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Socialist Worker


Issue: 1847

Dated: 19 Apr 2003



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They create a wilderness… and they call it peace


International Comment Features Reviews What We Think Other

News

Blair faces a revolt on the home front over Foundation hospitals, tuition fees and schools crisis..

Any gloating over the occupation of Iraq does not look set to last long as Tony Blair pushes ahead with his massively unpopular privatising agenda. Blair could be facing bigger parliamentary revolts by Labour MPs than he did over the war.

News in brief

Safety lapses of rail crash firm

Sharon's 100 obstacles to peace

Tony Blair tried to get backing for the war on Iraq by claiming that it would bring peace to the Middle East. But Bush and Blair's "road map to peace" for Israel and Palestine is a con. It is overwhelmingly weighted in favour of Israel, the US's watchdog state in the Middle East.

'We've got to hit companies hard'

GUARDS ON three more train operating companies have voted to join the campaign of strike action by the RMT union to defend safety. That brought the total number of companies involved in a strike called for Thursday of this week to 12. Delegates to the RMT's train grades conference in Manchester last week applauded news of the three latest ballot results and discussed the importance of the whole dispute.

'Biggest meeting for a decade'

THOSE commentators who like to claim the anti-war movement is dead, or only involves the "Hampstead middle classes", should have been in Liverpool on Tuesday last week. Some 900 people from all walks of life heard George Galloway MP and John Rees speak at a rally organised by the Merseyside Stop the War Coalition. It was easily the biggest political meeting in Liverpool for a decade and nearly filled the massive St George's Hall.

Journalists

SOME 91.5 percent of NUJ members at Newsquest Bradford voted last week for more strikes. That is an even bigger majority than when they first balloted. Strikes are now planned between Wednesday of next week and Sunday 27 April. Twenty seven MPs have signed an Early Day Motion, a parliamentary petition, calling on the US-owned newspaper publisher Gannett, which owns Newsquest, to make a realistic pay offer to journalists.

BT

A STRIKE planned by thousands of BT engineers was called off last week after the employers won a high court injunction. Bosses claimed that the workers' CWU union had failed to give the necessary notice required under the anti-union laws.

PCS

ACTIVISTS IN the PCS civil servants' union are gearing up for elections to its national executive. The Left Unity group is standing on a united slate with other groups against the misnamed "Moderate" group who have dominated the union for years.

A pay rebellion at 'Crapillion'

"THIS IS a historic day for us," said Unison union steward Joe Kaperas he stood on a picket line outside Scunthorpe General Hospital on Friday of last week. Around 400 porters, domestics and caterers at Scunthorpe, Goole and Grimsby hospitals were on the first of a series of one-day strikes. They are also refusing to work overtime.

Regional pay

CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown announced in his budget that he wants to move towards regional pay deals for public sector workers - a move which could smash up national pay agreements. He said, "In future, remits for pay review bodies and for public sector workers will include a stronger local and regional dimension."

Strikers resolved to win

SOME 140 nursery nurses in the Unison union in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, struck on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week. The action is in support of a regrading claim. The strikers got support from parents, colleagues and members of the public.

Longbridge

THOUSANDS OF workers at the Longbridge MG Rover car plant in Birmingham rejected a measly 2.2 percent pay offer and voted overwhelmingly for industrial action this week. TGWU union members voted three to one for industrial action and three to two for strike action.

FBU leaders' retreat risks total defeat

THE NEW Labour government hopes to stick the boot into firefighters and control room staff following the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) conference on Tuesday of this week. Union leaders drove a terrible, demoralising retreat through the conference. The offensive and vibrant pay campaign of last year has become a scramble to stave off capitulation to the employers and the government.

Act now against Nazi election bid

ANTI-NAZI campaigners in Britain have issued an urgent call - take to the streets against the Nazi British National Party (BNP). The BNP is standing a record number of candidates across 219 wards in the 1 May elections. They hope to feed off people's bitterness with the mainstream parties. The BNP's politics of racism and scapegoating have been fuelled by press and politicians' hysteria against asylum seekers.


International


Comment

Division at the heart of system

THERE WERE two major summit meetings last week. The first, highly publicised here, was the meeting of George W Bush and Tony Blair in Northern Ireland. The other brought together the French and Russian presidents - Jacques Chirac and Vladimir Putin - with the German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, in St Petersburg, Russia.

Images and anger will not fade away

"WE WILL export death and violence to the four corners of the earth in defence of our great nation." These chilling words were spoken by George Bush a few months ago to a US journalist. They put the invasion of Iraq into sharp focus. It wasn't just about revenge for 11 September, though Bush was determined to lash out at an Arab nation - somewhere, anywhere - in order to gain revenge for that dreadful act.


Features

US occupation has not brought freedom to Iraq

HOW QUICKLY the image of a "liberated" Iraq fell apart last week. Within two days of the US entering Baghdad there was chaos, looting and continued fighting. The media has talked about "rampaging mobs" as if Iraqis are a naturally "uncivilised" people who don't know how to live in peace. But the chaos is a direct result of the war the US has waged on Iraq.

A bloody road that leads from Derry in 1972 to Basra today

OFFICIALS AT the Bloody Sunday inquiry in London weren't certain until the last minute that General Michael Jackson would give evidence as scheduled on 7 April. He's the man in overall command of British forces in Iraq, and so had other compelling commitments.

Hans Blix and Iraq's missing weapons

THE UN weapons inspector Hans Blix now believes the war on Iraq was "planned well in advance" of his inspectors' last visit to Iraq. He says, "You ask yourself a lot of questions when you see the things they did to try to show that the Iraqis had nuclear weapons programmes, like the fake contract with Niger."

The biggest looters arrive in Iraq

The real looters are now arriving in Iraq. They do not want to grab a TV or a computer – nothing so trivial. They are after great chunks of the economy. Oil is top of the list. The US defence department is setting up an advisory board to run Iraq's oil industry.

Is the US now unstoppable?

THE WARMONGERS in the White House feel flushed with success. The most hardline are already threatening to extend the slaughter they have inflicted on the people of Iraq to other states on George Bush's "axis of evil". They always said toppling Saddam Hussein was a stepping stone in a permanent "war on terror".

'Our worst fears over war have come true'

"ON ONE side was the richest country in the world, with the most powerful arsenal assembled in human history. On the other side was an impoverished Third World country that didn't even have control of its own air space. There was never any doubt who would win. Now there is an armed staging post where once there was a sovereign country.

Egyptian anti-war activists: 'For the first time we feel we're not alone'

Hamdeen Sabahy

Stephen Lawrence: the shocking case that lifted the lid on racism

When Doreen Lawrence asserted that no police officer had tended her dying son because they didn't want to get "black" blood on their hands, the reverberations shook British society. Stephen Lawrence's stabbing in April 1993 followed a series of other murders and racist attacks in south east London, where the Nazi British National Party (BNP) had opened its headquarters.


Reviews

Antidotes to propaganda

THE NEXT time you find yourself shouting at the lies and propaganda on our TV screens, why not give yourself a break and get out one of the excellent videos currently available?


What We Think

'Victory' that will breed discontent

MILLIONS OF people across the world marched last weekend against the US occupation of Iraq. The chaos in Baghdad and US companies crawling over the bodies of the dead to get their hands on lucrative reconstruction contracts confirmed what this war was really about.


Other Categories

Blair should be worried

EAST OXFORD's Labour MP, Andrew Smith, is a senior foreign office minister who sits in the cabinet. There have been angry anti-war demonstrations each time Smith has held his constituency surgery in Oxford. Many people in the Labour Party are angry with Smith because of his support for the war.

Imperialism

"THE internationalisation of economic life makes it necessary to settle controversies by fire and sword." That was how the revolutionary Nikolai Bukharin, writing in 1915, described the link between and the economic system and war. He was analysing imperialism, a word that has rightly been used to describe the US war against Iraq. Imperialism is not just a term of abuse or a description of empires.

The 'ricin' which cleans your clothes

REMEMBER THE headlines when in January Spanish police arrested 16 North Africans who lived in Barcelona and Girona? "Major Al Qaida Attack Foiled" trumpeted the BBC. Tabloid papers ran lurid tales and the Guardian declared that "the group was poised to launch bomb attacks in Europe".



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