Delegates to Unison’s health workers’ conference this year holding placards demanding a ceasefire in Gaza. (Picture: Unison)

Delegates to the Unison union’s health workers’ conference recently were determined to raise Palestine. Among the many thousands of people who have been killed, Israel has specifically targeted health workers, hospitals and ambulances. Medical workers from Britain who went to Gaza to aid injured Palestinians are themselves among the dead.

The appalling scenes from the al-Shifa hospital led my branch to submit an emergency motion on the subject. The conference voted unanimously to discuss it, but the standing orders committee ruled it out of order.

That was disappointing. But many delegates, including me, spoke about Palestine during the event—and we got a lot of support. We talked not only about the genocide but also that employers are disciplining NHS workers that speak out over the issue. We demanded that the national union defend them.

One session of conference was devoted to a speaker from the charity Medical Aid for Palestine and a video presentation about hospital conditions in Gaza. It was so powerful that many delegates were in tears watching it.

That triggered many more conversations about the politics of Palestinian liberation.

The Socialist Worker fringe meeting had around 25 delegates at it and there was a good discussion of why Unison’s policy of a two-state “solution” is unworkable. A lot of people at the meeting wanted in depth answers to questions like that and to why Labour’s Keir Starmer has betrayed Gaza.

On the floor, during one session of conference most delegates held up placards in support of health workers in Gaza—and, of course, some of us raised the Palestinian flag.

Pauline Brady


THE SICKENING scenes of the destruction of al-Shifa hospital in Gaza led a group of us to initiate a protest at the Manchester Royal Infirmary earlier this month.

We decided to contact health workers who had joined previous Palestine protests, including a small group of doctors that had been holding weekly vigils. Together we called a new protest, but with just three days to build it, we were all a bit unsure as to how much support it would get.

Imagine how taken aback we were when around 70 people, mostly doctors and nurses, turned out. Now we are supporting a public meeting to build more action for 1 May—international workers’ day.

Health workers everywhere are furious about Gaza, so why not try for a protest at your local hospital?

Karen Reissmann


Lessons of Hillsborough

IT’S 35 years since the Hillsborough disaster that killed 97 people and we still have no justice.

The courts ruled in 2016 that Liverpool fans who survived the disaster were not responsible for the murder. Though a victory for those who had fought the police version of events for 27 years, it was a meagre result from the longest legal case in British history.

The news has been quiet since. No justice has been served. The promised police prosecutions were never made.

Police commander David Duckenfield—in command on 15 April 1989—conveniently retired and continues to live on a police pension. He admitted he had run a “hopeless operation” and that the disaster resulted directly from his “serious failures”.

Almost three decades of investigations and inquiries into Hillsborough have provided us with undeniable evidence of the police’s true character. Hillsborough revealed the extent to which they are against us as a class.

And the decades since then showed us that police reform is not possible. It is not an issue of individual personalities or even “toxic cultures”—it is built into the system itself.

After Hillsborough, the state must be reevaluated. The failings of the legal system are proof that true justice for our class will be found on the streets, not in the courts.



Theatre is racist—and it has to change

Let’s get this straight, her name is Francesca Amewudah-Rivers—not “Tom Holland’s co-star”.

She should be celebrating the announcement of her theatrical debut in London’s West End. Instead she is targeted with racism and misogyny after a well-deserved casting as Juliet in the play Romeo and Juliet.

After a week of this abhorrent abuse, the play’s director finally called for it to stop. But what action will The Jamie Lloyd Company, Curtis Brown Talent and Duke of York’s Theatre take—other than an Instagram post that doesn’t even mention her name?

Black British actress Tamara Lawrance started a petition demanding immediate security and wellbeing measures. It gained nearly 7,000 signatures in five days. In a separate open letter, more than 800 predominantly black actresses and non-binary performers added their names in solidarity with “Our Juliet”.

It is disappointing to see that, once again, the burden of campaigning against misogynoir has fallen on black women. The theatre industry must change.

Anna Prall

South London

Pity Ukraine’s hired guns

Western media are fond of repeating that Russia is relying on prisoners to bolster numbers on its front line in Ukraine. It also makes much of the foreign mercenaries lured by the desperate need for cash into fighting for Putin’s Russia.

I suppose this helps them make some moral sense out of a war that the West now seems to be losing. But how remarkably silent they are about foreign mercenaries now fighting on the Ukrainian side.

The Sri Lankan Sunday Times newspaper recently reported that around 100 former soldiers from the country have joined the Ukrainian foreign legion. That means poor Sri Lankans —whose country was decimated by Western bankers—are now fighting on both sides of this imperialist war.

Many of the fighters have been trafficked to the war zone and were even forced to pay up-front charges to the agencies that put them there. So much for a “war of liberation”.

Vijay Sahadevan

Tamil Nadu, India

Just a thought…
Why Israel can’t win

Despite flooding the streets of Northern Ireland with armed troops and running a vicious campaign of assassination and intimidation over nearly 30 years, the British state could not destroy the Provisional IRA. Eventually Britain had to cut a deal. At any one time, the Provos had a relatively small force of a few hundred frontline fighters. Israel has no chance of “destroying” Hamas, which organises a much bigger force of militants—and inspires so many to stand alongside the Palestinians, in so many countries.

Mike Killian


Time to extract Tories

A dentist shortage across Britain, highlighted recently in Socialist Worker (13 February) has led a group of food banks in Newcastle to bring in a special bus to treat adults and children for free. The charity Dentaid said high demand in the city meant it was making a five-day visit, which was the longest time it had spent in one place. Appointments for dental treatment on the bus were filled within two hours, with more than 100 people on the waiting list, according to Newcastle Foodbank. This is the real face of Tory Britain.


East London

Post Office gone ‘postal’?

I’m not entirely convinced that the sub-postmasters are deserving of all the sympathy they get. Certainly, we have little in common with those small business owners done over by bigger firms. When workers are accused of fraud they are thrown out on their ear—and no newspaper bats an eyelid. Oh, but when some middle classes are affected what a different story.



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