Fit for next US call?
NEW LABOUR’S decision to fight the next general election on a law and order and security platform is more than just electioneering.
We are all familiar with David Blunkett’s reactionary domestic legislation, but what has attracted considerably less attention are Geoff Hoon’s proposals for the reorganisation of the military.
The British army is being reconfigured so that it will be in a position to play a full part in future US military expeditions.
There is no doubt that Blair, Hoon and Co have been embarrassed by the army’s inability to take part in Fallujah-type operations.
This has been a doctrinal failure – confronted with the level of resistance in Iraq, the British on their own would have pulled out by now.
And it has also been a technological failure – the British army is just not equipped to flatten cities in the manner of the US Marines.
All this is going to change, and the British army of the future is going to be able to fight alongside the US in the military interventions to come.
Blair’s commitment to the US’s future imperial wars is quite open and unashamed.
One important part of our political work has to be to make Labour MPs make clear where they stand on this question now.
John Newsinger, Leicester
SO TONY Blair intends to fight the next general election on the justification of war on Iraq and the “war on terror”.
No doubt in the weeks leading up to the polling day there will be numerous “terror alerts”, police raids on so called suspected terrorists’ houses and perhaps the return of tanks to Heathrow airport. This will all be the result of government attempts to ratchet up the threat to our country’s security which the invasion of Iraq was supposed to prevent.
Alan Tremeer, Middlesex
Sylvester decision endangers us all
I WAS a member of the panel of the People’s Inquiry into deaths in custody and psychiatric care.
I have cried a lot today, 26 November. I was very disappointed with the decision of the High Court judge that Roger Sylvester was not unlawfully killed, and that the original jury should never have been given the option of reaching this verdict.
I am appalled that there has been no proper explanation of why an unarmed naked man could be killed in this way.
I was shocked by the behaviour of the representatives of the Police Federation outside the court today.
They expressed no sympathy whatsoever for the family of this perfectly innocent man.
I am very concerned about the implications of this judgement for anyone who falls into the hands of the police when they are ill. A diabetic who has had an insulin injection and fails to eat a proper meal can become very aggressive – it’s called hypoglycaemia.
As a health worker, with the few facts that have been made public, I cannot see any explanation for Roger’s death.
It still seems to the outside observer that he was viciously attacked by someone. I am willing to give as much as it takes to challenge this decision today.
I would also like to say that I do not accept that all white people are racist. I believe that very large numbers of white people like me are very dedicated and angry anti-racists.
Elizabeth Macmin, Bristol
A global warning
I AGREED with everything in Andrew Stone’s article on climate change (Socialist Worker, 13 November). I feel that we can campaign to reverse it at a local as well as at national and international levels.
Reducing car dependence is fundamental to the problem. Twenty five percent of carbon dioxide emissions in Europe are from traffic.
Public transport and safer roads for pedestrians and cyclists need to be developed, to make these modes of travel a viable, and considerably more attractive, option than the car.
I don’t believe that motorists can be priced off the roads – the only effect road charging has is to clear the roads for the better off to drive their gas-guzzlers faster.
For similar reasons, I don’t agree with trading carbon credits – this does not radically address the problem of emissions, and would allow rich nations to continue to pollute.
There needs to be a visible public education campaign. Many people are either not aware or bury their heads in the sand when it comes to climate change. We need to seriously confront the legacy that we are leaving for future generations.
It is the poorest nations which will suffer first, but the effects of this are coming to all of us.
Jackie Turner, East London
Country with class
STOP THE war activists were given a great boost at Leeds Irish Centre recently.
Not only did the audience donate £150, but they witnessed a great political concert.
Self confessed Marxist Steve Earle launched attacks on Bush and Blair’s war for oil in which the poor fight for the interests of the rich. He said, “If you have a boss, you need a fucking union.”
Finally, Steve Earle and Alice Moore donated 50 euros each to the Leeds Coalition Against the War. Make sure you all go to any future Steve Earle concert.
Steve Johnston, Sally Kincaid and John Ward, Leeds
Labour’s casinos will corrupt our towns
WE SHOULD all know by now about the contempt the government shows to working class people by allowing Las Vegas style casinos to be built in the Wembley area of London (Socialist Worker, 6 November).
It also goes to show how corruption is rife when the multinational gambling corporations offer cash in order to buy “planning permission” to build these palaces of capitalism in order to make vast amounts of profit from people’s illnesses.
The illnesses are gambling addictions, and the last thing these people need is more corporate thieves moving in.
The casinos will do nothing for the local economy, housing, schools or hospitals.
I would like to see these corporate robbers stopped altogether, and instead decent, affordable housing, hospitals, schools and community centres should be built.
They cannot say that they haven’t got the money for this – there is always money for the war machine in Iraq.
C A Dowthwaite, Barrow in Furness
Blair makes Ofsted sharper – and worse
NO DOUBT the proposed changes in the work of Ofsted included in the forthcoming Education Bill will result in “shorter, sharper” and more economical school inspections.
But this will happen at the expense of some good and democratic practices.
At present parents’ participation in the process of Section 10 school inspection is invited through confidential pre-inspection questionnaires and a meeting with the lead inspector.
Pupils are also given a say by using the questionnaires, but there are no such provisions under the new proposals.
In the present Section 10 inspections, all inspection teams must have a lay inspector who is to influence the inspection from a non-institutional perspective. There is no lay inspector category in the new proposals.
The quality of Section 10 inspections now carried out by independent inspectors is monitored by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate (HMI).
Under the proposals, 80 percent of secondary school inspections and a high proportion of primary school inspections will be carried out by HMIs themselves with no independent quality assurance.
Husain Akhtar, Harrow
Right to say no to ID cards
Excellent article detailing the potential uses of Blunkett’s database (Socialist Worker, 27 November).
I will be using some of this article to show to my year 11 GNVQ information technology pupils the dangers of databases and who controls them.
Derek Fraser, Manchester
Straw’s not hot to trot
FOREIGN secretary Jack Straw denied an Independent report that he was an “old Trot”.
He urged people to read Lenin’s writings to prove how wrong Trotsky was.
If serving soldiers in Iraq take Jack Straw’s advice they will find that Lenin argued that the rank and file should disobey their officers in order to prevent unnecessary killing in a war of imperialist occupation.
Nick Howard , Sheffield
Spreading the word at school
MY NAME is Harry Padfield, and my friends are Timmy Stacey and Finn Dignan. We are currently attending Cotham School, Bristol, and are all 15.
We are all strong believers in the socialist regime, and we just thought we’d tell you that we are spreading socialist ideas round our school.
Harry Padfield, Bristol
Respect goes to the movies
Respect has a huge potential audience. But we need to be imaginative to find it.
In Oxford we recently organised an evening with Ken Loach. We screened film extracts and provided food and drink donated by supporters.
To build the event we approached local film clubs and video stores, and film studies lecturers and students.
Oxford Brookes University film studies department even advertised the event on their website.
On the night the venue we booked was filled to capacity with mainly young people new to Respect. We are now planning more cultural events.
George Roe, Oxford
Cricket tour shame
It is a shame that out of all the England cricket team only Steve Harmisson had the courage to refuse to play in Zimbabwe.
His example is in direct contrast to the English Cricket Board.
The suffering and poverty of the population should have been enough for the game to be called off altogether.
The contrast only highlights the sick hypocrisy of professional sport which claims to be neutral, when in reality profit is its paramount concern.
Jemma Fowler and Paul Garraway, Oxford
Do as I say, not as I do
An incumbent president wins the Ukrainian election by 3 percent amid accusations of electoral fraud, and the Western media demand that Yushchenko gets another chance.
In the US, the incumbent president wins the election by 3 percent amid accusations of electoral fraud, and we are all told to get used to it. Surely, “Do as I say not what I do” is something one only says to kids?
Steve Brown, Reading
King’s Eid greetings flop
EVEN TO long term critics of Oona King MP, her decision to send Eid cards to constituents with “Muslim sounding” names is breathtaking (Socialist Worker, 13 November).
One local man showed me his card, having first retrieved it from the bin, and rightly pointed out that King’s real crime is her hypocrisy.
On the very day that King was marking, the city of Fallujah was being destroyed – something that King voted for and supports.
Glyn Robbins, Tower Hamlets Respect