Socialist Worker

You should be a part of this

Issue No. 1815

THE 'LEADERS' of the world meet this week in Johannesburg. They will put profits before people and try to convince us there is no other way to run the world than the way it is done now. The activists, campaigners, arguers, debaters, discussers and awkward people of the European anti-capitalist movement will come together in Florence in November.

They will try to find ways of widening the message that people must come before profit. We are young people who are looking forward to Florence. It will be the best chance for years for people of all different viewpoints to listen to each other and then unite around some common ideas. Of course Florence will be a great place for trade union delegations, for anti-war and anti-racist activists, and so on.

But it is also true that hundreds of young people would like to go to Florence. They have to find out about it! The Guardian and the Mirror won't be telling anyone about it. we have to do the leafleting, postering and money raising ourselves. And then we have to tell people what it's all about because it can sound a bit forbidding to be going across Europe for a meeting! It's not a meeting - it's a window into a new world and becoming part of what's going to get rid of Bush, Blair and the rest.

Colleges and sixth form centres will be going back soon. They are full of the sort of people who want answers about the world.
TRACEY AND ANDY, London

  • The European Social Forum takes place from 7 to 10 November. For details phone 020 7053 2072 or go to www.mobilise.org.uk. You can register now on www.fse-esf.org


    The secret agenda behind government's Afghan refugee plan

    I AM very disturbed by the plans to offer money to Afghan refugees who are willing to get out of Britain. Coming soon after the Ahmadi family was expelled from Britain, it seems to me that New Labour is really stepping up the pressure on Afghan refugees. Many of us who are in Britain would like to return to Afghanistan if it was safe.

    But the reality is that most of the country remains very insecure. It is quite possible that the government's plan is to get some people to go back 'voluntarily' and then say that this shows that everyone can go back. There will also be a feeling among refugees that perhaps they should go now while there is money on offer rather than waiting for later when we will just get shoved out without a penny.

    If the plan for Afghans is 'successful' as the government sees it, it could easily be extended to other groups of refugees. How long before people from Sri Lanka or Zimbabwe are told to 'take the cash and take a chance' rather than trying to get though the horrible obstacles of the refugee laws?

    Having settled in Britain with my family I am very grateful for the support and friendliness I have received. I hope I can now count on people here to support those of us who refuse to be intimidated by the government's latest proposals.
    AFGHAN REFUGEE, name and address supplied


    Big Brother's watching you

    PEOPLE SHOULD be aware of the European Union's plans for a further assault on our civil liberties. The 15 EU governments are planning to introduce a new set of regulations on data and access by law enforcement agencies (police, customs, immigration and internal security agencies).

    They would have access to phone calls, faxes, mobile phone calls and internet usage. The draft framework has been leaked to the Statewatch organisation. It shows that national parliaments will have no say over privacy, and instead there will be a continent-wide right of the authorities to bug us.

    Under the guise of fighting 'terrorism', everyone's communications are to be placed under surveillance. New Labour has already taken many of our rights and wants to interfere in every part of our lives. We should fight to defend our liberties. The British state is undemocratic enough without adding further erosions of our freedoms by the politicians and bureaucrats of the EU.

    Now, together with workers in the rest of Europe, British workers can set out to guard their liberties.
    SANDRA BUCHANAN, West London


    No hot meals in our schools

    PRIMARY SCHOOL children in East Yorkshire won't be getting hot school dinners next term thanks to the on-going obsession New Labour has with privatisation. The catering contractor engaged by the East Riding of Yorkshire council has gone bust.

    The consequences are packed lunches for all children. Children who receive free school meals will only get sandwiches. This outrage could be stopped if Blair and Co were to reverse Tory privatisation.

    Instead they brought out 'Fairer Funding', which further undermined the public provision of school services and rewarded the wretched vultures in the private sector, who bid for contracts on the basis of cutting wages and worsening conditions. These firms are the REAL friends of New Labour.
    ROGER SMITH, York


    Strikers thank you

    THANK YOU to SWP members for your generous donation to our strike fund. Our first strike, also the first in Trinity Mirror since the company was formed three years ago, has gone superbly well, largely because of the support we have from all sections of the community. We appreciate very much your gesture of solidarity, and we were proud to welcome you.
    WILL MAPPLEBECK, NUJ father of chapel (union branch secretary), Newcastle Evening Chronicle and Sunday Sun


    Iraq war shows West is racist

    NOTHING BETTER highlights the racist and white supremacist nature of Anglo-Saxon imperialism than its policies on Iraq. Not content with destroying the country's infrastructure and killing hundreds of thousands of children through sanctions, the US, with backing by poodle Blair, is planning an invasion of the country.

    This is neo-colonialism gone mad. The US and its allies are determined that dark-skinned people shouldn't have democratic control over valuable resources which fund the prosperity of the rich white nations. But Arabs and the rest of the dark-skinned people on the planet have seen through the racism and brutality of US imperialism.

    The racists forget that black slaves revolted and won their freedom. The Vietnamese beat the US. However, we also have to recognise that the left and socialist movement remains a white affair to a large extent.

    So the racism in the labour and socialist movement does not get tackled, and thousands of black and ethnic minority people get 'institutionally' excluded from participating in radicalism. This is a tragedy, because they have a key and crucial role to play in the class struggles of this nation.
    LILA PATEL


    Hear the sound of resistance

    THE NME music paper ran an article last week that showed how the anti-war movement is really beginning to pick up and win the support of people way beyond the 'usual suspects'. Massive Attack, Elbow, and Damon Albarn of Blur have all joined the Stop the War Coalition.

    In conjunction with CND they are planning to run adverts in the music press condemning the British government's support for the forthcoming US-led attack on Iraq. They are currently trying to contact more artists and bands to get involved in anti-war events.

    Robert '3-D' Del Naja of Massive Attack was quoted as saying, 'Where does it end? Is George Bush going to go through the whole 'axis of evil' until they secure power or regime changes which they feel are adequate to stabilise the global economy?'

    It's great to see musicians take a stand like this on the issue. Hopefully it will inspire many others and, along with the ANL carnival this weekend, maybe we could be seeing a renaissance of the kind of politicised cultural movements like Rock Against Racism that shook Britain in the 70s.
    NOEL DOUGLAS, Central London


    Postal points

    I READ that chancellor Gordon Brown has had a 'laser whitening' treatment for his teeth. It reportedly cost £650 at a private dentist. I suppose the days have long gone when a Labour politician felt shame at going private.

    But he should certainly feel ashamed of the general state of dentistry services. Unfortunately even with an NHS dentist an ordinary working person could easily be presented with a bill of £650 if they had a substantial amount of work done on their teeth. Such charges dissuade many from having check-ups or urgent treatment.

    Remember whenever you see Gordon's smile that the subtext is rotting teeth across Britain.
    JANET BURNS, Newcastle


    THE GOVERNMENT is considering banning people from using mobile phones while they are driving. I have much sympathy with such legislation. It was interesting to see the response of big business. Managers are terrified of being prosecuted for allowing workers to use mobiles while driving.

    I would be delighted to see bosses dragged before the courts for such offences. As a delivery driver I know that the biggest pressure for me to use a mobile is precisely the head office constantly ringing me as I navigate through London's streets. At present if I repeatedly fail to answer I get the sack! It is dangerous for workers to be forced to answer the phone. Let's stop it.
    HARRY COOTES, North London


    SOCIALIST Worker (24 August) argues that the United Nations will not be an effective block to Bush's war drive. Certainly in its present format the UN will fail. But in that case socialists should press for a thorough reform of the UN. It would be quite different if each country had a single vote in a world parliament.

    The overwhelming majority of the world is against a war in Iraq. A different sort of UN would be able to clearly express that feeling and thereby make it quite clear that George W Bush leads a renegade, rogue state.
    MARTIN HOWSON, Southampton


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    Article information

    Letters
    Sat 31 Aug 2002, 00:00 BST
    Issue No. 1815
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