Socialist Worker

Socialist Worker


Issue: 1788

Dated: 23 Feb 2002



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Leading charity exposes sickest spin yet

Massaging the figures on child poverty has to be among the sickest wheezes dreamt up by government spin doctors. That is exactly what New Labour has done, according to a devastating report commissioned by the Child Poverty Action Group and published this week. Government ministers claim to have "lifted" 1.2 million children out of poverty. But this report by a leading charity shows that figure is a lie.


International Comment Features Reviews What We Think Other

News

Labour and Mittal steel: favours just for business friends

Trade Unions give money to New Labour and get kicked. Businessmen hand over cash and get favours. That's what has been revealed around the scandal of the £125,000 donation to the government by steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal. Mittal wanted to buy a privatised Romanian steel plant last year. He made a donation to New Labour's election campaign.

Jobs massacre: 2,500 march through Newport over cuts

More than 2,500 people marched through Newport on the Isle of Wight last Saturday against 650 job cuts by the multinational GKN. "Don't let this go without a fight. Don't allow GKN to replace this place with leisure use," worker Manny Diaz told the rally.

Defexpo 2002 arms fair in India: arms for the poor

The British government is promoting a new way to help the 500 million Indian people in poverty-sell them weapons. Defexpo 2002, an arms fair, opened in New Delhi on Monday.

Pollution can take your breath away

Pollution from car exhausts causes asthma, new official research has shown. The finding shows for the first time a direct link between transport chaos and pollution, and the epidemic of childhood asthma.

Students protest over crisis in education

Thousands of students showed their anger at the government this week. They are furious that promised reforms of the fees system have been blocked. The eventual outcome may be even worse than what went before. At present many students leave college with debts of over £15,000. Many working class school leavers are put off going to college.

Don't let Nazis exploit tragedy

Nineteen year old Gavin Hopley died last week from injuries he received the previous weekend. He was beaten in Oldham, north west England. Police have arrested two men and are looking for others in connection with the killing.

The unions they are a-changin'

Bob Crow's election as general secretary of the rail workers' RMT union is the latest in a series of successes for left wing candidates in the unions. It is a further sign of a deep change in mood among the eight million workers who are members of trade unions in Britain. For the employers and the right wing press the election results summon up their nightmare of a return of union strength.

Trading ideas

At a Marxist forum in Tower Hamlets, east London, last week, Sarah Danchie, an economics student from Queen Mary and Westfield College, joined 30 others to debate imperialism, globalisation, the state and war. Sarah was among 18 others who had come for their first time to a Marxist forum:

A betrayal by union leaders

"We are all pissed off with the decision to go back to work. None of us wanted to, but we all have families and bills to pay." So said one of the Caterpillar workers after a mass meeting in Peterlee, east Durham, on Sunday.

Job centres

The national strike of tens of thousands of civil servants in the PCS union working in job centres and benefits offices is reaching a crucial point. We are striking over the removal of safety screens in the newly merged Jobcentre Plus offices.

Ombudsmen

"This is the first strike in this office's history. It tells you something. This office isn't militant-people have just had enough." That's what one of the 40 civil service strikers in London told Socialist Worker outside London's Millbank Tower, home to New Labour, on Wednesday of last week.

Defend council housing

The campaign to stop the privatisation of over 80,000 council homes in Glasgow is shifting into top gear, with tenants due to start voting in just over a week's time.

In brief

PROTESTERS from both Salford and Manchester's Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers protested outside the Dallas Court Reporting Centre in Salford last week. Many asylum seekers within a 25-mile radius of the centre now have to report there instead of their local police station, and no help is given with the cost of transport.MARY BLACK

We're not keen on any cuts

Protesters in Hounslow, west London, followed up their recent 3,000-strong demonstration against education cuts with a lobby of 400 people last week. The protest has clearly rattled the Labour group in the council. Councillors are attacking Labour MP Ann Keen for doing nothing to stop the reduction in government funding which is behind the cuts.

Socialist Alliance

The national council of the Socialist Alliance last week discussed building the trade union conference on 16 March. This is centred on the debate about where money from the unions' political funds should go.

Stakes are high in post battle

A national postal strike could begin a week next Wednesday, 6 March, union leaders announced last week. Talks are still continuing, but the union says that if there is no agreement then strike dates have been "pencilled in".

BT

BT workers lobbied private firm ComputaCentre in London last week, and staged another protest at BT Centre, also in London. They were protesting at plans to transfer hundreds of workers in the D&DS section of the company out of BT. If the move goes ahead as planned in March it will give the green light for BT to extend this subcontracting, and with it attacks on workers' conditions across the company.

Journalists

Two more NUJ journalists union chapels (workplace branches) on local newspapers have voted to ballot for strike action in a new campaign to end low pay. After victory in the first strike over pay for more than a decade at the Bradford Telegraph and Argus group, journalists at the Wakefield Express and Yorkshire Post and Leeds Evening Post have voted for strike ballots.

'Sack the board' say angry security staff

"The airport's profits are sky high and they want to employ us on Burger King wages." That was how one striker last week summed up the anger of security workers at Manchester airport.

Bush and Sharon are the world's biggest terrorists

Who will the Bush gang bomb next? Tony Blair and his government have backed US president George Bush's war in Afghanistan to the hilt. But even some sections of New Labour are worried about his plans to spread his war to Iraq, Somalia or any other country the US decides is a "rogue state".


International

EU is not a friend in fight for democracy

EUROPEAN UNION (EU) leaders imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe this week and withdrew election observers. Nobody should believe the EU is a friend of democracy in Africa or anywhere else. The EU says it is outraged by President Mugabe's refusal to allow monitors in to watch over the presidential election scheduled for 9-10 March.

Berlusconi forced to retreat

As Tony Blair met right wing Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to discuss "flexible labour markets" and "economic liberalisation", a wave of workers' revolt was sweeping the country. Berlusconi, said there had been an "absolute convergence of views" between him and Blair.

General strike in Madagascar

Huge street protests and a two-week general strike have shut banks and businesses in many parts of Madagascar.

IMF demands more cuts

A new wave of agitation has swept Argentina. It comes after the conversion of all bank accounts from dollars to the national currency, the peso, two weeks ago. Friday of last week saw demonstrations right across the country, with unemployed people looting supermarkets in the Cordoba province for food.


Comment

Critics slam US war drive

Amid the uproar caused by George W Bush's "axis of evil" speech, one voice has not been raised in criticism-that of Tony Blair. Bush's apparent extension of the "war against terrorism" to include Iran, Iraq and North Korea caused outrage in the European Union (EU).

EastEnders, but with jobs

IT IS rare for a television drama to be set in an ordinary workplace. Clocking Off is, and has attracted audiences of around 11 million. This is the third series of the award-winning BBC drama set in a Manchester textile factory.


Features

Henry Kissinger: war criminal

This man is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. He is not on trial in The Hague this week, and his name is not Slobodan Milosevic.

'Everyone wants to join protests'

"People are enraged. It's fantastic. They're not prepared to take it any longer."

Socialist Alliance gears up for May local elections

It is less than ten weeks before local council elections across England on 2 May. In London every council seat will be up for grabs. The elections will be a chance to challenge New Labour and the other main parties.

Tory Britain - 1 in 3 children in poverty / Blair's Britain - 1 in 3 children in poverty

Baby biys in Bethnal Green today are more likely to die before their first birthday than in 1950. From the housing estates of the east London area you can see the towers of the City of London, the biggest concentration of wealth in the country.


Reviews

Nitin Sawhney: 'From oppression comes expression'

Nitin Sawhney recently received an award in Radio 3's celebration of world music. His response was to criticise the idea of world music: "The whole category of 'world music' is about apartheid in record shops. "Terminology which marginalises people on the basis of their cultural heritage I find deeply racist and condescending."

The Prophet and the Proletariat: taking a new look at Islamism

The "War on terrorism" has projected Islamism into the centre of political debate. The right wing equate Islam with evil fanaticism.

Charlotte Gray: just too many shades of grey

Set in occupied France during the Second World War, Charlotte Gray tells the story of a young Scottish woman who is recruited to the Special Operations Executive. Charlotte, played by Cate Blanchett, wants to defeat fascism and search for her missing lover. She is sent to work with the French Resistance.


What We Think

March next week against Bush's war

George Bush has lit the fuse for war on Iraq, a war that will kill thousands of innocent people. Next weekend is your chance to protest against this rush to mass murder. The bombing of Afghanistan has been horrific, killing more civilians than died in the World Trade Centre. War against Iraq will be far worse.


Other Categories

Letters

Are children only drudges? The government's latest education proposals will be a disaster for working class children. They will be a big step backwards towards the old way of having a proper education for the middle class and a very basic one for working people's children.

Haven't the working class disappeared?

"We are all middle class now." That's what politicians and media pundits would have us believe. Gone forever are the days of the real workers-the miners and the engineers. Instead we have the new middle classes-the computer operators and public servants.

Dishonourable zero tolerance

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani enjoyed a warm welcome in Britain last week when he arrived to pick up his honorary knighthood. The Queen, Tony Blair and Ken Livingstone all praised him. "London Needs A Giuliani," proclaimed the Daily Telegraph. Home secretary David Blunkett praised his "fine example" for encouraging "strong police leadership".



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