.
You can see that with how he’s said he supports a Remain vote in the European Union (EU) referendum. Everybody knows he opposes the EU.
And I’m disappointed with my local Labour Party.
It is run like a closed shop. It’s very hard to find out even when meetings are going on—I had to email four people.
I went to a constituency meeting and anyone who supported Corbyn had no say. You had to be nominated from a local branch to have a vote.
It was mostly “delegates” from branches there.
But why would anybody else go if they can’t have any say in what goes on?
They were going on about how important it is to back the EU, which really put me off. I just thought, this is not where I’m at—I want change.
For a long time I thought that could happen in the Labour Party, but now I don’t.
I’ve joined the Socialist Workers Party instead.
Ben Bradshaw, Bolton
The Feminist Library needs your support
The Feminist Library is fighting back against its recent eviction threat. It is organising a summer benefit for Saturday 2 July to fundraise for new premises.
Artists, writers and musicians will perform new and old works in spaces, nooks and crannies of the library.
The 8-hour experience will include the launch of the Feminist Library Survival Song.
Award-winning novelist Ali Smith will talk about her new book Public Library and Other Stories, a passionate defence of the importance of libraries and literature.
The Feminist Library Collection
The EU vote and the left
lJeremy Corbyn is in a no win situation regarding the European Union referendum.
Whatever the result he’ll get the blame from the Blairites and media.
@stumac59, On Twitter
Aye I know that’s why he should have stuck to his beliefs and supported #Lexit instead of siding with the enemy.
@theaceofspuds, On Twitter
In or out we’ll continue to see privatisation and racism. Workers are not confident. The Left is weak and has much work to do.
@lizburdon, On Twitter
Defend the right to choose
The anti-choice Life group is launching an online campaign in Britain called Ignite.
One good aspect is that anti-abortionists feel they have to make a shift because there is so much support for abortion rights.
Life said abortion rights have become “an unassailable part of UK life”. We have to keep it that way.
Lucy Wright, Leeds
Mike Ashley is not unique
Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley got pilloried over his firm’s treatment of workers last week.
But a culture of fear and harassment is pretty universal across the sector.
The union movement as a whole has not effectively engaged with this. Ashley is a symptom—we need to address the cause.
Louis Kasatkin, Wakefield
Where have the flags gone?
It doesn’t seem like there are as many England flags around for this year’s Euro football tournament.
The whole thing feels more low key. Is this because of a fear that whipping up nationalism could encourage people to vote Leave?
Paul Robertson, Newcastle