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Letters: Stand with targets of new Tory laws

Extinction Rebellion's 2022 programme could be an early test of new police powers.
Issue 2786
Extinction Rebellion are part of a group odf 30 people protesting against the police bill. XR flags and Black LIves Matter flags.

Extinction Rebellion supporters joined a protest in London in December against the new repressive police bill (Pic: Extinction Rebellion)

Extinction Rebellion says this year it is rolling out a major programme of activity. It will involve door to door canvassing, talks, training and mass participation civil disobedience campaigns, “with the aim of engaging 2.3 million people”.

The first big wave of protests is set for April. We are very likely to see a major crackdown by the state in response, particularly with the new powers available under the police bill.

It’s a big challenge for the climate movement. It should also be a major discussion among the wider working class organisations. Put simply, we have to stand together.

This could well be an early test of how the Tories will treat protests. I know lots of people have doubts about the XR and Insulate Britain approach to campaigning. They are worried that it might put off some people who could be won over to climate action.

But I also know that it will be disastrous if it becomes normal for non-violent protesters to be jailed for long terms for sitting in a road.

For what it’s worth, I have lots of doubts about trade unions that support airport expansion and more roads and drilling for oil.

But I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to support any trade union that was the subject of the police bill measures, or other anti‑democratic attacks.

There’s such a big gulf between the workings of the trade unions and the radical environmental movement. The state seems to be able to impose harsh punishments without any response from the unions. This has to end.

Imogen Hughes

  • On the same night that Boris Johnson was engulfed in the revelations about Christmas parties, two vile pieces of legislation moved towards the statute book.

Both the police bill and the nationality and borders bill went through key stages.

This is what the Tories are in government for. They want to divide us to weaken our opposition, and if we still protest then they will batter us.

Dominic Curran
East London

Forward to university strikes now

After three days of strikes last year across 58 universities with tens of thousands of staff taking action, more has to be done to fight for pensions, equality, better contracts and fairer workloads.

The UCU union general secretary Jo Grady has commented that this “is just the beginning” and “more widespread and escalating industrial action in the new year” is coming.

We need to get the word out to students to prevent them from misdirecting their anger during the strikes.

Otherwise some could take out their frustration at the lack of classes on their lecturers.

Instead, students should be angry towards the universities for creating these poor working conditions.

They should support their lecturers in continuing to strike.

The misdirected frustration often comes from a lack of information.

In Bristol, we will be campaigning and making it clear that students will benefit from staff winning better pensions and equalities.

I think in the past year this student solidarity with lecturers has gained real traction.

It is vital that strikes escalate so that university managers realise a change has to be made.

We must keep fighting for stronger strikes this year.

Charlotte Goodwin
University of Bristol

Build Palestine solidarity after activists acquitted

The acquittal before Christmas of three Palestine Action activists is a victory for Palestine solidarity.

They had been charged with criminal damage against the Israeli weapons manufacturer Elbit.

This “criminal damage” constituted them locking onto the gates and throwing red paint over the premises of the weapons company’s subsidiary, UAV engines, in Shenstone, Staffordshire.

Israel uses Elbit’s “smart weaponry” in its bombardment of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

Components for combat drones are manufactured at the Shenstone factory. The past year has seen renewed public interest in the struggle against the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.

This verdict is another reason to keep piling the pressure on the settler‑colonial state of Israel and all who give it succour.

Joining the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is one means of support. Another is to join the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Dave Clinch
Torrington, Devon

The strengths and limits of Steve Biko

Thank you for the article on Steve Biko (Socialist Worker, 8 December) which brought back memories of how important he was to me as a young man.

The assertion of black pride mixed with an understanding of the structural roots of oppression was a revelation to me.

And it was also an inspiration to struggle.

And I think there are many different ways to interpret what he said about capitalism.

Sometimes he seemed to say that black people could invade and seize capitalism.

At others he wanted to tear down the whole structure.

But Biko does not speak so strongly to me today. In South Africa today the struggle is against a back-led government.

Many of its leading figures have some past connection with the struggle against apartheid.

It is not very central to say simply that “black is beautiful”.

Perhaps Biko would have tried to say that a president that oppresses the poor and has a record of shooting down strikers is not really black in a political sense. But that’s stretching it to breaking point.

Cyril Ramaphosa is an authentic black man, but he’s also one who serves the capitalists and has been richly rewarded for his service.

Beke Celo
Cape Town on Facebook

What I want for 2022 is…

Can this be the year when we start to see a real increase in strikes and protests?

It would be so good to have a movement on the scale of Black Lives matter allied to a sustained level of workers’ actions.

It better happen soon or it’s going to be too late for most of us

Rachael Halliday
West London

  • This has to be the year when the Scottish National Party at last moves to a new referendum on independence.

They have the mandate, they have plenty of reasons to ditch the Tories and the British state, and there couldn’t be a better time to go for it.

And if there’s a vote I think independence will emerge as the winner.

Stuart Morran

  • I hope 2022 will see a major split in the Labour Party and the emergence of a genuine left wing alternative to Keir Starmer.

If Labour doesn’t allow Jeremy Corbyn back as an MP, he should say now he will run in Islington at the next general election as the leader of a new party.

And he should challenge the other Labour lefts to stand alongside him.

It would give so much new energy to the movement. I would love to vote and campaign for such an endeavour.

John Ellis
North London

  • Could the left pay a little less attention to what’s happening on social media and just a bit more attention to social life?

Shabber Ahmed
West London

Read about Indian fight

I read Yuri Prasad’s review of Sardar Udham with interest (Socialist Worker, 30 November).

To read more, I would highly recommend The Patient Assassin by Anita Anand, whose grandfather was present at Jallianwala Bagh.

She also wrote Sophia: Princess, Suffragette and Revolutionary.

Val Dissington
South London


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