Dated: 01 Nov 2003
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"We in the anti-war movement warned of the chaos the occupation of Iraq would bring. Tragically we are being proved right."
"IT TOOK them all of 36 seconds to tell me I was expelled. That's one second for every year I've been a member of the Labour Party. It was a bitter blow, to be expelled by this anti-Labour clique. The Labour leaders say they want freedom of speech in Baghdad, but they don't want freedom of speech in Westminster. They want a puppet parliament just like the one Saddam Hussein used to have.
"I CANNOT believe David Blunkett is still in a job." That was the reaction of Janet Alder, who was taking part in the United Friends and Family Campaign's demonstration over deaths in police custody last weekend. She was speaking days after the BBC documentary The Secret Policeman was shown last week revealing the jaw-dropping level of racism among officers. The programme told me what I already knew. My brother Christopher died in police custody in Hull while officers were caught on film making monkey noises, with one talking about making a Ku Klux Klan style mask. Blunkett won't release that film. He is conspiring to protect police. He should go now."
MEMBERS OF the NUT, the biggest teachers' union, have sent a clear message to their leadership about the national testing of seven, 11 and 14 year olds, known as SATs tests. A survey of all members came out in favour of a boycott of these tests. Most teachers believe that the tests undermine their professional judgement.
CIVIL SERVANTS are gearing up for their battle with the government over pay. Members of the PCS civil servants' union are set to ballot for strike action in a number of government departments. The union has organised a series of rallies to build support for their campaign. All meetings are at 12 noon unless otherwise specified:
MORE THAN 100 tenants attended a meeting on Wednesday of last week to oppose the sell-off of three council estates in Tollington, north Islington, with a total of 1,500 homes. Speakers included local Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn and Nick Strauss, who detailed the broken promises that have followed transfer on the privatised Haggerston estate in Hackney.
Sheffield SOME 110 people came to a Sheffield Coalition Against Racism meeting at Sheffield town hall on Friday of last week. Since the local elections in May, when the Nazi BNP polled 18 percent in Brightside and 11 percent in Handsworth, there has been a desire to see united opposition to the Nazis in Sheffield.
Elections MEMBERS OF the RMT rail workers' union are currently voting to elect a new president. The previous president, John Cogger, died earlier this year. Socialists should make sure they campaign and vote for Tony Donaghy. We need to make sure that right wing candidates such as Colin Cook don't get a look-in.
SOME 2,400 workers at the Sellafield nuclear plant have voted overwhelmingly for strike action. Their employer, BNFL, promised in 1999 to equalise pay between blue collar and white collar workers at the plant by April 2004. But BNFL now say that the £2,000 pay gap will remain until April 2009.
ABOUT 1,000 baggage handlers and check-in staff at Heathrow were due to strike this weekend. Some 90 percent of the workers at Swissport UK and Swissport Cargo, who handle baggage for several major airlines, have voted for action. The workers, who are in the TGWU union, planned their first strike for this Sunday, 2 November.
FIVE THOUSAND nursery nurses struck over pay in Scotland last week. The five days of strikes were staggered so workers at nurseries in different regions took action starting on different days. Scottish nursery nurses have not had their pay scales regraded for 15 years. After working for ten years a nursery nurse can expect to earn a maximum of £13,800.
ABOUT 100 bus drivers lobbied parliament on Wednesday of last week to demand the government protects London's transport industry from a threatened £125 million cut in funding. Drivers also explained that their pensions were under threat and that living and working in London is next to impossible without London weighting payments.
OPPOSITION IS growing among firefighters and emergency control room operators over the latest stage of the pay deal the government forced on them earlier this year. The executive of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has put stage two of the agreement out to consultation. The executive is to reconvene next week to decide whether to accept it.
FOLLOWING A 500-strong public meeting, councillors in Preston, Lancashire, were set to discuss an historic proposal to twin the city with the besieged Palestinian town of Nablus on Thursday of this week. The proposal is the culmination of the campaign led by Socialist Alliance councillor Michael Lavalette, who will propose the motion. It will be seconded by Labour councillor Elaine Abbott.
STUDENTS AT King's College, Cambridge, have started a rent strike. Students at the college, which is part of Cambridge University, voted last week by 201 to 65 in favour of direct action in protest at the rising cost of living in the college.
THOUSANDS OF postal workers were forced to take unofficial strike action across London and Essex this week in a battle against their brutal bosses. They know their union, the CWU, and the whole way postal workers are treated at work is at stake.
ONE OF the most common questions that people ask me is, "Why did Tony Blair go so far in backing George W Bush's war on Iraq?" It's not hard to tell a story about US interests, but what's in it for Britain? An important part of the answer lies in the long term strategy that the British ruling class has pursued ever since the Second World War. By attaching itself closely to the mighty US, Britain could continue play a role as a global power.
LET'S FACE it. The English language is crazy. There is neither apple nor pine in pineapple, nor ham in hamburger. Sweetmeats are confectionery. Sweetbreads, which definitely aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its contradictions, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
A NUMBER of readers have been in touch to tell me how they have used the Stop Bush petition at work. Caroline, a teacher from Leytonstone, told me, "The Stop Bush petition is going down very well-I should finish it soon so I can send it back to the Stop the War Coalition. I've got three extra regular paper buyers at work on the strength of the petition. Two other people are thinking about getting the paper each week. We will discuss walkouts at our first union meeting of term."
"BY SUPPORTING the struggles of the world's oppressed and exploited against capitalist globalisation, Socialist Worker has helped continue the internationalist tradition at the heart of socialist politics. At a time when other sections of the left have vacillated or capitulated in the face of the new imperialism, Socialist Worker has stood firm. It has provided activists throughout the UK with detailed and uncompromising arguments against Bush and Blair's 'war without end'." NEIL DAVIDSON, author of The Origins of Scottish Nationhood and Discovering the Scottish Revolution
THE EUROPEAN Social Forum aims to bring together the resistance across the continent to war and neo-liberalism. It takes place from 12 to 16 November with hundreds of meetings, workshops, debates and countless opportunities for informal discussions. A high point will be a demonstration on Saturday 15 November.
PC ROB PULLING: "A Paki born in Britain is still a fucking Paki" PC ADRIAN HARRISON: "I class them as one thing, and that's it – Pakis" PC ROB PULLING: "Stephen Lawrence fucking deserved it" PC CARL JONES: "BAT I used to call it – Black Added Tax"
"The workers loved L'Ordine Nuovo because in it they found something of themselves, the best part of themselves, because in it they sensed their own inner striving: how best can we be free? How can we become ourselves?" So wrote the 28 year old Italian revolutionary socialist Antonio Gramsci in August 1920.
Two weeks ago a popular uprising swept the president of Bolivia from office, and he was forced to flee to Miami. It was the culmination of a month of strikes and demonstrations after troops killed protesters in September. Workers, especially the country's tin miners, were the central force which confronted Bolivia's armed forces.
I MARRIED a Marxist is a great radio play, set during the height of the anti-Communist witch-hunts in 1950s America. The drama unfolds against the real story of the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
12 Memories - Travis I NEVER cared for the group Travis much-they always promised so much but left you disappointed with their obvious courting of a commercial market. But with 12 Memories Travis have finally come alive. "Quicksand" is the opening salvo of the album, laid down like a manifesto of their intent. On the track the rhythm is matched by the beautiful songwriting that they were always capable of.
MY BOOK The Fountain at the centre of the World is based in Britain, Mexico and the US. It ends with the anti World Trade Organisation riots in Seattle in 1999. I was there during the protests. It was the first time I was part of proper history.
THERE'S A simple reason why the Tories are doing each other in with the ferocity of a Quentin Tarantino movie. Tony Blair is doing everything a Conservative prime minister would dream of, and more. What hope is there for the toffs and toadies of the Tory party when they find their nasty measures already inflicted by a Labour government? Much more importantly, what hope is there for millions of working people who feel utterly betrayed?
LAST SUNDAY Blair faced a real challenge as over 30,000 students took to the streets to protest against university tuition fees. The demonstration was far larger than any recent student marches. The war in Iraq has left more than Blair's heart in a weak condition. He faces massive revolts in his own party and in the nation at large over a whole range of issues.
A DRUGS firm is raking in the cash by pressuring doctors. Multinational Astra Zeneca is persuading GPs to prescribe an expensive ulcer drug almost identical to cheaper options on the market.