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LETTERS – State wants to take revenge against Extinction Rebellion

This article is over 4 years, 8 months old
Issue 2657
Police arresting a protester in London during Extinction Rebellion blockades in April
Police arresting a protester in London during Extinction Rebellion blockades in April (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The police are pushing to charge over 1,100 people who were arrested on the Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) International Rebellion in London in April.

They want their revenge and to drag people through courts on a nothing charge.

The sheer number of people who came out and our non-violent tactics meant the police hierarchy became embarrassed.

The International Rebellion lasted so long because ordinary Londoners got involved. It lasted for 10 days at sites in central London. And by the end of it, the government had to declare a climate emergency.

I was one of those arrested during the International Rebellion. The police became rougher and nastier as it went on. And near the end, people were being grabbed and dragged rather than being taken away in a calmer manner.

It was quite clear when the order came to clear us that the nicely, nicely stuff was ending.

When we had non-violent direct action training, XR was honest about what would happen if people got arrested. We were expecting much worse than we got, and that expectation now looks like it’s going to be realised.

The honeymoon period is at an end and the state is going to remove the kid gloves.

You could feel that with the Greenpeace protests at the BP offices—the police came to close it down almost immediately. And you could see that with the cops starting to get a bit rough with the school climate strikers last month.

As the attitude of police hardens, it can only begin to harden the attitude of protesters—and the school students are the sharpest.

One of them at our meetings said why they hate the police—and others nodded to it.

We have no regrets.

There are arrest support groups and I’m sure they will be putting up a common defence. Trade unionists should show solidarity and help to raise money for any fines.

Simon Assaf, East London

Government must pay for benefit sanctions

Tory minister Amber Rudd announced recently that three year sanctions for benefit claimants would be stopped.

On the same day the Labour Party released figures showing that 32,647 three-year sanctions have been issued since 2012. And 20,000 of them were issued to Universal Credit claimants.

As socialists, we should call for an immediate scrapping of Universal Credit and all benefit sanctions.

And, as part of that campaign, we should demand that the Tories are held to account for the tens of thousands of deaths caused by their sanctions regime.

Sean McDermott, Glasgow

Tories haven’t dropped migrant charges in NHS

Right wing newspapers are claiming that the Tories have been forced to drop migrant charges in the NHS.

The Home Office and the NHS did drop the “memorandum of understanding”, which allowed data sharing between the two organisations.

The Home Office is still trying to find new ways around it. Some hospitals are still asking the Home Office to verify if patients are eligible for some care.

They say this is to make sure they don’t charge people who are entitled to free care.

But it could still be about flagging up someone to immigration authorities.

It creates a climate of fear where migrants don’t feel able to go to hospital and helps the Tories’ “hostile environment”.

Jackie Applebee, East London

Principles for a real democracy

To outflank and undermine the likes of Nigel Farage, Socialist Worker should emphasise a distinct, detailed and determined definition of democracy.

All positions of power should be elected to widen reach, and elected positions should be subject to recall to retain ordinary people’s initiative.

Those in elected positions should be paid an average wage to guard against greed and bureaucracy. They should be rotated—because, as the revolutionary Lenin said, “Every cook can govern the state.”

And this should happen at least annually.

This would qualitatively more advanced than the current set up, where you get to vote maybe 12 times in your lifetime.

Nigel Coward, West London

Good to see Campbell go

All sorts of Blairites are demanding that Alastair Campbell is reinstated to the Labour Party.

As Tony Blair’s right hand man, he “sexed up” the dossier that led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

One million people were murdered in the US and Britain’s war.

Why wasn’t Campbell expelled over the Iraq war, rather than for voting for a party that voted against the invasion?

Nina Fenwick, Malver

Where now for Tories?

Whoever replaces Theresa May as prime minister will face the same parliamentary arithmetic as she did when they try to get the European Union Withdrawal Bill passed.

And they will also need a mandate from the public.

So a general election will have to take place soon.

Brian Eggleston, On Facebook

Or the Tories will just let the clock run down and let Britain crash out of the European Union with no deal.

I’ve got a feeling that that’s what some of them have been wanting all along.

Rai Grant, On Facebook

Let’s bring on the election

Theresa May bought it all on herself.

Bring on the general election at the end of summer and let’s vote in a Labour government led by the Jeremy Corbyn.

They are the only party who can sort out Britain’s social problems and get us back on our feet.

Paul Harris, On Facebook

Good to see proud Muslims

As a lesbian Muslim, you’ve no idea how much it means to see LGBT+ Muslims leading the Pride march in Birmingham for the first time ever last week.

@Allwedoiscry, On Twitter

Don’t leave out Greens

Socialist Worker suggests that the Green New Deal (GND) was inspired by action in the US (Socialist Worker, 22 May).

It’s important to include that a GND was developed in Britain in 2007 by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, the New Economics Foundation and others.

It developed into the One Million Climate Jobs campaign, with the support of a number of unions.

You can see details at

Chris Hart, Lancaster

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