Socialist Worker

Letters—Tory MP should pay for his wealth having slavery roots

Issue No. 2739

Charborough house on one of Richard Draxs massive estate

Charborough house on one of Richard Drax's massive estate (Pic: Wikicommons)


Richard Drax, MP for South Dorset, is the richest parliamentarian in Britain.

He owns over 15,000 acres of land in Dorset as well as properties across the county.

His current wealth amounts to over £150 million.

Drax also owns a plantation in Barbados, the Drax Hall Estate, which has been in the hands of his family for more than 350 years.

Established to exploit slave labour in the production of sugar, it has delivered vast profits, enabling the Draxes to join England’s landed aristocracy.

The Caribbean Community’s Reparations Commission (CRC) describes Drax Hall Estate as a “killing field” and a “crime scene”.

Hilary Beckles, chair of the CRC, says, “The Drax family has done more harm and violence to the black people of Barbados than any other family.

“The Draxes built and designed and structured slavery.”

The CRC is calling for acknowledgment and reparations for generations of exploitation and suffering experienced by African slaves and their descendants.

As a start, they are calling for the estate to be restored to the people of Barbados.

Stand Up To Racism Dorset has joined forces with activists in Barbados to back this call.

In an open letter to Richard Drax, we have written, “Your own wealth, Mr Drax, including your estate in Dorset today, is witness to this legacy of the enslavement of Africans in the Caribbean.

“Black Lives Matter—then and now. The time to effect reparatory justice is now.”

The open letter has been signed by community organisations, trade unions and local elected bodies, as well as hundreds of people in Dorset.

Bridport Town Council has unanimously backed the letter, calling on Richard Drax to acknowledge and apologise for the historical role of his family in the transatlantic slave trade.

They have also backed the CRC in its struggle for justice.

Phil Marfleet

Stand Up to Racism Dorset

Sign the Open Letter at bit.ly/DraxLetter

Racists relieved at pardon

One of the last acts Donald Trump carried out as US president was to pardon his former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Bannon was charged with conspiracy to commit fraud having allegedly siphoned off “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in “personal expenses”.

These personal expenses were put into the racist “We Build The Wall” fund.

Bannon’s pardon must come as a relief to his allies in the British government.

In 2018 Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Michael Gove all met with Steve Bannon.

This was with the full knowledge that he was the guru of the so-called alt-right.

They knew that at a rally of the far right French party the National Front he said that to be called a racist was a “badge of honour.”

Bannon’s racist politics didn’t worry his Tory admirers.

Rees-Mogg called him an “interesting man” while Bannon insists he collaborated with Johnson on a number of projects.

Johnson, Rees-Mogg and Gove must be very happy that their racist friend Bannon has been pardoned.

The racism that Trump and his allies encouraged and endorsed will not disappear when he leaves the White House.

Its poison will remain—in Downing Street as much as in the US— and the fight against it needs to go on.

Sasha Simic

East London


Workers must use law to refuse work

Since last March, Socialist Worker has carried reports of trade unionists using section 44 of the 1996 Employment Rights Act to refuse to work because of Covid-19.

The NEU union’s advice, on 2 January, to teachers to use Section 44 to refuse to return after Christmas, is a historic breakthrough.

It has taken a generation for Section 44 to achieve public prominence.

The “right not to suffer detriment in health and safety cases” originated in the European health and safety Framework Directive of 1989.

It was first written into UK law in 1993 but has rarely been used—until last year.

Now that a national union has successfully used this individual right, I look forward to other unions and groups of workers using this weapon more widely and more often.

Dave Lyddon

Keele


We will protest at summit in Cornwall

Boris Johnson claims that he chose Carbis Bay, Cornwall, as the location for the 2021 G7 Global Leaders Summit because of the “environmentally friendly” goals of the summit.

In reality, Cornwall was probably chosen largely because it was seen as the least likely area for mass, organised resistance.

All six of Cornwall’s constituencies are Conservative.And Cornwall has one of the worst transport systems in Britain

The area has suffered greatly under the Tories’ ten years of austerity, leaving it the second most deprived region in northern Europe.

A whopping 25‑30 percent of children are in poverty here.

Given these facts it’s insulting that Boris Johnson and the Tories are happy to have the world’s leadership stay in the picturesque parts of Cornwall.

At the same time they do nothing to improve the conditions of the poorest in the county.

The solutions that will be proposed at the summit by capitalist leaders will not be enough.

We will not accept lukewarm capitalist solutions for climate change.

Bella Smith

Newquay


Thanks from a prisoner 

May I take this opportunity to thank those of your readers who sent me and other prisoners Christmas and greetings cards in response to your website post.

Prisoners especially during this time of lockdowns, Covid-19 and lack of visits can often feel forgotten and alone.

I know most of the prisoners featured on the website and I’m sure that all appreciated cards and letters as much as I did. Thank you.

Keith Rose

A7780AG, HMP Coldingley


End bosses’ fire and rehire

I’ve read Socialist worker reports about the British Gas strike. Fire and rehire has been a norm all of my working life. I think it’s definitely going to get worse.

@ilikaducha

On Twitter

We need to mount a fight back across unions against practices like fire and rehire.

Bosses shouldn’t get away with it.

Andy

On Twitter


Biden backs occupation

America’s “humanity” reached out across the world last week from the inauguration of Joe Biden, invoking democracy and love.

But some are forgetting the billions of dollars of weapons deals with Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu.

He is a figure who presides over the continuing brutal, racist, illegal and lethal occupation of Palestine by Israel.

Dave Clinch

Torrington


Flashy clothes are distraction

I couldn’t care one bit about what Jill Biden or Kamala Harris were wearing to Joe Biden’s inauguration, like some sections of the media are.

From his history we know Biden won’t improve people’s lives and no amount of flashy clothing should distract from that fact.

Jane

Southampton


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