- Created: Friday, 20 December 2013 11:59
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 236 December 2013/January 2014
Protest outside Strangeways heard loud and clear inside
As I sat reading the last few pages of Hilary Mantel’s Bring up the Bodies, on Sunday 3 November, in my cell on HMP Manchester’s torture unit (Specialist Intervention Unit) I was disturbed as usual. Loud noise coming from outside began to distract me and I heard my name…
So I was pleasantly surprised when I listened closer to the racket which then became a sweet melody. A protest outside the prison, demanding an end to solitary confinement and my transfer out of this hell hole, was reverberating throughout my cell.
I had never thought that an event like this could have such a positive effect upon me, but feeling the support in this way is so much more powerful than I expected.
I arrived at Manchester on 13 June for what was supposed to be only a three-month stay. The psychological warfare inflicted at all Close Supervision Centre locations has been supplanted with physical torture, such as starvation, deprivation of oxygen and natural light and, of course, assault. I needed this protest to defend against all these abuses as my voice has been too easily suppressed.
Thank you to everyone who came and all those who stopped to find out what it was about. Hopefully it has been enough to force a move for me into improved conditions and I will let you all know as soon as this occurs. I appreciate the time and effort put in by all, including those involved in the organisation who could not make the journey on the day. Even Ann Boleyn did not have a demonstration outside the Tower of London in the book, so it is nice to know I am cared about more than royalty! If the time comes for another demonstration I look forward to the sensation your support will bring.
Thank you again. Let’s put an end to torture in English prisons.
Kevan Thakrar A4907AE
Greek SWP’s role in fighting fascism
I am surprised, but not shocked, to note that you can witter through a whole article on Greek anti-fascism and the so-called failure of the left to defend migrants without once mentioning KEERFA. This is a left-initiated united front which has defended migrant workers on farms in Thessaly and actually led the march on Golden Dawn’s HQ which you praised! Is it possible that your omission is down to the fact that KEERFA was the creation of the Greek SWP and you cannot bear to admit it? Revolutionary honesty goes two ways, comrades!
Dorset Socialists and Dorset SWP
Where organisations lead serious campaigns, we do not censor their role because we may disagree with them, so we are happy to accept this additional information. Such actions by the Greek SWP, however, should be contrasted to those of its British counterpart, which loses no opportunity to tailor its anti-fascism to the requirements of its reactionary Labour Party allies. Your Greek comrades would be shocked to learn that Newcastle SWP members helped Labour councillors finger FRFI supporters for arrest at an anti-EDL rally in May 2013.
Money: the great economic swindle
Regarding the problems of imperialism, and whether socialism can provide any answers, one important point which is rarely discussed is the creation of money as a useful exchange system.
Most countries borrow money from a central bank. For example, since 1694 our government has been borrowing money from the Bank of England and the national debt has accumulated to well over one trillion pounds and can never be repaid under the present system. In the late 17th century, William Paterson, one of the instigators of the foundation of the bank, wrote: ‘The Bank has benefit of interest on money it creates out of nothing’. For this very admission the national debt should be repudiated. If a central bank is allowed to create money out of nothing with interest attached, then all governments could just as easily create the money interest-free and spend it into the economy, thus ridding themselves of the parasitical nature of the central banking system. We don’t have an economic crisis, we have an economic swindle. Most people, including politicians, economists, teachers, journalists and even bankers are ignorant of the creation of money. We need to educate others about the history of this major problem, otherwise we can only stumble from crisis to crisis, discussing issues of minor importance, with no real answer in sight. As Mayer Amschel Rothschild said, ‘Let me control a nation’s money and I care not who writes its laws’.
Southwark’s social cleansing
The occupiers of Southwark’s most expensive council house in Park Street, now sold for a little under £3m, have finally been forced out by the council after a protest that began on 28 October against the sell-off of council property. Meanwhile, the last resident of the Heygate Estate at Elephant & Castle was finally forced out by bailiffs at the beginning of November. The Heygate Estate once contained 1,200 units of social housing. It was flogged off to private developers for the cut-rate price of £50m. When the development is complete, it will contain just 79 units of social housing. Compensation to former residents is barely a third of the price of the new private flats, the cheapest of which costs £350,000. A nearby private development, One The Elephant, contains precisely no social housing and no affordable housing. When pressed over this, the developers said it would have been too expensive to include the separate stairwell and entrance needed to maintain the ‘exclusivity’ of the private flats – obviously, you don’t pay those kind of prices to then have to mingle with the riff-raff!
Whitewashing health inequality
A recent editorial in the British Medical Journal (5 November 2013) reveals that as part of the public sector cutbacks the Office of National Statistics is intending to stop collecting data on and producing analysis of inequalities in health.
So no longer will there be up-to-date figures on how deprivation causes premature death and shortened disability-free life expectancy. No longer will it be possible to see how infant mortality is disproportionately high in minority ethnic groups and amongst the working class. No longer will it be possible to monitor excess winter deaths among pensioners, and how fuel and housing poverty affect health. What better way for a millionaire government to squash an inconvenient and damning issue than to suppress the evidence?
Return to the sweatshop
Working conditions in British call centres are increasingly returning to the values of the Victorian sweatshop. I’ve worked in a call centre for nearly seven years. Rules are ever stricter, with a growing list of sanctions.
The time agents spend logged into the system is closely monitored. If an agent is late by one minute then they are docked 15 minutes’ pay. The same is true if a worker logs out of the system one minute early. If an agent is logged in but on an auxiliary code that prevents them from taking a call in the last few minutes of their shift this is classed as call avoidance and can mean instant dismissal. On the other hand, if someone takes a call three minutes before the end of their shift that lasts 15 minutes they would not get paid overtime, as this is only paid in 15-minute increments.
Breaks are also strictly monitored and the half-hour lunch is unpaid. The company will not allow a trade union.