Dated: 22 Mar 2003
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National demo this Saturday
THE US and Britain have lied and stamped on every attempt at diplomacy to ensure their brutal war on Iraq goes ahead. George Bush and Tony Blair tried to pose as peacemakers who were foiled at the United Nations (UN). Foreign secretary Jack Straw resorted to blaming the French government for a war on Iraq.
THE BRITISH press tried to claim last week that the French government was responsible for war on Iraq. It said that France's opposition to immediate war meant that it was part of an isolated minority.
Over 1,500 delegates packed into an inspiring "People's Assembly for Peace" in Westminster Central Hall last week. It centred around unprecedented demands about what to do when the war starts. Delegates called for a campaign of mass civil disobedience, strikes and direct action to stop the war.
THERE WERE a number of local anti-war demonstrations last weekend.
WORKERS AT 34 BT call centres were to stage protests on Thursday of this week over the company's plans to axe 2,200 jobs and transfer work to India. The battle goes to the heart of debates over capitalist globalisation. Some commentators have argued that opposing BT's plans will hit Indian workers, and so is based on a narrow nationalist outlook. The workers' CWU union has rightly rejected this argument.
STEEL WORKERS at Corus plants across Britain were waiting anxiously at the start of this week to find out if their jobs were for the chop. The Anglo-Dutch company Corus had told its workforce that up to 4,000 jobs would go as part of a "restructuring package" to boost profits.
A FULL-scale rebellion came closer at the English National Opera last week. The head of music, Tony Legge, quit his job as part of a growing revolt over management plans to cut staff. Musicians have been told they face cuts just weeks after the ENO chorus went on strike against the axing of one third of their jobs. The chorus plan a second strike on 3 April.
AROUND 30,000 postal workers in London begin a consultative ballot on 31 March for action over the London weighting allowance. The region is acting because the national union has refused to launch the campaign. MARK DOLAN, a north London branch official, explains why CWU members should vote yes for action.
This year's women's TUC conference in Liverpool was the angriest I have attended. Throughout the conference, opposition to government policies on issues such as equality legislation, pensions, privatisation and the firefighters' dispute was linked again and again to the senseless waste of lives and resources in a war.
BBC STAFF fighting for the reinstatement of journalists Adli Hawwari and Abdul Hadi Jiad have stepped up their campaign. World Service bosses sacked the journalists on 19 February in an attempt to silence two outspoken critics of BBC management. Adli and Abdul Hadi have played a leading role in campaigning against racism and bullying in the BBC.
GUARDS IN the RMT union on ten companies are to strike for 24 hours on Friday 28 March, Monday 31 March and Thursday 17 April after talks failed to secure their safety role.
THE COMMITTEE to Defend Asylum Seekers is raising £10,000 to publish its open letter condemning racist hysteria toward asylum seekers. The CDAS plans to publicise the letter at the end of April during the May election campaign.
THE TORIES and the government are using the cover of war to launch an attack on the firefighters which threatens the freedom of every worker in Britain. Tory defence spokesperson Bernard Jenkins, government ministers and the media are attempting to witch-hunt the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
SOME IN the anti-war movement argue that once war starts it would be better for it to be over quickly, with the US and Britain winning with the minimum of fighting. That is an understandable reaction, motivated by wanting to see the least loss of life in the immediate conflict. It is, however, mistaken.
MANY YEARS ago when the benefits of parliamentary democracy were shared by very few of the world's population, the Russian revolutionary Lenin pointed to a fundamental problem. He argued that "hidden beneath the polished exterior of modern democracy are deceit, violence, corruption, mendacity, hypocrisy and oppression of the poor". Tony Blair's New Labour has managed to illustrate each one of them in six short years. One measure of the outcome is the declining number of people who vote in elections.
'I WAS in the Labour Party for 30 years, from 1970 onwards. I was active in every by-election, council election and general election. I began to get disillusioned with Labour in their first term. There is a long list of reasons-trade union rights, the paucity of the minimum wage, PFI, student grants, the treatment of asylum seekers and, of course, education.
IF WAR did not dominate the media headlines something nearly as frightening would - fear of economic slump. This is despite chancellor Gordon Brown's repeated boast that his pro-business measures meant there could be no return to "boom and bust".
MRS EXECUTIONER Bush decided to give her husband a break from organising mass murder by having a nice poetry reading at the White House two weeks ago. Sadly for her, every single one of the poets she invited refused to attend in protest at Bush's war madness.
BUSH AND Blair have signalled the start of mass murder in Iraq. They are prepared to turn Iraq into a wasteland of blasted bodies, shattered minds, mangled corpses and weeping children. This war has always been wrong. It remains so now. It does not become better or "moral" or worthy of anyone's support because the missiles are launched and British soldiers are sent into battle.
IT IS with immense sorrow that we record the death of Norma Wilson, for many years a full-time organiser for CND in Manchester. Norma died after a long, courageous and cheerful battle against cancer. Many readers will have heard Norma speak at Marxism.
THE FINANCIAL Times carried a report on Wednesday of last week that David Blunkett is trying to reduce the number of people from Iraq who are granted asylum in Britain. Apparently Iraqis make up the largest group requesting asylum. This is hardly surprising given the present situation.
IS TRUTH at the Rupert Murdoch owned Times Education Supplement (TES) the first casualty of war? That's the question being asked by parents at New River Green nursery in Islington, London.