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From: The Socialist issue 921, 19 October 2016: NHS at breaking point

Search site for keywords: Letters - The Socialist - Socialist - Racist - Union - Education - Dress - Teachers - Terror - John Pilger - Democracy

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Views of letter writers do not necessarily match those of the Socialist Party.

Featured letter: democracy

Stop racist 'Prevent' surveillance

Teacher primary school classroom US Department of Education (Creative Commons), photo US Department of Education (Creative Commons)

Teacher primary school classroom US Department of Education (Creative Commons), photo US Department of Education (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Recently, the two major trade unions representing education workers reaffirmed their opposition to Prevent, which requires teachers to spy on and report young people at risk of "radicalisation".

At the University and College Union (UCU) annual conference in June, a motion titled "Prevent - education is not surveillance" was unanimously backed, which, among other things, resolved for the union "to work with students and others in opposing the Prevent agenda."

Similarly, a few months earlier, at the annual conference of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) held in March, a motion was passed calling for Prevent to be withdrawn and replaced with new guidance for schools.

But it is not just trade unions who have been vocal in their calls for the termination of Prevent.

In 2014, the Economist observed that Arun Kundnani's excellent book 'The Muslims are coming!' had "some fair points to make about the counter-productivity" of Prevent. "His analysis of Prevent rang true".

Professor Kundnani's fair criticisms of the government's counterproductive terror policies were then updated in his 2015 report, 'A decade lost: rethinking radicalisation and extremism,' which reaffirmed that "the government should end its Prevent policy." He continued: "This will help to avoid nurturing a new generation of antagonised and disenfranchised citizens. Ultimately, Prevent-style policies make Britain less safe."

Professor Kundnani's criticisms of Prevent are not unique in this regard.

In April this year, Maina Kiai, the UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, made his own position very clear. "It appears that Prevent is having the opposite of its intended effect: by dividing, stigmatising and alienating segments of the population, Prevent could end up promoting extremism, rather than countering it."

Mike Barker, Leicester

Pilger praise

I have attached an extract from an article by John Pilger. Its main virtue is that, while brief, it illustrates the different political characters of Pilger and Owen Jones.

"Described by the Guardian columnist Owen Jones as 'funny, charming, with a coolness that eludes practically every other politician', Obama the other day sent drones to slaughter 150 people in Somalia. He kills people usually on Tuesdays, according to the New York Times, when he is handed a list of candidates for death by drone. So cool."

Sue Powell, Gloucester

Dressing down

A 'couture' dress sold for 100,000 pounds caused one Murdoch newspaper to sigh: "One dress would cost more than a year's fees at Eton. For some people this kind of life is normal"!

Mike, Southampton

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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Article dated 19 October 2016

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