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LETTERS—We stand with Steve Bell against illiberal censorship

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Issue 2664
The Steve Bell ‘IF’ cartoon that the Guardian refused to print last week
The Steve Bell ‘IF’ cartoon that the Guardian refused to print last week (Pic: Steve Bell)

In the latest outburst of illiberal censorship on that liberal flagship, The Guardian newspaper has pulled two cartoons by the brilliant and long-serving left wing cartoonist Steve Bell.

The cartoons in question depict Tom Watson as the antisemitism finder general. Bravely hunting out tropes and fearlessly exposing stuff that doesn’t exist.

At first sight it’s difficult to fathom why these cartoons might be censored, there’s really nothing anyone could be offended by, unless you happen to be Tom Watson—and he deserves it.

If cartoonists can’t be nasty about politicians, what are we for?

Exclusive - the Steve Bell cartoons the Guardian refused to publish
Exclusive – the Steve Bell cartoons the Guardian refused to publish
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The job of satire is to discomfort the comfortable and console the weak.

What has gone on here makes a travesty of this sentiment.

Apparently fear of a powerful politician’s possible reaction has prompted this cowardly editorial decision.

Sadly I don’t hear any howls of outrage in defence of free speech as when the target is Muslims.

With the New York Times (international) dropping editorial cartoons entirely and several veteran cartoonists being sacked for lampooning Trump, these are worrying times. And if you can’t laugh in worrying times it’s even more worrying!

In my experience editors are not comfortable with cartoons (with the obvious exception of this paper)

Cartoons are too unpredictable, inky and messy!

Freedom of speech is too precious to leave to the liberals to defend.

To the barricades! Throw some ink!

Tim Sanders

East London

Shame on the BBC

Last week’s Panorama TV programme “Sex Education—The LGBT+ debate in Schools” was a disgrace.

Primary schools in Birmingham have come under attack from some parents because they are creating an acceptable learning environment for all students, including LGBT+ students, by using the “No Outsiders” programme.

Every child has the right to an education where the diversity of our world is reflected and understood and every child is free to learn without prejudice.

Instead of reflecting this, more air time was given over to bigots who were organising the protests.

A Catholic teacher from Scotland explained how she wanted to disrupt the curriculum in schools where LGBT+ inclusive lessons are taught. Others misrepresented “No Ousiders” as sexualising children. That is nonsense.

Worryingly, Panorama also identified areas where future protests might kick off, creating a sense of inevitability about them.

Tory Education minister Damien Hinds gave little support to the schools that he should be backing.

All this at a time when physical attacks on LGBT+ people have increased by 144 percent in the last five years.

That is why we need to build unity to defend LGBT+ inclusive education. We need to organise protests whenever LGBT+ people are attacked.

We can’t let bigots steal our children’s futures.

Mike Dance

North London

More Marxism required

This year’s Socialism conference in Chicago took place against a backdrop of rising racism and attacks on minorities and women in the US.

The demise of the International Socialist Organisation and the takeover of the conference by the Democratic Socialists of America meant that some festival attendees felt important questions were left unanswered.

Although there were many interesting debates on topics from abolition of the police through to the climate emergency, it lacked any real Marxist critical analysis. It felt more like an intellectual exercise than a tool to build a real revolutionary current.

At this year’s Marxism festival in Britain Alex Callinicos discussed the question of whether Leninism matters today.

The Socialism conference demonstrated that this discussion is more important than ever. We must continue to build a revolutionary party which strives for workers’ authority.

Hope Ryan


Millennials need help, not scapegoating

Millennials are the generation who are dismissed as easily offended “snowflakes” by Piers Morgan and the far right.

But while he can afford as many houses as he likes, a new study shows that many millennials may never be able to afford one.

It’s ridiculous to think that a whole generation of working class young people will be effectively homeless by the time they retire.

Meanwhile, there are empty buildings and new luxury developments being built every day. It is very easy for the ruling class to use millennials as a scapegoat for the state of society. But the hypocrisy stinks.

While there are regular “second home” MP expenses scandals, we are facing a future with nowhere to live and living in a present where we are not paid nearly enough in order to be able to change our own situation.

Painting an entire group of people as oversensitive as the establishment so often does, while simultaneously creating a world where they are set up for poverty is disgusting.

More needs to be done to help millennials find homes, in order to ensure a secure future for us. We need to fight for the right to safer, affordable housing.

Hayden Collins


Rebel against the Tories

It’s been absolutely brilliant to watch Extinction Rebellion activists out on the streets fighting for the climate during the Summer Uprising.

But why aren’t they putting more specific demands on the Tories?

I know they claim to be “beyond politics”, but surely it’s those in Westminster who are standing in the way of “acting now”?

Janet Dyer

East London

Robinson is a jailed fascist

Tommy Robinson is banged to rights. But unfortunately he has a big following who buy his innocence. Anyone who knows about history understands that Robinson is a Nazi.

Gin Putland


Zionism is the problem

Equating anti-Zionism with antisemitism is a fallacy. I regularly criticise Donald Trump and the Conservative government but it doesn’t follow that I have a prejudice against American or British people.

Brian Eggleston


All out on 20 September

We all need to take to streets for the climate strike on 20 September.

We are facing the hottest July on record, directly following the hottest June.

The consequences are getting more dire.

Donald Trump and others will continue to deny climate change. But they will not feel the worst effects of it.

It is the poor and vulnerable who will have to deal with it.

Rachel Owen


Food banks shame Tories

I volunteer at a food bank. But I am disgusted that the school summer holidays are a bumper time for food banks. This growing demand should shame the Tory attacks on our welfare state.

Rob Murray

South Tyneside

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