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Old red tops New Labour

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Issue 1760

Inside the system

Old red tops New Labour

DAVID TRIESMAN is to become Labour’s new general secretary. He has spent the last two decades as the staid chief negotiator of the NATFHE and AUT unions.

But he had quite a different face back in the 1960s. He was suspended from Essex University in 1968 for breaking up a meeting addressed by a chemical defence scientist. Triesman was described as the “inspirational radical” at the university by one book.

Seven hundred students struck in support of Triesman and two other students who had also been suspended. They were all finally reinstated. This did not satisfy Triesman. He wrote:

“What we should do if the situation were to arise again would be to behave as provocatively as necessary and to effectively sanction the university to the extent that they need to use force, probably the police.”

The aim, Triesman argued, was to combat the “whole nauseating apparatus” where universities churned out the next generation of capitalist managers. In 1969 Triesman argued, “We are part of a post-CND generation which was taught our final lessons in Grosvenor Square.”

In Grosvenor Square in London police had savagely attacked a demonstration against the US war in Vietnam. Triesman concluded, “The generation developing in this country will not want to pay lip service to the international struggle against imperialism, colonialism and racism. It will be in conflict with capitalism as the parent of these enemies. It will become an enemy within the fortresses of capitalism.”

Inside the System suspects Triesman will not be applying his words and actions from the past in his new job.

Fat cat man

LORD HASKINS, the government’s red tape Tsar, has declared war on fat cats who do not deserve their huge pay rises, bonuses and share options.

“We cannot have the likes of Railtrack, Marks & Spencers and Marconi happening every week without something being done,” he said recently.

Haskins did not mention Express Dairies, where the share price has slumped to 28p and the chairman still gets 75,000 from the company. He also failed to mention the 94,916 that the non-executive chairman of Northern Foods gets on top of his 1,437,536 shares.

Maybe that’s because Haskins is the fat cat who holds both these positions.

YOUNG and disillusioned with politicians? Liberal Democrat News, the party’s monthly magazine, is inviting people to enter a writing competition in which you have 350 words to answer the question, “What would inspire young people to become more engaged in politics?”

The prize for the winner is lunch with Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy and a tour of the House of Commons with youth spokesperson Lembit Opik. That’ll really inspire young people to get writing!

Computer blowout

THE EXAM agency responsible for bringing misery to tens of thousands of young people in Scotland last year is heading for another fiasco. The Scottish Qualifications Authority was responsible for 18,000 school students receiving wrong exam results.

Scotland’s first minister, New Labour’s Henry McLeish, pledged such problems would “never happen again”.

But this year the authority’s new 400,000 computer system, supposed to avoid the problems, has been destroyed because it was plugged into the wrong electricity supply. When it was switched on a surge of power “fried” the computer’s electronics.

Time for a Coke?

THE Palestinian people have faced 53 years of homelessness, poverty and oppression, and now months of economic blockade because of Israel’s response to the new intifada.

But they can still get Coca-Cola. An article in the pro-market Business Week magazine reports on how Coke will improve the lives of Palestinians. “It is expected of us to lead the way during this difficult time, to inject some energy into the economy,” says Farouk Fannoush, the general manager of National Beverage which imports Coca-Cola into the Occupied Territories.

“We are running promotional campaigns. At local exhibitions I put the Coke label in one corner with a Palestinian flag.”

Sinister exposure

THOMAS HARDING, a Daily Telegraph reporter, was sent to expose the violent and undemocratic nature of the anti-capitalist movement. He joined the non-violent direct action group the Wombles in London before Genoa.

Apparently, in the Wombles’ meetings “one person would chair the meeting, allowing only those who put up their hand to speak next. Each person was asked their opinion.”

Harding got a real taste of violence in Genoa when he had to flee from the police on two occasions to avoid a terrible beating.

GOT PROBLEMS packing for your holidays? We’ve got the perfect answer, courtesy of the Financial Times’ charming “How to Spend It” supplement for those with plenty of spare cash.

The Louis Vuitton wardrobe trunk has space for all your holiday outfits and much more-and is a real bargain at just 12,000.

Things they say

“TO CRITICISE the Italian police is to turn the world upside down.”


“THE Italian police had a difficult job to do and did it.”

  • TONY BLAIR’s official spokesman

“THEY LINED them up and banged their heads against the walls. They urinated on one person. They beat people if they didn’t sing [the fascist hymn] ‘Facetta Nera’.”

  • ITALIAN POLICEMAN speaking to the Republicca newspaper on how his colleagues had treated G8 protesters

“I greatly welcome your ‘shock squad’ idea. It ought to appeal to adventurous youth, and should be immensely useful until the Communists rumble it. “When they do they will exclude all British representatives from these conferences. We could then ourselves publicise our exclusion, with possible salutary effects, particularly in our colonial empire.”

  • BRITISH AMBASSADOR in Bulgaria in the 1950s on plans to send squads of young Tories to Communist youth festivals in Russia to spread pro-Western propaganda

“TWO WEEKS ago this newspaper warned that Kenneth Clarke’s presence on the final shortlist of two in the Conservative leadership contest would have a deeply divisive effect upon the party.”


“KENNETH Clarke will fail to make the final shortlist in the Conservative leadership contest, depriving grassroots members of the chance to vote for the most popular Tory in the country at large.”


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