Nazi threat to these kids
THE BNP claim they are a legitimate political party opposed to violence and racism. Our experience in Oldham shows that this is a lie. They want to whip up hatred against local communities. Last Sunday it was revealed that the BNP's election leafleting organiser in Oldham was convicted of leading a horrific gang rape.
Other leading BNP members in Oldham have convictions for football violence and drug dealing. Several of them are also members of the Nazi terror group Combat 18 (C18).
A local C18 member was jailed for three months last week after harassing people leaving an anti-racist rally. He was armed with a knife. He also threatened a Jewish family attending the Holocaust Memorial Day event in Oldham. The BNP's Oldham organiser, Mick Treacy, was in court last week charged with affray.
The BNP can attract votes from white workers angry with the Labour government and the Liberal council who offer a massive privatisation programme as the only solution to poverty and deprivation in Oldham. The Anti Nazi League can expose the BNP as Nazis who want to terrorise local people.
Socialists also need to build a real campaign against privatisation to undercut their support.
PETE HICK, Oldham
Refugees can help cure the NHS sickness
A REPORT from the British Medical Association (BMA) has highlighted the 500 or so doctors who would like to be working for the NHS. The doctors live in Britain. They are qualified. But they can't practise here because they are refugees. The Labour government continually denied there was any shortage of doctors and nurses.
It was only last year they agreed with the BMA that there is a national shortage of GPs. They prefer to launch expensive campaigns to recruit doctors from the European Union than give language training to doctors living here. Asian GPs have borne the main burden of propping up the Health Service in inner cities. These GPs are coming up for retirement. Half are over 60.
Racist immigration controls have prevented new doctors coming from overseas. Those that do get into Britain have to take rigorous new exams. Medical schools have not expanded to meet the needs of doctors. The BMA report fits my experience as a GP looking after some of the refugee population in east London.
The BMA is establishing a course for these doctors. That's just what's needed, not just in east London but anywhere there is any concentration of refugees.
DR KAMBIZ BOOMLA, Socialist Alliance candidate, East London
Schooled at me, me PLC
ONE OF the most scandalous examples of New Labour privatisation is taking place in the west London borough of Ealing. Compton High School in Northolt has been sold for a mere £2 millon to Sir Alec Reed, founder of the Reed Executive personnel empire and — surprise, surprise — a Labour Party donor.
He gets the buildings, land, staff and equipment, plus £8 millon start-up money and a regular annual grant from the government to run a city academy. He is under no democratic accountability to the community, and can scrap national pay and conditions at will. His website acknowledges that he has no real theories of education other than 'Me plc'. He wants every kid to be taught 'enterprise and innovation'. There's even talk that this will become the new school badge and motto.
Reed also runs Royal Holloway College, where Me plc is part of BABE, his BA in Business Enterprise. Compton High will become like a feeder school for this place of higher indoctrination.
Our NUT branch has had difficulty opposing this change from the inside, because most of our members have left. A mass of short term foreign supply teachers are keeping the students out of mischief. The local Labour MP, Steve Pound, supports this community asset-stripping, arguing it is the only way a needy school can get resources.
But with no teachers wanting to work there, how can that be good for the future of kids in Northolt?
NICK GRANT, assistant secretary, Ealing NUT
Not such a fond farewell
I HAD the bad fortune to go to a garage at 11.25am last Tuesday, just before the moment of silence for the Queen Mother's funeral. Staff in the showroom — both suited and overalled — were standing silently to attention.
For a second I was disorientated and stood there, startled by my own inclination to conform. Then my republican hatred took over, I turned round quickly and left. I debated what I should do when I returned to collect my car later. It was important to show that the near universal observation of the minute's silence depicted in the media did not represent universal consent. The scene at the garage was repeated across Britain last Tuesday.
It was stage managed, with head offices sending out precise instructions for stoppages at 11.30am. All employees would in turn receive instructions or requests. The timetable was announced and repeated by the media. It would be a very strong person who would voice dissent, who would not fear disapproval from their bosses.
Certainly a large minority would not have been captivated by the torrent of propaganda. But the noise was so loud many would have thought, 'Keep quiet, keep your head down. It will be over quickly, let it pass.' But silence does not mean consent.
JOHN CHARLTON, Newcastle
NIGERIA REMAINS a poor country despite its abundance of natural mineral resources such as crude oil, coal and iron ore. It is a country saddled with a huge debt, mass unemployment, corruption, and the breakdown of social infrastructures.
Most Nigerians are downtrodden and poverty-ridden. The leaders of Nigeria have ruled for their own selfish ends. In the late 1970s it was business as usual. Large-scale looting of the national treasury became the norm, while the West looked the other way. The next elections are due to take place in 2003.
We need to break away from the past for people to realise their full potential.
TUNDE AJALA, South London
I HAVE always felt that socialists are less organised than our opposition. There is the Socialist Alliance, which is a way of contesting elections. Why not though, instead of many socialist parties and groups dividing choice, merge into a united force strong enough to carry the main call for change?
Trade unions must surely decide it is time to split from the Labour Party. Members of the Labour Party with socialist beliefs must surely realise it's time to join those with similar goals. Obviously it would have to be a broad church, but with common aims and policies. Let's unite, not divide.
TERRY WALKER, London
I JUST wanted to thank Paul McGarr for the article about the French election. Arlette Laguiller has persevered a lot and is doing very well. She deserves some recognition. I am French, and I am confused with New Labour. I have been reading Socialist Worker. I find it interesting and instructive.
STEPHEN GHYSELEN, Brighton
Voices for Palestine
ARIEL SHARON is well known to have a bloody and dishonest past. Promises to the United States not to march to Beirut in 1982 were broken. The resulting onslaught left 17,000 Lebanese civilians dead, and the Sabra and Shatilla massacres ensued.
Events today in Palestine are just as deadly. Mr Bush did not do enough when he asked Israel to withdraw. No timetable was set, and the economic card was not played. As it is obvious that international governments and organisations have little desire to hold Israel to account, it is up to grassroots protesters to force a change.
Anyone who would like to see a quick and peaceful end to the current crisis should accept the challenge, and help prevent another genocide from taking place.
NEIL LOWRIE, Loughborough
THE ISRAELI army has established a prison camp for Palestinians. It is a city of barbed wire on the border with Egypt. There are thousands of men, women and children as young as 12 years old being held in the camp.
I hope that raising awareness of this situation can help to stop Sharon's plans for ethnic cleansing.
SALLY FERNANDEZ, director, Millennium Hope
I SERVED with the British army in Palestine during the Second World War. Around 350 of us were stationed in Palestine between 1940 and 1948. At a reunion we vets held a collection. It went towards the training of two Palestinian nurses. It seems now as though it should have been 2,000, the way the Israelis are acting.
Yesterday's terrorists are today's government in Israel. I always say that, the servicemen do the dying and the politicians do the lying.
A THIPTHORPE, Swindon