Socialist Worker

LETTERS: Refugees drown as the crisis gets swept under the carpet

Issue No. 2562

A small boat of people from countries including Mali, Iraq and Bangladesh, rescued on Monday morning

A small boat of people from countries including Mali, Iraq and Bangladesh, rescued on Monday morning (Pic: Medecins Sans Frontieres)

From the deafening silence of politicians you’d think the refugee crisis was over. But the Mediterranean Sea continues to be a graveyard for refugees fleeing war, torture, famine and poverty.

The Daily Mirror newspaper reported last week that at least 69 people had drowned off the Spanish coast this year trying to cross from Africa to Europe.

Many of the dead are children.

European holiday makers use flimsy rubber boats for fun. Those without European passports risk everything to use them to try and get to sanctuary and safety.

Instead of welcoming those who have survived the perilous journey, most European countries are criminalising refugees and increasing border controls.

The camps near the French ports of Calais and Dunkirk have been destroyed.

Yet 21 miles from British soil over 1,000 refugees face constant police harassment. Tents and sleeping bags are confiscated, pepper spray and tear gas are used to intimidate adults and children.

The French authorities, with the backing of the British state, continue to build fences.

Six weeks ago I visited Calais and Dunkirk.

On a small area of wasteland near the old “jungle”, volunteers would come each day to distribute food. They brought a generator for refugees who were surviving in nearby woods to charge their phones, and water so people could wash.

Three weeks ago a large fence was constructed to stop this tiny bit of aid being delivered.

We know there are thousands of ordinary people who help and support refugees across Europe, and millions more who want to.

Whatever happens in British politics over the next few months it is still important we campaign and shout loudly.

This barbaric treatment of people has to stop and borders should be opened.

Sally Kincaid, Leeds

‘Tartan Blairites’ don’t deserve backing

The recent vote by the 34 Scottish National Party (SNP) MPs to back Chuka Umunna’s Brexit amendment should be the final wake up call for the left in Scotland.

The SNP cannot be trusted to back Jeremy Corbyn.

During every right wing challenge to his leadership, the SNP has conducted itself as the Scottish branch office of the Blairites.

For the left to support the SNP means asking people to back the party that is the true inheritor of Blairism in Scotland.

The SNP’s left wing MPs Mhairi Black and Tommy Sheppard are deservedly admired.

But neither of them has ever challenged or rebelled against the party line.

Hopefully with class and socialist politics back on the agenda the left inside the SNP will step up.

But the latest actions of the Tartan Blairites means that our support for them must be conditional.

If their conduct continues to undermine Corbyn then all future support in general elections has to go solely to Labour.

Mark Porciani, Glasgow

Defy this insult to solidarity

Supporters of Israel have begun a campaign against Aslef union president Tosh McDonald.

He spoke at a commemoration for the International Brigades that went to fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War.

McDonald argued that the plight of the Palestinians was a “great cause” for young people today, just as Spain and apartheid were for earlier generations.

In protest, Jewish veteran Martin Sugarman refused to lay his wreath.

He said the comparison was “profoundly antisemitic” and would make Jews unwelcome at the event.

He claimed that a disproportionate number of the volunteers in Spain were from Israel.

But Israel didn’t exist until a decade later.

Jews were represented in hugely disproportionate numbers. Most came from Europe, and saw fighting fascism as part of fighting antisemitism.

They were internationalists, often communists and socialists.

Zionists instead encouraged Jews to settle in Palestine, in an alternative nationalist “solution” to antisemitism.

Those of us who believe in the fight for freedom and justice for Palestinians need to support McDonald.

And we need to nail the lie that to champion Palestinian freedom is antisemitic.

Miriam Scharf, East London

You’ve got wrong line on much-needed HS2

Joe Rukin (Letters, 28 June) is wrong—there is no magic money tree for the HS2 rail line.

It’s a vital infrastructure project aimed at relieving overstretched north-south rail routes. It will cut internal air travel and provide thousands of jobs for years to come.

Yes it will be used by bosses. But as the experience of other high speed lines has shown, it will also be very popular with ordinary travellers.

There are problems with the route such as the destruction of social housing. And it is being forced into tunnels by “nimby” campaigners who don’t want a rail line to spoil their lovely views.

It’s likely the government will make as big a mess of train procurement as they did with the Great Western Electrification project.

But it’s still better than the alternative of even more lorries on the roads and planes in the air.

Dave Allen, Rugby

What does Owen know?

Owen Smith, who ran against Jeremy Corbyn last year, thinks Labour might have won the general election had he been leader.

But voters have spotted that neoliberalism from any party will not benefit them—only the rich.

The same groundswell that made Corbyn leader pushed Labour close to victory. With Smith as leader people would have stayed apathetic, seeing no real choice on offer.

River, Manchester

Time to start fighting back

When every public service worker has suffered from lack of funding in their service and no increase in pay, it’s time to stand up and say no!

Sue Ngwala, on Facebook

Never forgive Tories’ laughs

The Tories laughed and cheered at their success in blocking a pay rise for public sector workers who they praised as heroes only weeks before. This must never be forgotten or forgiven. The Tories have proven once again that they are lower than vermin.

Sasha Simic, East London

May made a damned deal

The whole Tory party should hang their heads in shame but they won’t.

You have to own a soul to do that, and they have sold theirs to the devil or the DUP—I don’t know which one is worse.

Tony Dalton, on Facebook

Royal burning injustice

Consider two fires—Windsor Castle in 1992 and the recent Grenfell Tower inferno in London.

The evacuation of the former concerned the queen’s paintings and antiques. The evacuation of the latter concerned poor people.

Guess which one’s evacuation, planning and management was given more tender loving care?

James Hayes-Carter, Cardiff

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Mon 10 Jul 2017, 10:43 BST
Issue No. 2562
Share this article

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.