Socialist Worker

Letters—Oxford Union has helped to legitimise far right bigotry

Issue No. 2632

Outside the Oxford Union

Outside the Oxford Union (Pic: Cathy Augustine/Facebook)

The Oxford Union, a posh private debating club for Oxford University students, invited far right guru Steve Bannon to speak a fortnight ago.

Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and student groups said that giving Bannon a platform would help legitimise racism and embolden racists and fascists.

Two days later there was a horrific racist attack on a pregnant Muslim woman and her family outside a supermarket in Oxfordshire.

A couple hurled racist abuse at the family. They then hit the pregnant woman in the face and dragged her to the ground while repeatedly trying to remove her hijab. The victim’s husband and 3 year old child were also physically attacked.


On the same weekend large swastikas were daubed on an Oxford sports pavilion and a wall close to a school.

The Oxford Union claims it is defending freedom of speech, and that the far right can be defeated by their clever arguments.

Yet by giving Bannon a platform, they help to unleash forces that terrorise ordinary people while they remain immune from the consequences of their actions.

In the past the Oxford Union has invited far right and fascist speakers. They’ve included British National Party leader Nick Griffin, Holocaust denier David Irving and Alternative for Germany leader Alice Weidel.

It is clear that the union’s attempts to beat the far right and fascists by debate have failed.

We need a mass movement that confines racist views like Bannon’s to the gutter where they belong.

Up to 1,000 people protested against Bannon. And the following day up to 40,000 joined the national demonstration called by SUTR. Anti-racists now plan to oppose Tommy Robinson’s march on 9 December in London.

This is the real force that can halt the rise in racism and fascism.

Julie Simmons


When a Nazi ran Interpol

Western governments made very public objections to the prospect of Russian General Alexander ­Prokopchuk becoming head of the Interpol international police service last week.

This was a stark contrast to when Reinhardt Heydrich became head of Interpol’s forerunner in 1940.

SS general and Gestapo secret police chief Heydrich already presided over a regime of torture, brutality and murder. And he would go on to be one of the chief architects of the Holocaust.

After the Czech resistance assassinated Heydrich in 1942, he was replaced as head by another Nazi mass murder—Arthur Nebe.

He had commanded a unit that massacred some 50,000 mainly Jewish people in Russia.

And he in turn was succeeded by SS general Ernst Kaltenbrunner who was intimately involved in the Holocaust.

This Nazi connection did not end with the war. In 1963 Jean Nepote, who’d been part of the French collaborationist regime, became Interpol head.

And astonishingly Paul Dickopf, a former SS officer who had served under Heydrich, was appointed to head it up in 1968.

Dickopf’s SS records had conveniently been lost.

He filled the German federal police with former Nazis and SS men. He was also on the CIA’s payroll.

Interpol has a very dark history.

John Newsinger


Hospital’s contract with the Saudis is a disgrace

King’s College Hospital NHS Trust in south London is looking at business opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

Moorfields Eye Hospital and the Royal Marsden already have business dealings in Gulf states.

It’s shocking that in the world’s sixth richest country we’re having to prop up the NHS by making foreign investment deals.

Hospitals should be using the resources they’ve got instead of setting up these deals. Managers justify it by pointing to the money made abroad that can be ploughed back into the NHS.

Kings is looking at a deficit of £120 million by the end of the year.

But the reason hospitals have large deficits is because the Tories have not put the money into the NHS and because of privatisation.

The NHS should be funded through taxation not private investment.

Jackie Applebee

GP and health campaigner, East London

Why left should reject May’s EU deal

Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal is the worst of all worlds.

It leaves control of trade in the hands of the neoliberal establishment while offering restrictions on immigration.

Corbyn is right to call for a “jobs-first Brexit”. But there can be no dealing with the European Union (EU) when it comes to the “radical transformation” that Corbyn rightly says that Britain needs.

If Corbyn were to win a general election, the pressure on him to compromise with the EU would be huge. Those who reject comparisons with the Syriza government in Greece underestimate the pressure from the EU and British ruling class to maintain the status quo.

The EU’s single market rules on state aid would undermine attempts to nationalise industry.

And the EU is moving in an increasingly racist direction.

It’s split between politicians who want to strengthen its external border, and those who wish to see the return of internal borders.

That is why the only way to deliver real change in Britain for workers, the unemployed, for students, and for migrants, is to reject a deal with the EU.


East London

Troops used against people

I haven’t yet seen the film Peterloo.

But your review puts me in mind of novelist Leo Tolstoy’s maxim, “Soldiers are used more against their own people than they’re sued against foreigners”.

Will Counsel


Don’t trust the media

Tens of thousands of people travelled from all over Britain to protest against the growth in racism and fascism (Socialist Worker, 21 November).

But the establishment media opts for a blanket ban on coverage.

A woman is discovered practising as a psychiatrist in the NHS without appropriate qualifications and all the media choose to go berserk. Why? Perhaps because she is a migrant?

John Murphy


Left strategy won’t work

It Seems like Socialist Worker’s faith in a left wing government under Jeremy Corbyn is going down the pan.

You should read Ralph Miliband’s The Parliamentary Road to Socialism.

Such a path doesn’t exist.

Alan Wilson

On Facebook

Union should not retreat

Socialist Worker reported that the NEU union withdrew planned strikes at The John Roan school in the face of an legal injunction threat by Greenwich Council.

The injunction was never issued. But why did the union retreat?

Unions rightly don’t trust the courts. But this retreat showed unwarranted timidity.

We need the strength of the union in support of workers showing perseverance.

Let’s hope we see a robust response from the NEU to whatever was behind the threat. And much more importantly, that we see the strikes at John Roan immediately reinstated.

Miriam Scharf

East London

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