Socialist Worker

Where you can't say 'Stephen Lawrence'

Issue No. 1854

THE MILD-mannered former head of the Commission for Racial Equality, Lord Ouseley, let rip at the government at a race relations conference last month. He recalled that a government minister had told him the previous week, 'Do you know most MPs never meet black people outside Westminster?'

Ouseley continued, 'Now we've got David Blunkett calling the shots. His task is to rein in any radical anti-racist strategy by pushing down or removing the name of Stephen Lawrence from the agenda.' He said a top police officer admitted that Stephen Lawrence was never mentioned in meetings he had with Home Office ministers or officials.

Ouseley said plans to improve 'community cohesion' after the disturbances in Bradford, Burnley and Oldham two years ago were 'already in the slow lane, on the way out. It's not a government high priority any more - they have moved on.' He said, 'We have a ton of race equality policies, what we haven't got is enforcement. Most employers and public bodies know whatever they do or don't do, no one is likely to find out.'

And he recounted a meeting with Jack Straw, when he was home secretary. In answer to complaints about a torrent of anti-asylum stories Straw said, 'It's a free press.'

When asked why the government did not rebut them as it did when anti-government stories appeared, Straw just shrugged his shoulders.

In the Frame - No. 13 Rebekah Wade

THE SUN editor has the same attitude to truth as her friend Blair. She headed the News of the World, which paid £10,000 to entice five asylum seekers into a 'plot' to kidnap footballer David Beckham's family in November last year.

The case against the five, in jail for the past six months, was thrown out of court this week.

It's all bill and no rights

THE US Supreme Court has ruled that police interrogation bordering on torture without the suspect knowing their rights does not violate the constitution. The ruling is on the case of a gravely wounded man interrogated by police while he was in a hospital bed screaming with pain.

Perhaps now it will be OK for the Guantanamo Bay prisoners to be afforded the glorious protection of the US constitution.

Don't talk to us, we're British

THERE ARE to be only three compulsory subjects for post-14 education under new government plans. Two will be English and maths. But what of the third? A foreign language, perhaps, in this increasingly globalised world. No. It's 'work and enterprise'.

The walls do have ears

MORE SIGNS of collapsing morale at Rupert Murdoch's Sunday Times. Management plans to install CCTV cameras in the newsroom. The move is supposedly in response to a series of thefts. But most of those are at night.

Journalists are worried about why the cameras will be on all day and are rumoured to include microphones for recording conversations. Staff point out that a simpler way to deal with thefts would be to give them drawers and cupboards that can be locked.

Galloway in his sights

ARMED FORCES minister Adam Ingram has not just been caught out over the illegal use of cluster bombs (see page 2). He also has a star role in New Labour's crusade against anti-war MP George Galloway.

Galloway is suspended from the Labour Party for supposedly bringing it into disrepute through anti-war comments he made in two interviews. One was an obscure broadcast on Abu Dhabi television, which mysteriously managed to receive huge prominence in Britain. Not much of a mystery, according to a source which is far from friendly to Galloway.

Adam Ingram was overheard at a Soho restaurant calling a journalist on the Scottish Daily Record to offer a transcript of the Abu Dhabi interview. The Record turned it down, so Ingram's next stop was the Sun, which published excerpts under the headline 'Traitor'.

To recap - a government minister provides government supplied information to a tabloid (owned by a friend of the prime minister) to launch a witch-hunting story, and the person who has been suspended from the Labour Party is the victim of that plot.

The Sun's crusade...

GEORGE GALLOWAY may also face a private prosecution under the 1924 Treason Act. The man deciding whether it should go ahead is attorney general Lord Goldsmith. He is one of the few 'experts' to say the war was legal, and kept shtumm about his doubts over the illegality of the subsequent occupation. Who's funding the private prosecution? The Sun, of course.

...and more war lies

IT WAS a sign of how devastatingly precise US and British forces would be. The war began with a 'pinpoint' attack on Saddam Hussein's hideaway. Remember the headlines? 'Extremely reliable' intelligence that had to be acted on in minutes. Saddam Hussein possibly dead, or at least seriously wounded.

Seven weeks after the war, troops have found no sign of human remains at the site hit on the first night or even a bunker. 'We looked real hard,' pleads Colonel Tim Madere, 'We didn't find any bodies or bunkers.'

Figure it out

80 million - The amount of taxpayers' money the government could have saved if it had nationalised Railtrack, rather than turning it into a new company, Network Rail.

Who says?

'Tony Blair reminds me of the late Robert Maxwell, the tycoon publisher. I knew Mr Maxwell for many years before I realised that he had quite a different attitude to truth and falsehood than the rest of us.'
Andreas Whittam Smith, former Independent editor

'It would not be surprising if the parents and families of those who died in Iraq are now asking themselves whether lives had been sacrificed on a false justification.'
Sir Peter De La Billiere, commander of British forces during the first Gulf War

'Some of us, who accepted public and private Whitehall assurances about weapons of mass destruction, today feel rather silly.'
Max Hastings, former Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard editor

'The first hospitals to be built by private enterprise would have been better value for money if they had been financed by the public sector.'
Stephen Byers, former New Labour cabinet minister

'Labour risks falling into the same trap as the pigs in Animal Farm, turning into a party of technocrats and managers.'
Patricia Hewitt, New Labour trade and industry secretary

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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 7 Jun 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1854
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