As brave lawyers and democracy activists battle it out with General Musharraf’s police, the British and US establishments have been busy behind the scenes.
Their support for former president Benazir Bhutto’s bid to return as leader – despite outstanding corruption charges – has nothing to do with the “restoration of democracy” and everything to do with the “war on terror”.
At the urging of the West, Pakistan’s army has been fighting a losing battle against insurgents at home, while giving crucial support to the occupation of Afghanistan.
Musharraf’s domestic unpopularity stems largely from a widespread opposition to imperialism and contempt for the way Pakistan has been used as a pawn in George Bush’s game.
But to gain the backing of the US and Britain, Bhutto has pledged her continuing support for that war, and makes much of her desire to “stand up to the extremists” inside Pakistan.
Bhutto may be manoeuvring to put herself at the head of the democracy movement, but she has no intention of letting the people speak.
Academies increase inequality in schools
The government has ordered an urgent review of city academies following evidence that they have failed to improve the educational achievement of the poorest children.
Research published this week found that more resources had gone to schools with children from wealthier families.
This is no surprise as academies are not about reducing inequality. In fact they are renowned for increasing it. City academies expel almost three times more children than other schools, admit fewer children with special educational needs and some have been found to be deliberately “selecting” children from better off families.
Allowing private companies to take control of schools has been a disaster, as report after report confirms. Most academies would be defined as “failing” according to Gordon Brown.
Yet Brown is committed to a neoliberal approach to education. There are currently 83 academies in England – another 50 are planned for next September with a target of 200 by 2010.
We need to keep campaigning to abolish academies – and demand properly funded comprehensive education for all children.
King Juan Carlos
Who should shut up?
King Juan Carlos of Spain last week asked Venezuela’s left wing leader Hugo Chavez, “why don’t you shut up?”.
Perhaps he thinks that Spain still rules most of Latin America. Carlos was the chosen successor of fascist dictator Generalissimo Franco and has never uttered a word against him.
Following Franco’s death his followers were repackaged as conventional politicians, burying the crimes of the former regime.
Chavez was quick to respond to Carlos saying, “The king is a head of state like me, only I’ve been elected three times with 63 percent support.”
This contrasts with the total support Spain’s ruling class and the church gave to a coup seven decades ago which overthrew a democratically elected government, and to a fascist regime which killed some 100,000 people.