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New Zealand PM's anti-racism hypocrisy
Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand, is being lauded round the world for her response to the killing of 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch on 15 March.
She has promised restrictions on automatic weapons and refuses to use the name of the killer. She has also promised an anti-racist programme.
Yet, her Labour Party is in a coalition government with the national populist New Zealand First, which is anti-immigration and has nine MPs. The Labour Party also has a 'confidence and supply' arrangement with the Greens.
Despite the fact that the leader of New Zealand First is part Maori, he has proposed policies that are detrimental to New Zealand's indigenous people.
His proposal to abolish the Maori electorates was dropped when the party joined the coalition.
New Zealand First espouses a mixture of left and right populist policies, but it is deeply conservative on social issues and 'law and order' (which disproportionately affects Maoris who are 15% of the 4.9 million population of New Zealand, but 50% of the prison population).
They want to restrict immigration to between 7,000 and 15,000 "seriously qualified" people a year, who must 'assimilate'.
In 2007 the deputy leader, Peter Brown, said: "If we continue this open door policy, there is a real danger we will be inundated with people who have no intention of integrating into our society...
"They will form their own mini-societies to the detriment of integration and that will lead to division, friction and resentment."
This is the sort of language that has stoked Islamophobia and racism around the world including in New Zealand.
If Ardern is serious about her anti-racism agenda, she needs to start with her coalition partner!
Clare Wilkins, Nottingham
A tale of two Saturdays
On setting out to go sell the Socialist newspaper on the streets of Leyton, east London on 23 March, I happened to cycle through the poshest part of my area - Walthamstow Village.
We now have two galleries and a wine and cheese shop here, but the local butcher had to move out because of the hike in business rates.
There, groups of people were gathering with sashes and homemade placards proclaiming 'Bollocks to Brexit' as they finished their eggs Benedict before heading to the so-called 'People's Vote' march in central London.
I stopped and asked one of them where they'd been all my life, particularly the bit where I lost my pittance of a job in his local library and attempted to stop austerity cuts? In fact, I asked him about all of the anti-austerity protests lately and whether he'd been on any.
His limp cardboard placard fell in his hands. No doubt he was dead cross. I cycled on to try and stop vulnerable kids losing their teaching assistants in his local school because of austerity cuts.
I understand people march for a variety of reasons and many people who marched for a people's vote also try to stop austerity, but it does amuse me that some people cut themselves off from so much suffering caused by austerity... until it affects them!
Nancy Taaffe, Walthamstow, east London
Blairite 'party within a party'
The Blairites in the Labour Party have now formed themselves into a 'party within a party' with the deputy leader Tom Watson leading the pack.
But in fact this is nothing new. They have been plotting and scheming against Jeremy Corbyn from day one and the anti-austerity policies he represents.
The smears and vilification over alleged antisemitism and bullying have reached new depths. This sabotage should be forcefully challenged by Corbyn.
He should have confidence in the mass membership of Labour's ranks to remove those elements and replace them with genuine socialists that will support and implement a programme in the interests of the many.
The only way Corbyn will be accepted by the Blairites is the abandonment of the pro-worker policies that he was elected leader on.
The right wing realise that a general election could happen sometime this year and they are prepared to do as much damage to Corbyn as possible to prevent him coming to power on an anti-austerity anti-austerity programme.
And subsequently removing him as leader at some point if, as they hope, Labour loses the election.
But the failed austerity-lite policies of Blair, Brown and Miliband will not gain mass support any longer.
People want an end to policies that benefit the 1%. They want an end to privatisation of the NHS and the race to the bottom in wages and conditions.
They want decent homes with affordable rents. They would support the nationalisation of rail and the energy and water companies and more.
The Blairites have had their day. Some of them have jumped ship already because they were facing deselection.
The rest are biding their time and hope that they can force Corbyn to retreat on the radical policies he has been advocating.
Frank Bowen, Liverpool
Homes for all
As usual on a Wednesday evening I left home, caught a bus into the city centre and was walking to the local Socialist Party meeting when I approached and passed a couple in conversation. A man asked a woman: "Where do you live?" The woman replied: "Outside Sainsbury's".
I was travelling in the right direction, but what is needed is for the labour and trade union movement to be led by leaders travelling in a socialist direction. End austerity and low pay and fight for homes for all!
John Merrell, Leicester
In The Socialist 27 March 2019:
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