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Young white kids want to fight against BNP

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THE UNITE Against Fascism Manchester carnival came to Liverpool on Sunday 30 May. Despite Manchester police's best efforts to stop the event, and with only three days to build it, nearly 3,000 people turned up.
Issue 1905

THE UNITE Against Fascism Manchester carnival came to Liverpool on Sunday 30 May. Despite Manchester police’s best efforts to stop the event, and with only three days to build it, nearly 3,000 people turned up.

The carnival atmosphere began with a Samba band from Manchester who played to the people who had begun queuing hours before the doors opened. Once inside things went from great to fantastic as we were entertained by the likes of The Music and Badly Drawn Boy.

Some people may have come just to hear the bands but it didn’t stay that way. Speeches stressing the need to fight the BNP were loudly applauded and chants of ‘Fuck the BNP’ were enthusiastically taken up.

Music can be a starting point for bringing people together against racism and fascism. The crowd at Liverpool shows there are plenty of young kids-those attending were largely young and white-that can be won to fighting against the BNP.

In the 1970s we had Rock Against Racism-now we have Love Music Hate Racism. The bands have changed but the message remains the same, as the crowd said, ‘Fuck the BNP!’ Our thanks to Unite Against Fascism and the bands for a great gig.

Alan Brown, Liverpool

I HELPED set up the festival planned for Manchester. If the police had got away with stopping it, people would have felt really dejected. But the gig in Liverpool was packed out. There was a really political interaction between the acts and the audience, who were mainly white.

A hip-hop act from London sang an open letter to Tony Blair about what it is like being black and living on a council estate. It went down amazingly well. Badly Drawn Boy’s second song was against George Bush and people loved it. We came back from Liverpool more determined than ever to fight against the BNP.

Rob Jackson, Manchester

Tyrants at home and abroad

THE US and British governments claim they will give sovereignty to the Iraqi people by handing power to Iraqi officials. Sovereignty in the hands of people means that the people decide their own affairs. The officials appointed to run the Iraqi government have not been elected by the Iraqi people.

The Iraqi people have no power to replace them if these officials continue to serve and safeguard the interests of US and British governments. Despite mass opposition, our government took the country to war to serve the interests of oil companies and multinationals.

The cost of war is paid by the ordinary taxpayer. The profits are reaped by giant businesses. Should we pay for death and destruction to enrich multinationals?

Hundreds of thousands have protested against student top-up fees, poverty for pensioners and privatisation. Whenever people demand quality public services we are told there is no money but there is an open cheque for war. I ask, can governments that deny sovereignty to their own people give sovereignty to the people of Iraq or any other country?

Salvinder Singh Dhillon, Respect Greater London Assembly candidate for Ealing Hillingdon

Stand united

I ATTENDED most of the anti-war demos that were held in London over the last couple of years. Now I also intend to go on the ‘Pay up for pensions’ march on 19 June. I think it is very important that we show the connections between the huge sums of money being spent on occupying Iraq and the poverty pay for pensioners. I hope there will be many others from the anti-war movement on the pensions march. After all, young and old, we are in it together for a better world.

Alan Tremeer, Harrow

‘Pay up for pensions’ march, Saturday 19 June. Assemble Embankment, London, 12 noon. Called by the TUC.

Union merger needs debate

THE DEBATE about the possible merger of the GMB union with either the TGWU or Amicus union is a serious matter. It was therefore refreshing to see Socialist Worker begin the discussion in its pages recently (22 May). As a GMB member in local government I have no doubt that the right path is to first carefully consider whether the union can remain independent and, if it cannot, to go for merger with the TGWU.

When all the bureaucratic considerations are laid aside, the central factor should be what best develops the unity of workers in the workplace. There is a compelling logic to merging unions whose members often work alongside each other and whose battles are often over the same issue.

I would be pleased to lay aside inter-union competition in the councils and instead turn all our fire on the employers. Amicus is not similarly placed and therefore I believe any attempt to encourage merger in that direction is really about empire building and delivering a support base to New Labour.

We can make positive strides now by supporting one another in struggles, doing joint collections for other strikers, etc. Whatever happens at the top, such work will pay dividends.

Helen Johnson, North London

Every vote counts

I HAVE never voted before. Before I got involved in the anti-war movement, I would have thought of myself as a Lib Dem supporter. I thought they were a left wing alternative. My mum had backed Labour but switched to the Lib Dems.

But I realised they weren’t left wing at all. Their attitude to the war was ridiculous. What use was opposing it until it happened? I was an orphaned voter. Like lots of people my age, I felt there was no one to vote for. But not voting just lets Blair off the hook. He will claim we are all apathetic.

So I am really excited about voting this time because I can vote for a real alternative. I want to turn these elections into a referendum on the war and privatisation. My mum isn’t voting Labour or Lib Dem this time-she’s voting Respect too. If enough people do the same we can finish Blair.

Henna Malik, South London

I DIDN’T bother voting last time. I used to be in the Labour Party and I canvassed and did the polling stations for them. But three months after they got elected, I said knew I would never vote for them again. They abandoned everything to do with socialism.

When I am out driving my cab I see a different side of life. I drop off at the Savoy and the Ritz. I see people with too much money. I will be proud to vote for Respect because I am a socialist. I want a society that looks after everyone regardless of the their colour or creed.

The Lib Dems say they are anti-war. But I was involved from the beginning and I have never seen a single Lib Dem campaigning in Ilford. Respect is the real anti-war party. We have to get out and make a difference, and that means voting Respect.

Dave Rosengarden, East London

Exodus from the NHS

OVER THE past 30 years many management tools have been introduced into the health service. The misery and stress of nursing is translated into depression. The average working life of a nurse is ten years. Many end their working lives earlier than this.

The number of nurses leaving the NHS doubled last year and is now higher than in the 1980s.

Patrick Cooper-Duffy, Southampton

Refugees have reason to fear

I HAVE been granted refugee status and indefinite leave to remain in this country. This is very good news for me and my family. The bad news is that a fellow Congolese, Bijou Dimuka, died in Haslar detention centre a couple of weeks ago.

Getting news like this is scary for asylum seekers as we cannot trust the system that is there to look after us. We still don’t know what happened to Bijou. Now Mr Masudi, who was his close friend, has been moved to Harmondsworth immigration removal centre. I’ve heard that a date has been set for him to be deported, yet he is one of the witnesses to Bijou’s death.

We have no voice because we are asylum seekers.

Richard, Gosport

I JUST received the leaflet for Respect in my area. I loved the profiles of the candidates. I support the policies. The working class have finally realised that the British voting system doesn’t work for them. So they won’t vote. The Respect project is about educating and mobilising the marginalised sections of society so that they can have power for themselves. We believe in the people, in giving power to the people.

Lila Patel, London

Dim vision of culture

THE BIGOTS of the BNP often use the argument that Britain should not have foreign cultures forced onto it. Why then should we have their vision of Britishness forced onto us?

Culture is not synonymous with nation. There are wide cultural differences within nations, between different groups and even between people. There are also cultural similarities between people that cross national boundaries. It could be useful if you published a listing of sources where we could go for accurate figures on immigration, and how about an article about why the media scapegoat refugees?

Paul Forinton, by e-mail

Please note: I left UKIP

IN YOUR article ’10 Things You Should Know About UKIP’, you wrongly use the present tense. You say that I ‘write’ for Third Way. In fact, I haven’t written for it or had any contact with it since 1998. Also I did not co-author UKIP’s 2004 manifesto, but their 2001 manifesto for the general election.

I have since left UKIP because, as a gay man, I found it institutionally homophobic. I now reject all forms of right wing politics. I also unequivocally oppose all forms of racism, and my position on the Iraq war is the same as Respect’s.

Aidan Rankin, London

Students win press freedom

THE EDITOR of Europe’s most widely read student newspaper, London Student, which goes out to 100,000 students in the University of London every fortnight, won a decisive victory over bureaucrats last week.

Editor Lila Allen is a key figure in organising protests against top-up fees and the war, often coming to blows with University of London Union (ULU) executives. A recent article featured the word ‘fuck’ 77 times. The article was praised by many, but described as ‘filth’ by King’s College Union’s Tory president. King’s banned the newspaper from campus and tabled a motion of censure on Lila Allen to ULU council, which was defeated last Tuesday.

Patrick Ward, South London

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