By David PaensonPaul Jenkins and Talat Ahmed
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Issue 394

I can’t really agree with Sally Campbell’s assessment that 1984 was a “strong production” (June 2014). A lot of the dialogue was almost inaudible, the same flashing lights effect repeated over and over again.

The acting was unconvincing — for instance, not even the feeling of real sensuality in the love scene — and always the same library scene, even when the couple were out in the country enjoying nature.

It seems to me that the whole thing was done on a shoestring with very little care. Also, if you are going to transpose something into the future, then the parallels to Guantanamo and so on should have been made much clearer.

David Paenson, Germany


Giving Nazi Nick the boot
Socialist Review’s (June 2014) edition provided some very good analysis of the European elections and the situation in Europe. However, it didn’t mention the most important, and significant result: BNP leader Nick Griffin being kicked out as MEP in the North West.

This result is of massive significance and shouldn’t be underestimated. While most of Europe experienced gains by fascist parties in May, anti-fascists in Britain sent out an inspiring message by removing the Nazi BNP from a senior, mainstream political position. This was not an inevitable result, as Nazi Nick only needed 7 percent to keep his seat.

Griffin’s subsequent resignation as BNP leader did not come about because the BNP simply imploded, as some have argued, but because of sustained anti-fascist opposition.

In relation to the argument that Ukip would simply take the BNP’s votes in May, one should bear in mind February’s Wythenshawe by-election where the BNP vote held up, with most Ukip votes coming from the Tories. Or look at Pendle in Lancashire, where in May the BNP kept its council seat while Ukip came fourth.

The fascist BNP leader lost his seat because of Unite Against Fascism’s “Nick Griffin Must Go” campaign, which opposed the BNP on the streets and at the ballot box in the North West since the campaign’s launch in 2011.

Paul Jenkins, Cumbria


Not the same
Amy Leather’s excellent review (July/August 2014) of Melissa Gira Grant’s much hyped book Playing the Whore makes a series of very good points concerning the role of the sex industry.

Amy observes that the way women and some men engaged in this activity are treated by the police, the courts and media serves to demonise the most vulnerable people associated with this industry. Grant’s book provides a powerful thesis for the decriminalisation of prostitution. However, her contention that sex work is “work” is problematic.

At a book launch at Edinburgh University she argued that “we all work for bad employers” and so women working for pimps face a situation no different to that of cleaners working at a university.
She even said some students may wish to be involved in sex work in order to pay their fees, so she wants them to be protected and not subject to police harassment.

This argument, while seeking to defend women in the sex trade, ends up legitimising prostitution as a constant in capitalist society. Given this position, it is no surprise that a male student at the meeting could talk confidently about using prostitutes from the “street, massage parlour and escort service”.

Sadly Grant gives credence to such attitudes because, if prostitution will always exist in the same way that society will need plumbers and nurses, then it is perfectly acceptable for a man to buy the sexual favours of a woman because this is a normal, economic transaction between consenting adults.

The confusion that equates between the purchase of a woman’s body and, say, the purchase of bananas risks confusing the commodification of “things” with the most intimate and personal feelings that we as human beings possess.

Grant has no concept of alienation, ignores the role of economic compulsion and doesn’t see the sex trade as an example of women’s oppression.

Talat Ahmed, Edinburgh

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