Let's stand together against racism and war
I WAS travelling on a bus four days after the worst terrorist attack to hit Britain on 7 July. Two pseudo-policemen—wearing bullet proof vests over civilian outfits—got on the bus. They began questioning a young Asian man. Anger welled up inside of me—the Muslim community of London were being tracked in the city they call home.
As the police finished questioning the man I stepped forward and offered my own identification, which they refused. “Is there some reason you only asked that gentleman?” I asked.
“It should be pretty obvious,” replied one. “Because everyone with brown skin is automatically a terrorist?” I suggested. The policeman snarled, “I suggest you get off at the next stop.” I swallowed hard and got off.
This was not the first time someone has been subject to discrimination on the basis of their skin colour and it will not be the last. All those who encounter these injustices must confront them.
There is a network of socialists, greens, trade unionists and people of other faiths to stand alongside Muslims under the banner of Respect. It is the job of ordinary Londoners to carry forth that spirit of unity into everyday life.
We must remind people of the real reason for these attacks—Bush and Blair’s imperialist project and the war on Iraq. We must continue to fight this unjust war, to call for immediate withdrawal of the troops and to argue for fair treatment for all.
If we fail to stand up for our Muslim brothers and sisters they could be left out in the cold.
Laura Paskell-Brown London
THERE IS no justification for killing innocent people. Hurt and anger are natural outcomes in such cases, more so when the horrific tragedy is at home.
The most important thing is to address the threat. The authorities are using institutional powers to define the Islam that they wish Muslims to practise, and dividing British people between “moderates” and “extremists”. It is insulting to assert that British Muslims are somehow controlled or inspired by the collusive and discredited Muslim “leaders”.
The impact of British socio-political conditions on British people, including young British Muslims, is downplayed—ditching the context of the situation in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Perhaps the oil is now more safe and secure, but are we?
Husain Akhtar West London
IT IS amazing that politicians who warned Blair about the consequences of invading Iraq don’t hold the prime minister to account when he lies. This is very much what has gone on over the London bombings.
Blair’s own intelligence agencies told him, as did the anti-war movement, that if he invaded Iraq it would make Britain a terrorist target.
It seems, sadly, that this prediction has come true. It is despicable for Tony Blair and the media to try to obfuscate about the causes of the bombings. New Labour is attempting to stop any discussion of why terrorists attacked London. To ask why is not to support, condone or excuse. The attacks on London were barbaric and savage.
Blair has exposed the country to greater danger of a terrorist attack due to his reckless decision to support Bush in Iraq. He should resign immediately and be prosecuted for war crimes.
Alan Hinnrichs Dundee
Respect is here to stay after Waltham Forest result
WALTHAM FOREST Respect was delighted to receive nearly 15 percent of the vote in the Leytonstone ward
by-election in east London on Thursday 14 July.
We came a strong third, well ahead of the Tories and the Greens, whose votes collapsed.
We only had four weeks to build our campaign, and the lessons from the doorstep are clear.
Where we were able to canvass we could quite easily turn people towards Respect as a clear alternative to the inadequate policies of our Labour/Lib Dem council.
There are borough wide council elections next May. But our campaign effectively starts now.
We are planning to hold meetings on issues such as managing Olympics investment in the interests of local people.
We also aim to talk to everyone between now and next May.
Respect is here to stay in Waltham Forest.
With continued hard work and local recruitment we can win seats in May 2005 and make this borough a better place.
Caroline Coleman Respect candidate, Leytonstone ward by-election
Mistakes were made on the Gleneagles march
Following the police obstructions the reception that the Gleneagles march got from the people of Auchterarder was inspiring. However, we were disappointed that the opportunity to march to the G8 fence was missed by the protest’s main body.
When we raised this issue with stewards, they claimed that “the mood was not right” and that “people would get arrested”.
Neither of these turned out to be correct, since large numbers of people did cross the fence, and most of them did not get arrested. With support from the organisers, the majority of the demonstrators would have been enthusiatic about defying the police blockade.
The main problem seems to have been a misjudgment of the level of opposition to the G8, rather than any deliberate attempt to limit militancy. We need to learn from this mistake.
Those of us who have been activists for a relatively short time have not had any opportunity to take action against those who control our lives.
We are mostly in non-unionised, casual or temporary jobs and have fewer workplace rights than workers in the past. It’s difficult for us to take action in a traditional socialist way.
We need solidarity from those in left organisations. There is a danger of parties falling behind the general population in activity, unless those involved try to keep moving.
Tim Hinton and Gaynor Barrett Exeter
The G8 police were to blame
THOSE OF us who made the journey to Auchterarder, Perthshire, on Wednesday 6 July for the demonstration against the G8 summit got a taste of what democracy really feels like.
The tactics of the police to stop us making the march were oppressive. Before people had set off for Auchterarder, a police source had untruthfully informed the media that the organisers had cancelled the march.
Our bus from Edinburgh was stopped several times by armed police. A predicted one and a half hour drive was lengthened to five hours by police harassment.
We were escorted by a van to a car park near Stirling to be greeted by over 60 officers. We were subjected to a search and humiliatingly filmed and questioned. We arrived in Auchterarder at 2.30pm.
Mounted riot police blocked the front of the march. Reinforcements arrived by Chinook helicopter to incite the crowd. I feel that had the police adopted a more peaceful stance the small pockets of violence would have been avoided. The forces of “justice” have failed the nation. Who do they serve and protect? Not me.
Joshua Osoro Pickering by e-mail
I AM absolutely disgusted with chancellor Gordon Brown. I worked for York pensions centre when it first opened in 2002. The service we delivered to our customers was priceless.
I know through thousands of phone calls that for once pensioners felt like the government cared. They no longer had to queue for ages waiting to get through to speak to a member of staff about problems with their retirement pension.
Brown is shutting pension centres down and expecting the ones that are left to produce the same high level of service. These closures will cause damage to people who have worked all their lives and then been abandoned.
Jacqueline Budd by e-mail
Rosen's poems made a big impact
I JUST wanted to register my thanks for the three poems by Michael Rosen in response to the London bombings on the front page of Socialist Worker, 16 July.
These poems—Three Songs of the Dead—cut to the heart of the present situation. They turn one’s despair and anger into understanding and action. I was wondering if these poems could be printed on cards to distribute? They would make an impact.
Rupert Mallin Lowestoft
Send us an essay for the unions
THE ROSS Pritchard Memorial Fund was established to commemorate the life of one of the GPMU union’s best known rank and file members—Ross Pritchard.
The trustees of the fund invite entries to the annual essay competition on a subject dear to Ross’s heart—“Super-unions, membership and democracy, the impact on the future of the labour movement.”
Young trade union members in particular are invited to submit essays, not more than 1,000 words, but submissions from other trade union members will be welcomed. The winning essay will be awarded a prize of £750.
Essays should be submitted by post or e-mail by 20 September 2005 to RPMF, 1 Camden Hill Road, London SE19 1NX, or email@example.com
Megan Dobney South London
An inspiring man remembered
I WANTED to tell Socialist Worker readers about Jim Benson who has sadly just died (Socialist Worker, 16 July).
I only knew Jim in the last few months of his life. He read the paper avidly and came to Socialist Worker meetings and the post election Respect rally in central London. Jim was an inspiration. He will be remembered.
Graham Kirkwood South London
Marx haunts the BBC
ON Wednesday 12 July, Radio 4 announced that Karl Marx had been voted the “nation’s greatest philosopher” by listeners in a poll organised through Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time programme.
As the poll drew to a close you could sense the panic as it became clear that Marx was going to win. Bragg urged people to vote in the hope another philosopher would win.
Marx won with nearly 28 percent of the 34,000 votes cast. But the result was buried by the BBC.
The embarrassment of Bragg and the BBC over Marx’s victory is delicious. The vote shows that the spectre of Marx and socialism haunts Broadcasting House as much as anywhere else.
Sasha Simic East London
Support from Mexico
I HAVE read George Galloway’s article (Socialist Worker, 16 July) and support him wholeheartedly. He is a voice of reason in the wilderness that is the “war on terror”.
J Fairbanks Puebla, Mexico
Genoa play was success
A SINCERE thank you to all those in the Socialist Worker network who helped to make the play Black Sun Over Genoa such a success.
The play, by Theatre Workshop Edinburgh, was performed by a community cast, choir and orchestra to a total audience of nearly 2,000 in Edinburgh and Glasgow as part of the anti-G8 demonstrations. We are delighted that audiences had the chance to hear Haidi Giuliani, the mother of Carlo who was killed at the G8 protests in Genoa in 2001, speak in the show and that people have been spurred on to attend the demonstrations after seeing the play.
We are especially indebted to those who were at Genoa in 2001 and who helped us.
Pete Baynes Associate director, Theatre Workshop