London Underground sign London Underground sign. Photo: Pixabay

Unjum Mirza, Aslef Equalities Officer, Victoria Line, writing in a personal capacity, responds to The Telegraph‘s attack on striking tube workers

The Telegraph headline: “The enemy underground: how ‘Putin apologists’ brought London to a standstill” attacking the RMT London Underground strike is an attack on us all.

Let’s be clear, The Telegraph’s “enemy underground” are the very same London Underground and rail workers who’ve put their own health at risk to assist our NHS save lives over the past two years. We continue to do so despite the government’s pretence that Covid is over.

The Telegraph’s “enemy underground” are the very same London Underground workers who were first responders during the transport bombings in July 2005 which left 52 dead, hundreds injured following Bush and Blair’s illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The police contributed to the death toll when Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent Brazilian, was shot 7 times to the head under disgraced Cressida Dick’s order.

Meanwhile The Telegraph was happily receiving Russia’s cash to publish pro-Russian propaganda in the form of its “Russia Beyond the Headlines” supplements.

So fuck The Telegraph. We will not be silenced or intimidated or threatened.

We stood against the US/UK and Nato wars then. We stand against the Russian invasion of Ukraine now. We are against any efforts that will lead to an escalation of the war. We are proud signatories to the Stop the War statement. And we are right to fight and strike against the assault on our jobs, terms and conditions, pay and pensions.

Just as with the McCarthyite witch-hunts in the US in the 1940s and 1950s, the present establishment-generated hysteria and witch-hunts are aimed to prosecute an ideological conformity at every level of society.

Anyone who steps outside that conformity are smeared and accused of being ‘apologists for Putin’, ‘the enemy within’, ‘traitors’, ‘fifth columnists’. First it was the Stop the War Coalition under fire. Then Keir Starmer appointed himself chief scalp-hunter demanding the 11 Labour MPs who signed a StW statement withdraw their names or lose the whip. Now it is the trade unions and next it will be our workplace representatives and activists.

That’s what happened under McCarthyite witch-hunts. The attack on free speech was used to attack activists, academics, film stars and so many more. But, crucially, the witch-hunts were used to harass, hound and pacify the unions – from the top to the bottom. As a result the entire union movement was damaged for generations.

So, there are two immediate things we can do in response:

1An injury to one is an injury to all. RMT London Underground workers are striking again for 24 hours on Thursday. Every London Underground worker – regardless of union affiliation – should join the picket lines and link arms in unity. 

2Join the Global Day of Action against the war this Sunday, calling for Russian troops out and no to Nato expansion.

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Unjum Mirza

Unjum Mirza is a driver on the London Underground. He is on the Editorial Board of Tunnel Vision, the rank and file bulletin, and is an Aslef union branch chair.

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