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Now build bigger

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Issue 1757


Now build bigger

BRITAIN’S ROLE in the development of Star Wars, George W Bush’s missile system, was brilliantly exposed last week. Over 100 protesters from Greenpeace invaded the military radar base at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire to highlight the fact that it, and other British bases, will play a crucial role in this system that threatens the world.

Bush claims his new shield will protect people from nuclear war by shooting down missiles as they fly. In fact the system will make the world a more dangerous place. It could even start a new nuclear arms race. The US wants to be able to use its military muscle anywhere in the world without fear of retaliation.

Tony Blair has so far refused to be drawn on whether the British government supports the missile shield. However, the government gave its permission to update the radar system at Menwith Hill despite the fact that the shield would offer no protection to Britain.

There is growing awareness of the dangers of Star Wars, and the protest last week will have alerted thousands to it. The Greenpeace protest made Star Wars national news. It has made it a topic of discussion very widely. There is a real chance to build a big movement.

Many who oppose the domination of the world by multinational corporations will also be opposed to military domination of the world by the US. Let’s make sure that the next protests against Star Wars, on 19 July and 13 October, bring thousands out to protest.

  • YURI PRASAD, East London

Dando case was blatant piece of British injustice

THE CONVICTION of Barry George for Jill Dando’s murder has raised some very worrying questions. There was no murder weapon found, and there were no witnesses to say that Barry George was ever spotted at the murder scene. The police took Barry George’s clothes out of a sealed bag and examined them in an area where firearms had been discharged. They then produced at the trial the “key” evidence of a particle of gunshot residue in his clothing.

The truth is that there was no strong evidence against Barry George at all. He was simply an easy man to convict because he was regarded as a bit odd. New Labour has said that in the future more people will be open to conviction on circumstantial evidence, and there will be more opportunities to reveal previous convictions in court.

That can only lead to more miscarriages of justice. I very much suspect that Barry George is innocent and that even if he is guilty the evidence was not enough to convict him.

  • JANE HOLLAND, Birmingham

Harrow, goodbye

THE TV documentary Harrow: The School on the Hill revealed much about the Harrow public school.

Despite being an anachronism in the 21st century, Harrow seems to go from strength to strength. Of course, the fees of 16,800 a year might be rather beyond most working class people.

The programme gave us a first hand opportunity to witness elitism in the raw. The first programme showed a new boy being kitted out at the school outfitters. The price tag was 1,760.70!

  • LES HOLLEY, Harrow

Workers back shot protester

IN GOTHENBURG the world’s elite reached new heights of brutality attempting to protect their meeting. This time round they shot with live ammunition and nearly killed a 19 year old demonstrator.

As I left Gothenburg he was still in intensive care but had uttered his first words. His name is Hannes and (quite contrary to the media stereotypes of middle class protesters) he is a transport worker. When one of his friends at work heard what had happened, he went round and collected a day’s wages from fellow workers in solidarity. This is a hopeful sign of unity for the future.

The press, police and politicians are trying to create outrage over broken shop windows, and split our movement between angry young people and the “established organisations” over the question of violence.

At the same time they defend one of the most violent man in the world-George W Bush-they shoot demonstrators, and they are responsible for a system which lets millions of people starve every day. We must stand united and build a mass movement fighting for a better world.

  • ASA HJALMERS, East London

I was beaten by secret cops

ANTI-CAPITALISTS in Hungary have recently experienced the brutal use of violence by one of NATO’s new “democratic” member-states. Hungary is where the US Pentagon has just opened a luxurious CIA-FBI university to train the police.

Members of the SWP’s sympathising groups in two cities were attacked by Hungary’s secret police. I was kicked, punched, beaten with batons until unconscious, and subjected to six hours of interrogation. Our “crimes” were to publicise Marxism 2001 in London, build for the protests in Genoa, and organise a demonstration against a NATO meeting in Budapest featuring Labour’s Lord Robertson.

I was eventually subjected to a trial where everyone-judge, jury, guards and interpreter-were secret police. I was found guilty of a technical visa infringement and sentenced to deportation for at least two years. The red and green movement took up this case brilliantly.

As a result I was interviewed by two national TV channels on primetime news and was on the front page of most major newspapers. The secret police were so embarrassed by this chorus of condemnation that they publicly blamed another section of the security forces-who then called a national press conference to say the secret police were responsible! This created an atmosphere where our demonstrations against NATO went ahead with great success.


Postal points

GIVEN THAT the issue of privatisation deeply affects even right wing Labour supporters, is there scope for launching some sort of national anti-privatisation campaign?

It may be possible to get a number of “notables” (union leaders, Labour MPs, etc) to sign up to a statement opposing privatisation in the public sector. Perhaps it is possible to launch a national petition, call a demonstration, even have a newsletter and website detailing campaigns, etc.

Surely this would be a good opportunity for both the Scottish Socialist Party and the Socialist Alliance to get involved in united front work with many people who are concerned about what is going to happen to public services.

  • JOE HARTNEY, Edinburgh

TONY BLAIR says he allowed Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) to have an account with the government’s bankers because “it does good work”. What nonsense! Because it is a contract house it conducts no research of its own into cures for cancer, AIDS or anything else. That work is left to the underfunded universities, charities and others who then pay HLS to conduct specific tests at a profit.

Over two years ago Channel 4’s Dispatches exposed HLS. Because it is committed to profit, the tests it carries out are of little scientific value and often actually “bad science”. Companies like HLS put profit before people, and that’s why socialists should be outraged at Blair’s decision to continue to defend this company.

  • Name and address withheld

LIKE MANY places, Oldham has a lot of hidden history. A number of men from Oldham, among them Joseph Lees, Kenneth Bradbury, Albert Charlesworth and Clem Beckett, a motorcycling champion, went to fight on the side of the Spanish Revolution against General Franco’s forces in the Spanish Civil War.

They were white trade unionists and socialists who stood for internationalism, workers’ rights, women’s liberation and working class unity against the fascists. The Nazis are a model for the BNP. The Oldham International Brigaders are a good model for all people in Oldham today.

  • ALISTAIR STEWART, Manchester

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