Socialist Worker

Letters

Issue No. 1813

We're more angry than ever before

THE ANTI-war mood in Glasgow and across Scotland is growing daily and not just among the usual suspects. For years the Muslim community has been considered quiet and respectable, playing little or no role in active politics.

But since 11 September the mood has been one of increased militancy as several demonstrations have seen thousands of young Asians taking to the streets. What has been striking has been the presence of young and old Muslim women at the forefront of these demonstrations, totally demolishing the western myth of oppressed women.

Young people have been organising in the mosques and communities. They have come up against resistance from the 'Uncle Tom' community leaders and also the old 'left' in Scotland who are not used to militant blacks being in the driving seat.

They are petrified of the massive angry black and white demonstrations. In the run-up to the anniversary of 11 September the message is one of defiant resistance. Our community is not to blame. This time we need to organise to stop this war.

If Palestinians armed with stones can take on the might of apartheid Israel, just imagine what we can do if we all unite. I believe for the very first time there is an opportunity for socialists to put their politics into practice and unite with the Muslim community. But also for them to be aware that our community is not cannon fodder or willing to be used.

After last year's riots and David Blunkett's attacks, this is the most angry the Asian community has ever been. We are determined to fight back for a world in which justice is for all.
AAMER ANWAR, lawyer and human rights campaigner, Glasgow


The same school, same class, but unequal rights

I AM a Palestinian refugee who has lived in Liverpool for the past 17 years. I have been a refugee for 35 years of my life. As a little girl I was forced to leave our village in Palestine in 1967. I recently saw a TV interview with Alistair Goldrein from Blundellsands who was in Jerusalem University during the suicide bombing.

I watched with sympathy the shock and fear on his face, especially because he went to the same school as my son, and had even been in the same class. But my son has a big difference in his life. Return My son has no right to go and live in his own country where all his ancestors lived for thousands of years.

Yet Mr Goldrein, an Englishman with English ancestors, can immediately be granted the right to be a permanent resident in my own country. The only reason he could, and my son and I cannot, is simply that he is Jewish. This isn't anti-Semitism – we are Semitic too. It is simply that the Israeli law of return grants citizenship to Jews only.

The question is, how long can Israel deny Palestinians their human rights, kill and destroy and demand peace and security in return?
MRS YASIN, Liverpool


Trucker sides with refugees

I WAS apprehended in July by the British immigration services while on a journey from Milan to Dublin. Three people were found in the trailer of my truck. I was warned by the immigration officer that I would have a penalty of £2,000 per immigrant imposed on me.

I was sent a demand for payment when I returned home. This is suspended as the High Court has ruled that these penalties are unjust, and the British government is appealing against this decision. I ask for advice about the best way to use this case to fight the government's racist immigration laws.

I believe that there is an attempt to identify a 'foreign' group on a national identity basis so as to whip up racism in a 'respectable' way – one that the government can get away with. International truck drivers like me are both the victims and, if the government can get away with making us so, the perpetrators of this attempt at provoking prejudice.

We have to work in a trade that is highly competitive. We are given international journey times which are only barely possible to complete within the law.

It is very easy for a driver to regard anyone trying to get into Britain in our trailers as 'the enemy'. What really frightens me is the hate the government is whipping up.
RACHAEL WEBB, international freight driver


Did their rule end?

THE ARTICLE 'Bloody British Rule Was Toppled' (Socialist Worker, 22 June) concludes that the demise of the British empire 'was a great victory for freedom everywhere'. This needs further analysis.

The British colonial secretary in 1960 said, 'We did not go abroad to govern – we went abroad to trade. So if we are wise, we can stay in the countries we once ruled as traders, farmers, planters, shippers, businessmen and engineers.' What seemed to be a 'victory for freedom' as Britain's colonies gained so called independence was neo-colonialism.

Compliant governing elites maintained close ties with the former colonial power, which used these elites to rule by proxy and continue to plunder. The 'world community' is a gang of imperial terrorists headquartered in Washington organising the world's trading system so millions of neo-colonised people waste away.
DAN FULANI, north London


Real scandal is sell offs

THE AUDIT Commission report on Hull City Council caused a stir in deputy prime minister John Prescott's back yard. The commission like to present themselves as independent but in fact they are ultra-Thatcherite.

While they have highlighted financial and management incompetence at the council, their solution is more privatisation. The council sold off its running of the local telephones. This raised over £200 million, some of which has been spent on improving council housing and schools. Incredibly the auditors criticise this as wasteful and are demanding Hull privatise the council houses and services like home care for the elderly.

One private sector scheme regenerating a local estate was supposed to make a profit but ended up being bailed out with £2 million from the housing budget. Hull has been run for 30 years by right wing and out of touch Labour councillors who are no friends of working people. Now we have a Liberal Democrat council and a vicious management determined to ram through privatisation.

It is up to the local unions to call the action needed to stop Prescott and the rest in their tracks.
PHIL SANDERSON, Unison senior steward (personal capacity)


130 meet in Devon

I WAS one of 130 people who packed out the Civic Hall in Totnes, Devon, in a recent meeting with Tariq Ali who delivered an excellent talk on the war on terror. Though he touched on the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and the illegal occupation of Palestine, the main focus of the talk was the imminent war on Iraq.

This is a war that would be as immoral as it would be illegal and undemocratic. Drawing on a breadth of historical knowledge, Tariq highlighted the hypocrisy of Western foreign policy in the region and condemned the 'slavish' complicity of the current British government.

He spoke of the growing dissent over the proposed attack and implored people to take to the streets to stop the Bush-Blair crusade. It was certainly an informative and inspiring talk.

One audience member commented afterwards, 'He was able to clearly articulate exactly what we have all been thinking.'
TOM ADDY, Totnes Peace Group


Wales holds funds debate

THE DEBATE over the political fund has caused a stir in Wales. It has lead to a meeting on 3 September in Cardiff, whose speakers include Paul Foot and Ian Titherington, head of the trade union section of Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Nationalist Party.

Ian Titherington recently wrote a piece in the Western Mail, Wales's leading newspaper, where he argued that the trade unions should have greater independence from the Labour Party. He proposed that financial support for political parties should not be funded higher than union branch level.

While I do not fully share Plaid Cymru's analysis it shows this important debate is reaching far and wide across Britain. There is a great opportunity to build the meeting on Tuesday 3 September at 7.30pm at the Marriot Hotel in Cardiff.
HUW PUDNER, Neath


When summer hols aren't child's play

IT'S GREAT that children have a few weeks off from school in the summer away from the pressure of exams, league tables and 'competition'. But there is scandalously little provision for them. Playschemes, school clubs and so on only provide enough places for 6 percent of school age children. As the Kids' Clubs Network has pointed out, this means that thousands of working parents will be struggling to find childcare during the summer holidays.

This summer most out of school clubs were fully booked weeks in advance and with long waiting lists. A recent survey showed that more than a quarter of parents had no friends or relatives to fall back on for childcare in the summer holidays. They were forced to take the entire six weeks off.

They had to give up their income during that period. The government makes lots of promises about childcare but is a million miles from delivering quality, safe, interesting and fun facilities for our children.
WENDY GRIFFITHS, East London


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Letters
Sat 17 Aug 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1813
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