Two sides of New Labour
How sickening it was to see the Blairite clones signing a letter asking for the prime minister to stand down.
For once I agreed with Tony Blair’s comment that it was “discourteous and disloyal” to turn against the leader whose New Labour machinery had hand picked most of them and parachuted them into Labour strongholds.
These are MPs who up till now had supported every right wing policy the government introduced, including the monumental decision to invade Iraq. So what is their motivation for turning against Blair?
Certainly not any disagreement in policy or philosophy - it was rather a desperate attempt to desert a sinking ship now that Blair is known as a “dead man walking”. For the 100,000 lives lost in Iraq this is all too little, too late.
In the final analysis Blair will be remembered for the war in Iraq. His legacy long after his departure will be his part in the “war on terror” and his leading role in George Bush’s Project for a New American Century.
The invasion of Iraq is undoubtedly the single biggest contributing factor leading to the mass exodus of Labour Party members. The blundering catastrophic foreign policy and blind allegiance to disguised Tory domestic policies have made socialists leave the party in their thousands.
A change in party leader is not enough to win back hearts and minds without a serious commitment to break with New Labour and its politics and policies.
The Gordon Browns and John Reids of this world are merely the flipside of the Blair coin and should be exposed as such. They are not only guilty by association but also tainted by New Labour and all that it stands for.
I wish left wing Labour MP John McDonnell the very best of luck in his quest for the Labour leadership. It is good news for socialists left in the Labour Party and good news for those campaigning outside it.
Maybe with left wing John McDonnell at the helm, the same numbers of disillusioned members that left the party in droves might just return, bringing with them renewed hope and faith in democracy, peace and socialism.
Pauline Wheat-Bowen, Huddersfield
Al Gore is an odious conservative
Martin Empson was far too kind to Al Gore in his review of An Inconvenient Truth (A warning to the world, 23 September). Gore is an odious conservative whose political record before he tried to reinvent himself as an ecowarrior was solidly reactionary.
An anti-gay, anti-abortion bigot, Gore was one of only ten Democratic senators to vote for the first war against Iraq in 1991. That war was a humanitarian and environmental disaster - and it was fought for the very oil industry which now worries the fretful Gore.
Gore argues in his film that global warming is a moral, not a political issue. He’s wrong. Environmental destruction is the consequence of a system that is only interested in the accumulation of profit over all other considerations.
To save the planet we’re going to have to smash capitalism. In this project we will have many allies, but they won’t be capitalist politicians who have spent their lives defending the “free market”.
Sasha Simic, East London
John Reid is in denial
I take great offence at the recent hot air coming out of home secretary John Reid’s mouth. He is trying to lay the blame for radical youth on the Muslim community and Muslim parents.
This is part of an ongoing campaign to distract us from what is really happening around us. The government is trying to blame Muslims for being angry about a foreign policy that is responsible for countless thousands of deaths and the destruction of an entire region.
It is not the Muslim community that is “in denial”, as some even in our community would argue. It is the New Labour warmongers and the Muslim puppets that support them.
Muslim leaders who shy away from being critical of the Labour Party should be ashamed of themselves. They, along with Tony Blair, have the blood of countless innocents on their hands.
I blame these Muslim “leaders” for giving confidence to the Blair government to enact draconian anti-Muslim laws while they sit and have tea with ministers. They do not represent anyone except themselves and their petty personal interests.
Muslims who toe the party line and support the war should be treated as traitors to their community, because they do this at the expense of looking after our interests.
We do not want these puppets to come and explain the government’s position to us. We want them to argue strongly for our rights and to represent our views as they are - and they certainly are not in favour of this New Labour war machine which is in power at the moment.
When Muslims remain silent about issues that affect them, as they have done on many occasions, it gives the government more confidence to attack Muslims, enacting more laws to restrict our freedoms, victimising us and discriminating against us.
So I say to Reid and his puppets in our community to pack their bags and go home. He should address the real issues and the real causes of terrorism - which lie at the heart of 10 Downing Street, not in the Muslim community.
Cllr Hanif Abdulmuhit, Newham Respect
Shoot The Messenger told awkward truths
As a black man, I found a lot that was offensive but true in Shoot The Messenger (The message is wrong, 9 September). This film dared to reveal the rotten contradictions that lie beneath the surface of black pride rhetoric.
Man, do we hate ourselves, especially when we make a success of our lives! And what’s worse, that self hate is naturalised in what passes for black culture - which is rather a set of attitudes developed to cope with racism.
The examples given in this film are far from empty caricatures or stock situations, but vignettes taken from that “culture”. While racism is a fact and black pride/power are reasonable counters, these are not underpinned by a common culture evolved by British blacks.
Instead we have a mass of conflicting, ad hoc and ill thought out approaches to dealing with racism. Shoot The Messenger uses satire to point out those contradictions.
The central character, Pascale, wants to black people to change, but doesn’t understand until the end that he must himself change before he can teach. And the kind Christian who saves Pascale from the street herself perpetuates self hate and self destruction among those she wants to save.
The moral of the film is that blacks need to evolve common strategies for educating and supporting the next generation of a dangerously sick community that lives inside a racist society.
Raphael M, Birmingham
Israeli Zionism and that of the West
I wrote, “Plenty of non-Jews are Zionists (such as most members of Western governments) in the sense that they are in favour of Israel being this Jewish homeland.”
Yet I also claimed that the notion that the “Zionist lobby makes US policy is an antisemitic idea”.
The problem lies in the different ways in which the word “Zionist” are used. Israel is defined by its Zionism and its objectives are Zionist. We could call this Israeli Zionism.
Western governments may well be run by people who support Zionism, but Zionism is only one of their many objectives - they are not defined by their Zionism.
A lobby for Israeli Zionism exists - but to suggest that it runs US policy magnifies its power and suggests that it’s “the Jews” who are running the world. Here lies antisemitism.
The lunacy of that kind of racism lies in the idea that if you could remove all Jews from the world, the problems of the world would cease.
Michael Rosen, East London
Firefighters and gay pride
John McPartlin’s argument that the “Glasgow firefighters shouldn’t be disciplined” (Letters, 16 September) was a confused way of reaching that conclusion.
Contrary to John, I believe all workers - and clearly those in public services - have an obligation to treat other staff and those that they serve with equality and respect.
The reported reasons given by firefighters for refusing to attend a gay pride rally in Glasgow were wrong. However this should not stop the Fire Brigades Union defending these members in a disciplinary hearing.
And the decision by Strathclyde fire authority to single out nine Catholics for diversity training - as though it were some kind of punishment - should also be challenged.
Tom Woodcock, Cambridge
Iran’s nuclear capacities
Further to your article about the US’s “dodgy dossier” on Iran (US ‘dodgy dossier’ on Iran exposed as lies, 23 September), it is worth noting that the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report highlights the lack of progress Iran has made in its nuclear activities.
Iran has only built and operated one “cascade” consisting of 164 centrifuges. The Independent reported earlier this year that it would require 1,500 of these cascades running non-stop for a year to create a nuclear bomb.
This explains why many intelligence sources place Iran a decade from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Moreover, the neoconservatives are finding it extremely difficult to push through sanctions against Iran - which in any case are unlikely to be effective.
Given all this, it is looking likely that the nuclear issue will soon be sidelined by the warmongers in favour of rhetoric centred more on “terrorism” threats and human rights.
But whatever the arguments for war on Iran they are looking to cook up, the anti-war movement must be prepared to respond.
Naz Massoumi, Action Iran
Papal remarks not malicious
I was surprised by the inaccuracies in the article by Eamonn McCann on the pope’s comments about Islam (Pope has joined the ‘war on terror’, 23 September).
While I agree that Joseph Ratzinger’s position about Islam is ambigous - he is a staunch supporter of the doctrine of Christian supremacy - the fact is that the references to Islam were made during a university lecture, not a public speech.
It was just a gross mistake - indeed the pope was forced by the Vatican to apologise immediately - exploited by the press and by some sectarian fundamentalist organisations.
Carlo Ungarelli, Pisa, Italy
Muslims and liberal values
One of the most persistent Islamophobic themes from the media and the government is the notion that Muslims are failing to sign up to the “liberal values” that are allegedly shared by the rest of Britain.
I wonder what those who peddle this nonsense would make of a new survey carried out by researchers at Lancaster University.
They interviewed over 400 15 year olds from three different schools in derprived areas of Burnley, east Lancashire. The survey found that Muslim schoolchildren were far more liberal and tolerant than their white counterparts.
While useful for debunking myths about Muslims, the survey paints a disturbing picture of how racism has entered the common sense of many white schoolchildren.
Almost a third of children at a mostly white school believed that “one race was superior”.
This shows that it is racism that is the underlying problem, not the alleged failure of Muslims to “integrate”.
Jiben Kumar, East London