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Issue: 1846

Dated: 12 Apr 2003

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Call This Liberation?

International Comment Features Reviews What We Think Other


Slaughter of the civilians

THE DEAD and dying overwhelmed hospitals in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities as US forces bombed and blasted their way into civilian areas. The pictures don't make it to the BBC and Western news channels. The descriptions are buried in acres of triumphalist media coverage of US advances. But the cluster bombs, artillery barrages and tank attacks have shredded the lives of thousands of Iraqi people.

What the US has in store for Iraq

BUSH AND Blair say their war will bring liberation to the Iraqi people. The death and destruction they have brought to Iraq shows what a hollow claim this is. But people who once questioned the war, like New Labour's Mo Mowlam, say they now support it, arguing the situation in Iraq can't get any worse. Both of these claims are wrong. And the US plans for a post war Iraq show precisely why.

Your reports on anti-war protests

SOME 120 students at City and Islington College, north London, turned up to the Camden Road site to hear a dance, rap and song performance for peace last week. The programme ranged from rap to a recital of Harold Pinter's "New World Order" and a performance of a song by Bertolt Brecht.


CONNEX SOUTH East has imposed new rosters that threaten 90 guards' jobs. The move shows just what is behind the refusal of Connex and a dozen other train operating companies to agree to restore the safety role of guards. That safety dispute led to a strike by 3,000 guards in the RMT union last week. A further 24-hour strike is planned for next Thursday.

Thousands of BT workers to strike

UP TO 14,000 BT workers are set to strike for 24 hours on Monday. The action is the first in a series of stoppages called by the workers' CWU union in a fight to stop a divisive new pay and bonus scheme. Those involved in the action are engineers and control staff doing work for BT's residential customers.

Nursery nurses

SOME 140 nursery nurses who are members of Unison in Kirklees schools struck last Friday. The action is in support of a pay regrading claim. The strikers got support from parents, colleagues and members of the public. A local radio station could find no parents willing to criticise the nursery nurses at one of the biggest schools affected.


ACTIVISTS IN the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) met in Birmingham on Wednesday of this week to prepare for a planned recalled conference next Tuesday. But the FBU executive was to meet later this week to consider calling off the conference and seeking yet more tiny changes to the terrible deal the employers have offered.

Unison elections

"THE UNION needs change from the top down. I want to be there arguing for socialist politics and action at all levels of the union," says Glasgow health worker Margaret Bean.

Evian demos can wash the G8 down

PLANS ARE being finalised for a week of protests at the G8 world rulers summit set for the French town of Evian at the end of May and beginning of June. The key demonstration will be on Sunday 1 June, but protests, actions and counter-conferences will take place from Wednesday 27 May through to the end of the summit on Wednesday 3 June.

Defend Council Housing

COUNCIL TENANTS in Nuneaton and Bedworth have voted decisively to reject plans to privatise their homes. The Labour council wanted to privatise over 7,000 homes. But in a ballot with a 70 percent turnout 60 percent of tenants rejected the plan.

Focus on war, pay and BBC

PAY BATTLES and the mass movement against the war on Iraq shone through the NUJ journalists' union conference held in Llandudno, North Wales, last week. The conference was the largest the union has held for years. Strikes against low pay at around 20 local and national newspapers over the last year and scores of union recognition victories resulted in more branches electing delegates.


THE OPEN statement condemning racist hysteria in the media about asylum seekers received a massive boost this week when more than 140 delegates to the National Union of Journalists annual conference backed it unanimously.


OVER 4,000 workers who deliver cash to the bulk of the "hole in the wall" cash points across Britain are to walk out on strike next week. The workers, employed by Securicor, voted by 82 percent for a strike in a ballot organised by their GMB trade union.


UNIVERSITIES, colleges and schools have seen a powerful anti-war movement over recent months. Thousands of students have demonstrated against war, occupied their universities, walked out and attended anti-war rallies and debates.

United against a two-tier NHS

GOVERNMENT "MODERNISATION" plans for the NHS came under attack this week from workers gathered at the health conference of the biggest NHS union, Unison. The whole of the conference united against the government's plan for foundation hospitals.



War can't hide these problems

THIS WEEK'S budget isn't notable only for Gordon Brown's willingness to squander billions on the conquest of Iraq. It comes against the background of increased difficulties for both the US and British economies. The situation is worse in the US. Last week figures were released that showed that the number of jobs outside agriculture fell by 108,000 in March. This is the fifth fall in the past seven months, including a huge drop of 357,000 jobs in February.

Cashing in on the movement?

THE ANTI-WAR movement is sending the advertising hacks into a spin. Canny corporations see the anti-war and anti-capitalist movements as new marketing tools to get to young people. How they connect into these movements takes many different forms. Corporations like Nike with its "Just do it" theme or FCUK with its anti-establishment stance are playing on relatively safe ground. Meanwhile Qibla and Mecca Cola are trying to take a small bite out of Coca-Cola and Pepsi's markets by plugging themselves as an ethical alternative to these global giants.


The movement that is changing politics

THE BBC's political editor, Andrew Marr, last week tried to claim that the anti-war movement had melted away. His "proof" was that the day before war started thousands of protesters filled Parliament Square but a few days later the square was empty. What he didn't mention was that no demo had been called for that day! A meeting of Socialist Workers Party members last Sunday discussed building the anti-war movement.

What the cash spent on bombs could buy

FOR THE next nine months, every penny of the money which the government is taking from workers in extra national insurance will go to pay for the war on Iraq. That's if the war "only" costs the £3.5 billion that chancellor Gordon Brown has already set aside.

How Israel helps US keep its grip

ISRAEL IS heavily involved in Bush and Blair's war on Iraq. Top White House hawks like Richard Perle identify strongly with Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and his hard right Likud Party. Perle and other White House hawks want to reshape the Middle East to fit Israel's interests.

The Bush gang's domestic assault

GEORGE BUSH and the gang who run the White House are waging a second war - at home on the majority of ordinary Americans. The names of those behind that war are the same as those ordering the bombers to pound Iraq. They include US government figures like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, right wing thinkers like William Kristol, and wealthy, corporate-backed groups they are linked to like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

What causes wars?

THE INVASION of Iraq is the third time in only six years that Tony Blair has sent British armed forces to war alongside the United States. Before Iraq were the wars in Afghanistan and the Balkans. And before those many can remember two more wars in which British forces have fought - the 1991 Gulf War and the 1982 Falklands War.

Taking the war to the ballot box on 1 May

SCOTTISH VOTERS will go to the polls on 1 May against the background of widespread opposition to the war and deep bitterness against New Labour's failure to help working people. Both factors are boosting the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP). The SSP's manifesto, launched last week, contains a clear denunciation of the war. "This is a war for control over the Middle East and its resources by American big business interests," it says.

Strand of movement

IN ENGLAND the Socialist Alliance is providing an alternative for all those who can no longer stomach voting for Blair's Labour Party. Over 160 Socialist Alliance Against the War candidates are standing in the local council elections. They are also campaigning against privatisation, student tuition fees and the witch-hunt of asylum seekers.

Creating atmosphere against the Nazi BNP

"WE ARE going to keep up our campaigning against the Nazis and continue hounding them whenever they show their face," says Mary Black from Burnley in Lancashire. "The BNP managed to get three councillors in Burnley in last year's elections. But large numbers of people were always against the BNP. Now the anti-Nazis are growing in confidence. We will be harnessing that to oppose the Nazis standing in the elections."


Fog of words

MEDIA REPORTS have repeated phrases from the US and British governments designed to con us into thinking this is a "humanitarian" war. But they don't want to admit the murky origins of some of those phrases. Obliterating Iraq is really about "fighting the battle for the hearts and minds of Iraqi people", we are told. Both the British and the US are well used to saying this about their dirty wars of occupation.

In flames

The last night London burned George Binette, £5

A journey of hope

In this world Michael Winterbottom

What We Think

US Empire brings death and chaos

The US has unleashed on Iraq the greatest military machine the world has ever seen. It recalls the colonial wars of 100 years ago. Bush, Blair and their media cheerleaders began to hail victory as US tanks entered Baghdad on Monday. Occupation, not liberation, is the reality facing Iraq. The Ba'athist regime of Saddam Hussein has inflicted horror on the Iraqi people. For much of the time it was backed to the hilt by those now waging war against Iraq.

Other Categories

John Chase

IT IS with sadness that we record the death of John Chase after a long illness. John was a socialist and Labour Party member of the 1945 generation who fought all his life for peace and against imperialism. He would have been disgusted at the vermin in charge, so intent on recolonising the Middle East.

The real benefits rip-off

LAST WEEK it was revealed that nearly £5 billion in means tested benefits are not claimed every year. As a benefits worker, I see it first hand. People who desperately need extra cash don't claim the benefits they are entitled to because the system is so complicated and the rules are constantly changed.

Getting by with a little help from their friends

PAUL DRAYSON, the donor to the Labour Party who has done so well out of government contracts, has been lucky again. He admitted to a Commons committee last week that he won the contract to supply millions of doses of smallpox jabs even though his vaccines are no better than those of a rival.

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