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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 March 2014

Letter of protest to the BBC

On 25 February the BBC's 6pm news bulletin referred to Militant, the Socialist's predecessor, in its item on PIE. Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary and former editor of Militant, sent the following letter:

"In an item on the Paedophile Information Exchange's links with the National Council for Civil Liberties, you quoted Christian Wolmar, who said: 'PIE very deliberately targeted libertarian left groups who might be fighting for anything from abortion rights to Northern Ireland in order to give themselves legitimacy.

"This was the same tactic indeed as Militant or some other political groups like that, trying to get inside and presenting themselves as respectable.'

We object strongly to the inference in this quote; that supporting the ideas of the Militant newspaper are as repugnant as paedophilia.

Further, Christian argues that Militant supporters needed to 'get inside' other political campaigns in order 'to present themselves as respectable'.

We completely refute the suggestion that Militant supporters ever hid their ideas to gain 'respectability' - the fact that the newspaper was able to gain such prominence is a testament to that.

Militant supporting MPs and councillors very clearly set out their ideas in numerous speeches, as well as the leading role Militant supporters played in the Liverpool council of 1983-87, and in the battle against the poll tax to give just a few examples.

The ideas and actions of Militant supporters, of fighting against austerity, supporting strike action and protest movements, and offering a socialist alternative, are perfectly 'respectable' to millions of people today.

It is outrageous to compare Militant to the activities of paedophiles, towards whom the vast majority justifiably feel revulsion.

The inclusion of a reference to Militant is spurious and completely unnecessary to the story.

We were pleased to note that the second sentence of the above quote was edited out in the 10 o'clock bulletin, after complaints from Socialist Party members and others. This is a partial admission of error in airing the quote in the first instance.

However, this comparison was put forward unchallenged on the 6 o'clock bulletin, watched by several million people, and is also at the time of writing available on BBC iPlayer.

We request that you issue an apology and correction on a subsequent edition of the 6 o'clock News or another suitable platform. Should you refuse, we will take legal advice to see what further steps can be taken."

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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.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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In The Socialist 5 March 2014:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Pay us a living wage now!

Need for new mass workers' party is undeniable

Government condemns millions to housing misery

NHS in crisis: Stop Hunt's hospital closure plans

Fight the government's vicious sanctions regime

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

Ukraine crisis: Ruling elites foster division and conflict

Northern Ireland rocked by 'on the runs' crisis

International Women's Day

The miners' strike changed women's lives

Socialist Party workplace news

Determined Doncaster care workers in 7-day strike

Wales: Unison branch challenges Labour with no-cuts budget

Support strike action against legal aid cuts

Leeds council workers discuss cuts fightback

Train drivers vote for action at Northern Rail

Cleaners strike at London college

Readers' comments and reviews

Nigeria's battle for a mass workers' party

Letter of protest to the BBC

Union question time - Labour has no answers

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Action against vicious council cuts

Police spying ends lives - end it!

Fighting youth low pay (and security bullies)

Calderdale and Huddersfield: People ready to defend A&Es

Barton Moss protesters say no to fracking

Oppose the EDL in Worcester


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