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Afterglow of France 1995


THERE'S NOTHING like a beef war to remind you just how stupid the British media and British politicians are. The idiotic jingoistic ranting at the French this past fortnight really has taken the biscuit. In fact, France is the most interesting country in Europe today. A huge wave of social struggles is sweeping French society. The farmers' protests are merely the tip of the iceberg. Barely a day seems to go by without some group or other demonstrating in Paris. High school students have taken to the streets in their hundreds of thousands twice over the past six months.

Spirit of the lynch mob


HOME SECRETARY Jack Straw has found time off from forcing through the Asylum Bill to extract an apology from the Chief Inspector of Prisons. Sir David Ramsbotham's "offence" had been to question what would happen to Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, who killed two year old James Bulger in 1993.

Two tactics put to test


WHAT A contrast. Ford workers strike unofficially for a day. The result: one of the most powerful capitalists in the world almost immediately flies across the Atlantic. Rail union leaders call off a one day strike over safety by guards because it is declared illegal by a high court judge. The result: Railtrack could get away with murder.

Britain's Slave Trade: who won freedom?


Channel 4's "Black History" month has restored my faith in the ability of television to take important historical subjects and present them in an unpatronising and accessible way. The centrepiece has been the four part series Britain's Slave Trade. It took as its inspiration Eric Williams's 1964 study Capitalism and Slavery, but updated it and brought it alive.

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