Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2018

Asbos have become a fact of life for working class people

Asbos have become a fact of life for working class people

Anti-social from birth?

The latest strand of Tony Blair’s Respect agenda is to target “troublemakers” before they are even born. He talks of “keeping an eye” on families that look likely to produce “dysfunctional” offspring.

I work every day with the kind of people who Blair labels “dysfunctional”. The truth is that the people who are given the least opportunities in life might not become model citizens.

But Blair preaching about “respect” while showing so little to others is not going to help.

Nine years of New Labour has brought massive cuts in funding for youth projects. We have seen attacks on working class access to housing, education and leisure.

Where you are born can define everything from what you will do for a living to what age you will die. Instead of preaching, the Blair government should deal with the real inequalities facing people today.

Marie Hutcheson, Portsmouth

It seems ridiculous to me that Blair should attack teenage single mothers at the same time as his government refuses to push for decent sex education in our schools.

Britain has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe. We know that proper discussion and the availability of contraception would reduce this. But Blair allows his morality to get in the way of common sense.

Mary Peterson, Dorset

Government should act over HIV

I am one of the thousands of people who received HIV contaminated blood during the 1980s.

In 1992 we received a derisory sum from the then Tory government. We continue to campaign for the government to make a decent payment to us.

Our trust recently submitted a business plan to the department of health, within which we asked for another payout. This has been ignored and they have made a derisory offer to fund our trusts.

Lives have been destroyed by government policy, yet they have never given us an apology or decent compensation. Most of us live on benefits and a small amount of regular payments from the trusts.

Our government discriminated by paying different amounts depending on whether you were married, single, adult or child. No other government around the world has done this.

No one in Britain has been charged with criminal negligence. The warnings were there, but they were ignored. These people should be held responsible for their actions.

The government owes us an apology and compensation. While the government ignores us, we are dying - or is that what the government wants?

Gary Kelly, Glasgow

No justice for Battir

Our group Luton Friends of Battir (a village in the West Bank, Palestine) recently received a letter from our friends in Battir, about how the Israeli government is using the excuse of archaeology to destroy Palestinian olive groves.

It said, “The Israelis started their work on May 2006 in an area called Alkherba near the village centre.

“Their research started with a military order. They promised not to destroy or to uproot any of the olive trees, and that their work would be limited to small areas.

“In the beginning they used more than 50 workers and archaeologists guarded by the Israeli army.

“In June they started to use tractors in their search which resulted in destroying tens of old olive trees.

“Then the Israelis stopped working and sent samples of the ruins to be analysed in labs in Jerusalem. If the results are positive they have said they will use bulldozers to remove all the olive trees (at least 1,000).

“People are so worried. They are waiting for the destruction of their trees and the capture of their land.

“It will affect a large number of families, who are suffering from Israeli policies. Only a handful of workers are allowed to work inside Israel.

“No notification was given to the owners, and no compensation was given, and we are afraid of an Israeli settlement in our village, or that it will be used as a reason to capture more and more land in Battir.”

Since we received this letter Israel started its invasion of Lebanon and at the same time the “archaeology” was accelerated destroying many more olive trees and robbing the people of Battir of more of their land.

We know that boycotts work to bring rogue states like apartheid South Africa to heel.

There is an urgent need to boycott Israeli establishments that actively support the oppression of the Palestinians.

Dave Barnes, Luton Friends of Battir

Glasgow firefighters shouldn’t be disciplined

Unless there is more to the disciplining of the firefighters who declined to hand out leaflets at Gay Pride in Scotland (Firefighters' union must step up the defence of gay rights, 9 September) than we have been told, this would seem to be an injustice of the first order.

There is no doubt that it is a “core duty” for members of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue to provide the public with safety advice. But people who attend a Pride event do so for their own reasons. Obtaining fire prevention information is not one of them.

It is well known that the issue of homosexuality and church teaching cannot be reconciled. The local leadership is seriously at fault for not keeping the two things separate.

They should have asked for volunteers for the event. The right of those who did not want to go, for moral or religious reasons, should have been respected.

By disciplining them the fire authority is saying that their beliefs are invalid - which must be contrary to its own equal opportunities policy.

This is not just a union matter but also a civil liberties one. If the firefighters take legal action the penalties imposed would almost certainly be quashed.

They do not seem to have received the representation they should have. Among those who have rallied to their defence is the BNP. The local union leaders should never have allowed a situation like this to come about.

John McPartlin, North London

We were attacked by the police

The weekend before last 200 armed police broke up a rave in a field close to Great Chesterford, Essex. The newspaper reports focused on a policeman who had “severed the top of his finger”.

There was no mention of the girl I saw on a stretcher who was screaming, “Where am I, what’s going on?” She had been trampled by riot police while inside her tent.

I was there to escape the violence of drunken brawls associated with nightclubs. I just wanted a free party away from society’s ills - but the police brought brutality.

During a scuffle, I witnessed one young guy being thrown about by the police. As he tried to get up from the floor in a clearly delirious state, he was struck directly across the face by a baton.

The violence used by police was not “proportionate” - the police clearly mounted an unprovoked attack.

My intent is not to demonise our police force - as the police so frequently do to the underground music scene - but simply to highlight the danger of particular armed police officers showing signs of brutality towards young people and the contrary picture painted by the press.

Yûsuf Martin, Suffolk

Our dentist can stay

Ian Waddell’s letter (Letters, 2 September) reported that a Kirkcaldy dentist, Siddhika Sathyamoorthy, had been told by the home office to return to India.

Her visa was not going to be renewed because she earned less than £27,000 a year.

I am delighted to report that the home office decision has been overturned.

Siddhika received tremendous support from locals.

If they are going to deport people who earn less than £27,000, they could deport most of the residents of Kirkcaldy. They won’t because immigration policies are racist and single out people like Siddhika.

The people of Kirkcaldy have proven that these policies can be beaten.

Steve West, Kirkcaldy

Solidarity in Scotland

I’m knocking on 60 years old now and I’ve been to a fair few inspiring gatherings of socialists over the years. I was at another one recently in Glasgow.

There were upwards of 600 people at the Solidarity rally, at least 150 more people there than were actually present at the last full Scottish Socialist Party conference.

We are not a personality party but we know a rallying point when we see one, and so does the working class.

Colin Cameron, Fife

A sorry apology

Tony Blair’s “heartfelt” apology for the events of the last week was a cleverly rehearsed attempt to fake sincerity.

What I found very unpalatable was that this wasn’t an apology for the recent spate of casualties in Afghanistan. Or for the incriminating facts revealed by the US Senate’s intelligence committee.

It was an apology for the behaviour of his Labour colleagues, whose only crime was to give up on hinting and tell the emperor that although his new clothes fitted perfectly, they were a demob suit.

Speculation as to the direction of the government under new leadership only serves to reinforce the suspicion that collective cabinet decision making no longer exists.

Robert Aylott, Scunthorpe

Right about immigration

the article about immigration (The politics of migration, 2 September) was the first time for a long time I have seen the truth in print.

It reminded me of the 1964 election. The Tory candidate in Smethwick was a vile man named Peter Griffiths. He ran a racist campaign under the unofficial slogan “If you want a nigger neighbour, vote Liberal or Labour.”

The Labour team in 1964, instead of saying how disgusting the Tory campaign was, said, “Don’t blame us. We’ve been out of power for 13 years and coloured (sic) immigration is not our fault.”

Mitch Mitchell, Cambridgeshire

Can we save the world?

Soon the warming Earth will emit considerably more greenhouse gas than humans. Carbon sinks will become carbon emitters.

Rather than pursue the futile strategy of stifling growth in human emissions, we need to remove the carbon dioxide from the air after it has been emitted.

Nature does this, but we are overwhelming her ability to cope. We need to improve nature’s ability to remove carbon from the air.

I suggest improving zooplankton or phytoplankton and seed it back into the ocean.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is unrealistic. We can accept this and improve nature’s ability to remove carbon dioxide from the air, or we can continue to waste our time advocating a policy that is bound to fail.

Brad Arnold, Minneapolis, US

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Sat 16 Sep 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2018
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