THE INTRODUCTION of identity cards is not a small step in the fight against terrorism—it is a giant leap towards a police state that will affect the privacy of every person in the country.
We already hand out enough personal information without question. Why is it necessary to compel us to provide even more?
Identity cards have proved ineffective against acts of terrorism. The Al Qaida operatives were living and working legally within the US prior to 9/11, and the Madrid train bombers held legitimate ID cards.
The trade in human traffic that surrounds asylum seekers will not stop—it will simply go further underground.
Those who believe that they have nothing to hide or fear should question whether they truly want their personal details to be logged, scrutinised and held on a national database that will, by its very nature, be open to exploitation.
A minor traffic dispute could label an otherwise law abiding citizen as “someone to watch”. Any dissatisfied boss could have access to delicate, deeply personal and possibly incriminating information on anyone they wished!
Police and civil servants are human beings, not saints, and they are subject to human traits of spite and prejudice. Who watches the watchers?
The means to collate information from the food we eat, the alcohol we buy and our financial status now exists. We are already labelled by where we live, how much we earn and what we buy.
Our entire lives can be profiled by what we carry in our wallets. Databases already exist with seemingly endless, trivial details of our day to day lives. Our financial status is available via credit reference agencies.
This move to bring in compulsory ID cards affects us all. We must not stand by and allow it to pass through the statute books undisputed. The fears of George Orwell are becoming real.
The emotive issue of terrorism and the politics of fear are now being used to persuade otherwise rational people that it’s only the bad guys who have something to fear, and that ID cards are merely harmless bits of government “admin”.
It is policies like these that made me leave the Labour Party after many years of membership.
Rosalinda Hutton Dartford
Vision for education
I recently had the privilege of attending a conference, La scuola che vogliamo (The school that we want), in Genoa, Italy.
Teachers and parents in Italy are fighting the implementation of a new law on education introduced by Catholic education minister Letizia Moratti.
Explicitly inspired by the model imposed in Britain and the US, the new law is a major attack on the state education system.
The new law will actually cut the number of hours that primary school pupils spend in school, and would abolish the system whereby each class has two teachers.
Schools will be pushed to compete with each other for private sponsors and ask for contributions from parents.
The reform will prioritise certain subjects, including English, IT and “enterprise”.
Others, such as history, music and art, would lose teaching time.
Whole episodes of history, including the rise of Mussolini and fascism, would be omitted from official textbooks.
There are no plans to teach about evolution to children before the age of 13 or 14.
And there are plans for national tests. When I spoke about the stultifying effect of a rigid national curriculum and SATs on schools in this country there were nods of recognition and a resolve to fight the new law.
The conference was attended by 250 people. Networks have sprung up all over Italy involving both parents and teachers to oppose the new law and organise protests.
Last month there was a national strike and demonstration in Rome. The new law is a massive attack.
But it was an inspiration to see parents and teachers organising together in Genoa, where Carlo Guiliani and the massive demonstration against the G8 are remembered, and peace flags hang from many windows.
And it was also an inspiration to other people who want another education system—for people, not for profit.
Jane Bassett East London
A conference “Another education is possible” will be held in London on 5 March
Toxic pollution threat to Southall
The proposed site of a new incinerator at Colnbrook is in an area around Heathrow that already exceeds EU statutory limits for pollutants. Not only will the new incinerator increase the amount of pollutants, it is likely they will combine and become more toxic.
The emissions from the incinerator will affect at least five million people within a 17-mile radius. The incinerator will only make a profit if it burns waste. The more waste burned, the more profit for Grundons, the company running the incinerator.
Similar dangers face the people living around Southall in relation to the proposed building of 4,000 homes on the Southall gasworks.
Hundreds of tons of potentially cancer-causing soil would have to be dug up and treated, possibly causing a health risk to local people, especially children.
In previous years planning permission for this site has been refused because of pollution. The Southall MP Piara Khabra stated in a meeting that the development would go ahead irrespective of whatever people wanted!
Politicians who support these sharks do not serve the interest of the people.
It is time that these politicians were voted out and replaced by those accountable to the people.
Salvinder Singh Dhillon Save Our Southall campaign and West London Respect
US puppets aren’t dancing to their tune
THE US “puppet regimes” policy is doomed to failure. Washington’s sweet dreams for the Middle East have been turned into a terrible nightmare by the deepening of resistance in Iraq.
Afghanistan and Iraq are two examples of the new US “puppet regimes” policy.
Fortunately none of the US plots have come true so far because of serious obstacles to them—the ongoing resistance in Iraq and the worldwide anti-war demonstrations.
Politically the people of the Middle East in general and Arabs in particular rightly view the US as the main supporter of Israel, so they feel a strong hatred towards it. Ideologically the majority of people are completely opposed to the fake democracy being imposed by the US.
Economically the lower classes that form a large part of the Middle East population are strongly against the globalisation and privatisation supported by the US economists.
It is noteworthy that all colonial powers, including the US militarists, have one or more Achilles heels that make them vulnerable in their occupied territories.
For example, all colonialists try to avoid guerilla wars which could bring them a shameful failure and humiliation.
Despite having a terrible experience like the Vietnam War, the US has been dragged into a scary quagmire called Iraq.
Nasser Frounchi Torbat-e-Jaam University, Iran
Victims of crime oppose ASBOs
It is true that there are anti-social tendencies in society, and these will react upon the working class in more violent and negative ways than they would in more affluent surroundings, where wealth cushions the harder aspects of daily life.
Yet Eddie McDonnell (Letters, 11 December) asks how violent youngsters are different from racists and rapists? Well, how are they different from Blunkett or Blair?
It is essential to confront the racist and sexist attitudes that permeate through society, and also confront the mainstream lie that crime is at epidemic proportions. We need to be able to dispel the fear and loathing created by Blunkett and Blair, and I am glad that Socialist Worker does so on a regular basis.
Research shows that long prison sentences do not prevent the recurrence of anti-social behaviour. Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) are a short term answer to a long term problem, which will never be sorted out by criminalisation and harassment. I often wear a hoodie, yet as I am white and in my thirties I am less likely to be ASBOed than a working class teenager.
And, despite having been burgled three times and held up at gunpoint on my way to work, I oppose ASBOs.
Adam Di Chiara East London
Ireland: class is not enough
I WAS very disappointed with Goretti Horgan’s article on Ireland (Socialist Worker, 11 December). It was so one-sided and unpolitical.
Of course it is true that the economic policies of the DUP and Sinn Fein are both rooted in an acceptance of market-driven capitalism. So, Goretti Horgan implies, they will come to an agreement and we can all move on to the class struggle.
This would be like saying that neither the US administration nor the Iraqi resistance has a programme for working class power and there is therefore nothing between them.
There is still oppression of Catholics in Northern Ireland. There is still a national question and an imperialist set-up.
If there were an election in Ireland tomorrow I would vote socialist, but if I could then transfer to Sinn Fein I would. I believe Goretti Horgan would not, and I think that’s a betrayal of anti-imperialism.
Mary O’BrienNorth London
Respect gets funky
The joint was jumping! Over 150 people packed into the back room of the Railway Tavern in Hornsey, north London, before Christmas for a Respect fundraising gig.
Up and coming local bands Ko and The Fuse, playing for free, performed cutting edge jazz/funk to an audience mainly of school students.
In the last week Haringey Respect has raised enough funds for a general election deposit—bring it on!
Simon Hester convenor, Haringey Respect
Beating the gutter press
PAPERS LIKE yours make a refreshing change from rubbish like the Sun.
The irony of the Sun is that it rants on about child abusers when its editor was responsible for the children of people she named as paedophiles being persecuted when she named them in the News of the World.
The gutter press would be only too happy to humiliate abuse victims further by publishing their names.
Graham Harrison Brighton
Ukraine: back the protests
It is not sufficient for Alex Callinicos (Socialist Worker, 11 December) just to say that in Ukraine “the method of velvet revolution has become a technique of imperial rule”.
Since the miners’ strikes in Ukraine over 15 years ago, workers have twice been impoverished—by the hyperinflation of the early 1990s and by the crash of 1998.
They have witnessed corrupt privatisation of their nation’s wealth by ruthless thugs who have taken over the government. They have seen their TV and newspapers run by the same people and pumping out lies.
Their president has been caught on tape arranging all this—and demanding the murder of journalists who report on it.
Yes, Yushchenko is an utter bastard.
But we should start by welcoming the fact that ordinary Ukrainians have got off their knees and fought back.
Dave Crouch London
30,000 Iraqis missing
IRAQIS ARE sick of hearing Tony Blair justifying the killing of thousands of Iraqi civilians by saying that Saddam killed more.
During months of bombing in Iraq there were no public health officers to issue death certificates, which explains the lack of official statistics.
While Blair speaks of mass graves of the victims of Saddam Hussein, British and US troops kill civilians.
Blair’s Bible tells him that life is sacred—unless he has his own that permits killing. Does this religious fanatic believe that his killing is a holy sacrifice?
Hussain Rustam Baghdad, Iraq