IRELAND IS the only country in Europe that is to vote on the Nice treaty agreed by European Union leaders at their summit at the end of 2000. Though people here have already rejected the treaty in a vote once, the government is coming back with it again.
The arguments about the campaign around the referendum echo those likely to take place in Britain when Tony Blair finally calls a vote on the euro single currency. The Nice treaty is key to paving the way for the European Union to become a major military power, and for pushing through the European leaders' neo-liberal agenda. Some anti-Nice campaigners here want to make race and immigration a key question in the referendum.
They claim that a yes vote will mean floods of immigrants coming to Ireland. Such tactics only discredit the no campaign and allow the government to present itself as the progressive and anti-racist side in the debate. In fact it is the European Union and the Irish government, who are both pushing for a yes vote, who have encouraged racism against immigrants. This growing racist atmosphere has already led to the racist murders of two Chinese immigrants in Dublin.
The European Union has consistently pushed an anti-immigrant 'Fortress Europe' policy. Faced with all this it is vital that anti-racists and socialists here, as they are doing, build and organise a progressive 'vote no' campaign.
We are highlighting that the real problem with the Nice treaty is that it creates a European military bloc and pushes an agenda of privatisation and deregulation of public services.
DONAL MacFHEARRAIGH, Dublin
Bradford demands justice
UP TO 500 young men are likely to be charged and convicted for the events of 7 July 2001 in Bradford. Over 100 have already been sentenced for four to five years on average. They were accused of things like throwing stones, of being 'ringleaders' for using their mobile phones during the disturbances. Some were no more than spectators.
Most of the young men have no previous history of being in trouble. Similar offences in other parts of the country have not received such harsh sentences. The Fair Justice for All campaign is driven by the mothers, sisters and wives of the young men.
The campaign dissociates itself from all acts of violence and wanton destruction. It reminds everyone of the need to look at the underlying causes of the events. Campaigners are holding a weekly vigil outside Bradford magistrates' court every Friday between 10am and 12 noon. Anyone wanting to find out more can contact us on 07811 332 470.
ARSHAD JAVED, Bradford
Amicus wrong on ESF
THE TREMENDOUS victory of Derek Simpson in the election for joint general secretary of Amicus has not led to an immediate change in the politics of the union. When the national executive of the MSF section of the union were asked to support the European Social Forum, they rejected the motion.
The reasons are astounding. The executive claimed that the ESF 'is sponsored by the Socialist Alliance, and supports violent demonstrations'. That the ESF is supported by a whole range of organisations, including Amnesty International, and many national trade unions, passes our union national executive by.
They won't support the forum, even though the union's annual conference pledged support to anti-globalisation initiatives, because of their slavish adherence to the New Labour agenda. Derek Simpson cannot change the politics of the union alone at the top. We need a vibrant left in Amicus.
A good start is the open meeting called by the Amicus Gazette grouping on Sunday 8 September. It's at 11am in the Claremont Hotel, Blackpool Road, Preston.
AMICUS MEMBER, London
More than colour
LILA PATEL (Letters, 31 August) is right to say that Bush and the US are determined to stop dark-skinned people having control over resources. But they don't just stop there. US imperialism doesn't want any democratic control of resources by black or white people.
The only allies the rich trust are other rich people, whatever their colour. That's why I think the real major divide in society is not between black and white but between classes.
The Arab working class suffer first at the hands of their own ruling class in the same way as the white working class are denied any power in the west. Our strength lies in unity, both black and white. The national Stop the War Coalition demos have been among the most racially mixed demos I have ever been on.
They have been a brilliant example of how struggle unites people, and how in the course of struggle we can challenge racist ideas. I can't wait for the next demo on 28 September!
SAKINA KARIMJEE, Birmingham
THIS IS an open letter describing our experience on a recent demonstration in Portland, Oregon in the US against the policies of George W Bush. I want to thank the kind human beings who helped my children, my wife and me after we were pepper-sprayed by the Portland police.
We brought our children to a peaceful protest. We stayed in the back and we were walking on the sidewalk. Police moved up behind us and a moment or two later sprayed pepper spray into the crowd.
As the crowd pressed towards us I yelled to a police officer to let us through because we had three small children. He looked at me, and drew out his can from his hip and sprayed directly at me. The spray hit my right eye and our three year old, who I was holding in my right arm.
In the same motion he turned the can on my wife, who was holding our ten month old baby, and doused both of their heads. The officers were laughing and said something to the effect of, 'that's why you shouldn't bring kids to protests.' Please help us expose this extreme, undemocratic and brutal attack on peaceful citizens.
DONALD JOUGHIN, Portland, Oregon, US
UN no answer
MARTIN HOWSON (Letters, 31 August) argues for reform of the United Nations. The UN would be more effective if each country had a single vote in a world parliament, he believes.
Clearly the present set-up gives the five major powers on the Security Council a veto on any decisions taken by UN member states. But even if this veto was removed, they would still not be able to block Bush's war drive. Like other multinational bodies, the UN will always be dominated by the strongest power - the US.
The UN has passed numerous resolutions condemning the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, but they have remained a dead letter without US support. When the UN has opposed US military action as in Vietnam, the US has simply ignored it.
TONY PHILLIPS, East London
GARY McFarlane wrote (Socialist Worker, 24 August) about the disgraceful way that the Caribbean carnival in Dudley was banned this year. He was absolutely right. The organisers of the carnival are still shocked by the decision.
It followed a ridiculous claim from police that '15,000 gun-toting black people' would come and cause trouble. The organisers were given just four days notice of the police decision to ban the event. The police have now apologised after criticism from Dudley Labour Party councillors and members and anti-racists.
The police action can only have been music to the ears of racists in the Dudley area. The BNP are trying to build a base in the area and conned 500 people into voting for them in the May elections. We should make sure that the festival goes ahead next year and fight the police whenever they try to ban such events, which cut against racism.
PAUL BOLTON, Dudley
I AGREE with Charlie Kimber's article (Socialist Worker, 24 August) on the euro. The way we approach the debate on the euro is similar to our approach on public/private services. Low wages exist in the public sector and we support those fighting against them. At the same time we oppose privatisation as a bosses' attempt to exploit people more easily.
Similarly, while we always fight against 'our' ruling class, we also oppose the European Union as an attempt by the bosses to create a single trading block where neo-liberal policies can be pushed and coordinated more easily.
JOHN MAUNDER, Exeter
THANKS TO Socialist Worker for giving more space to coverage of elderly care (Socialist Worker, 24 August) which is a neglected area. The greed in the care industry can be charged against private business. However, a major factor in the loss of care bed provision is the fault of the social and health services.
Capacity has been reduced to feed into the potential profit for major providers. Care home owners are being given a licence to print money and determine their own terms and conditions. More discussion is long overdue.
PATRICK COOPER-DUFFY, Southampton
YOUR READERS should know of a scandal involving insurance companies that seems to be going on. I have heard that they are refusing to fully insure firms that employ people who are classified as not fully 'able bodied'.
This seems to include people suffering from stress, diabetes and the like. If true this is outrageous. A full investigation is needed.
GWEN HAYWOOD, Norwich
ALL OF Charlie Kimber's five tests for a 'campaign against the European project' (Socialist Worker, 24 August) are things that any trade unionist or socialist should be doing right now.
We don't have to wait for governments, politicians or bosses to start their 'debate' on whether to join the euro or not for us to be organising for a better Europe and a better world.
I, for one, cannot stomach lining up with the Tories and Murdoch on this issue. If governments and bosses want to privatise and cut services and attack workers, they will do it, euro or not. The debate is between two gangs of capitalists. We have more important fights to be involved in.
OMAR CUBA, Brighton