Dated: 03 Aug 2002
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"IT COULD not be clearer. George Bush is going ahead with his invasion of Iraq. Tony Blair is his closest ally in this deadly operation. Blair has, according to some newspaper reports, already agreed to back the US. He plans to avoid a vote in parliament and wants to pretend that most people in Britain agree with him.
IMMIGRATION MINISTER Beverley Hughes ordered a police deportation squad to smash down the doors of a West Midlands mosque and snatch two traumatised asylum seekers on Thursday of last week. The abduction of Farid and Feriba Ahmad has created outrage.
LOCK CHILDREN up and throw away the key. That's New Labour's attitude to dealing with the "causes of crime", and it has been criticised again this week. Even the government's own youth crime "tsar" says under-18s awaiting trial, who have not been found guilty of anything, should not be banged up in Britain's overcrowded prisons.
JUST 44 percent of Britain's workers take their full holiday entitlement, a new report revealed this week. One in five people take less than a quarter of what they are owed, according to the internet jobs site reed.co.uk.
HEALTH EXPERTS have slammed Labour's new scheme for the NHS. The government has given star awards to hospitals. Health secretary Alan Milburn bragged about the "dog eat dog" ethic he wants to enforce on the health service through such schemes:
Lords a-leaping onto the board ONE THIRD of members of the House of Lords are company directors. Some 217 lords have 618 directorships between them. Nearly half of Tory lords are directors, almost 40 percent of Labour lords are directors, and 20 percent of Liberal Democrat lords sit on the boards of firms. The real figure is even higher. Some lords failed to register all their business interests.
STRIKING RAIL workers in the north of England are continuing their action over pay. The station staff and conductors on Arriva Trains have now been in dispute for seven months.
MOST PEOPLE know that Labour's national executive voted by 17 votes to 13 last week to block Ken Livingstone's return to the Labour Party. But few realise the full details of who voted which way. The breakdown shows that Blair relied heavily on the ministers and officials he appoints to the committee, but that a handful of union votes also played a key role.
POST OFFICE bosses want to renegotiate the industrial relations framework with the union. Managers have already given three months notice of withdrawing support for the current executive, divisional and area structures.
SOME 300 people attended a Stop the War Coalition event in Brockley, south east London, on Wednesday of last week. One activist said he thought it was the largest political event in the borough of Lewisham for at least ten years.
AROUND 40 people demonstrated in north Finchley, north London, last Sunday over the threat to a community centre by Barnet's new Tory council.
THE firefighters' FBU union last week announced that it was going to recall its national conference in Manchester on 12 September in its battle over pay. This conference would start a national strike ballot to fight for basic pay of £30,000 a year.
First it's your job, then the pension SOME 300 workers at the Allied Steel and Wire (ASW) plant in Cardiff gathered last Saturday for a meeting over the company's pension scheme. Around 800 steel workers will be made redundant after the company closes the plant at the end of this week. Now workers have heard there is a major shortfall in the company's pension scheme.
LEADERS OF the three council workers' unions-Unison, the TGWU and the GMB-walked out of talks with management in disgust last week. Council bosses had widely hinted in the press that they were putting a new deal on the table, including offering £5 an hour to some low paid staff, to end another strike across England and Wales scheduled for Wednesday 14 August.
TOP OFFICIALS in Unison, the biggest NHS union, have disgracefully pushed through a deal with the government over the transfer of staff to private companies. The deal means that 15 percent of staff in PFI deals can be transferred to private companies and have their pay and conditions slashed.
MORE THAN 100 NUJ journalists' union members struck on Friday of last week at the Newcastle Chronicle and Journal as part of their fight for a fair wage. The workers were due to strike again on Thursday. The newspaper is part of the giant Trinity Mirror group.
ALMOST 1,000 members of the PCS civil servants' union who work at the British Library struck for better pay on Monday. It was a good, strong picket line with a lot of support from passing motorists. Mark Serwotka, the elected PCS general secretary, came to the picket line.
THE NATIONAL president of the EIS-CLA, the Scottish further education lecturers' union, was sacked last week from his job at Glasgow's Central College of Commerce. Jim O'Donovan had been suspended on full pay following a disciplinary hearing at the end of last term.
WORKERS ON Britain's second biggest airline, BMI, are moving to a ballot on union recognition. The cabin crews want the management to recognise Bassa, the British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association. It is part of the TGWU.
SUPPORT FOR the "Love Music-Hate Racism" carnival, to be held in Burnley on Sunday 1 September, is growing. Three Labour councillors have spoken out about the challenge facing the Lancashire town where three BNP Nazis were elected onto the council in the local election in May.
POLICE IN the Philippines violently broke up protests against the government on Monday 22 July. Over 5,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Manila. They surrounded the government's legislature building as the president, Gloria Arroyo, was due to give a state of the nation address outlining her government's agenda. Protesters denounced US troops being deployed in the Philippines and training the army.
THE ATMOSPHERE in Venezuela today is very much like what it must have been in Chile in the middle of 1973. That was when General Pinochet, backed by the US, organised a coup to crush a democratically elected left wing government.
IN THE week before the bombing of Gaza City, a delegation of health workers, students and academics from Britain visited the West Bank and Gaza to show solidarity with the Palestinians. Nothing quite prepared our delegation for the everyday oppression. The bombing of civilians and children in Gaza was a consequence of the collective punishment Israel metes out to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
IT'S EASY to laugh at the Tories. Last week they were going through yet another round in the Life of Brian type internal squabbles that have reduced them to an unelectable rump. Only the saddest kind of political scientist could take a genuine interest in working out what the ideological differences are between Iain Duncan Smith and sacked party chairman David Davis.
HAVE YOU ever given a future Archbishop of Canterbury a lift home from an anti-war event? Perhaps not-unless you were in South Wales some five years ago. There you could have seen bishop Rowan Williams leave a meeting against the bombing of Iraq and calmly accept sharing a car with several Socialist Workers Party members.
GEORGE W Bush and Tony Blair are gearing up for a bloody war against Iraq as early as this October. These plans threaten to split society from top to bottom. The latest US war plan was leaked last week. It involves blasting Iraq with bombing raids and cruise missiles, causing civilian casualties and destruction on an unimaginable scale.
WHILE the US and Britain prepare to use vast resources for war, 14 million people in southern Africa have been left to starve. People in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe are particularly affected. Politicians claim that the suffering is because of drought or "African corruption". In truth people are dying because they are the subjects of a crazed mass social experiment: take a poor society, let the market rip, and see what happens. Far from showering prosperity on Africa, the market prescriptions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank have produced bigger mounds of corpses.
A mass Europe-wide movement against privatisation and war is set to be launched in November. Tens of thousands of trade unionists and activists are preparing to gather at the European Social Forum (ESF) in Florence, Italy, to plan resistance. Many different groups are supporting the event.
THE EUROPEAN Social Forum will be an important rallying point for activists in the anti-capitalist movement. But it is also likely to reflect growing divisions over strategy. These divisions were already evident at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in February.
"ANOTHER world is possible" is the ringing declaration of the anti-capitalist movement. For us this other world can only be socialism, a society based on production for need not profit. But what will this socialism look like?
SIX MONTHS ago left wingers like Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn MP looked very lonely figures in the Labour Party. They were barely tolerated by the leadership as quaint reminders of a long-gone era when people thought capitalism could actually be done away with and privatisation was a swear word.
1930s LABOUR WAS the biggest party after the 1929 general elections, and Ramsay MacDonald became prime minister. But as slump hit the world the Labour government turned on its own supporters and imposed harsh austerity measures. The Labour cabinet accepted a range of brutal cuts but eventually balked at what MacDonald wanted, and in 1931 he formed a government with the Tories.
"DON'T PANIC, don't panic!" say George W Bush and Tony Blair, like the Corporal Joneses of a Dad's Army standing guard over the world's stockmarkets. They try to reassure people that, despite weeks of chaos on the stockmarkets, their economies are fundamentally sound. This was exactly what US president Herbert Hoover said in October 1929, days before the Wall Street Crash plunged the world into a decade of misery and conflict.
Sunshine State is the new film from the radical film director John Sayles. The "sunshine state" of the title is Florida, and the film tells us much about the realities underlying the American Dream. The "Buccaneer Days" are a marketing ploy dreamt up by the local Chamber of Commerce to exploit the pirate history of Florida.
IN 1948 a young black man from Trinidad, Alwyn Roberts, was sitting on the deck of an old troop carrier which had been converted to civilian use. The ship was four days from England. Alwyn started to compose a tune. Although unknown in Britain, he was well known in the calypso tents of Trinidad as Lord Kitchener.
OVER 1,000 protesters converged on the Woomera detention centre for refugees in the south Australian desert last Easter. This video is an inspiring account of what happened. Woomera is one of six privately run camps used by the Australian government to detain all "illegal entrants".
NEW LABOUR is facing its biggest challenge yet from the unions. The strike of one million council workers, the election of left wing general secretaries, and the number of left wing motions at the coming TUC congress in September have all got Tony Blair worried.
Chilled to the bone by Israel's murder I HAVE just returned from Gaza City where I was part of a small delegation of trade unionists from Britain. We were there to show solidarity with the Palestinians and their struggle. It was the final visit of a week that had taken us all over the West Bank. I was shocked by what I saw.
GEORGE BUSH promised to root out all "evildoers" in his war on terror. Two US-backed terrorists responsible for the murder and torture of thousands of people got a small part of their comeuppance last week. Carlos Casanova and Jose Guillermo Garcia, two US-trained former generals, were ordered to pay $54.6 million in compensation for their part in massacres and torture in El Salvador in the 1980s.