inside the system
Sun was Dome's number one fan
"FEW PEOPLE realise just how fantastic the Dome is going to be. The prime minister, Mandelson and the team who built the Dome will be vindicated." That is what the Sun said in December of last year.
This is the same Sun that said on 6 September this year, "Every day that the Dome stays open now is an insult to the generosity of the British public." Today the Sun acts as if it always opposed the Dome.
But last December it said, "Optimists will always beat pessimists. The same will happen with the Dome. Just you wait and see." And, "Two weeks to go and it's obvious that the Dome will be a great success... We should all be jumping with excitement that we've got one of the wonders of the world on our doorstep."
In December 1999 the Sun even attacked the "negative forces" in the country that dared to criticise the Dome. Why the change of heart? The Sun seems to have had difficulty getting its views sorted out.
When New Labour was elected in May 1997 the Sun was viciously against the Tories' plan to build the Dome. It even had its own "Dump the Dome" campaign-backed by Richard Branson and Lord Hanson.
But then the Sun flipped over and started backing the project.
Was this anything to do with the fact that Peter Mandelson, the minister in charge of the Dome at the time, was friends with Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of Rupert Murdoch who owns the Sun?
The paper was suddenly allowing "Tony's crony" Lord Falconer to write an essay saying the Dome would be the greatest show on earth. The Sun is now calling for Mandelson to apologise for the whole disaster and Falconer to be sacked.
To tuck or not to tuck?
DO YOU prefer the post to be delivered by someone with their shirt tucked in or out? This is the vital question facing the post office-or so some managers seem to think.
They spent �200,000 on a questionnaire on this very issue. Included in the questionnaire were photographs of a postal worker modelling both options.
After a majority of respondents said they preferred shirts tucked in, Royal Mail launched a crackdown on those workers who dared walk the streets with their shirts out.
Managers were sent out on patrol to check there was no illicit "untucking" going on. Royal Mail says the research is a vital part of its corporate image.
And "consultants" Taylor, Nelson, Sofres were laughing all the way to the bank. No doubt "uniform violations" will also now be used to discipline people.
- THE Australian government knew about Indonesia's plans to invade East Timor in 1975 three days before it happened-but it stood back and did nothing while the Indonesian military prepared its attack.
That was revealed by secret government documents released last week. The papers show that the Australian embassy in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, received full details of the timing of the attack.
But the then Labour government did nothing. It preferred to let a vicious right wing takeover go ahead. Around 200,000 East Timorese were killed in the invasion and subsequent fighting.
Five Australian journalists were also killed.
THE government agency responsible for overseeing deputy prime minister John Prescott's "transport revolution" has concluded that his plans will do nothing to tackle motorway congestion.
Journeys by road are likely to remain unchanged by New Labour's �21 billion plan, says the Highways Agency.
The number of people driving, and the resulting traffic, is expected to continue to increase. The agency says Prescott's ten-year package of traffic calming methods will make no significant improvements to delays on the road.
- THE provost of Guildhall University in east London recently upped his pay from �100,000 a year to �115,000 a year.
At the same time he wants to sack one of the college's administrative workers. Her total pay and national insurance contributions are �15,000.
Kept in dark
THE US government put lives at risk to build its nuclear arsenal during the Cold War, according to the newspaper USA Today. It says that in the 1940s and 1950s the government hired hundreds of companies to process dangerous radioactive equipment without telling them.
Workers unwittingly handled tonnes of uranium and other deadly radioactive substances used to make atomic weapons. No safety equipment was provided and basic safety measures were only taken after daily radiation exposure levels massively exceeded safe levels.
The companies, the workers and local residents were never told of the potential dangers. And no compensation has been offered.
- THERE was no fuel crisis for some last week.
Anna Diamantoplou, the EU commissioner for social affairs, rolled up to speak at the TUC in Glasgow last week.
She arrived in a Rolls Royce that guzzles petrol at 20 miles to the gallon.
LATIN AMERICA is the world's most dangerous place for trade unionists, according to a new report from the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. At least 90 trade unionists were killed in Latin America in 1999. Jailing and torture of activists is widespread.
There were 69 assassinations in Colombia alone, including the leader of the agricultural workers' union, often by paramilitaries with links to the government.
Killings also took place in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador.
THINGS THEY SAY
"GORDON Brown does what he thinks is right. No amount of pleading, shouting or bullying will sway him."
- THE MIRROR, Saturday 9 September, on the British fuel protests
"IT IS not a sign of weakness to react to strong public feelings. That is democracy."
- THE MIRROR, Wednesday 13 September
"ONLY fools would wish a return to the 70s when militants exhorted concessions from spineless governments."
- THE MAIL, Monday 11 September
"A VERY British blockade. The middle classes turn militant."
- THE MAIL, Wednesday 13 September
"NO government can retain credibility in its economic policy-making were it to give in to such protests. We will not be intimidated."
- TONY BLAIR, Thursday 14 September
"IN the chancellor's article [in the Times] there is exactly what Brynle Williams wants him to say."
- MARGARET BECKETT on the farmers' leader's demands, Tuesday
"THE British police persuaded us to use mounted police because they create a distinct psychological advantage by towering above protesters."
- IVANA ZELENAKOVA, police spokesperson in Prague
"I HAVE not been told and I certainly don't know what the truth is."
- GORDON BROWN on Radio 4 in 1997 denying any knowledge of Formula One owner Bernie Ecclestone's �1 million donation to New Labour
"I LIED. I lied. My credibility will be in shreds."
- GORDON BROWN to Treasury colleagues after the radio interview, according to Observer journalist Andrew Rawnsley