AS GEORGE Bush arrived in London last week, the Guardian ran a front page story 'Protests Begin But Majority Backs Bush Visit As Support For War Surges.' But a close look at the details of the ICM poll, which the article did not mention, shows a rather different story.
Leaving aside the fact that 1,002 people is not a very big poll (just ten people are 1 percent), there are still some questions for the Guardian to answer:
When is a majority not a majority? Of the 1,002 people asked the question, just 426 said they welcomed Bush's visit, as against 576 who were either against or didn't know.
Class divisions: the Guardian did not go into the class divide shown in its poll. The figures showed that in the DE category (manual workers and the unemployed) more were against Bush's visit (114) than for it (105).
Who decided the form of the question? It asked, 'Do you think of America as a force for good or a force for evil in the world?' How do you choose if you think, like many people, that the US is wrong on Iraq and much else but would not quite call it a force for 'evil'? Perhaps that's why a remarkable 23 percent of those asked did not give an answer to this question.
As for 'support for war surges', it remains true that only 474 out of 1002 think the war was justified. All in all a shoddy and misleading piece of work that can only have pleased Blair and Bush.
In this week - Snapshots from history - 1983
POLICE used savage violence against demonstrators at a mass picket in November 1983 outside the Messenger group print works in Warrington. It was a key battle, where the Tory government was keen to see a powerful group of workers defeated.
Newspaper publisher Eddie Shah was pioneering union-busting by bringing in non-union workers.
He had the backing of the courts, which slapped hefty fines on the workers' NGA union for refusing to halt the picketing.
How rain stopped war play
A FLEET of 67 attack helicopters for the British army-which cost £1.2 billion-will lie idle for many years. The reason is that the brilliant military authorities did not realise you needed to train pilots to fly them.
A subcontractor claims the 'uncertainties of the British weather' have delayed pilot training. Who could have believed that it might rain in Britain! Of course many of us might think grounded helicopters are a good thing.
Worm among the apples
ABERDEEN council is dividing its tenants into 'good apples' and 'bad apples' and rewarding the 'good' with a chance to win a new kitchen and bathroom. 'Good' tenants will go into a raffle for the prizes. 'Unsatisfactory tenants' will be offered only basic repairs.
Mike Scott, the council's director of community services, revealed the cost-cutting agenda behind this 'anti-social behaviour' scheme. 'The hope is that by getting people to look after their properties better the council will be winning by not having to spend so much on repairs.'
Police make streets safe?
A POLICE car knocked down and killed student Emily Higson in Oxford on 16 November. Yet police arrested a man, a passer-by, who was alarmed about what happened. Eyewitnesses say one officer used his truncheon and wrestled the man to the ground. He was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.
If you are a Cancer, read on
THE SUCCESS of the great anti-Bush demo was written in the stars. The Daily Mirror's astrologer, Jonathan Cainer, introduced his page on 19 November with: 'To make an accurate prediction, you must be objective. That's rule number one in the astrologer's code. Rule number two, though, reminds us that if we care enough we can alter the outcome of any process. George W Bush has arrived in Britain during a rare harmonic concordance. Voices raised now stand an excellent chance of being heard. Knowing that, I can't just stand back. So tomorrow I shall be taking the day off from this page. I am going on the protest march in central London. I do hope you'll join me there.'
In Friday's Mirror there was a picture of Cainer on the march. 'It felt just wonderful,' he said. 'What was the point of yesterday's demonstration? Well, for me, at least, there was every point. The planets are forming an exceptional alignment. Normal rules are suspended. Efforts to promote greater peace and understanding are 'obliged' to have a good result.'
It's almost enough to make you think astrology might have a point. Except the writer of this article and George Bush share the same star sign.
Israel's kill and cover up
THE ISRAELI military has admitted that it lied about a rocket attack on a Gaza refugee camp which it claimed did not kill anyone. The air force launched an assassination strike last month against a Hamas activist who was driving through Nuseirat refugee camp. The Palestinians said the attack killed 14 civilians.
But the air force commander produced video footage, shown widely on Israeli TV, which showed no one standing near the wrecked vehicle as the rockets struck. Now the army admits the second rocket was not a Hellfire missile, which produces a concentrated explosion.
Speculation is that it was an American-made Flechette, which is illegal under international law because it fires thousands of tiny darts over hundreds of metres, causing horrific injuries.
The family of Tom Hurndall, a British peace activist who was left brain damaged after an Israeli soldier shot him, says a cheque from the Israeli government to cover his treatment and repatriation costs has bounced. The London branch of the Bank of Israel said there were insufficient funds in the government account to cover the £8,370 cheque.
Figure it out - £200
is the average subsidy PER WEEK that MPs get for their catering costs. That is according to latest figures from the House of Commons bars and restaurants. It amounts to a whopping £6 million a year from taxpayers to feed MPs.
'I think in the case of the war against Iraq international law stood in the way of doing right.'
RICHARD PERLE, key Bush adviser admitting last week that the invasion of Iraq was illegal
'The important thing is that he supports Israel. Other aspects of his ideology are none of our business.'
ISRAELI SPOKESPERSON, on Gianfranco Fini, currently visiting Israel. Fini leads a 'post-fascist' party in Italy
'We haven't seen that many protests. But we have seen many American flags and people welcoming us. I don't think the protests have been as large as predicted.'
LAURA BUSH, President Bush's wife on their visit to Britain
'I am not accepting a prize sponsored by the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday because they pursue an editorial policy of vilifying and demonising asylum seekers. The atmosphere of prejudice it fosters translates into violence, and I have no wish to profit from it.'
HARI KUNZRU, author of The Impressionist on why he is refusing a literary prize and asking for the money to go to the Refugee Council
'The Iraqi insurgents have taken the element of surprise by using a donkey cart.'
COLONEL BRAD MAY, US military spokesman on the latest attacks