SIMON HUGHES, the Liberal Democrat candidate for London mayor, made a surprise announcement at the Muslim Council for Britain hustings last week. 'I want to bring the troops home immediately,' he said. 'That's the first time I've heard that,' shot back Lindsey German, Respect's mayoral candidate.
As Socialist Worker reported last week, Hughes said, 'I do not think the troops should come home,' when asked at the CND hustings whether he favoured an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.
Perhaps Hughes had seen the error of his ways? Alas not. Only a few minutes later, he reverted to the Lib Dem line, insisting that Britain should 'get out via the UN route'.
Hughes ran into more trouble as the evening wore on. The audience weren't impressed by his convoluted explanations of why the Lib Dems supported the war when it was actually happening.
And his attempts to portray himself as pro-Palestinian were tripped up when Lindsey produced a newspaper interview headlined 'Hughes: I Am A Lover Of Israel'. But Hughes saved the best for last. He defended Charles Kennedy's decision to attend the state banquet held for George W Bush last year, rather than join the protests against the US president.
'Would you have gone to see Sharon?' someone called from the audience. 'Yes,' he replied. 'Shame!' the audience called back.
In this week - 50 years ago - 1954
A CIA-BACKED coup in Guatemala overthrew Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, the country's democratically elected president. Arbenz had started a land reform programme and had nationalised farmland owned by the United Fruit Company of Boston. The US government retaliated by installing General Castillo Armes in power. The military junta launched a reign of terror against the left.
One Arbenz supporter who was politicised by the coup was a young Argentinian doctor called Ernesto 'Che' Guevara.
Clash of civilisations
SPECIAL Branch has opened up a new front in the war on terror. Mike Devine from Bristol plays bass guitar in a Clash tribute group. He sent a text message to the group's singer containing lyrics to the song 'Tommy Gun'.
A month later he was collared at work and questioned by a Special Branch officer brandishing a printout of the message. Eventually the officer confronted Mike with the 'evidence' of terrorist involvement-only to be told they were song lyrics.
Call off the search
Blair is still counting on the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) to find those mysterious weapons of mass destruction. Charles Duelfer, the new head of the ISG, has found the perfect people to speed things up.
He has appointed the US division of British arms manufacturer BAE Systems to recruit a new team of inspectors.
A visit from a bomber
POSTAL WORKERS at Woodford Green sorting office had an unwelcome visitor last week. The Nazi thugs in the BNP are enraged by postal workers refusing to deliver their racist filth in the run-up to the 10 June elections. Leading Nazi Tony Lecomber turned up in Woodford Green to hand out a leaflet attacking leaders of the CWU postal workers' union.
A postal worker from the office told Inside the System, 'Lecomber's presence had the opposite effect to the one he intended. When people saw the leaflet attacking the union they were even more determined not to deliver the BNP's material.'
Workers were particularly surprised to see the leaflet attack Socialist Worker for its 'long record of support for the IRA and its murderous activity'. Lecomber knows a thing or two about murderous activity. He was convicted in 1985 on five counts for offences under the Explosives Act.
In 1991 he was jailed again, for three years, for a ferocious attack on a Jewish schoolteacher. He has a total of 12 convictions.
Mind your language
THE TORIES recently made an unlikely pitch for the moral high ground by claiming to join the struggle against the British National Party. 'Our language on asylum can define a campaign,' they said. ''Illegal immigrants' is a phrase we should avoid using.'
Shame nobody informed David Davis, the party's thuggish shadow home secretary. 'No one has been prepared to say how many illegal immigrants are at large,' he recently thundered in a Tory press release.
The language proceeded to get even more rabid. 'Other countries measure or estimate how many illegals are in their country. Why is it that our government always shies away from these figures?'
ONLY ONE major party is actually prepared to share platforms with the Nazi BNP-the Liberal Democrats. Kathy Pollard, the Eastern Region European candidate for the Lib Dems, spoke on a BBC Radio Suffolk debate last week alongside the BNP's Chris Roberts. The other candidates both pulled out when they heard Roberts had been invited. But Pollard ignored appeals for anti-racist unity.
Figure it out
The additional amount that New Labour have requested from trade unions to fund their next general election campaign. The unions are already set to give £8.06 million next year.
'Anyone out there who shares prime minister Blair's view that the Iraq Survey Group is going to unmask actual weapons of mass destruction is delusional. There is nothing there.'
DAVID KAY chief nuclear weapons inspector who headed up the search for nuclear weapons in Iraq after the war
'Bremer is the dictator of Iraq. He has the money. He has the signature.'
LAKHDAR BRAHIMI UN special envoy to Iraq on the US overlord in Iraq Paul Bremer
'I think we were fooled by the British government. I feel quite cheated. I would like to believe Steve died for a cause. Over the past year I have begun to believe in the case for war less and less.'
SAMANTHA ROBERTS wife of British soldier killed in Iraq
'I cannot abide disloyalty. I want your resignation and I want it now.'
GEORGE BUSH to the former CIA director George Tenet after he challenged Bush in a meeting
'You are the BNP with a smiling face.'
FAIZAN TARIQ student confronts the UKIP's Robert Kilroy-Silk in Nottingham
'The Third Way has nothing to say on the rights and wrongs of war in Iraq.'
PROFESSOR ANTHONY GIDDENS author of The Third Way and New Labour guru