YOU MIGHT not recognise him, but the picture shows education secretary Charles Clarke. Clarke, then president of the National Union of Students, was on the platform of a public meeting of 200 people in 1975.
He had rushed to the defence of 14 people who were on trial for trumped-up charges very similar to the accusations New Labour has thrown at George Galloway.
The 14 were charged with conspiracy to break the Incitement to Disaffection Act. Their ‘crime’ was to distribute leaflets to soldiers calling for the withdrawal of British troops in Ireland. A 31 year old lecturer, Andrew Lloyd, was charged with merely possessing the leaflet.
Lloyd told Preston crown court, ‘All soldiers should be allowed to think for themselves. They should be allowed to join a union. ‘If this is not allowed and they are expected to obey orders without question then what you could end up with is Nazism, fascism, Chilean-style.’
Labour officials have suspended Galloway for urging troops not to fight in the war in Iraq and for accusing Blair and Bush of acting like wolves. Strangely one figure has been missing from the campaign to defend Galloway – the one-time defender of free speech, Charles Clarke.
THE whole political establishment has united in mourning Margaret Thatcher’s husband Denis. He was not a harmless old drunk, but a bigoted, racist reactionary who made a fortune from the oil industry.
He used his money to promote Thatcher’s right wing ideology. They’ll be no tears from workers and all the other victims of Thatcherism.
INSIDE THE System wants to be the first to congratulate east London Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick on his latest post. He has travelled a long road since his days as a militant firefighter back in the 1970s.
In the recent government reshuffle he was given the job of vice chamberlain of the royal household. Fitzpatrick infuriated firefighters by his lack of support for their recent dispute. Now Blair has rewarded him by making him a royal flunky.
THE HOME Office is planning to equip buses with detention cells to interrogate asylum seekers. The buses will be stationed in small towns and will be used as mobile reporting centres for immigration officials.
The Home Office denies the buses will be used to detain asylum seekers. So why have a detention ‘cell’? The first bus will be piloted in a three-month trial starting in August.
RICHARD Branson’s got some cheek. He may have delayed thousands of people travelling on his Virgin trains, but he is suing train maker Alstom for £83 million because they are late delivering trains.
At the same time Branson is to get a £280 million handout from tax payers because the line the trains are meant to run on is not yet ready.
INSIDE THE System last week reported on the scandal of giant drug company Pfizer using children in botched drug trials. Now a new scandal has come to light. Up to 2,000 orphaned and illegitimate children across Northern Ireland children’s homes may have been experimented on by drugs firm Wellcome in the 60s and early 70s.
Children in the homes were used as ‘guinea pigs’ and given experimental vaccinations for rubella, whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus and polio. Wellcome is now a subsidiary of drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline. Already the Laffoy Commission has identified 211 children who took part in three trials. But many more may be involved.
Campaigner Victor Boyhan, who grew up in a home in Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin, said, ‘There are now about 2,000 people who are potentially involved in this. Some show symptoms of liver complaints. They are anxious and wish to have their fears allayed. We went through years when these institutions denied all this. But they’ve now admitted that drug trials did take place. But how did companies like Wellcome gain access to these institutions?’
GEORGE BUSH’S aides have commissioned a new docudrama glamorising and beefing up his handling of the 11 September attacks. It is a desperate attempt to drum up support for him during next year’s presidential elections.
In the docudrama Bush says, ‘If some tin horn terrorist wants me, tell him to come and get me.’ In real life Bush carried on reading to a group of primary school children after he was informed that a plane had smashed into the first tower.
According to the script, leaked to a Canadian newspaper, Bush says, ‘I won’t be seeking a declaration of war. With a shadowy enemy, specificity makes that problematic.’
The drama has several Republican lackeys behind it including conservative producer and writer Lionel Chetwynd and Bush’s chief political strategist, Karl Rove. Rove dreamed up Bush’s Top Gun style landing on an aircraft carrier after the Iraq war ended.
A MAN in Rhodiad, Wales, is due to stand trial for having a ‘harassing’ or ‘distressing’ sticker in his car. The sticker poked fun at George W Bush.
174 million dollars – is the average income of the 400 on the top wages in the US during the year 2000. This is quadruple the $46.8 million average eight years earlier.
‘We will capture or kill them until we have imposed law and order on this country. We dominate the scene and we will continue to impose our will on this country.’
Paul Bremer US overlord in Iraq
‘We clearly made a mistake with this chap.’
Spokesperson for the US in Iraq after US forces arrested Abdul Munim Abud, who the US had appointed as governor of Najaf
‘It is our firm view that Number 10 tried to intimidate the BBC in its reporting of events leading up to the war and during the course of the war itself.’
Richard Sambrook head of BBC News on Alastair Campbell’s accusation that the BBC lied over Tony Blair’s dossiers on the war on Iraq
‘It is no longer fashionable just to be on the left. These days to be really hip, politically groovy, you have to be on the outside left.’
Bill Morris outgoing TGWU union leader
‘The NHS is being distorted by trickery and ruses. The government’s targets cannot be achieved without massaging the figures so that treatment moves away from the patients in most need.’
Dr Ian Bogle chair of the British Medical Association attacking the government’s waiting list targets
The US defence department announced last week that a satellite positioning device had been found in an Afghan cave. They said the equipment was lost in Somalia in 1993. The discovery, they proclaimed, was concrete evidence at last that Bin Laden's Al Qaida network was behind the deaths of 18 US soldiers in the disastrous raid on Mogadishu.