Dated: 29 Mar 2003
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GEORGE BUSH, Tony Blair, Donald Rumsfeld - and their media cheerleaders - said it was a "war crime" when captured US soldiers were shown on Iraqi TV. They talked of the Geneva convention. Bush and Blair are hypocrites. The US has held prisoners of war (PoWs) captured in Afghanistan for more than a year with no rights whatever. They have been held in cages, and subject to torture, at Camp X-Ray - the US base on Cuba.
The global anti-war movement has not weakened since Bush and Blair began their war on Thursday of last week. It has reached an even greater scale. Millions marched, struck and protested last Thursday. And on Saturday millions took to the streets in at least 27 different countries.
THE SIZE of the 500,000-strong anti-war demonstration in London last Saturday astounded everyone. It was the high point after two days of unprecedented protest across Britain. As well as the brilliant, much publicised demonstrations of school students, there were significant walkouts of workers last Thursday. Workers often defied their bosses to protest against the war.
THE SCOTTISH Labour Party conference revolted against the war last week. The rebellion was remarkable coming just weeks before the Scottish Parliament elections. The Scottish Labour Party's top officials had tried desperately to prevent a debate on Iraq.
THE RECALLED conference of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in Brighton on Wednesday of last week overwhelmingly threw out a last minute offer from the employers. In doing so, firefighters stood up to the government and the media. The 241 conference delegates, representing 52,000 union members, also overturned their general secretary, Andy Gilchrist, and the majority of the FBU executive. The executive had recommended accepting the offer. There was loud applause and cheering when it was voted down.
"WE HAVE kept silent for so long, but it doesn't mean we don't have anything to say. This is the right time to fight the battle." That is how Rosa, a domestic worker at Homerton Hospital in east London, expressed the determination of low paid health workers at three NHS trusts to strike to win a living wage.
THOUSANDS OF people who could not get to London last Saturday demonstrated in their own cities. Up to 2,500 protesters blocked roads in the centre of Bristol for the third day running while around 4,000 marched through Manchester. Some 1,000 protesters in Newcastle were physically blocked from marching by the police, and 1,000 demonstrated in Aberystwyth, Wales.
LEE BARON in his letter in last week's Socialist Worker attempts to make an impassioned case that an increase in London weighting is somehow opening the door to regional pay. What he fails to mention is London weighting has existed in the Post Office since 1950. Indeed its introduction allowed the then Union of Postal Workers to bring in national pay bargaining.
COLLEGE LECTURERS in the Natfhe union have accepted an offer recommended by their leadership to settle last year's pay claim. There was a large vote to accept in a postal ballot. Our claim, which was due in August 2002, was for parity with school teachers by 2004.
AN OPEN letter condemning racist hysteria from the media and politicians against refugees will be published as a half-page advert in the Mirror on Tuesday 29 April. This is two days before the May local council elections, where the far right and Tories hope to do well.
GUARDS IN the RMT rail workers' union on ten companies were set to strike for 24 hours on Friday of this week and Monday of next over safety. "It is the first effectively national strike we have had on the guards' side since privatisation," says Alex Holden, a guard and RMT safety rep in Manchester. "The fragmentation of the industry means we have had to have a series of synchronised ballots." The companies are:
DEPUTY PRIME minister John Prescott has thrown down the gauntlet to every trade union by moving to impose a terrible pay offer on 55,000 firefighters and control staff. He announced the introduction of legislation to allow him to do that on Thursday of last week, just hours after bombs started raining on Baghdad. The following day he published the bill in parliament.
A FRIEND of mine was talking to her mother on Sunday. Her mother had always been opposed to her daughter's political activity. My friend was amazed to be congratulated on going on Saturday's demonstration in London. She was even more amazed by what came next when her mother said, "But demonstrations are not enough. People need to do more."
"ONCE OUR boys are fighting, opposition to the war will virtually evaporate." The Blairites, the Tories and the political commentators close to them all agreed on this after the parliamentary debate 10 days ago. A section of the left, believing the media are all-powerful, agreed. How wrong they were.
'We want to minimise the suffering of ordinary Iraqi people. This is a war not of conquest but liberation' Blair, 24 March
A FANATICAL group of men in and around the White House use the 11 September attacks to launch a war they have wanted for over a decade. Conquering Iraq is merely one step in their plan for ongoing military operations against other states, leaving the world in awe of US power. The aim? Global domination. France, Germany, Russia, China and other major states are all to come under the thumb of the US state and the interests of its multinationals.
MANY PEOPLE have been shocked and outraged that it is a Labour government which has cravenly supported George Bush and launched a bloody attack against Iraq. Throughout its history, many ordinary members of the Labour Party have been committed to peace. But at every key moment the party leadership has supported imperialism and war.
'WE ARE coming as liberators not as conquerors," proclaim Bush, Blair and their generals. It is an appeal Iraqis have heard before. In 1914 British forces first landed in what is now Iraq. They too talked of liberation. They too ruthlessly pursued their own imperial interests.
TONY BLAIR constantly claims he was right to fight the war in Kosovo alongside the US in 1999. The aim, he said, was to stop Serbian ruler Slobodan Milosevic from carrying out ethnic cleansing against the Albanian majority in Kosovo. But the bombardment of Kosovo and Serbia by the NATO military alliance made things much worse.
IF YOU were reading the Daily Express last Saturday (and I realise that's unlikely) you would have come very quickly to the conclusion that this war was going to be a pushover.
ANTI-IMPERIALISM: A Guide for the Movement (Bookmarks, £10) is a new book which critically analyses key aspects of imperialism. It begins with an excellent introduction from Tariq Ali and continues with articles on oil and imperialism, racism, nuclear weapons, civil liberties and much more.
"I'm not fighting for Saddam, I'm fighting for Iraq." Those were the words of Nasr Al Hussein, a former Iraqi special forces parachutist, on Monday. He was one of hundreds of Iraqi exiles in Jordan queuing to board coaches to take them back across the border to Iraq so they can fight US and British forces.
I AM a Labour Party member in the West Midlands who on several occasions met local MP Clare Short. I feel ashamed to have shaken her hand after last week. Within the party we were circulated her disgusting note trying to justify her betrayal-although from the language employed I very much doubt that she wrote it.
THE STATE is rounding up innocent people and imprisoning them because of their ethnic background. That sounds like a description of a repressive regime the US would be eager to "liberate". Except it is happening in the US. Everyone from an Arab or Muslim country who asks for asylum in the US is thrown into prison.