There are exciting opportunities for us to initiate new Palestine solidarity groups right now—and to enthuse existing ones.
But we have to move quickly, break with routine, and seek to involve new people. One of the biggest workplaces in south London is in Tooting. The local hospital has 9,000 employees and the medical university on its grounds has 5,500 students.
We have been doing political campaigning of various kinds around it for decades and have supported countless picket lines.
But over the last three weeks we have been meeting increasing numbers of its staff and students on our Socialist Worker street stalls. Many are keen to campaign about Palestine within the hospital.
I was just thinking about how to bring them all together when a health worker we first met at one of our public meetings got in touch. He said he wanted to set up a Palestine group on site, and asked if we could advise.
I invited him to join us that evening to leaflet for the next Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) protest. He intended to come only for a brief chat, but ended up staying for the whole time as he was meeting so many colleagues who wanted to get involved.
Using a petition helped us to identify which of the hundreds of people streaming into the tube worked for the NHS—as did lanyards.
He is now moving fast to set up an initial organising meeting, and to get colleagues on the health workers bloc at the next demonstrations.
Incidentally, at the same time he first contacted me, a local anti‑racist activist got in touch, also proposing Palestine activity. She quickly found other volunteers—from a community garden group and a black and minority ethnic birdwatchers’ group!
Three of us joined the local PSC WhatsApp chat, and within 48 hours had helped to organise five leafleting sessions involving 11 people. The potential is immense, if we get stuck in.
Ben Windsor, South London
Don’t call us ‘angry Arabs’
I just read your article about the recent Palestinian Solidarity Campaign march in London (Socialist Worker, 25 October).
I’m really glad you’re covering the issue, and I’m glad to see an alternative political presence at these demonstrations.
I do, however, have a massive criticism of your headlines, including, “Rage at Israeli terror bursts onto streets of London” and “A mass march raged against the Israeli terror state”.
Your use of the words “rage” and “burst” paint quite a different picture to the very civil demonstration which took place.
Are you trying to propagate an “angry Arab” stereotype? Or are you trying lead readers into thinking the march was an unruly expression of anger?
Is the aim to depict the attendees as “barbarian”?
While people are most definitely angry, the overwhelming emotions were disgust, horror, frustration, and sadness. You could have used phrases like “mourning civilian casualties” or “demand justice”.
I understand that while the phrases you chose might appeal to a portion of your demographic, you must understand the broader perception.
European colonialism, and modern Zionism, held that European “civilisation” was superior to the “barbarism” of the peoples of the “Orient”. Please keep this in mind in your reporting
Ferugi El Heri by email
Flooding shows system’s priorities—and resistance
Parts of Chesterfield were hit with flooding recently. Over 400 homes were evacuated and 50 people made homeless. Many families affected are in private rented properties and can’t afford insurance. Now they have lost everything.
The climate crisis is creating heavier than normal rainfall. But the profiteering utility firms won’t invest in drainage systems that can cope.
In the area, the community spirit of co-operation, support and care for each other has been fantastic. A communal kitchen and shelter was set up within 24 hours.
We cleared homes together working in unity and spoke about how the profit-driven system we live under has caused all this.
The whole thing shows capitalism’s priorities —and what collective resistance can do.
Jane Hindle and Tim Wilkinson, Chesterfield
We need to serve an eviction on Tories
The government’s decision to indefinitely delay a ban on no-fault evictions is evidence that they are at the service of landlords.
Current legislation allows landlords to evict tenants not on a fixed-term contract without giving a reason.
This has created a climate where tenants merely raising health and safety complaints or reporting a repair are finding themselves issued with a “Section 21” notice.
This allows landlords to apply for a court order to evict. As a result, tenants are fearful of raising issues such as mould or damp.
Rising interest rates have led to increased demand for rented property.
In London, the Office for National Statistics reports that rents increased by 5.3 percent in the 12 months to June 2023, the highest annual rise in over a decade.
These rises are incentivising profiteering landlords to pursue no-fault evictions to re-list their properties at higher rents. This situation is leaving tenants at risk of homelessness due to a lack of affordable alternatives.
As a homeless outreach worker, I have seen a sharp rise in rough sleeping over the last year. We desperately need to strengthen our housing campaigns to hold the government and landlords to account for this avoidable crisis.
Zak Cochrane, East London
Care home cover-up
Kirklees council, in West Yorkshire, is planning to close two of its care homes. It’s clear that it prefers the “community-care” model.
I have looked at the CQC inspection reports for one of the homes, Claremont House, and it has consistently been under-occupied. No private sector provider would be able to operate with such huge financial losses.
But all the while the demand for care home services keeps rising. That proves the council is not being honest about its real intentions.
Jane Spencer, Kirklees
Women must strike at men
A “kvennafri” was declared recently in Iceland. This “Women’s day off” was really a strike, and included the country’s woman prime minister.
It reflects that some women have drawn the conclusion that only by taking action can they force society to treat them equally.
Tradition places Women outside the system. Yet women need to realise that they are the system. They are the workforce, financial determiner and national conscience of a society that uses and abuses them daily.
I urge women to use their most powerful tool against prejudice. Strike by withdrawing all family intimacy, business and social services that you offer men, your oppressors.
Steven Kaszab in Ontario, Canada
Muslims—no votes for Keir
After reading your article about Keir Starmer and the South Wales Muslim centre (Socialist Worker online, 25 October) I’ve reached a conclusion.
No Muslim should vote Labour again, in any circumstance, until Starmer is ejected from the party’s leadership.
In seats here in the Midlands that would probably mean MPs losing their jobs—good.
Dr Shahnaz Ismail, LeicesterOriginal post