SAVAGE RACIST attacks on three black men within 48 hours could easily have been murders. That has been the toll recently in Eltham, south east London, where Stephen Lawrence was murdered nine years ago.
First a thirty year old man was jumped on 1 July by six or seven white racists who leapt out of a car. They chased the man before setting on him with knives and broken bottles. The following day Lee Evans and his cousin were attacked in the same area, again by racists who jumped from a car armed with knives and broken bottles. These attackers were out to kill.
This pattern of attacks mirrors the events that surrounded the murder of Stephen, when a gang of racists operated in Eltham. Each knife attack they got away with emboldened them. At the time the police refused to admit there were any links to each attack. Have the police learned anything since? The investigating officers for the latest attacks have said, 'So far there is no indication of a link. There are thousands of youths in Eltham and, though there are similarities, we have no reason to think there is a connection.'
This ignores the many Eltham residents who local papers reported were 'sickened by the violence'. The police should start by assuming there was a connection between the attacks, not the opposite.
I believe there are two related causes of the upsurge in racist violence. Although the BNP were chased out of Eltham after their HQ was closed down following mass protests, they still operate in the area. In nearby Slade Green, they stood seven candidates in the local elections.
As in Stephen Lawrence's time, wherever the BNP are dug in, you know that racist attacks will follow. The Nazis and hardened racist supporters have been boosted by the scapegoating of asylum seekers carried out by this New Labour government.
Racism at the top of society inevitably has its violent outcome on the streets. As in the Eltham attacks, anyone with a black skin is a target. That is why all of us, black and white, should unite to defend asylum seekers and fight racism from wherever it comes.
HASSAN MAHAMDALLIE, South London
Our world is not for sale in any currency
TYNESIDE Socialist Alliance recently discussed Europe and what attitude socialists should take toward monetary union. The right wing press, most Tories and the far right are obsessed with pushing the Little Englanders' backward views on Europe.
As internationalists, we reject this rubbish and want to see workers of all countries uniting to fight for their interests. But it's clear Blair, most bosses and some trade union leaders are for the euro, and a referendum looks likely.
The meeting rejected those arguments which see European integration and expansion as a tool for us to use to improve services or fight for peace and justice.
EU institutions were set up as and remain a bosses' club, whose ultimate aim is the forming of a competitive block against US and Japanese capitalism. That means we will pay for integration with cuts in services, privatisation, a levelling down of workers' rights, pensions and so on. It will also mean the strengthening of 'Fortress Europe'. Socialist internationalism does not stop at the Mediterranean or a line on a map drawn by Eurocrats.
Our Socialist Alliance voted overwhelmingly in support of a campaign against the bosses' plans and saying no to the euro.
SIMON HALL, Gateshead
Where have all journalists gone?
I WAS amazed to read in the Observer last Sunday (14 July) claims that the anti-capitalist movement is declining. That's not my experience. The article was actually written in February, and the Observer held it back for the anniversary of Genoa and intended to print it as an epitaph. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The movement is alive and well. At recent anti-capitalist protests in Barcelona and Seville strong alliances were formed with the grassroots of the trade union movement. This alliance scares the authorities, who have no answer to the questions posed. Their tactic is to try and ignore it or to write it off.
The anti-capitalist movement involves people from every continent and every country. It opposes the policies and the system that produces crises like that in Argentina.
It's almost funny that they try to pretend the movement is dead just as the supposedly strongest economies like the US and Western Europe lurch closer to another deep recession.
GUY TAYLOR, South London
It's a matter of pride not profit
Shockingly, this year's gay and lesbian Pride demonstration in London had only about 10,000 people on it. This is well down on previous years, when up to 50,000 people have marched. The blame for this lies with the organisers of what is now called Mardi Gras, and in no way reflects the willingness of people to fight for gay and lesbian equality.
The day has become de-politicised and the demonstration marginal. Instead the organisers have sought to promote the, now very expensive, corporate sponsored festival at the end. This used to be free, and a few years ago attracted 250,000 people to Clapham Common.
This year less than 30,000 went to Hackney Marshes. We have now launched a campaign to restore the demonstration as the central focus of the day and for the festival at the end to be free and open to all. Under the banner of 'Pride Not Profit' an open letter has been launched which is already getting the support of gay and lesbian groups as well as trade unionists.
The letter will be presented to the organisers of Mardi Gras. We have a fight on to defend our annual demonstration and make sure those motivated by profit and keeping big business happy do not destroy it.
PETER MORGAN, East London
For copies of the open letter phone Dan on 01625 583 662.
Get your message across
DAVID MOLLOY (Socialist Worker, 13 July) questions why the paper is a tabloid. Working in a pressurised post office, where there's no time to stop, I literally run around to get Socialist Worker to readers. In our 40-minute lunch break people read Socialist Worker.
Tabloids are an easy and accessible way of getting your message across. Articles in Socialist Worker and Post Worker, the rank and file newspaper, are snappy and to the point. Tabloids don't have to be just like the Sun and the Star. Socialist Worker is packed with the voices of ordinary workers, highlighting our lives, views and struggles.
Tabloids can be different. Just take some of the Mirror's coverage of the anti-war arguments. I think David Molloy is insulting working class people who read tabloids. Not everyone reading a tabloid subscribes to its views. Most papers that reach a mass working class audience are tabloids. Socialist Worker wants to become the paper for the working class.
JASON WHITE, Huddersfield
The spending con
NEW MONEY in Gordon Brown's comprehensive spending review is tied to stepping up the government's privatisation agenda. 'Affordable' and 'social' housing doesn't mean either building more council homes or allowing councils to clear the backlog of repairs. Instead the money goes to Registered Social Landlords, the name for housing associations run like private businesses, or to blackmail council tenants into accepting transfers, PFI or the new Arm's Length Management Organisations (ALMOs).
Next year the government plans to spend £800 million sweetening the transfer of 200,000 council homes. The total investment programme for council housing is only £840 million. They could double investment if they stopped privatisation. Some 82 MPs have now signed the 'Case for Council Housing' Early Day Motion in parliament .
If yours is not on the list ask them to give their support. Go to http://edm.ais.co.uk/weblink/html/motion.html/refstation1094
CHAIR, Peckwater Estate Tenants and Residents Association
All schools are special
SWANLEA SCHOOL in Tower Hamlets is ten years 'new' and is education secretary Estelle Morris's favourite east London school. Around 70 percent of students are on free meals. Our school has just 'won' specialist business and enterprise school status.
This brings £150,000 in a capital grant for building repairs, and an additional £123 per pupil per year-that is £123,000 per year for the next three years. Every secondary school in east London needs an injection of resources, but Estelle Morris avoids giving to schools that need the resources most.
The 'bidding' process for specialist schools penalises the unsuccessful instead of supporting them. Specialist schools are not the answer.
LAWRENCE WONG, East London
'First soldier'calls on Blair
PROTESTERS pursued Colombia's right wing president, Alvaro Uribe Velez, during his trip to London last week. His press conference at the Colombian embassy on Tuesday was drowned out by chants of 'Uribe fascist! Uribe paramilitar!' from the Colombia Solidarity Campaign's 80-strong picket.
President Uribe has declared himself 'Colombia's first soldier'. His visit with Tony Blair was used to invite multinationals and the New Labour government to support his counter-insurgency programme. Uribe also urged multinationals to expand their private security operations. In New Labour's white paper earlier this year the government signalled it wants to expand the role of private companies (mercenaries) in protecting multinational investments, such as BP's pipeline in Colombia.
This deadly project revives the spectre of the legalised vigilantes used as a cover for paramilitary death squads from 1995 to 1997. We have to campaign to block all British military aid to Colombia.
ANDY HIGGINBOTTOM, Colombia Solidarity Campaign