In the “war against terror”, British governments have wilfully ignored the best ways of fighting it. It won’t be defeated by smart missiles or drones. It won’t be defeated by toppling secular governments.
Since the shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, bizarre claims have been made about what sort of actions will make us safe. In the USA we have heard the gun lobby’s call for even more guns, and from the British parliament, the claim that bombing Syria will make us “safer on the streets of Britain”.
Those making these claims suffer from a unique form of blindness which prevents them seeing that the bombers who attacked the London transport network in 2005, or those doing the shooting in Paris and San Bernardino in 2015, were almost exclusively home grown. The London bombers were young Britons.
‘There is no easy formula for keeping Britain safe. But we do know what makes for a united working class...’
There is no easy formula for keeping Britain safe. But we do know what makes for a united working class. Workers get to know and understand each other in the workplace and build friendships. This means that joining with fellow workers in a trade union, and fighting for the defence of jobs and the right to work also make us safer.
The fight for conditions such as the right to breaks and to keep the canteen open is also a route to shared understandings. Eating lunch “al desko”, or worse, a culture of not taking a break at all in the working day, damages individual and social health.
And we must ensure that English is the language of the workplace. 2015 saw accidents at work and at least one fatality in the construction industry, due to poor comprehension of English.
In health and social care disciplinary action was taken against workers speaking another language amongst themselves, thus excluding patients, colleagues and students. The revised Code of Conduct for nurses and midwives published in 2015 has had to include, for the first time ever, a clause that it is a professional requirement to “be able to communicate clearly and effectively in English”.
“Speaking a common language” is not just a turn of phrase. It is fundamental to safety and understanding each other. This means that every fight for adult literacy courses, English language courses, education in prisons or access to a comprehensive public library system, also contributes to our safety and mutual understanding.
We must stop and reverse the trend towards religious schools, which leads to segregation of children into separate tribes from early years to adulthood.
This can take the form of unregistered schools with poor environmental conditions, unqualified teachers and a narrow daily diet of rote learning, as in the case of the Islamic schools recently exposed in Birmingham, fundamentalist Christian schools, and similar reports of their Jewish equivalents in North London.
But the publicly funded state religious schools and the well equipped private religious schools are also part of this segregation. Their growth began under the Blair government and has accelerated and produced a degree of segregation not seen in the British education system in modern times.
Children do not see difference, why should adults impose it on them?
Working together, sharing a lunchbreak together, talking together, learning and playing together are building blocks of class unity.