The National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC) went bust on February 4, when all funding for full-time staff and running costs came to an end. We have had to announce a schedule of closures for various offices and work towards the complete closure of NCADC in May.
NCDAC has been at the forefront of fighting deportations and opposing cruel and inhumane immigration laws for the last 10 years. It is the only non-government organisation with a mandate to oppose deportations. Many hundreds, if not thousands, of failed asylum-seekers who were facing deportation now live legally in the UK because NCADC provided them with the knowledge to campaign against their deportation.
However, just as those facing deportation have very few people to whom they can turn for support, NCADC has fewer and fewer organisations to which it can turn for financial aid. This is either because such organisations are facing their own difficulties, or because, in an increasingly hostile climate, NCADC represents too much of a risk. There are few who will not be aware of the appalling attacks in the press and from the home office that followed our last grant from the community fund.
Charity Commission rules can severely restrict any criticism of government policies or organising actions against those policies. For the last three years, NCADC has had to tone down its criticism of the home office, as funders threatened to withdraw where they thought our opinions would conflict with the Charity Commission rules or their own guidelines. The overwhelming majority of funders will only give money to registered charities. NCADC cannot/will not register as a charity because of the constraints that being a registered charity would impose As a result, and unless we find some benefactors soon, NCADC will have to let its staff go and close all offices. We will once more become a campaigning organisation dependent on the goodwill of volunteers.
NCADC is facing economic deportation. This is not an interim difficulty: it is a terminal condition - unless we can find a source of constant funding NCADC will go to the wall.
I was reading your article dealing with the protests against the French hijab ban and want to deal with your assertion that the ban on hijabs is wrong because we should respect the rights of young people to wear what they want (Hijab: the protests, January 22 2004).
Where I live, in Tower Hamlets, I regularly see girls as young as six or seven wearing hijabs. What choice does a seven-year-old have?
Islam is not compatible with socialism or liberalism and it is time people stopped pretending otherwise. It is one thing not to discriminate against people from another race or culture, but that does not mean we should accept objectionable ideas and practices.
Your article on John Rees being groomed for Respect celebrity status got me thinking - which organisation will John Rees be accountable to, the SWP or Respect (Rough ride for Rees, February 9)?
I think that if Rees is honest, the reply he would have to give would be that he is accountable to the SWP as one of its leaders. This should mean that Rees will have to vote for SWP policy for open borders and against immigration controls, which, as he well knows, are inherently racist.
So comrade Rees, if you are elected in May will you support socialist policies or will it be the populism that has been the defining strategy of Respect? Or does it not matter which organisation Rees is accountable to?
After reading last weeks Weekly Worker I feel duty bound to ask why there was nothing about the Danish cartoons from you extreme democrats.
The Trades Union Congress and five leading trade unions are sponsoring an anti-British National Party Unite Against Fascism conference on February 18 in London, featuring rightwing homophobe Sir Iqbal Sacranie, whose views on homosexuality parallel the anti-gay hatred of the BNP.
As well as actively campaigning to maintain homophobic laws such as section 28, Sir Iqbal, leader of the anti-gay Muslim Council of Britain, last month publicly denounced lesbians and gay men, stating that they were immoral, harmful and spread disease. Resorting to inflammatory language barely distinguishable from the homophobic tirades of the neo-Nazi BNP, the MCB website demonises same-sex relationships as offensive, immoral and repugnant.
UAF would not invite as a speaker someone who said that black people are immoral, harmful and spread disease, or who vilified Jewish people as offensive, immoral and repugnant. Why, then, are they giving a platform to a bigot who says these things about gays and lesbians?
By hosting Sir Iqbal, UAF is siding with a homophobe against gay muslims and the wider gay community. The invitation to Sir Iqbal is a sad betrayal of liberal, non-homophobic muslims. The MCB is not a liberal, progressive organisation. It represents only conservative, reactionary opinion. It is not a suitable partner organisation for the movement against fascism.
In a letter of protest sent to the Unite Against Fascism conference organisers, Outrage has argued they should withdraw their invitation to Sir Iqbal and the MCB, and instead invite a progressive muslim speaker, such as Ziauddin Sardar, Sheikh Dr Muhammad Yusuf or Munira Mirza.
After reading your interview with Chris Knight, I would like to point out that not all linguists think the same way as Chomsky (Noam Chomsky and the human revolution, November 3 2005).
Those of us who do systemic-functional linguistics (developed by MAK Halliday) look at language from a social perspective and try to analyse how context (including cultural and ideological context - if you can separate the two) shape language.
One or two of us are interested in neuroscience and the social evolution of language. We all share Chris Knights feelings about Chomsky - and his bafflement.
I am a bit puzzled as to where Darryl Wragg gets the notion that my piece (Good pictures, wrong conclusions, March 11 2004) refers to all Notts miners as scabs.
I am acutely aware that they were not. I was in any case referring to Notts miners as the miners who worked in Nottinghamshire and not those who were ethnically native to the county (if there is such a thing).
That aside, you will notice the picture with the piece shows striking Notts miners and has the caption, Notts minority for the national strike.
The section on Nottinghamshire refers to pro-strike Notts miners and the pro-strike Notts leadership. In relation to the early weeks of the strike, I state: By and large the bulk of the Notts men refused to cross the picket lines. Nowhere in any sentence or even by implication do I suggest that all Notts miners scabbed.
I am proud to have been associated with the Notts strikers and their families, who had the hardest time of any miner in Britain. You will never hear me say anything different.
Nick Rogers has already demonstrated his disregard for clarity on Venezuela. His latest missive is another example of his tedious prolixity.
I argue that Chávez is a Bonapartist and compare his regime with Mexico (following Trotsky) to warn the Venezuelan working class of the dangers of cooption and repression. Rogers now accepts that these dangers are real, leaving his earlier assessment of Chávez in tatters and making his objections to my position entirely specious.
Rogers declares I have lost the plot. This is ironic, coming from someone who has manifestly lost the argument.
Contrary to Liz Hoskings opinion, it is not Andy London who fails to say anything of substance or intelligence while distorting everything Liz has said.
The point made by Andy was in relation to Hoskings indiscriminate use of we when ranting about women and their supposed opinions. But Liz ignores this and continues with her wild claims of infanticide. These hysterical arguments are becoming more outrageous by the letter.
As a socialist woman I recognise no progressive politics in Hoskings arguments and I support a womans right to choose. There can be no time limit on this because that would be a restriction and thus no choice at all. Moreover, abortion must be available on demand, be it in the first trimester of pregnancy or the day before birth.
Abortion is an experience made even more difficult when moralistic preachers add unnecessary pressures by claiming to speak on behalf of all women. Does Liz believe that by arguing for a further reduction of womens rights she is somehow making abortion easier and more of a liberating experience?
Use and abuse
Again, I agree with a lot of what Terry Liddle writes in response to my letter of January 19, with regard to alcohol and prohibition. I am of the opinion, however, that Terry makes three mistakes.
First, he does not distinguish between alcohol use and abuse. Very nearly 100% of the adult population in Britain and countries with similar cultures and histories use alcohol. Only a very small proportion abuse it - to the extent that it is slow suicide and can contribute to the kind of anti-social behaviour Terry describes. Any attempt to prohibit alcohol would penalise all users - from those who imbibe a couple of glasses of sherry at Christmas, through those who enjoy a few pints once or twice a month, to those who may occasionally drink to excess, harming only themselves.
One of the reasons prohibition would not work is that most people would be rightly indignant if deprived of one of their few pleasures. This was certainly the case in the USA in the 1920s, where this indignation led some to protest about a forbidden fruit to the extent that they were quite prepared to break the law - it was not only because the USA was a corrupt society.
Another more recent example could be observed in the USSR. Whatever we may think about bureaucratic socialism, it has been noted that one of the reasons for its demise was that Gorbachev resorted to prohibition measures, rather than involving workers in a bottom-up overhaul of that system.
Second, in spite of this empirical evidence, Terry attributes efficiency to prohibition, using examples of Utah in the USA, India and the muslim countries. Prohibition in one state in the USA is rather like the dry parts of Wales, which existed until quite recently: people just cross boundaries in order to have a drink - making the legislation a joke. India and the muslim countries do not, of course, share our history: alcohol has been restricted in some of these societies, although this certainly has not eradicated many of the social problems we can observe where alcohol is available.
This leads to Terrys third mistake. He says: There is a problem and it demands a solution. What he does here is attribute many social problems that result from the moral cesspit that is capitalism to one phenomenon - alcohol. He identifies one such problem when he says that working class women experience violence and their kids hunger because their husbands, to escape the misery of their lives, turn to alcohol. Quite clearly here alcohol is the effect; the cause is misery. This is probably the case where Terry lives. The acute deprivation he describes drives people to alcohol and other drug abuse.
Terry and I bark up the right tree when we campaign for a socialist society - where we could indeed purge capitalism.
Use and abuse
Use and abuse
Once again Tina Becker has written a useful analysis of the latest stage of the process that will hopefully lead to a united left party in Germany (Left merger still on hold, February 9).
However, in my opinion, this article contains a serious flaw in its tactical advice to German revolutionaries. Comrade Becker explains that members of the Wahlalternative Arbeit und Soziale Gerechtigkeit (WASG) are to be balloted with a recommendation that they vote for a speedy merger with the ex-official communist PDS before the WASG members will have had a chance to discuss the terms at their forthcoming conference.
Tina calls for a campaign for the poll to be deferred and writes: If the ballot were abandoned, the opposition would have a good chance of winning the April conference to a position where ending government participation is a precondition for merger negotiations (my emphasis).
Of course, she is spot on in her opposition to workers participation in any capitalist government. But that is not the point. The WASG is not a revolutionary communist organisation that risks being tempted by unprincipled unity for short-term gain. If that were the case, we would be right to urge it to insist on the most stringent of conditions. But the leadership of the WASG, like that of the PDS, is deeply reformist, consisting of ex-social democrats and trade union bureaucrats.
Nevertheless, the opportunities opening up for the working class movement - and therefore for communists - by the merger of these two parties into the new Linkspartei would be immense. Last September, even before its foundation, the Linkspartei won 8.9% of the vote and 54 MPs. Meanwhile the two main establishment parties - the conservative CDU and social democrat SPD - have entered into a grand coalition to enforce the next stage of a ruling class assault on workers rights and conditions.
In this situation workers will be looking to the smaller parties. The untried and untested Linkspartei could appear more and more attractive - if it actually gets off the ground. Those workers drawn to the new party will be open to different ideas, including our own, and the last thing we should be doing is erecting barriers whose only effect would be to ensure that the merger does not take place.
While objecting to the way in which the referendum has been introduced, revolutionaries in the WASG should call for a critical yes to the merger. That would not for a moment imply any softening of our opposition to government participation - either regionally or nationally. It would not stop motions to the April conference demanding that the WASG leadership fight against any coalition with bourgeois parties or calling on the Linkspartei.PDS to pull out of the Berlin government, for example. But these should not be preconditions. The struggle for such policies can be waged much more effectively once the new formation has been officially launched.
Within a properly functioning broader party, the WASG left will be in a position to influence not only elements of the PDS but, more importantly, the thousands of workers, many new to politics, who will be looking to the Linkspartei to defend their interests. It would be criminal to throw away this opportunity to fight for the type of organisation the working class actually needs: a Communist Party.