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LETTERS—We organised to stop the far right at Warwick University

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Issue 2626
Blockading a hustings for Anne Marie Waters in June
Blockading a hustings for Anne Marie Waters in June (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The threat of a large anti-fascist demonstration forced Warwick University to postpone a talk by Islamophobe Anne Marie Waters last Tuesday.

On the 4 October, the PPE (Politics, Philosophy & Economics) Society announced that their first guest speaker of the term would be the far right hate preacher Waters.

This caused outrage among the students.

Just five days later students organised a Facebook event called “Far Right Off Campus”, which attracted hundreds.

Only two hours before the arranged start time for the talk, the Warwick PPE society “postponed” the event, but did not specify why. Waters has called for the banning of the burqa, a Trump-style freeze on immigration from “Muslim Countries”, as well as a temporary freeze on all immigration.

And after an unsuccessful Ukip leadership bid, where she came under fire for her extreme Islamophobia, Waters launched the far-right party For Britain.

The PPE society said, “We believe that the only way of defeating ideas we disagree with is publicly beating them in debate, not by intentionally silencing them”.

But The Labour Society is right in arguing, “The 1930s tells us the far right needs to be protested, opposed and defeated wherever it rears its head.”

From Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts in the 1930s, to Nick Griffin’s BNP, to Warwick Campus this week, the far right have only been defeated by a united front.

It is crucial that we block the political actions of those who seek to divide and attack our class.

As it stands, both the protest and talk are indefinitely postponed, but hopefully it has been made clear that there is no place for hate speech on campus.

It shows that students should organise against the far right at their universities.

Robbie Shaw

Warwick University

Frackers summon dark forces

I wonder if the three anti-frackers jailed at Preston Crown Court knew they were being sentenced by the descendant of Lancashire Witch Trial Judge Sir James Altham.

Their defence team said Judge Robert Altham jailed the first British environmental protesters since 1932.

The alleged witches of 1612 were not allowed defence counsel or to call witnesses. Ten were sentenced to death.

He sits as a circuit judge in the Crown Court in Lancaster Castle, where

Sir James conducted the Pendle witch trials in August 1612.

But maybe that’s not the most significant family tie.

The present-day Judge Altham has close links to the oil and gas industry via the family business, Altham Ship Stores & Offshore Supplies Ltd. It supplys the oil and gas industry in the Irish Sea.

His sister is managing director of the company. She signed a letter urging Lancashire County Council to permit fracking.

The campaign was led by the North West Energy Task Force—later rebranded Lancashire For Shale.

People should be able to campaign to save our planet from catastrophic climate change.

But it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

To defend the right to oppose fracking we will need mass protest, preferably backed by the power of organised labour.

Kim Hunter


Conviction highlights hypocrisy of far right

The jailing of Peter Gillett for 18 years for sexual offences against children should be headline news.

He is a former leading member of the English Defence League and friend of fascist Tommy Robinson. Robinson has tried to galvanise the far and fascist right around the issue of “Muslim grooming”.

Robinson has made no mention of Gillett’s offences, let alone condemn them. And Gillett isn’t the first EDL figure convicted of offences against children. When such court cases involve Muslims, the BBC and other mainstream media outlets report the outcome prominently.

But this case has largely gone under the radar.

Anti-racists should have zero tolerance for propaganda against Muslims under the guise of concern for the welfare of children.

We need to fight for a world fit for all children to live in.

Huw Williams


Hands off iconic Australian building

I’m not surprised that a betting company was given permission by the New South Wales government to beam adverts for horseracing onto Sydney Opera House.

Gambling is a huge part of culture in Australia, although recent laws tightened gambling restrictions.

The public anger over the advert taps into much wider frustrations in Australian society.

It’s currently in the middle of a drought, the most severe for decades. Where my family live in rural Queensland it hasn’t rained for a year.

People are living in devastating conditions, with very little in the way of government support.

The drought—which is driven by climate change—is affecting people’s livelihoods and living conditions.

There have been hundreds on protests and over 250,000 have signed a petitions against the advert.

People are so angry because it symbolises everything about a Tory government that is hand-in-hand with business, and wants to profit from everything, even iconic Australian buildings.

Jasmine Fischer

North London

Profit creates climate chaos

Last week a panel of the world’s leading climate scientists released a report calling for urgent changes on an international scale to prevent devastating climate change.

The only way to save our planet is to put our global economy under democratic control and run it to benefit us all rather than to make profits for a few people.

And that’s called socialism.

Russ Chandler

East London

Time for a French lesson

I read your article about coordinated French strikes (Socialist Worker, 8 October).

Unlike in Britain, there is widespread solidarity among the French working class against neoliberalism and austerity.

When they strike they do en masse, and their tactics are effective.

Daniel Margain

On Twitter

Potential for a Corbyn win

A reader is right to query why Jeremy Corbyn isn’t higher in the polls (Socialist Worker, 8 October).

I can’t help but think part of the reason lies in the relentless attacks from the mainstream media. The latest example is the ridiculous cartoon on the front page of the Evening Standard newspaper.

But some of the blame also lies with the Blairite right inside the Labour Party. They should unite behind Corbyn and start attacking the Tories.

Janet Dyer

East London

Indonesia is ignored

I read about the aftermath of the Indonesian earthquake (Socialist Worker, 2 October).

If it happened in Russia, Donald Trump would be there throwing paper towels at aid workers like he did after the earthquake in Puerto Rica.

It’s a shame this hasn’t made more headlines.

Lilli Gross

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