Inside the system
EU grave train
DELEGATES TO the European Union summit in Nice had a great nosh up. In the interests of Europe the 2,000 delegates gorged themselves on 10,000 bottles of the finest champagne and over 500 pounds of smoked salmon, along with more than 500 pounds of foie gras. The delegates were chauffeured around in over 350 limousines placed at their disposal. Even the dead couldn't be buried in Nice churches near the summit, which had all been closed to prevent any disruption for delegates.
MandelSun loves Maggie
HOW MUCH lower can Peter Mandelson sink in his efforts to cosy up to the rich and powerful? Last week the Northern Ireland secretary praised Margaret Thatcher before slandering the Wapping printers' 1986 fight to save their jobs. Mandelson said of Thatcher, "Many of the things of which she was famously intolerant she was right to be-the aggression of General Galtieri, the behaviour of the Wapping mob, the excesses of the ultra-left."
It is bad enough that Mandelson compares trade unionists to an Argentinian fascist general, but to describe them as a "mob" is an outrage. The Wapping dispute started when News International boss Rupert Murdoch sacked 5,000 print workers overnight in his efforts to outlaw the Fleet Street print unions.
The real "mob" at Wapping were the Metropolitan Police, who handed out savage beatings and mass arrests against printers and supporters. Afterwards print union official Mike Hicks won huge damages from the police over his arrest and brutal treatment. Even the then Labour leader Neil Kinnock boycotted the Murdoch press. The Sun and the News of the World were banned from every Labour club in the country.
Selling off the furniture
NEW LABOUR is not content with selling off air traffic control and London Underground. The chancellor, Gordon Brown, has imposed "resource accounting", where all government departments are made to sell off assets. So far the Cabinet Office has raised �1,500 auctioning off "an electrically operated forklift and battery charging unit".
The Royal Parks Agency has sold one horse at �2,800. The Welsh Office made �7,000 for five lawn mowers and two Land Rovers. Vehicle Excise and Licensing has sold off three cabinets, one desk and 48 laser printers.
IS YOUR boss a psychopath? Many of those classed as psychopaths are in positions of power and responsibility, according to research by psychology professor Robert Hare and Dr James Blair. The researchers concluded psychopaths may lack a moral code, but that this may just be the quality they need to succeed: "They can be successful businessmen, academics and politicians."
THE US election may be a lottery, but in South Africa candidates from the ruling African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance actually decided to toss a two rand coin to pick the election winner. The two candidates in Ward Five of the Cambridge area of East London, in Eastern Cape Province, received the same number of votes.
The strife of Chirac
JACQUES CHIRAC, the French president, appeared on French TV last week backing the police repression of anti-capitalist protesters in Nice. One other aspect of law and order is worrying Chirac, however. Secret dirty deals involving Chirac have surfaced recently.
He is now connected with four separate criminal investigations into the financial affairs of the city of Paris and surrounding areas, where he was mayor from 1977-95.
Michel Rossin, the former head of Chirac's private office, has been arrested. Magistrates are investigating allegations of contract fixing for schools equipment in Paris. Companies have allegedly paid illegal commissions for government contracts.
Union boss shows (un)brotherly love
ONE PERSON who won't be happy with the election of left winger Mark Serwotka as general secretary of the PCS civil servants' union is Jim McAuslan. McAuslan, the deputy general secretary of the union, travelled to South Africa recently. During McAuslan's journey he spoke at a conference called by the South African government and business leaders to push more Private Finance Initiative and Public-Private Partnership schemes.
Trade unionists in the SAMWU union held protests outside the conference. No local union leader was invited to speak at the conference, deliberately held at the same time as local government elections. South African trade unionists have complained to the PCS about overseas unions sending speakers to help governments and companies legitimise privatisation.
A Conservative candidate who stood in council elections last May has been exposed as a Nazi. Chris Green is a national administrator for the Nazi BNP. He contested the Peterborough City Council seat of Paston for the Conservative Party. Green told the Peterborough Evening Telegraph he joined the Nazis in late 1997 and joined the Tories in early 1999.
Things they say
"TO GET things pretty much back to normal, as far as everyone is concerned, that is going to be towards Easter."
- New Railtrack boss STEVE MARSHALL
"IT'S A crisis of confidence, and it's been a crisis of investment, and it's been a political crisis in that the privatisation took place in the wrong way."
- Transport minister GUS MACDONALD on the chaos in the railways
"THE rail companies have lost millions from the tragedy, but it seems they are determined to recoup it directly from their passengers' pockets."
- FRASER KEMP, MP for Hougton and Washington East
"I HAVE set out to change the language of the international system. Hardly anyone talks about 'alleviation' any more because it is not conceptually right. It is kind of softening the impact of poverty and not getting rid of it."
- CLARE SHORT, Secretary of State for International Development
"AS THE heads of government arrived for the photo shoot, as Jacques Chirac smiled, the unmistakable acrid touch of teargas wafted down the air conditioning system and I had the rare pleasure of seeing politicians biting back tears."
- Acclaimed novelist CHRISTOPHER HOPE's view of the Nice summit
"WILL you remember them [Keir Hardie, the NHS, etc] in your will with a legacy to the Labour Party?"
- LORD HEALEY in a fundraising letter to pensioners
"I AM thinking of leaving them my socialist principles and the 75p increase for pensioners."
- Pensioner SYLVIA PARSONS's response to the letter