LETTERS – unions should not work with fracking firms and the cops

Protesters march through Manchester against the Barton Moss fracking site in 2014

Protesters march through Manchester against the Barton Moss fracking site in 2014 (Pic: Mark Krantz)

It was shocking to see the GMB union calling for police and judges to take a “firmer line” against people protesting against fracking.

Many of the GMB’s own members oppose fracking and were involved in these protests.

It was especially disgraceful given what we know about the levels of violence used by the police.

I was part of writing a paper on policing during protests at the Barton Moss fracking site near Manchester between November 2013 and April 2014.

Our paper detailed how the policing wasn’t just violent, there were mass arbitrary arrests of nearly 200 people and a campaign of intimidation against protesters.

Protesters also talked about police officers using sexualised violence, such as groping women.

We’ve seen similar things again from research at the Preston New Road fracking site in Lancashire.

On these protests, the police have been using the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 to arrest people for “watching and besetting”.

The GMB’s statement says that police must “protect the rights of all those going about their lawful business”. That’s what the law is officially about, but that’s used against the right to picket and organise.

With its statement, the GMB is promoting its use in clamping down on protest. It’s appalling to see the union involved in doing the bidding of energy companies.

Union members don’t benefit from fracking. The firms who’ve destroyed land and pit workers against local people do.

But on protests we’ve seen workers and protesters getting along.

The union needs to get its priorities right—like defending the teaching assistants (TAs) in Durham.

Joanna Gilmore, Leeds

Refugee solidarity grows in Cornwall

A group of residents in Bude, a small seaside town in Cornwall, have recently been given approval to resettle a family of refugees in their community.

This has been achieved under the Community Sponsorship scheme. This requires local people to raise the funding and organise the support for the families to begin new lives in the town.

The group has collected £15,000 locally to support the first family and another £2,000 towards a second.

Accommodation has been found and is currently being furnished, and school places have been arranged.

Now other towns in Cornwall are organising to do the same.

I went to the first public meeting of the new Launceston Refugee Support Group last Thursday. Some 40 people came along.

Many expressed their disgust at the callous attitude of the Tory government.

Cornwall is not prospering economically and Ukip has been popular in recent years.

So it’s good to know that people are still motivated by kindness and concern for others.

Jane Creagh-Osborne, Bristol

Labour – don’t suck up to Theresa May

Tory prime minister Theresa May swanned into West Wales to sign off a £1.3 billion investment deal on Monday of last week.

Welsh Labour first minister Carwyn Jones and local council leaders lined up with her at Liberty Stadium in Swansea.

He fawned over May, saying it was an example of “cooperation” between the British and devolved governments.

None of these developments are going to tackle the real problems.

Friends of mine are losing disability benefits or are in danger of losing their homes. That’s all down to the Tories.

The new deal is designed to make it look like they’re doing something, while handing more money to private developers.

If Welsh Labour had any guts it would have stood up to the Tories a long time ago, instead of passing on cuts.

But Jones and his band of merry men are more interested in keeping control of the Labour machine.

They’re more agitated by Jeremy Corbyn than May. But ordinary people here feel differently.

May came down without any fanfare—and that can’t have been an accident.

The Tories know that there would have been protests if a big fuss was made about it in advance

We know who the real enemy is—even if Jones doesn’t.

Tim Evans, Swansea

Detoxifying George Osborne won’t beat the right

According to Guardian newspaper columnist Polly Toynbee, George Osborne editing the Evening Standard newspaper could be useful in the battle against Brexit.

This Bullingdon Club toff and architect of austerity annihilated our public services so that he could line the pockets of his banker pals.

Whenever people unnecessarily die in underfunded hospitals or are forced to eat from food banks, you can be sure to find the hand of Osborne.

He and Theresa May might be at loggerheads over the European Union, but that won’t stop them uniting together against working class people.

The crisis at the top over Brexit does provide an opportunity for our side to make gains for working class people.

But we have to fight on our own terms, not cosy up to swaggering millionaire thugs like Osborne.

Russ Chandler, North east London

Be bolder on refugees

The Tories’ decision to renege on the Dubs Amendment to let unaccompanied child refugees into Britain is perhaps its most cruel.

Labour has rightly said it would implement the Dubs Amendment on child refugees if it got into government.

As good as this is, it does not go far enough.

Our Newham Convoys to Calais group made many trips to the “jungle” refugee camp from east London.

We met hundreds of children and adults who had defied all the odds but weren’t allowed to come to Britain.

That’s why we say open the borders, tear down the walls and let the refugees in.

Simon Shaw, East London

School cuts show greed

The school cuts are typical of the Tories’ greed (Socialist Worker, 22 March).

Not content with damaging current workers’ living standards, they also feel the need to damage future generations.

Meanwhile, all their privileged children will be at private schools which they can afford.

Theresa May must go.

Nick Browne, on Facebook

A warning to Labour right

If you lose Jeremy Corbyn (Socialist Worker, 22 March), the Labour Party will be hit with thousands of solicitor’s letters.

People will demand back the membership fee they paid. They will be left poor by the people they shaft.

Richard Short, on Facebook

Class divide will get worse

Still the class divide gets bigger.

The number of people relying on food banks grows but the government pays no attention because it would embarrass them.

And the number of people in poverty will rise due to inflation and the cost of living rising.

Jules PG, on Facebook

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