Dated: 15 Mar 2003
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THE most scaremongering excuse for war has turned out to be the biggest lie the US and British governments have yet cooked up. They claimed Iraq was on the brink of developing nuclear weapons. That accusation was a central part of the "dossier" Tony Blair published on 24 September last year.
CRISIS IS gripping the Labour Party as Blair drives towards war. Cabinet minister Clare Short attacked the prime minister as "reckless", and threatened to resign if Blair went to war without United Nations backing. In ordinary times that would be enough for instant sacking from her cabinet job. Yet as Socialist Worker went to press Blair had not dared move against his Overseas Development Secretary.
JAILED EGYPTIAN anti-war activists have been freed. Most had been held in jail since an anti-war demonstration in the capital, Cairo, in January. Some, like Kemal Khalil, a leader of Egypt's anti-war movement, had been kidnapped by undercover police. All had been held without charge.
A SERIES of disputes have broken out as employers, including at BAE Systems, Peugeot and the Birmingham Evening Mail, try to make workers pay more for their pensions. Management threaten that unless workers accept pay cuts then pension "final salary" schemes - which offer improved benefits - will be ditched.
THE CIVIL servants' PCS union launched a major campaign last Saturday to end low pay in the service. Over a quarter of civil servants earn less than £13,250 a year.
SCHOOL SUPPORT staff protested outside East Ham town hall on Wednesday of last week. This was part of a week-long strike involving selected groups of local council staff in 17 London boroughs. The action was part of the long-running fight to win an increase to £4,000 in the London weighting allowance many workers get for the extra costs of living and working in the capital.
HEALTH WORKERS in the Unison union employed by private contractors across east London are stepping up their fight for decent pay and conditions. Domestic workers, caterers and porters at Homerton and Whipps Cross hospitals have rejected an offer from ISS Mediclean.
HUNDREDS OF people have so far signed the Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers (CDAS) open letter condemning racist hysteria in the press and politicians who encourage it. The signatories include Tony Benn, MPs Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, Labour Party NEC member Christine Shawcroft and Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui of the Muslim Parliament.
THE CAMPAIGN to elect the next general secretary of the TGWU union upped tempo last weekend. Barry Camfield launched his campaign to replace Bill Morris at a 180-strong rally in London.
ANTI-NAZI activists canvassed homes in Beeston in Leeds following the firebombing of an Anti Nazi League member's car last week. The Nazi BNP thinks it can win a council seat in Beeston. Most people were disgusted with the actions of the Nazis and very happy to sign our petition. Mick Dear
WORKERS AT the BBC are fighting against the sacking of journalists Adli Hawwari and Adbul Hadi Jiad from the World Service. The journalists are Iraqi and Palestinian. Around 60 reps from the journalists' NUJ union met in London last week. They voted unanimously to condemn the management's dismissal of the two workers and to call for action.
WORKERS AT the giant Peugeot car plant in Coventry suspended a 24-hour strike due to take place on Friday 7 March. The 3,500 workers, who are in the TGWU union, rejected a pay offer which involved increased pension contributions.
GUARDS AND conductors on 12 rail lines could call strikes next week after a two to one vote for action. The dispute to restore the safety role of guards goes right to the heart of the way privatisation has sacrificed safety, services and passengers in the interests of the rail conglomerates.
THE FIRE dispute is back on after four weeks of talks produced the worst offer yet from the employers and the government. There is pressure from firefighters for more strikes. There are also threats from deputy prime minister John Prescott to use Tory anti-union laws and the cover of war to ban action.
THE GLOBAL movement against war on Iraq continues to go from strength to strength. In Britain it is tearing New Labour apart. But there are people who are asking, "What can it achieve? Bush is going to go to war anyway, whatever anyone else thinks." The argument is mistaken on a number of counts. First, despite Bush's bluster, key sections of the US ruling class are worried about going to war without some cover from other governments.
MUSICALS, WESTERNS and good old fashioned love stories dominated Hollywood films of the 1950s. On the surface many of those films appear to be politically innocent. But beneath the surface, and using only the subtlest of references, a moral, sexual, ideological and political battle took place.
SCHOOL students across Britain walked out of their schools in protest against the war on Wednesday of last week. They showed that far from being apathetic, they are principled, dynamic and determined to make a difference.
GEORGE BUSH is determined to launch a murderous war on Iraq and Tony Blair is backing him all the way. The bribery and arm twisting at the United Nations is about whether they will go it alone, or get the figleaf of UN backing for their war.
IN THE space of 42 days, beginning on 16 January 1991, US-led forces flew 110,000 sorties, dropping 140,000 tons of explosives. That is equivalent to seven of the atomic bombs dropped on the city of Hiroshima in the dying days of the Second World War.
DURING THE Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s thousands of trade unionists in Australia showed how workers can halt the war machine. The right wing Australian government backed the US intervention in Vietnam. It sent military advisors to Vietnam in 1962 and conscripted 20 percent of Australia's 20 year old men.
"YOU MAY be unhappy with Tony Blair's international polices, but look at New Labour's achievements on the domestic front." That's the message coming from some of Blair's ministers and supporters. But Blair's Tory policies at home are creating hardship and misery for millions of people.
THE FIFTIETH anniversary of Stalin's death has given the press a new opportunity to misrepresent the real socialist tradition. The Financial Times published a piece by Robert Conquest - friend of Margaret Thatcher - claiming that "it is 35 years since Conquest's book The Great Terror revealed the full depth of Stalin's crimes to the world".
"NO WAR! Blair out!" was the chant as thousands of protesters converged on Manchester city centre from three separate starting points on Saturday of last week. Some 15,000 people defied appalling weather to join the protests, which coincided with International Women's Day.
ONE IMPORTANT product of the worldwide anti-capitalist movement is that information is available as never before about events thousands of miles away. A new video, Un altro modo e' posibile...in Venezuela (Venezuela, another way is possible), is an excellent example of this.
BUSH AND Blair threatened war on Iraq within days as Socialist Worker went to press. Tony Blair cannot miss the scale of opposition to war. He saw two million march in London, he watched 122 Labour MPs rebel, he knows that this is the greatest crisis inside the Labour Party for over 70 years. Any lingering belief that he still had the majority with him must have been dispelled on Monday night.
IF YOU believed the Daily Mail you would think there is a witch-hunt against middle class students being rejected by top universities simply because they are middle class. "Felicity had ten A grade GCSEs and three A grade A-levels. So why was she rejected by Bristol University?" screamed the front page of one edition.
CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown and home secretary David Blunkett last week competed to fawn over a newspaper editor who has been in the frontline of whipping up anti-refugee feeling. The New Labour duo appeared at the Media Society awards in London's plush Savoy Hotel last week.