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Letters—Keir Starmer should not be pandering to Hindu right

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Labour should not tolerate supporters of the Hindu far right in its ranks
Keir Starmer

Labour leader Keir Starmer is trying to win right wing Hindu voters (Picture: Wikicommons/ Chris McAndrew)

It was disturbing to see the communal violence that took place in the streets of Leicester last month between Muslim and Hindu youth. It was generated by the Hindu right. Earlier this month, Labour leader Keir Starmer used the term “Hinduphobia” during a visit to a temple celebrating Navratri. 

It was intentional and framed in a way to win back support for the Labour Party from the Hindu right. Hindus in Britain do face anti-Asian racism. But the idea behind the term Hinduphobia is a myth. 

It’s been fuelled by India’s prime minister Narendra Modi and his far right BJP party to further their Hindu nationalist propaganda. The Hindu far right uses the term to suggest that anyone who criticises the Indian state is a racist. 

It’s based on the idea that in India Hindus are being attacked by Muslims, when in reality 80 percent of the country is Hindu. Indian newspapers are now congratulating Starmer. That’s scary given the same narrative was used against Muslims in Leicester. Not only is it divisive, it’s a diversion from the racism and Islamophobia propelled by this racist Tory government. 

And Starmer is responsible for inflaming the communal tensions that already exist. With Modi’s Hindu nationalism coming to the streets of Britain, Starmer is being opportunistic by coalescing around it. But Starmer’s strategy of pandering to the Hindu right is in vain.

Earlier this month, a council by-election in North Evington in Leicester, where the unrest occurred, saw Labour lose a seat to the Tories. Labour’s candidate, Rajul Tejura, faced accusations that she’s a BJP supporter and ended up in third. We need to be clear—it’s racism, not Hinduphobia that exists

When Hindus, and also Sikhs, were attacked after the 7/7 attacks in 2005, it’s because they were Asian, often mistaken for being Muslim by the bigots. Labour should not tolerate supporters of the Hindu far right in its ranks—and should not be encouraging them here in Britain.

Julie Mukherjee

North London

Defend direct action

Two Just Stop Oil climate activists threw tomato soup onto the glass screen that protects one of the world’s most expensive paintings this month. It caused uproar. How can we continue to tolerate a society that values a painting so highly and yet places such little value on people’s lives, was their message.

The painting is part of a series called Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh. The sunflower is emblematic of the millions of species that are threatened with extinction by climate change. Debate raged. Some people said they couldn’t support Extinction Rebellion or Just Stop Oil anymore because of the damage caused.

Others discussed whether the act itself was a work of art or claimed that van Gogh himself would have approved.  The Culture Group of the PCS union, representing museum workers, issued a statement about “extreme and dangerous tactics”.

Three things are certain. First, these activists put no worker or museum visitor in any danger. Second, the priceless work of art was entirely undamaged by the action and was back on display the following day. Third, Just Stop Oil gained massive publicity.

Every campaign has a use for attention-grabbing shock tactics. But we must remember they are no substitute for mass collective action.

Wendy Smith


Seize the time—or suffer

While the Tories are in absolute crisis, we have a class fighting back. The CWU union posties, British Telecom and Openreach workers have organised joint action. The NEU eduation union organised a consultative ballot on pay. Some 86 percent of teachers and 78 of support staff voted in favour of strikes.

The turnout for both groups was very high. They will now move to a formal ballot for strikes. The RCN nurses’ union is organising its biggest ever strike ballot. 

As we visit the picket lines, we must keep engaging in the class fightback of a generation. We must make the Tories pay for the chaos they have created. If not, they will make our class pay. They will come for our wages, pensions, the NHS, schools, benefits—and that’s just the start.

Niamh O’Toole


Airbnb is causing real housing misery  

I am deeply concerned about how the cost of living crisis is making the lives of ordinary people worse—especially over existing issues such as housing and homelessness. I would like to think that everyone would want to work towards a better future for all. But not everyone shares this sentiment.

We live under capitalism, where there is always a drive for profit at the expense of others’ hardship. As a result companies such as Airbnb are helping to deepen the housing crisis by allowing landlords to rent out their properties as “lodgings”. Landlords do this at substantially higher rates and take a cut as commission.

This damages the entire rental market. Landlords have been converting many of their regular rental properties to Airbnb lodgings, which pushes prices up for regular renters. Naturally, the already vulnerable suffer the most, and rising rents were already pushing many into poverty and homelessness.

This is a problem compounded by a lack of socially funded short and long term accommodation. It’s as if these companies don’t care that they are profiting from the misery of others.

Matas Skiotys

West London  

Shame on the Labour Party

The Labour Party has left its roots behind and is now preoccupied with gaining middle class votes to see them elected. It is indeed—as is being increasingly pointed out—the unions that are representing the cause of the far less fortunate. 

Total credit to them and shame upon the Labour Party. Never, never forget your roots.

Art Muritt 

via email

In support of the strikers

I think strikers would rather be at work, helping us all. But can anyone really say they are comfortable with people being forced to work without proper pay, conditions? Should they have to worry about feeding their family or heating their homes this winter?

I know I can’t accept that situation. Without action, pay is unlikely to meet the rising cost of living. In one of the “richest” countries on Earth, that is simply unacceptable. I support each and every one of these people making a stand for the simple fact it is the right thing to do.

Mark Sohn

On Facebook

Escalate now to save jobs

Liverpool dock and Royal Mail bosses have announced redundancies while workers are on strike. This seems to be a strategy following British Gas’s lead. Escalation is the only way to win.

David Wainwright

On Facebook

Stop Rwanda deportations

It doesn’t matter which Tory home secretary we end up with, fighting back against the Rwanda plan is crucial for anti-racists. And we can’t rely on Labour either—if it gets its way, we’ll still end up with a points-based immigration system.

Lizzie Rodgers


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