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Exeter bomb explosion: Workers' unity needed against terrorism, war and deprivation
Last week's failed terrorist attack in Exeter caused a wave of shock and surprise in Devon and Britain as a whole. Luckily, there was only one casualty, the bomber himself, who suffered mostly superficial injuries.
Jim Thomson, Devon Socialist Party
It appears that there were two devices, one of which exploded in the toilet of a small café in the new Princesshay shopping centre.
Whether a botched suicide bomb or an accidental explosion, the perceived arrival of terrorism to the sleepy city of Exeter will have an effect within the local community.
Exeter is a small city that prides itself on being peaceful and picturesque. However, a quick look beneath this veneer will show that Exeter suffers from the same problems that many cities in Gordon Brown's Britain face. Exeter's suburbs have large areas of deprivation and a lack of services. Recently the working class have been facing post office and library closures and privatisation of all the city's secondary school buildings.
The Princesshay centre is a classic example of Exeter city council's pro-big business agenda. Developed at a cost of £230 million, it is intended to draw in customers who would normally shop in Plymouth or Bristol. The Devon branch of the Socialist Party made the point that the council should be spending that money on improving services for the community and not on big high street chains to make even more profit.
Millions of people in Britain find themselves despairing at New Labour's neo-liberal attacks on wages, working conditions and public services, and its wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. Also, our civil liberties are being infringed by the state forces building up more and more power in the name of the 'war on terror'. Muslim and black and Asian workers are feeling the sharpest end of these new powers at present, as well as suffering from a general rise in racism.
Unfortunately, in despair at government polices and the discrimination they face, a small minority of Muslims are turning to the ideas of right wing political Islam.
This religious fundamentalism and its sometimes terrorist methods, provides no way forward for oppressed minorities or the working class in general.
The vast majority of the Muslim population wholeheartedly disagree with terrorism and will be as shocked and saddened as the rest of Exeter.
The Socialist Party also condemns terrorist acts like this planned one in Exeter. Not only can they indiscriminately kill and maim people, they are not an effective route of struggle. They will not succeed in their aims, and they can divide communities and give an excuse to the government to introduce more repressive legislation.
Although racist violence and intimidation is comparatively small in Exeter, the bomb explosion will expose some underlying tensions against Muslims in the area.
The explosion does not appear to have been a well-organised terrorist attack, but instead the dangerous actions of a man who was reported as having mental health problems. It will create though some level of fear in the area, and could prompt a rise in racist violence. The Muslim community must be defended from any kind of attacks.
Also, the far right could try to use the bombing in order to opportunistically build their support in Exeter. The BNP and National Front have not had a real basis in the area since the 1980s, but may be keen to exploit this situation to their advantage. We have to counter their lies and distortions when they cynically play on the genuine fears that people have.
Instead of the divisive policies of the far right, the working class and its ethnic minorities need a mass party of the working class that can cut across any racial divisions and unite all people in a struggle for well funded public services, better pay and a fairer society.
Such a party, armed with socialist policies, could effectively fight against New Labour's cuts locally and nationally, offering a successful route of struggle.
However, only in a socialist society, where the needs of the people come before the needs of profit, could the reasons why some people turn to terrorism be tackled and defeated.
In such a society, imperialism, state repression, cuts in essential services, poverty, despair and exploitation would cease to exist.
In The Socialist 28 May 2008:
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party women
Youth and crime
Socialist Party feature
International socialist analysis
Socialist Party review
Socialist Party workplace news