Socialist Worker

Letters - How fans in Scotland threw football act into the dustbin

Issue No. 2597

Stop criminalising football fans

Stop criminalising football fans (Pic: geograph.org.uk)


I was pleased that the Scottish government voted to rescind the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act (OBFA) last week.

The legislation was brought in at the end of two tumultuous seasons of Scottish football.

In the 2010-11 season Celtic manager Neil Lennon was targeted by a hate campaign because he is a Catholic from Northern Ireland.

He was sent bullets in the post. At a match in Edinburgh he was attacked by a fan of the Hearts team. And at the end of a Glasgow game Lennon found himself embroiled in a pitch side confrontation with Rangers team assistant manager Ally McCoist.

The following season Rangers went into liquidation and tensions seemed to increase.

The Scottish National Party introduced the Act claiming it was a strong response to sectarianism.

It suggested that sectarianism was essentially a football problem. That’s a strange view considering there are more Orange marches in Glasgow than in Belfast each July.

And the OBFA was deeply flawed. It was possible for someone to be charged with offensive behaviour at a football match even if nobody was offended.

And who should decide what is “offensive”? At Celtic Park, for example, it effectively led to the criminalisation of songs about the Irish War of Independence.

Ironically, this was happening at the same time as the queen was officially laying a wreath on Republican graves in Dublin.

The act led to numerous arrests. Several supporters were subject to dawn raids.

In response, supporters from a range of clubs got together to oppose the legislation.

Fans Against Criminalisation (FAC) led a campaign against the act. Defence campaigns in support of those arrested led to many convictions being thrown out, with judges condemning the act.

Last week FAC got its reward when the act was thrown into the dustbin of history.

Michael Lavalette

Liverpool


Building solidarity for strikes

I took a Unite the Resistance petition around my workplace to raise solidarity for the university workers striking to defend their pensions.

In a private sector workplace without a trade union many workers signed the petition after hearing about the 20 to 40 percent pension cut that university workers face.

They felt this struggle was something they could relate to as many of our issues were similar.

We face bullying management, targets, attacks on our working conditions and pay and all the things associated with neoliberalism.

Going around also sparked a debate over what kind of education system we want.

Some workers argued that you should pay for what you learn.

Others rejected privatisation and argued education should be a right, free at the point of need.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has hinted at a National Education Service that is similar to the NHS.

One colleague asked me the question “Why not extend the Open University system?

“A university education system from cradle till grave!”

Everyone on the left should do this sort of thing to ensure that we raise solidarity and are all part of the struggle.

Tim Knight-Hughes

Norwich


Will Slovaks win real change from protests?

It’s good to see so many people out on the streets in my home country Slovakia (Socialist Worker, 21 March).

But I am worried what the outcome for ordinary citizens will be.

I was a student during the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia in 1989.

We all joined the protests against the Communist regime. We jangled our keys to demand that the Communist Party handed over the keys of power.

We got democratic elections in 1990, but real change we hoped for didn’t come. We lost jobs, companies were sold to the lowest bidder and we got the same politicians with different faces.

The corruption we’re seeing is nothing new.

What’s going to stop that happening again after these protests?

Judita Triscova

South London


Jeremy Corbyn shows way on Russia

Britain’s handling of the incident involving the Russian double is degenerating into a comedy show (Socialist Worker, 21 March).

It is leading the public into not believing politicians.

Brexit is going nowhere and is pushed out of the headlines temporarily.

The economy is showing no signs of improvement.

And Britain’s threat of pulling out of the 2018 FIFA World Cup being held in Russia will save England the usual disappointment.

After Tony Blair’s words of mass deception (WMDs) on Iraq, the public’s faith in politicians has eroded.

At the moment there seem to be two groups of people.

There is the general public living in reality.

And then there are the politicians living in a virtual world totally disconnected from the public.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is showing the right way.

Subash Varambhia

Leicester


Get rid of the Labour right

The Labour Party should deselect all of the Labour MPs who backed Theresa May over Russia (Socialist Worker, 21 March).

They clearly don’t have a functioning brain cell between them.

This Labour Party should not tolerate this from within its ranks.

Pam Thompson

On Facebook


Hypocrisy of the Blairites

Blairite mp John Woodcock is a hypocrite.

He thinks that Jeremy Corbyn is an apologist for Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian Russian regime.

But he scuppered Labour’s motion opposing arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Anna Evans

Derby


Proud to be an anti-racist

Despite the bitterly freezing weather, the Stand Up To Racism demonstration in London last Saturday was brilliant (Socialist Worker, 21 March)

I was proud to have taken part in it.

Melanie Powell

On Twitter


Hats off to Newham

The fight against academies in Newham in east London shows that we don’t have to accept what the Tories are trying to do to education (Socialist Worker, 21 March).

The Labour council wouldn’t have come out against academies if it wasn’t for the strikes.

Jessica Fellows

Shropshire


Hunt’s afraid of protests

Thanks to all those who responded at late notice to Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s visit to QMC hospital in Nottingham.

Unfortunately we did not see Hunt in the end.

But it says a lot about the government that its health minister isn’t confident enough to enter a hospital by the front entrance.

Richard Buckwell

Nottingham


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