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Anger at policy, not presentation

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Issue 1764

What we think

Anger at policy, not presentation

“THE SHORTEST honeymoon on record” is going to be replaced by a “very difficult period of relationships” between the union movement and government. These are the words of TUC leader John Monks, a man usually known for mild words and a desperate desire to be nice to New Labour.

Monks added that the TUC conference which starts on 10 September “will probably be the most political congress we’ve had for many a long day. “There is a strong reaction on the public-private issue around the trade union movement and there’s more aggression in the relationship with the Labour Party than there’s been since Neil Kinnock.”

The union leaders can feel the heat from the rank and file members who hate the handover of services to profiteers. The TGWU, GMB and RMT have put resistance to privatisation on the agenda at the TUC and at Labour’s conference. This week Tony Blair’s spin doctors have indicated that he knows there are problems and will hold talks with the union leaders. But he is not going to backtrack on the policy.

Instead, just like Tory Margaret Thatcher always did, he will say that the problem is the way the policy has been presented. His way of dealing with the row is to say to workers, “Sorry, I didn’t realise how stupid you were. Now let me explain to you in words that even you can understand why calling in the private sector is a good thing.”

Blair met the union leaders in June. They were patted on the head and had their photos taken outside Number Ten. Then Blair closed the door and pushed ahead with privatisation. And the union leaders let New Labour get away with it.

John Edmonds, leader of the GMB union, was right to say last week, “What Downing Street must realise is that the problem is not one of presentation. It is with the policy itself.” Pressure from below has forced John Monks and John Edmonds to speak out. We need pressure to make them act.

The demonstration outside the Labour Party conference on 30 September can unite everyone who hates privatisation and wants to push for real resistance from the union leaders.

Deadly allies

PRESIDENT BUSH declared on Monday that Israel is “our friend and strong ally”. He added that US secretary of state Colin Powell will not go to a UN conference on racism this weekend in Durban because the documents are “pretty discriminatory” and delegates are “picking on Israel”.

Almost as Bush was speaking, two rockets from an Israeli helicopter blew apart the Palestinian leader Abu Ali Mustafa as he sat at his desk. He was the leader of the PFLP, the second most important group in the PLO. He is the most senior Palestinian to be assassinated in the latest wave of Israeli murder.

Abu Ali Mustafa’s life mirrored that of many Palestinians. He was born on the West Bank in Palestine in 1938. Ten years later Israel was created and he, like millions of other Palestinians, became a stateless refugee. He got involved in resistance to Israeli rule and endured years of exile. By killing Abu Ali Mustafa Israel has invited all hell to break loose.

The US supplied the military hardware for this murder. Yet Israel is a genuine “rogue state”, assassinating its opponents, ignoring borders, treaties and UN resolutions.

But it plays a role for the US, a “friend and ally” that can drown the region in blood and still get more guns from Bush.

800 march in Glasgow

Residents and refugees unite across Sighthill

By MARK BROWN, secretary, Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees

MORE THAN 800 refugees, Sighthill residents and their supporters joined last Saturday’s march and rally against racism and poverty in Glasgow. The demonstration came three weeks after Firsat Yildiz, a Kurdish asylum seeker, was murdered.

The march went from Sighthill to a rally in George Square. Refugee representative Mohammad Asif laid the blame for attacks on asylum seekers at the door of racist politicians and newspapers. Sighthill community activist Tina Suffredini stressed the growing unity between asylum seekers and local people in the area.

She demanded action from the council over welfare rights, translation services and decreased rents. Tommy Sheridan, the Scottish Socialist Party MSP, also spoke, urging people to welcome asylum seekers “with the hand of friendship”.

Anti Nazi League Join this weekend’s anti-Nazi activity

1 / 2 September, Burnley, Oldham and Bradford

Build for the carnival, Oldham, 20 October

more on page 16 Phone the Anti Nazi League on 020 7924 0333 for more details or go to

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