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Year 2000 No. 210, December 8, 2000 Archive Search Home Page

At the National Consultative Conference 2000:

Making a Difference – In Defence of the Rights of All

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

At the National Consultative Conference 2000:
Making a Difference – In Defence of the Rights of All

Youth Curfews Announced in Queen's Speech

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At the National Consultative Conference 2000:

Making a Difference – In Defence of the Rights of All

In its invitation to participate in the its NCC 2000, RCPB(ML) identified that the progressive and democratic forces have entered the 21st century with the aspiration of occupying the space for change and moving forward to a new society that places the needs of the masses of people as its central concern. The Party called for those concerned with the direction of society and interested in making a difference to participate and join together in summing up their experience. The African and Caribbean Progressive Study Group has welcomed this call to participate.

ACPSG works amongst the African and Caribbean people to end the marginalisation from society and ghettoisation which our communities face and which are enshrined in state policies which see their communities facing harassment, discrimination in all fields, social deprivation, violence at the hands of the state’s forces in police cells and in prisons and in state-organised racist violence carried out by the most backward elements. Despite being an integral part of the working class in Britain involved in health, education, transport and communication and all the major industries of the country, the national minority communities are still humiliated and marginalised as mere immigrants and second-class citizens. ACPSG counteracts these outdated conceptions and resists the attacks on the African and Caribbean communities by pressing home that their contribution to the complete renovation of the society in order that the rights of all are defended is an intrinsic feature of the democratisation process.

At its 3rd Congress in 1999, RCPB(ML) resolved to defend the right of national minorities to uphold and develop their cultures and languages and to participate as equals in the polity based on new arrangements which defend the rights of all citizens. The Party also adopted at its Congress the Draft Programme for the Working Class which has as its first clause inviolability of human rights and the rights to full and equal citizenship for all resident in the country based on modern definitions of rights. This line of the Party is regularly underlined through the pages of Workers’ Weekly and WDIE in coverage of the struggles of the national minorities.

The national minority communities have been given the option of participating in politics on the basis of support for one or other of the so-called major parties, each of which has perpetuated the racist division of the polity based on confusion between nationality and citizenship, outright racism and discrimination, whilst at the same time manipulating these communities as voting banks to bring one of these same parties to power. Based on such fraud, the peoples of African and Caribbean origin have also been encouraged to participate in equally sordid arrangements founded on elite accommodation, the buying out of so-called community leaders and the perpetuation of outdated and useless political arrangements. All the activities of ACPSG are aimed at breaking with this obsolete political mechanism.

In this respect, ACPSG points out that they intend to share with the NCC their experience in organising work which has developed readers, writers and disseminators of ACPSG’s newsletter Progress, in journalism which reflects this work and the communities’ struggles and the development of Readers Groups, and in discussions of the demands people of African and Caribbean nationalities put on the society they depend on for their livelihood and existence.

The ACPSG reiterates that it welcomes the opportunity to participate in the Party’s National Consultative Conference on the basis of the new arrangements depicted in the Party’s press and of sharing the experience of their work in defence of the rights of the African and Caribbean communities as a integral part of the fight in defence of the rights of all.

National Consultative Conference 2000
An Invitation to Participate

Article Index

Youth Curfews Announced in Queen's Speech

by Workers’ Weekly Youth Group

It is an outrage that the tragic death of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor is being used by the Government to open the door to the most extreme criminalisation of the youth.

A new Police and Criminal Justice Bill to apply to England and Wales was announced in the Queen speech on Wednesday, December 5. Beforehand, the speech was expected to recommend night-time curfews for children under 16 in areas where "juvenile crime" is considered a problem.

In the event, the speech announced a Bill to introduce child curfews for those aged between 9 and 15, covering the hours from 9pm to 6am.

"The Prime Minister is determined to tackle the yob culture and take forward the responsibility agenda," the Prime Minister's spokesman said.

"You will see we are totally serious about giving the police the powers they need to crack down on yobbish behaviour that blights our cities and towns and you will see the work on crime continuing at every level."

Criticism from Voluntary Organisations

NACRO, which represents former offenders, said that curfews are not necessarily the solution to reducing crime.

Mark Leech of Unlock, the national association of ex-offenders, said the proposals amounted to "sweeping it [the problem] behind the front door and pretending it doesn't exist".

Pilot Scheme Experience

A pilot curfew scheme for children under the age of 10 was tried in Hamilton, Scotland, but was not enforced because police and local authorities gave up. They found it impractical due to difficulty in judging the ages of the young people.

Stuart Waiton, Scottish community worker and campaigner, said the pilot was a "gimmick" and a "failure". It "was not helpful".

"The Hamilton curfew was launched as a child safety initiative but it wasn't needed.

"The reduction in crime was very minimal and it only increased fear and paranoia among adults about their own area.

"The real problem is a perception that kids hanging around the streets are responsible for much of the local crime.

"But in actual fact they are just doing the same type of thing that you and me did when we were a similar age," said Mr Waiton.

Mr Waiton said further that the perception of teenagers is misguided and "fear and ignorance" were fuelling the spread of such measures as curfews.

The view that the youth and their parents are the problem in society was expressed by Peter Gammon, president of Police Superintendents Association: "Parents letting their children roam the streets at all times is an ongoing problem".

John Scott of Scottish Human Rights Centre said that "it is unfortunate that Jack Straw seems set to continue what happened in Hamilton when it is very debatable if it was successful.

"In my opinion it did not work and it should not be repeated."

The Government's "Fourth Chapter"

A Government spokesperson said the speech provided the "fourth chapter of the government's story".

Chapter one centred on the economy; chapter two on work and unemployment; chapter three on schools, according to the spokesperson.

The fourth chapter "is about matching the opportunity economy with the responsibility society".

This says it all. How can an opportunistic economy, one based on the anarchy of production, be the basis of a society that realises its responsibility of guaranteeing the rights of all its members? An economy that serves only individual interest and the rule of capital, which reacts spontaneously to the marketplace, is not an economy in the control of human beings. A society based on such an economy is not a humanised society.

It is not surprising that such a society does not provide for the youth. Far from working to changing society, to empowering people to humanise society, the Government keeps people in check through the restriction of rights and labels the youth as "the problem". It continues to pay the rich and reduce investment in social programmes, thus depriving the youth of resources, support and the means to develop their culture and their collectives. It sidelines them from all processes of decision-making.

In such a situation, the youth are deemed "troublemakers" and are criminalised. Such a situation is not acceptable. All people, young and old, must come together to decide on how to bring about change. People must reject the way the issue is being presented and discuss the type of society it is that causes crime. It is only through the empowerment of people that solutions can be found.

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