Socialist Worker

LETTERS - anti-racism is a fight for the interest of the working class

Issue No. 2532

Part of a national anti-racist protest in London in March this year

Part of a national anti-racist protest in London in March this year (Pic: Neil Terry)

At a recent meeting my union branch—health workers in the Unite union—affiliated to Stand Up To Racism (SUTR). They agreed for me to write an SUTR article in every issue of our monthly newsletter.

It goes out electronically to 900 members, and stewards distribute copies every month around canteens and staff rooms across a large NHS trust.

This will be a great way to make SUTR a visible presence in the workplace. It allows us to make contact with people in other unions to discuss building an anti-racist culture in the workplace.

This in turn will help identify anti-racists who can help build SUTR and the national demo on Saturday 18 March.

A few days later I got Preston trades council to affiliate to SUTR.

Last week I attended Unite’s regional health sector committee. It agreed to support SUTR and submitted a motion to the north west regional committee.

It asked the region to provide transport for the demo and to encourage branches to send delegates to the SUTR trade union conference on Saturday 4 February.

We can raise SUTR at every level within the trade unions, and strengthen anti-racism in the workplace through our union branches and in local areas through trades councils.

At the same time we can pressure bodies higher in the union structure to pass anti-racist policies, turning affiliations into concrete support.

Mick Mulcahy, Preston

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock says the party fails to represent the interests of the “white working class” because it has been too obsessed with diversity.

There’s no evidence of Kinnock supporting the working class.

His constituency includes Port Talbot steel works, but he’s been lacklustre at best in campaigning for it. In parliament he has done little to oppose the welfare reforms that have hammered his constituents.

It’s also wrong to suggest that “diversity issues” and the interests of the working class—even the “white working class”—are in competition with each other.

Even the white section of the working class is diverse—men and women, straight and LGBT+. And crucially, allowing our class to be divided into an “us” and “them” only benefits the ruling class. That’s a disaster for black people—and the “white working class” too.

Alice Greenlees, Swansea

The suggestion that people should show passports and utility bills before they get NHS care was blatantly cynically timed the day before the Autumn Statement.

Philip Hammond made it clear the NHS will continue to be starved of funds, even though he knows it’s collapsing. So there’s a move to pretend it’s the fault of foreign passport holders.

Lots of people have a foreign passport but pay tax in Britain.

Not all taxpayers have utility bills to show—only one person in a household has their name on the bills. And lots of elderly people don’t have passports. My own mother couldn’t jump this hurdle.

People who need healthcare should get it, full stop. And until politicians are stopped from investing in tax-avoiding firms that take NHS money for private profit,

I won’t believe this measure has anything to do with who pays tax.

It’s aimed at diverting opposition to NHS cuts. It’s aimed at making us distrust “foreigners”. It’s aimed at delaying people who look different or speak a different language when they’re in need.

It’s a racist disgrace.

Lin Clark, Bristol

A right to storm out

Sociology teachers are often accused of having a left wing bias. But sometimes the right wing does our job for us.

Last week 800 A-level sociology students attended a conference whose final speaker was Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens.

He opened by berating them, insisting they listen with open minds.

He went on to demand a return of grammar schools, savaging their “second rate” comprehensive education as a social experiment “sacrificing quality”.

Hitchens didn’t engage with a student who argued that the Finnish education system was least selective and most successful. He stormed off the stage to the derision of students—who took to social media to tell their mates.

Hitchens said on Twitter, “One day this experience—of not having their insolence indulged, and of being challenged—will do them good.” The students used slightly more colourful language about this repugnant right winger

Simon Shaw, East London

Teamsters want change

The Teamsters’ union in the US recently elected its general president. The vote showed how progressive activism for reform from the bottom up is spreading in the labour movement.

Incumbent James Hoffa narrowly beat left candidate Fred Zuckerman, with the press and the bureaucracy on Hoffer’s side. I am a campaign worker for Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), a member of the Teamsters rail section and organiser for Zuckerman’s Teamsters United campaign.

Zuckerman and his group has alliances in TDU and used TDU resources. TDU had an organisation of experienced activists.

Radical reformists, allied with union activists, took the lead. Socialists and red progressives should see this as organising at the shop floor level. We TDU are experts at that and it shows in the push for reform democratic in this election.

JP Wright, Louisville, US

For trans liberation

The Socialist Workers Party held a day school on trans oppression recently.

More and more people are identifying as a different gender to that assigned at birth, or seeking gender identity treatment. This has been accompanied by a wider questioning of a rigid binary definition of gender.

Socialists should welcome this openness in challenging the way that gender is so rigidly defined and stereotyped.

The oppression of transgender people is all too real. The US state of North Carolina passed a law prohibiting the use of bathrooms by trans women.

In Britain, some feminists including Germaine Greer, have argued against trans rights. But there is no reason to counterpose trans rights with those of women.

The structures that control and limit our bodies and our desires need to be overthrown to create a new, liberated world for all.

Michael Dance, North London

Every little helps the rich

One Tesco store was accused last week of making children from a state school queue to go in, but those from a private school go right in.

Challenged about this discrimination on Twitter, Tesco replied that the store manager “said the private school normally have a lesser amount of children which is quicker and easier for the store”.

It seems Tesco is fully in favour of giving special treatment to the privately educated.

Michael John Booth, Bradford

How soon can Farage leave?

Donald Trump wants Nigel Farage to represent Britain as ambassador to the US? Excellent idea.

Farage already qualifies by keeping up the tradition of British politicians having their heads up US presidents’ arses.

And his departure would free up a space in Britain for a child migrant from Calais.

John Curtis, Suffolk

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Article information

Tue 29 Nov 2016, 16:52 GMT
Issue No. 2532
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