Socialist Worker

Ruth Kelly’s prescription for tearing communities apart

Issue No. 2016

Another week, another lurch to the right from New Labour. This time it is the idea of a multicultural society that is under attack from government ministers.

Ruth Kelly, the secretary of state for communities and local government, launched a “commission on integration and cohesion” on Thursday of last week.

She called for an “honest debate” over whether multiculturalism “encouraged separateness”.

By “honest” she means a “debate” where right wing racists can spout their bigotry unchallenged, while ethnic minorities shut up and do what they’re told.

Kelly has explicitly ruled out the commission considering whether Britain’s foreign policy has had any effect on “community cohesion”.

Behind New Labour’s feelgood babble about “communities” lies an uglier political agenda. The government is trying to promote the notion that Muslims are collectively to blame for our problems, because of their alleged failure to “integrate” into nebulous “British values”.

What these “British values” actually are is rarely spelled out. But one thing is clear - anyone from an ethnic minority who voices principled objections to war is deemed suspect and branded a potential “extremist”.


Hiding the oppression

A series of bomb blasts tragically injuring and killing people in Turkish tourist resorts at the beginning of this week has been claimed by a Kurdish guerrilla group.

This has led to widespread denunciation of Kurdish “terrorism”. But there has been no denunciation of the Turkish state’s brutality towards the Kurdish population.

Turkey wants to deny the existence of the 12 million Kurds living in Turkey. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was formed in 1984 to resist this oppression.

The Turkish state responded brutally and 40,000 people were killed. It seized Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader in 1999, and has held him imprisoned ever since.

The PKK called a ceasefire and asked for negotiations. Turkey has ignored these moves and continued the war on the Kurdish people.

The discontent among Kurdish people stretches across the border to Iraq.

A poll by the University of Michigan in 2004 found that 70 percent of Iraqi Kurds supported the US-British occupation. Now the same body finds that 63 percent oppose it.

TUC conference

Tell Blair the truth

Many trade union leaders have spent the summer months criticising Tony Blair.

A chorus from Amicus leader Derek Simpson leftwards has called for Blair to go. Now they have a chance to turn their words into action.

When Blair addresses the TUC conference on 12 September will they clap him half-heartedly or use the opportunity to criticise and embarrass him, hastening his departure from the political stage? What about when he speaks at the Labour conference on 26 September?

Unfortunately in the past union leaders put their loyalty to Labour before the need to remove Blair.

It will take a mass movement on the streets to finally remove this war criminal.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

What We Think
Sat 2 Sep 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2016
Share this article

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.