Socialist Worker

Arms R Us says Blair

Issue No. 1779

Arms manufacturers will find their profits are safe under New Labour's Export Control Bill, which was debated in parliament recently. Many campaigners hoped that the legislation would herald the end of arms sales to military regimes.

But the Export Control Bill is much weaker than the draft legislation the government published before the election earlier this year. The British BAe Systems is moving in to capitalise on New Labour's open door policy to arms sales. It wants to sell a £40 million radar system to Tanzania, one of the poorest countries in the world.

Even international development secretary Clare Short and chancellor Gordon Brown have raised concerns about this arms deal. But this is not because they are worried about their government encouraging a poor country to spend money on arms above health and education. Brown and Short say they are concerned about Tanzania's growing debt to the IMF and World Bank.

So they are arguing that Tanzania should buy a radar for £10 million instead...and presumably spend the other £30 million on their debt.

Sexist service

The US warmongers claim that they are fighting for the freedom of women in Afghanistan. But the highest ranking female officer in the US air force has filed a lawsuit against the military over sexism. She wants to overturn a policy requiring US servicewomen to wear black head to foot robes and ride in the back seat of vehicles when off base in Saudi Arabia. The servicewomen can only leave the base if accompanied by a man.

Flower power

The US army has shown some concern over the damage it has caused in Afghanistan. But this is not directed towards the many Afghan people murdered by US bombs.

They have just asked the US Agricultural Research Service to develop extra tough plants that can survive the treatment meted out by soldiers and military vehicles.

Another great victory for socialists was recorded in Scotland two week ago. Six candidates stood in a mock school election at Girvan Academy. The Scottish National Party got 15 votes, Labour 12, Greens 14, Tories 11 and Lib Dems eight.

The winner with 60 votes, 50 percent of the total, was the Scottish Socialist Party candidate.

You might not think that $92.60 could buy you much in the US. But it was enough to get billionaire Michael Bloomberg the honour of being the next mayor of New York in last month's election.

Bloomberg spent $69 million, or $92.60 a vote, to buy radio and TV commercials and mailshots to avoid the limit which applies to public funding. Only presidential candidates have spent more on an election than Bloomberg. 'We always talked about spending what was necessary to get our message out, and that's what we did,' said Bloomberg's senior strategy adviser.

'He bought the election fair and square,' said the manager for his opponent's campaign, which spent a mere $14 million.

Engaged in exploitation

New Labour is flouting workers' rights laws at the party's call centre in Newcastle. Labour bosses refused to allow call centre worker Dan Gray to be accompanied to a disciplinary hearing by the GMB union representative of his choice-a clear violation of laws passed two years ago.

He was then sacked. Dan's case is not the only example of shocking behaviour by bosses at the Labour Party's call centre.

A GMB official reported that she had received complaints from staff about potential health and safety risks, and conversations that should have been confidential being held in corridors.

New Labour is now planning to move more workers to the call centre because of cost cutting.

Shop till you drop

Tesco has trumpeted its scheme of vouchers for schools, but last week consumer groups exposed the reality behind the gimmick. Parents would have to gather vouchers from £250,000 worth of shopping to provide a computer costing £1,000.

Tesco has boasted that this year it provided 22,000 schools with 70,000 items. But only 4,000 of these were computers. The majority were much smaller items which required less vouchers.

The Millennium Dome is continuing to drain the public's pockets almost 12 months after its closure. New Labour has given £340,000 of lottery money to the Dome's public relations firm Cardew and Co since September last year. The Dome has cost £1.8 million each month since it closed.

Things they say

'If you don't stop this, the whips cannot be responsible for other MPs hurting you.'
LABOUR WHIP as he put his arm across the throat of Labour rebel MP Paul Marsden

'The party l joined was full of nice old people. Today it is full of nasty old people. Their hatred of gays, blacks, successful women and the European Union is as extraordinary as it is offensive.'
NICK KENT, Kenneth Clarke's campaign manager in the recent Tory leadership election

'Clarke is notorious for not suffering fools gladly. This is a serious deficiency in a party full of them.'

'Young men broke my glasses, began smashing stones into my face and head. And even then, I understood. I couldn't blame them for what they were doing. They've suffered terribly. It's not surprising they should attack Westerners.'
ROBERT FISK, Independent journalist, after being attacked by Afghan refugees

'Enron isn't in the business of eking the last penny out of a dying business but of continuously creating radical new business concepts with huge upside.'
GARY HAMEL, chairman of consultant Strategos, before the collapse of Enron, the world's seventh biggest company

'Do I feel like an idiot? No. If I misread the company in some way, I was one of a hell of a lot of people who did that.'
GARY HAMEL after the collapse of Enron

'Ironically, however, as the size of the Taliban real estate diminishes, the danger to coalition forces may be increasing.'
DONALD RUMSFELD on the worries of the US leaders of civil war and guerrilla warfare in Afghanistan

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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 15 Dec 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1779
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