Letters / FRFI 240 Aug/Sep 2014

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 240 August/September 2014

Prison censorship: stupid excuses, part 1

So HMP Whitemoor has banned FRFI again. I was originally told this was due to it being ‘a racist and anti-authority newspaper’, but after complaining about the stupidity of this claim, Governor Ruth Stephens, head of security, changed the excuse to the return address for FRFI being ‘a security risk’.

As I have no intention of returning my issue of the newspaper and definitely not prior to having read it, this new excuse is as ridiculous as the original one. It seems wherever I go, the attempts to restrict my access to FRFI are based on more and more desperate claims. Woodhill, Manchester and now here, all make up their own nonsense to achieve the same objective.

These restrictions always begin once I am mentioned in the publication, but strangely enough I have never once heard of any other newspaper being banned even though most of them have run stories about me on their front pages. Maybe if FRFI printed fantasy like the tabloids it would be deemed a respectable enough paper to enter prisons without so much difficulty.

KEVAN THAKRAR
HMP Whitemoor


 Frankland: stupid excuses, part 2

Meanwhile, at HMP Frankland Rangzieb Ahmed has once again had his copy of FRFI withheld, after issue 239 carried an article highlighting the harassment he has been subject to at the prison, including, ironically, having FRFI withheld. Following an FRFI supporter's complaint to the prison, including a copy of a recent prison ombudsman ruling that prisons should normally simply remove the offending article rather than withhold an entire publication, we have received the following from the security department at Frankland.

‘Thank you for your letter... The decision was taken to withhold the publication due to the possible issues it may cause at HMP Frankland. Mr Ahmed is will [sic] within his rights to submit an application to have the publication with the article removed.’


Support for US prisoner on hunger strike

Prisoner DJ Taylor is in the same US supermax prison as Babar Ahmed and, until recently Talha Ahsan. DJ is presently on hunger strike in order to draw attention to the corruption and brutality in the prison. When he began the strike, DJ was moved to the prison psychiatric unit and placed in an observation cell, where the 24-hour lighting meant he was deprived of sleep. At first he was naked, and has only recently been allowed underwear. After eight days without food or fluids a naso-gastric tube was inserted and he was force-fed while shackled to a trolley. Having worked as a nurse some years ago, I can well believe that this was horrendously distressing, especially given his severe state of dehydration. DJ passed out, sustaining a massive black eye.

DJ sends greetings to comrades and says our support means so much to him. His brutal maltreatment at the hands of the US, the 'global policeman' with whom Britain shares its 'special relationship' is truly shocking. I have written to assure DJ of our ongoing solidarity and concern. Please write to him: DJ Taylor #179983, Northern Supermax, 287 Bilton Road, PO Box 665, Somers, CT 06071.

GEORGE COOMBS
Brighton


 WHO praises Cuba

In July, Dr Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organisation said: ‘Cuba is the only country I have seen which has a health care system closely linked to closed-loop research and development… I keep a special place in my heart for Cuba and recognize the efforts of the Cuban government to establish health as an essential pillar of development.’

She and the director of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), were attending the inauguration of a new medical development centre in Cuba. PAHO director Clarisse Etienne stressed: ‘we’re here to celebrate the genius, creativity, tenacity and perseverance of the Cuban people and the concretisation of a visionary leadership.’

Under socialism, Cuba has fostered a cutting edge bio-technology sector, developing the only advanced lung cancer vaccination in the world, alongside vaccines against meningitis B, pneumonia, diphtheria, pertussis and dengue. This year Cuba achieved the historically low infant mortality rate of 4.2 per 1,000 live births, one of the best rates in the world. Cuba has sent 135,000 health care professionals to 154 countries, and trains for free thousands of medical students from developing countries at the Latin American Medical School in Havana. Socialist Cuba continues to shine as a beacon of hope for human development.

SAM MCGILL
Newcastle

Letters /FRFI! 239 Jun/Jul 2014

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 239 June/July 2014

Syria and the fight against imperialism

I’ve been fortunate to find FRFI and to feel welcomed by a community of likeminded comrades an ocean away from my cage. That being said, I found the recent article by Toby Harbertson (FRFI 238) antithetical to my socialist ideology.

Comrade Harbertson rightly identifies the Syrian ‘rebels’ as being primarily supported by the very imperialists to whom I will forever be opposed. I also agree that any true socialist/communist should work in any way possible to support and defend Brothers and Sisters of the Kurdish PYG.

However, when it comes to Syria (as in most proxy wars) the enemy of my enemy is not always my friend as Comrade Harbertson suggests. Syria is, for all intents and purposes, a dynastic monarchy led by one generation to the next by the Assad family – what kind of revolutionary cheers for a monarch? And a Baathist monarch at that! Have you no sense of history? In the 1960s the largest Communist Party in the Arab world was the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP). Within 20 years, leaders throughout the region – Hussein in Iraq, Nimeini in Sudan, Suharto in Indonesia and Assad (Sr) in Syria, would execute and imprison tens of thousands of communists in a purge of the ideology itself. Now, years later we as communists are supposed to feel joy because one group of imperialist oppressors is successfully killing another group of imperialist oppressors? And make no mistake Vladimir Putin is just as much an imperialist dog as Barack Obama. I fail to see the way in which a victory for either of these belligerent, militaristic empires does anything to further Our cause. I refuse to succumb to delusional nostalgia simply because the Hammer and Sickle once graced the flag of Russia (USSR). Stalinism (aka Putinism) is not communism and anyone who confuses the two has obviously never read Marx, Lenin or Engels.

In Syria I simply don’t see a side to cheer for. Do we cheer for Amerikkka, with its ever expanding military/economic empire? Do we cheer for Putin, who essentially runs Russia like a crime syndicate? Should we be happy when missiles from Russian helicopters blow the faces off of innocents or should we save our glee for the victims of western weaponry? I hope western ‘interests’ fail in Syria right alongside Putin’s interests. I wish there was a party of the people in Syria, but there isn’t and for Comrade Harbertson to pen such a biased article under the page heading ‘Fight imperialism’ is just surreal.

D J TAYLOR #179983

Northern Supermax,

287 Bilton Road,

PO Box 665, Somers, CT 06071, USA

P.S. After you published my letter in the April/May edition I received letters from some FRFI readers – these were most welcomed. Unfortunately I also received a few rejection notices from the pigs here at Northern because prisoners tried to write to me. I’m not allowed to receive letters which are recognisable as having come from other prisoners. I did receive one postcard from a prisoner named Charles Bronson @ HMP Wakefield but my attempt to respond was intercepted by staff. I don’t know if you are familiar with any of the prisoners who wrote to me but if so please extend my gratitude.


Reply from Toby Harbertson

Thanks to D J Taylor for his considered response to my article. Letters and contributions that raise important issues for socialists are always welcome in our newspaper.

Comrade Taylor argues that it is wrong for communists to take sides between US/British imperialism on the one hand and Russia’s oligarchy on the other. Essentially he argues that the correct standpoint is ‘a plague on both your houses’. While we appreciate all anti-imperialist sentiments, we argue that opposing imperialism in practice is a concrete question for each communist or socialist movement. We have no illusions about Russia’s determination to defend its own interests against the dominant imperialist powers above anything else. FRFI does not cheer for Assad but we recognise the right of Syria to defend itself against external aggression. How can we be most effective in opposition to imperialism and in solidarity with the working class internationally? The answer to this is by building a movement that strenuously opposes British and US imperialism in the ‘belly of the beast’. Building a movement against British imperialism is our most effective contribution in solidarity with the struggle of the oppressed in Syria. The defeat of imperialism in the Middle East will be concrete encouragement to anti-imperialist, socialist and communist forces everywhere.


Defend social housing activist!

On 16 May FRFI attended a picket of Highbury Magistrates Court in north London called by the Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group in support of John Tymon. John is a supporter of Football against Apartheid and regularly attends the Victory to the Intifada demonstrations outside Marks & Spencer in London with his ‘Gooners against Apartheid’ banner.

John is also active in the defence of social housing rights and with others has successfully organised to prevent bailiffs from evicting local people. On 10 April John and others were protesting against the eviction of a vulnerable young man for whom Camden Council has a duty of care. No fewer than 40 police descended violently on the defenders; John was knocked unconscious and remained lying on the garden path for 20 minutes before being taken to hospital by ambulance. From there he was smuggled into a police van, taken to a police station and charged with ‘intentionally obstructing a High Court bailiff’. The case was postponed until October and there is hope that the illegality of the arrest is such that charges against John will be dropped. For more details see kilburnunemployed.blogspot.com.

Solidarity to all who are organising in defence of social housing and against social cleansing.

ANN ELIOT

North London


No evictions, no JSA sanctions

An unemployed man in his sixties faces eviction from his Southwark home after his benefits were sanctioned for nearly a year. In March 2013. Mark Roberts was turned away from a job interview day at the local supermarket, on the basis that there were too many applicants. His local Peckham Jobcentre Plus then stopped his benefits because he had not ‘secured a job interview’. Peckham jobcentre imposes the highest rate of JSA sanctions in London.

Mark wasn’t told he needed to re-apply for housing benefit, or told he could be entitled to a discretionary hardship payment. He spent ten months on sanctions, dependent on friends for food, and fell into massive arrears on his rent as well as fuel bills. He still has £400 rent arrears.

Because of this his housing association, Wandle Housing, is seeking his eviction and Mark will be appearing at Lambeth County Court on 30 May. South London RCG will be joining other local social justice activists to demonstrate against the massive injustice being perpetrated not just against Mark but against thousands of other claimants.

Please join us to show your solidarity from 9.30-11am, Friday 30 May, Lambeth County Court House, Cleaver St, London SE11 4DZ (5-10 minutes walk from Kennington tube).

CAT ALLISON

South London


Grim reality behind the glitz of the Glasgow Games

This summer sees Glasgow hosting the Commonwealth Games, with an athletes’ village being built in the east end of the city. As the red carpet is rolled out, Glasgow’s Labour council will do its best to sweep the city’s poverty under it, with thousands facing welfare sanctions, work capability assessments, or bedroom tax arrears, while the cream of the British Empire descends upon the city for the spectacle that is the Games. Dalmarnock, one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Glasgow, was wiped off the map to make way for the athletes’ village and the multimillion-pound Velodrome, with the claim that the village will remain as housing for the public, the supposed legacy of the games. However with prices starting at £95,000 none of the former residents of Dalmarnock can afford one of these ‘legacy’ homes. The finest example of the ironic juxtaposition of the Games is in Glasgow Central station where, under the clock counting down to the start of the Games, there is a food bank.

SCOTT

Glasgow


 

Resist ATOS trauma

I recently underwent an ATOS assessment as part of my eligibility for sickness benefit – I have suffered from severe depression since I was a child. My depression is part of a recurring medical condition. Last time I was employed, I had a mental breakdown. This is a pattern.

My appointment was at 11 am. I arrived with my father about 20 minutes early, having a panic attack. I was instructed to sit in a waiting room without being given a time for when I would be seen. By this point, I was crying and hyperventilating. I was kept waiting for an hour and a half. Another man in the waiting room had been there nearly two hours.

The assessment itself is disturbingly bureaucratic. The doctor read questions from a screen mechanically. At points I was reduced to tears. The doctor never paused, but simply asked the question again. Many of the questions were rephrased in order to catch me out. The entire assessment, from entry to the building until its conclusion, is designed as a form of trauma. I await results.

Not one party has said that they will do away with these assessments, or the profit creamed from them. Capita looks set to take the contract from ATOS, but the formula will not change. However, there is anger, bubbling just under the surface. While I was waiting, every conversation I overheard was furious and indignant. We are not passive victims and we will resist. The first soviet in Ireland was the Monaghan asylum in 1919. Here’s hoping.

JAMES

Newcastle


 

Life means life in Germany

I write to you from the deepest dungeon in Germany and wish to thank all the comrades who make it possible for prisoners to read the inspiring issues of FRFI.

Today I want to inform readers about a new judgment in Germany: at the end of March the local high court in Karlsruhe decided that Mr N, who was arrested in January 1962, has no right to be freed.

Back then, he shot two people dead. He has now been behind bars for over 52 years. It looks like he is going to become the longest serving prisoner in Europe. The inhuman and degrading system will not temper justice with mercy.

Mr N and I have spent a lot of time together on the prison exercise yard; he is an old but still lively man who loves life. It is a terrible shame that he will not be allowed to die a free man.

THOMAS MEYER-FALK

c/o JVA (SV), Hermann Herder Strasse 8, 79104 Freiburg, Germany

www.freedom-for-thomas.de

Letters / FRFI 238 Apr/May 2014

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 238 April/May 2014

Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution – for a more humane world

A very warm greeting from Venezuela Bolivariana! I have been receiving, following and reading carefully all documents and notes of solidarity that you have sent us since the beginning of this continued coup attempt, which has already lasted more than two months and has caused more than 30 deaths in our country and indeed has unleashed the fury of the ultra right-wing sector of the Venezuelan opposition. 15 universities have been vandalised, several food markets burned, dolls that simulate revolutionaries hung on bridges, etc, etc. All this demonstrates the fascist character of a sector of the opposition, and shows that there are psychological warfare laboratories behind these operations.

The vast majority of people reject these actions and some sectors of the opposition people begin to wonder or reject such practices of the more radical wing of the opposition. We continue to battle and triumph and our people benefit greatly from the very important international solidarity given, from people like yourselves, who do not expect anything in return. We indeed are grateful to you.

We reaffirm our desire to build a more humane and just world!

Xoan Noya

Coordinator of International Relations
Youth Wing of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (JPSUV)


Northern Connecticut supermax prison’s hall of horrors

I write to you from the bowels of the American penal colony to express my gratitude for your very existence.

While that may sound a little hyperbolic I assure you the sentiment is genuine, prompted by what probably seemed a small, and maybe even insignificant gesture – the holiday card enclosed with the FRFI December/January edition.

I wish that I had the ability to put into words how profoundly touched I was that brothers and sisters an ocean away would take the time to send a card to some lifer you’ve never met. This type of solidarity is simply unheard of.

I think it is, however, imperative for the brothers and sisters in Europe to look to the US prison industrial complex as a living, breathing, foreboding testament to just how bad things can get in a ‘modern western democracy’.

I read the letter of Kevan Thakrar at HMP Manchester [FRFI 236] and was so happy to hear of the people’s protest outside his window! Though I’ve never met this brother, the thought of how good it must’ve felt to witness that kind of support manifest itself before his eyes delivered the energy to continue my struggle clear across the Atlantic.

Of course here in the Northern Supermax such a beautiful scenario is simply not possible – we are in the middle of the wood. Nobody gets near the facility and I haven’t felt fresh air through a window in 20 years.

Here it is a true hall of horrors – screaming, banging, people regularly sprayed with mace, beatings, suicides, prisoners ‘playing’ in their own faeces, ‘recreation’ in small cages we call kennels (about 8’ x 8’) and so on.

So thank you for the card, and thank you for the subscription and most of all thank you for continuing to fight for and on behalf of the people ‘society’ views as disposable.

With unyielding solidarity

D J TAYLOR #179983
Northern Supermax, 287 Bilton Road, PO Box 665, Somers, Connecticut 06071, USA


In support of Focus E15 mothers

I saw the article in FRFI 237 about the young mothers in Newham, and it’s good to see how well organised and committed they are – this issue of social housing in London really does need to be highlighted especially when so many properties in London are being kept empty by property speculators motivated just by profit as opposed to social need.

JOHN BOWDEN

HMP Shotts


‘Universal mismatch’

I welcome the news that the government plans to scrap Universal Jobmatch, its shambolic mandatory job search website and spy device. The site has long been the subject of ridicule. The attempt to spy on a claimant by making him or her tick a box to allow Jobcentre staff access is not lawful. Claimants are within their rights to untick it. Jobcentre staff cannot make people use the site outside of the Jobcentre. Anyway, it is utterly hopeless.

The website cost around £20m to create. Despite this, it won the worst jobsite award by the industry award body which termed it a ‘mongrel of a website’. It is littered with pyramid schemes, bogus jobs, duplicates and jobs that do not pay the minimum wage. Many jobs do not meet the website’s terms and conditions and some are unlawful. The site even hosts illegal scams attempting to con people out of money or steal their identity. It did not change even after a Channel 4 report on this. 

There are times when I have typed ‘Newcastle’ into the search box and found the latest jobs were posted a week ago, I’ve typed in ‘retail’ and it’s given me sales jobs, I’ve typed in ‘waiter’ and it’s given me sales jobs. The system thinks a job as a Swedish-speaking Trainee Recruitment Consultant fits my criteria. It does not.

CAL

Newcastle


Lambeth Council puts market before people’s needs

It’s criminal that only 40% of the new proposed housing development in Somerleyton Road, Brixton will be available at council rents, whilst the rest will be private and unaffordable. A private two bedroom will set you back £335 per week.

Lambeth has a waiting list of 20,000 households and still are failing to put ordinary people first and build 100% public housing to help this problem.

According to official figures from the Valuation Office Agency, which monitors rental prices, rents in London will soar by 20% in the next two years – twice the rate of average earnings.

Once again Labour is unable to put the working class before its precious so-called ‘market’ and take the side of the people. Labour proves itself to be just as spineless, and useless as the Tories.

Anthony

South London


Errata

A number of errors crept into the article ‘The collapse of CAR and South Sudan’, FRFI 238, p12 at the editing stage.

1. ‘In 1991 Machar formed the SPLM, an SPLA splinter, to collaborate with the Khartoum government, which frequently used southern proxies to weaken the SPLA.’

This should have read ‘A split in 1991, when Machar left to form an SPLA splinter, led Machar to collaborate with the Khartoum government, which used southern proxies to weaken the SPLA.’

2. ‘Oil regions quickly became strategic areas of control between government and Machar’s group, the rebels occupied two of three oil states before they were driven out.’

‘Oil regions quickly became strategic areas of control between government and Machar’s group, the rebels, who occupied two of three oil states before they were driven out.’

A corrected version of the article appears on our website.

Letters /FRFI 237 Feb/Mar 2014

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 237 February/March 2014

Tony Blair and the spoils of imperialism

Imperialism pays its own well. At the beginning of January accounts filed by two businesses owned by Tony Blair – Windrush Ventures and Firerush Ventures – reveal combined cash assets of £13.4m, the product of a bumper year which saw Windrush Ventures draw in post-tax profits of almost £2m, a £650,000 rise on 2012. This income augments the former Labour Prime Minister’s growing personal wealth, which is estimated at £70m and includes a multimillion-pound London townhouse and a seven-bedroom stately home in Buckinghamshire.

Since leaving office in 2007 Blair has established a growing network of global consultancies, with clients including JP Morgan, Zurich International and the governments of Colombia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Peru and Vietnam. On 15 December 2013 The Telegraph revealed that he made at least seven advisory visits to Guinea between 2011 and 2013, coinciding with a £3bn bauxite mining deal between the Guinean government and the Abu Dhabi investment fund Mubadala; Blair advises both. More recent meetings in August 2013 took him to the luxury resort of St Tropez, where he held discussions aboard a private superyacht with Egypt’s second richest man, Naguid Sawiris. They discussed the restoration of order in Egypt, where the tycoon has pledged to invest $1bn in spring 2014 alone. Sawiris has his own proposal to ‘restore’ order – banning protests for two years.

FRFI readers may be interested in their own personal meeting with Blair. Price tags reach up to £250,000 a session.

JACK EDWARDS

Birmingham


Disability cuts – a fight to be won

I am an autistic adult facing cutbacks to my support. Last year Manchester’s Learning Disability Partnership, run by the Labour council, reduced my support hours (individual budget) from 10 hours to six hours. After I appealed, they offered me an ‘increase’ to eight hours’ support, meaning I’d still lost two hours. After months of complaining and putting pressure on the council and Partnership, I went to an investigator, the ombudsman. Finally, my funding was reinstated and I was compensated for the lost hours and support payments. But only because I did something about it. My experience shows that there’s a fight that can be won against the ‘redefined social care offer’ and against Labour’s cuts.

I have a friend in a wheelchair and they’re trying to cut her 24-hour support, saying she doesn’t need it. She is paralysed and lives in a house without support – if there’s a fire she can’t do anything about it. There are cuts at every single level. I’ve been fighting over my hours for a year and now they’re talking about reassessing me again. We need to organise a campaign of people and get outside the Social Services offices on the panel days when they’re cutting funds and stop them – get on the megaphone so they can’t talk about cuts! I want to thank Manchester RCG for helping me in my struggle.

ZACH JACKSON

Old Trafford


Full-tilt towards fascism

On 30 January Parliament voted to amend the latest, already draconian, Immigration Bill so that British citizens who were not born here can be stripped of their citizenship if suspected of terrorism. Another racist amendment, preventing foreign national prisoners from opposing deportation on the basis that human rights law protects their right to family life, was defeated.

Both the parliamentary debate and the media coverage surrounding it showed the ingrained racism of the British ruling class, with MPs of all parties arguing over the relative merits of attacking foreign national prisoners, eastern European migrants or terrorism suspects. Among those MPs putting themselves to the right of Conservative Home Secretary Teresa May by supporting the latter amendment, which the government did not endorse, were Labour former ministers Hazel Blears and Keith Vaz, as well as one-time leader of Manchester council Graham Stringer.

The original Bill, introduced by Teresa May in October 2013, a contains a raft of restrictive measures, including a requirement for landlords and GPs to check the immigration status of tenants and patients. Anti-racism campaigners sometimes say that we are ‘sleep walking towards fascism’. With May in charge at the Home Office, and an ‘opposition’ filled with racists like Blears, it would be more accurate to say we are rushing full tilt towards it.

NICKI JAMESON

London


Spanish squat fights for survival

La Casika is a social centre in Madrid, which has been squatted for 16 years. It is now under threat of closure by the local authorities. It is a space for community self-organisation, through an assembly of the unemployed, a ‘Stop evictions’ campaign and a centre for all activists in the municipality. For 16 years, musicians, film-makers and poets have had this platform to express their art, and the working class has had cultural opportunities for free. La Casika defends direct action and free culture, so last Christmas we sneaked into the official parade to give away 2,000 children’s books.

Now we face closure. The authoritarian mayor and fascist police do not want this popular, anti-capitalist project to continue, as it is coordinating the efforts of many groups and that poses a threat to them. On 18 January around 4,000 people came out in our town to defend us. We will continue to fight in the courts and the streets against this corrupt capitalist system. As we say ‘support, defend and love’.

LA CASIKA

Mostoles, Madrid


Booker Prize author backs GDC

On 28 January, the trial of one of the ‘Glasgow against Atos 2’ was adjourned. It is now a year since two of us were arrested for using a megaphone on a protest against cuts in February 2013. On the eve of the postponed trial, we received this statement of solidarity from the award-winning Scottish writer and activist James Kelman:

‘People have a right to question. The police and legal system should do all in their power to support that right. Even when the subject under scrutiny is the authoritarian behaviour of the permanent state and its political apparatus. Instead of defending the people, the police and legal system protect the tyrant and attack, condemn and criminalise those who offer resistance. It is beneath contempt. People in Scotland are watching the actions of the police and the legal system here today. My best wishes to the Glasgow Defence Campaign.’

We urge others to follow Kelman’s principled stand.

GLASGOW DEFENCE CAMPAIGN

http://glasgowdefencecampaign.blogspot.com

Letters / FRFI 236 Dec 2013/Jan 2014

 

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

HMP Manchester


 

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!

Jim Nicholls

Dorset Socialists and Dorset SWP

FRFI reply

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’.

DAVID MATHIESON

Fife


 

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!

Cat Wiener

South London


 

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?

GORDON TEAL

Leeds


 

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.

SCOTT

Glasgow

 

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