Dated: 26 Jul 2003
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In all the flurry of little lies we need to concentrate on the main question. Did the government, in particular the prime minister, the foreign secretary and the defence secretary, deceive the people in the run-up to the war?
Tens of thousands of protesters marched against the US occupation of Iraq in Najaf last weekend. They chanted slogans such as "No Americans after today", "No to America. No to colonialism" and "Down with the invaders".
"TELL DONALD Rumsfeld the 2nd Brigade is stuck in Fallujah, and we're very angry," Sergeant Siphon Pahn told a major US news programme last week, in an extraordinary scene. Anger boiled over when the troops learnt they were staying in Iraq indefinitely after being told they would be home by September. The outburst gave a glimpse of the bitterness building up among US troops serving in Iraq.
TONY BLAIR won rare approval in the headlines last week when he apparently persuaded George Bush to halt legal proceedings against two British prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.
THE TANKERS of the giant multinational oil companies BP, Chevron Texaco and Shell have begun transporting newly pumped oil out of Iraq. At least three quarters of the new oil is heading for the US.
A SENIOR US general has admitted that the war against Iraq actually started in the middle of 2002 - before any of the dossiers produced to try to justify the war. Lieutenant General Michael Moseley, the chief allied war commander, said the war really began with the intensification of US air strikes under the guise of enforcing the southern "no-fly zone" in Iraq.
NEW LABOUR has moved to increase the pressure on George Galloway, the MP most associated with speaking out against the war. The assault on Galloway is part of New Labour's attempt to smear the whole anti-war movement and to prevent the truth about the war coming out. New Labour has now put back Galloway's disciplinary hearing until 22 October. This is after the TUC and Labour Party conferences - a calculated move to try to dampen down any opposition against the witch-hunting of Galloway.
"RMT MEMBERS, now knowing the company's pay offer as outlined to them at Exeter and Torquay on Sunday 20 July and the greedy excesses paid out to the directors, can only take one view that what is good for them is not good for us. The members have decided to continue their struggle for better pay and conditions and nothing short of their claim will result in normal working. The sooner Stagecoach management realise this, the better for them, ourselves and the passengers."
THE SHOCK defeat of Mick Rix in the election for general secretary of the train drivers' Aslef union brought a glimmer of relief to Tony Blair's ailing government last week. Mick Rix lost to Shaun Brady by 3,299 votes to 4,475 on a turnout of over 45 percent.
CAR WORKERS at Aston Martin plants have voted to strike against management's attempts to introduce "flexible" working practices. The vote was nearly four to one for action in a turnout of almost 90 percent. The 200 workers are based on sites in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, and Bloxham near Banbury in Oxfordshire.
IF YOU work for Ifor Williams trailers in Wales, there are a number of things you can expect. There is pressure from management, long hours and compulsory overtime, the threat of the sack if you are six minutes late, and much more. That's why in the quiet Welsh village of Cynwyd, nestling in the Llangollen hills, 80 workers joined a picket line on a one-day strike on Friday of last week.
THREE PEOPLE have been charged with assault on a police officer, after police boarded the bus they were travelling on to an anti-war protest.
LEEDS TEACHERS called off a strike at the last minute last week after education managers conceded to their demands. Paula Champion, who was set to strike, celebrates.
STRIKE ACTION by 150 domestics and porters at the Royal Bolton Hospital has forced the private contractor ISS Mediclean to increase their pay. Bosses offered the domestics and porters £5 an hour after a series of strikes. The domestics used to get £4.47 an hour and porters were on £4.61 an hour. The deal includes other improvements on sick pay and holidays. The deal was accepted by 105 votes to 18.
TEACHERS AT Oakdale Comprehensive School in Gwent held a one-day strike last week in protest at two teachers being sacked.
UP TO 10,000 members of the PCS union in Jobcentre Plus in London are shortly due to be balloted on industrial action over job cuts. The management has threatened to cut staffing levels by up to 40 percent over the next three years.
OUR STRIKE is showing people's determination and enthusiasm to win something over London weighting, the allowance for living and working in the capital. The selective action we began last week means that up to 1,500 Unison members across London councils are out, most for four weeks. That is a significant escalation on the selective action that has been running over recent months.
THE MOOD of militancy at Heathrow is not limited to BA workers. Over 1,000 workers on Heathrow's Terminal Five attended an unofficial mass meeting at the construction site last week over pay and conditions.
UP TO 8,000 trade unionists came together last weekend in Tolpuddle in Dorset in a lively celebration of union rights.
LEADERS OF the CWU union have postponed a decision on whether to call strike ballots over the national pay offer and London weighting. But the issue will not go away.
AROUND 80 workers took part in a protest rally at the Fujitsu Services site in West Gorton, Manchester, on Thursday of last week.
IN A great show of militancy, 500 British Airways (BA) customer service workers walked out on an unofficial 24-hour strike at Heathrow last weekend. The chaos this caused showed the enormous power workers have over the huge operation. They expressed a spirit of defiance that is growing in workplaces up and down the country. A Heathrow worker explains why these workers struck:
Huw Williams Blackwood, Wales
BIG FLEAS have little fleas on their backs to bite 'em. Little fleas have smaller fleas, and so ad infinitum. It's the same with lies. Big lies generate all sorts of little lies, and in a political world where real ideas and real ideology have been shovelled into the background, the politicians and their media become obsessed with the little lies, and churn them over incessantly so that their audiences and their readers become confused and disorientated.
"THE WORST estate in the country" is what the mainstream press have called the Stonebridge estate. The press talks about "Jamaican drugs crews", gang shootings and teenage drug dealers. But Stonebridge is not very different from hundreds of estates across Britain where people's lives are blighted by poverty, neglect and the fear of crime.
WHEN TONY Blair goes, who will replace him? With the vultures circling around the current occupant of 10 Downing Street, chancellor Gordon Brown must be wondering if he will eventually get the post he has long coveted. Brown is the favoured candidate of several senior figures in the Labour Party and the trade unions.
THE WORKERS Party candidate Lula's victory in the Brazilian presidential election last October represented the hopes of millions of workers. But straight after speaking to cheers at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, he jetted off to Davos to speak to the bosses at the World Economic Forum. Will he live up to his promise?
THE ANTI-WAR movement has a huge impact on trade unionists in Britain. The two million strong Stop the War Coalition demo on 15 February transformed the working class movement in this country. It deepened the swing to the left inside the unions, which has been reflected in almost all union elections.
AROUND 600 workers struck last week at Rhodia's factories in Oldbury in the West Midlands and Widnes in Cheshire. They are out to defend their right to have a decent retirement, and the "final salary" pension scheme which guarantees that. Their multinational employer wants to join a growing stampede of bosses who are out to end such schemes.
ASIANS WHO have traditionally voted Labour, already angry about the war on Iraq, privatisation and the demonisation of Islam, are even angrier after being snubbed again. The Labour Party has narrowly selected the Blairite MEP Robert Evans instead of Shahid Malik as their candidate for Brent East. The election may be as early as September.
WATCHING THE powerful new film Buffalo Soldiers reminded me of the time I worked at the Passport Office in London in the mid-1980s. Once or twice a month I had the job of opening up the Ministry of Defence internal mailbag. Inside were a number of passports that had to be deleted. They were the passports of dead British soldiers. A large number contained letters from army friends or commanding officers explaining their fate. Many were killed in the most horrific ways during military exercises. Others were a result of mundane accidents on military bases. I was always sad cutting off the corners of these passports and stamping them "Cancelled". The needless death of young soldiers is one
Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry (£7.99)
Good Bye Lenin! Director: Wolfgang Becker
TONY BLAIR is in a crisis for one reason - his whole case for war on Iraq was based on a great lie. To justify that lie, Blair lied again, and again and again. He constructed a pyramid of lies and now that pyramid is collapsing around him. Blair's government is in chaos. The BBC and the government are at each other's throats. More and more people, in the media, the Labour Party and the establishment, are calling for Blair to go.
I REALLY enjoyed Judith Orr's article in Socialist Worker, "The Body for Sale" (12 July). I agree that many of the gains of the women's movement of the late 60s and 70s have been lost. I would add sexism in advertising and merchandising starts from the cradle. Children's TV carries more advertising than other programmes, and almost every BBC programme has merchandising tie-ins.
"WE DON'T need leaders." "We're for the widest democratic participation - leadership stands in its way." "Leaders betray, only the rank and file is reliable." We often hear such ideas in movements today. I think they involve a mistake, but a very understandable one.
"TO SAVE the village it was necessary to destroy it," was one of the most sickening phrases to emerge from the mouths of US army spokesmen during the Vietnam War in the 1960s.