Dated: 12 Oct 2002
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Bush wants war within weeks...with Blair in tow
"IT'S THE world we live in. It is the nature of modern business." That was the callous reaction of Tony Blair to the news that 1,000 workers, many his own constituents, are to lose their jobs. Black & Decker announced the cuts at its Spennymoor plant, right next to the prime minister's Sedgefield constituency in County Durham. The company claims it can't afford to keep production of power tools going at the plant. It is shifting operations to the Czech Republic to take advantage of cheaper labour.
DAVID BLUNKETT, the home secretary, kept up his attacks on refugees as the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill went to the House of Lords for its third reading this week.
DAVID TOVEY was convicted last week for stockpiling an arsenal of explosives and guns. Police believe he wanted to launch a one-man race war against black people. All the evidence points to Tovey, from Swindon, seeking to copy the Nazi nailbomber David Copeland, who killed and maimed with three attacks in London three years ago.
THE TRIAL of six Asian men from Burnley who defended their community against racists was set to finish this week. The court in Preston has heard powerful arguments about how Nazi British National Party members terrorised Burnley in June last year. Tariq Saddique, Mohammed Bashir, Asif Khan, Mohammed Nawaz and a 17 year old who cannot be identified are pleading not guilty to the charge of violent disorder. One 18 year old has felt forced to plead guilty.
WHAT YOU THINK - a forum for activists to discuss the struggle
OVER 50 people took to the streets of Fishponds, Bristol, last Saturday to show their disgust at the recent attack on a refugee hostel.
ANTI-NAZI campaigners have been out on the streets of Stoke, where the Nazi BNP is standing a candidate in an election to be mayor. Some 20 people went out last Saturday, and a further 30 went out leafleting last Sunday.
THE DEFEAT for the Labour Party leadership in the conference vote last week on PFI confirms the high level of opposition to this policy. Tony Blair then told the unions, "Work with us and we may do something about the two-tier workforce that now exists in the private sector."
ABOUT 450 people attended a Stop the War Coalition public meeting in Liverpool last week. It was held two days after the huge anti-war demonstration in London and included speakers such as Bob Wareing MP, Bruce Kent, Lindsey German and a local FBU union official.
A 16 year old Asian youth has escaped being sent to prison for his part in the campaign to save Govanhill Pool in Glasgow. The trial of Qasim Khan in Glasgow Sheriff Court saw a succession of police officers testify over eight days.
OVER 100 members of Gloucester City Council UNISON union demonstrated outside the council headquarters last week. They were protesting against proposed closures, redundancies and cuts in the city's museums, archaeology unit, arts centre and sporting facilities.
THE PROVOCATIVE police raids on Sinn Fein's offices in Northern Ireland last week created a crisis inside the ruling assembly. The police claimed they had raided the Republican party's offices in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Stormont, because of links with an alleged spy ring supplying secrets to the IRA.
CAMPAIGNING ACTIVITY for Socialist Alliance candidate Paul Foot to be the first directly elected mayor of Hackney stepped up another gear last week. By Sunday night our eight page election newspaper had been delivered to tens of thousands of households. Our open-top battlebus took to the streets on Saturday, and Paul has been enthusiastically greeted at meetings large and small throughout the borough. Socialist Alliance members and supporters showed solidarity with striking council workers on Tuesday 1 October, visiting picket lines and handing out a special "Foot for mayor" leaflet.
A REFUGEE from Kosovo, Elvis Leka, has had his appeal for asylum rejected. Elvis now lives in fear of deportation. He works at a hostel for refugees and is a valued member of staff. He is supported by Bristol Defend the Asylum Seekers Campaign.
THE PRESS and Paintline section at Raven Manufacturing on the Altham Industrial Estate near Burnley are striking over pay. The 20 Amicus-AEEU members have been offered only 1.5 percent after a previous 18 month deal of only 2.5 percent. They are on a one-day strike every Monday.
OVER 1,000 members of the civil servants' PCS union are due to start balloting for strike action on 10 October. Workers in central and west London are considering action in defence of their PCS branch secretary, Chris Ford.
ALL THE universities in London face the possibility of joint strike action by a united front of academics and administrative, technical and support staff for the first time ever. University workers are pressing for an improvement in their London weighting allowance.
THE FIRST North Western (FNW) train company, which runs services in the north west of England, admitted it had to cancel 1,500 trains at the weekend as drivers staged their fourth 48-hour strike over pay. "The action is biting," driver Steve West told Socialist Worker. "But many people are asking why we've gone for two days instead of seven, which would really hurt management.
THE GLOVES are off in the battle on London Underground. Management was set to table a revised offer on Thursday of this week. This is partly designed to divide the tube unions. Last week's strike by members of the RMT and Aslef unions was at least as solid as the one the week before.
THE government-appointed regulator for postal services has come up with madcap proposals which could give bosses an excuse to cut another 5,000 jobs. Graham Corbett, the head of Postcomm, says the price of stamps can rise by 1p but at the same time the average price of all mail products must be 29.1p. This would mean cuts in prices for services such as special delivery and the loss of up to £500 million in revenue.
SOME 3,000 people demonstrated outside Stobhill Hospital and Victoria Infirmary on Saturday of last week against Greater Glasgow Health Board's plans for health services in the city. The Victoria Infirmary in the south and Stobhill in the north of the city are both to lose their accident and emergency and inpatient services.
The European Social Forum (ESF) will be the first Europe-wide gathering of the growing movements against neo-liberalism, racism and war. Tens of thousands of people will gather to discuss, debate and organise. There will also be a major united European demonstration against war. The ESF is for everyone who cares about the future of our planet, everyone who believes a better world is possible and necessary.
THE INQUIRY set up by the government to head off the pay campaign by firefighters and control room staff is a sham, and the words of one of its members show it. Sir Tony Young is a former president of the TUC and is on the inquiry team imposed by New Labour.
TONY BLAIR last week declared war on workers fighting for better pay. He laid into tube workers for daring to be in the forefront of a growing revolt over pay and for standing up to a management that is hell-bent on privatisation. On the same day, he said the pay claim put forward by firefighters and emergency fire control operators was "unrealistic" and would "damage the economy".
DOCKERS IN the US began their second week on the picket lines this week. This was in response to a lockout of over 10,000 dock workers. The dockers known as longshoremen are part of the powerful and progressive ILWU union on the West Coast of the US.
UP TO 80,000 workers marched through Paris last Thursday to protest against the French Tory government's plans to privatise key industries. The protest and strikes which accompanied it were the first major challenge to the Tories since they came to office earlier this year
LUIS INACIO "Lula" da Silva came within a hair's breadth of winning the Brazilian presidential election on Sunday. The former left wing socialist and strike leader got 47 percent of votes, almost double that of any other candidate. Lula fell just short of the 50 percent he needed to win outright, and will now face a run-off on 27 October against Jose Serra.
UP TO 500,000 workers demonstrated in Madrid in Spain last Saturday against the right wing government's attacks on workers' rights. The demonstration is a continuation of a struggle that included a general strike in June. Spanish leader Jose Maria Aznar is a key ally of Blair in Europe.
HUNDREDS OF thousands of workers went on strike across South Africa against the policies of the ANC government last week. Bosses and the government claimed the strike was a flop but the Cosatu union federation, which called the action, disputed their figures. Cosatu leaders said that up to 60 percent of their members had taken part in the strike.
The appeal is more than halfway towards its target. A big thank you to all those who have contributed so far. The respect for SOCIALIST WORKER among trade unionists for its anti-war message and for standing up to Blair is demonstrated by the success of workplace collections.
THE MASSIVE demonstration against war on Iraq surpassed everyone's expectations in its size, unity and spirit.Lindsey German, the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, spoke to us about what the anti-war movement plans next.
THE US and Britain want war on Iraq no matter what. That is the only possible meaning of the resolution which the US and Britain want to bribe and bully the rest of the United Nations (UN) Security Council into accepting.
THE WARMONGERS would have us believe that Saddam Hussein is a uniquely evil dictator who they have always opposed. In fact he is the product of four decades of intervention in Iraq and the Middle East, first by both superpowers during the Cold War, and then by the US and its allies. He could not have come to power without the West.
SIX MILLION people in Britain have had letters this year warning that they may not be able to pay off the mortgages on their homes. Millions more with similar "endowment" mortgages will get such letters in the coming months.
"HOW CAN you support the strikes for more pay by London tube workers when they are already on £30,000 a year?" That question was posed by someone at a Marxist forum in London last week. It reflects a wider debate, fanned by bitterly hostile coverage of the tube strikes in much of the media.
TONY BENN'S political journey has been one of the most remarkable in the history of the British labour movement. Many figures have started out on the left, only to become dedicated defenders of capitalism by the time they have reached middle age.
JOAN LITTLEWOOD, who died at the age of 87 last month, was arguably the major figure of radical political theatre in Britain. She dedicated her life to the theatre, and entertaining and educating working class people.
THE NEW edition of International Socialism offers a reply to all those who argue that the working class is dead. Chris Harman argues that the working class is bigger than it ever has been before on a global scale and that it continues to play the vital role in the struggle for a decent society.
SO MUCH Shouting, So Much Laughter is the new live album by US alternative folk singer Ani DiFranco. It is a great introduction to her music. Since her first album in 1990, she has toured almost constantly, building up a devoted following in the US and internationally. She is a fantastic live performer.
GEORGE BUSH has the military power to smash Iraq easily. But for all his attempts to pose as an all-powerful president, he is a very nervous man. One week he talks about regime change, the next he is doing deals to get UN backing for war, and now he talks of building a coalition.
THE SUDDEN death of Mike Cohen last week at the age of 67 is a sad loss to the labour movement. Mike was a familiar figure whenever ordinary people were fighting back. Rare was the strike or demonstration in London where he was not there, taking photographs for socialist publications, mainly the Morning Star and also for others including Socialist Worker.
AS YOUNG people who live in the north of England in a small town called Burnley, it seems near impossible to get our voices heard on anything in the world. Feelings of helplessness and uselessness are always associated with our concern for Palestinians, or any other oppressed people. But the "Don't attack Iraq" demonstration gave us a voice we've never had before and helped us to conquer these feelings of helplessness.
TONY BLAIR and home secretary David Blunkett made great play at last week's Labour Party conference of cracking down on all kinds of crime. Strangely there was one crime they didn't talk about - corporate killing. That is because David Blunkett has now ruled that individual bosses will not be threatened with jail or disqualification after a fatal accident at work.