Most people know about Charles Dickens even if few have ploughed through his novels. They have heard of Oliver Twist, the little orphan boy who asked for more food, or Ebenezer Scrooge, the skinflint employer who dismissed time off for Christmas as humbug.
TONY BLAIR got a taste of the discontent and debate inside the Labour Party when he spoke in east London last week. Blair and deputy prime minister John Prescott conducted a question and answer session at Queen Mary & Westfield College. Some 400 invited Labour Party members were crammed into the hall, with another 200 in an overspill room.
THE NEW Assembly in Northern Ireland has been welcomed by nearly everyone except a tiny minority of hardline Unionists gathered around Ian Paisley. Millions of people are hoping the new Assembly will mean the dawn of a new era of peace in Northern Ireland. Many ordinary Protestants and Catholics are also hoping that the new Assembly will begin to tackle poverty, unemployment and declining welfare services. But the real question is whether the new Assembly will be able to deliver the peace and prosperity so many people in Northern Ireland are hoping for.
THE MONEY collected for the Socialist Worker appeal has now reached £143,075.71. Workplace collections continue to come in. Workers at the London Fire Authority have now contributed £124. Other workplace collections include: Glasgow Council social work £47, TNT News Fast £15, Islington Green School £20, Wiltshire Mental Health £7, Holborn Housing £5, Greenwich council £4.50.
PRESSURE from trade unionists, Labour Party activists and Londoners has forced Blair to put Ken Livingstone's name onto the ballot paper for Labour's candidate for mayor of London. Blair knew that the London party would have split in two if he blocked Livingstone.
Used to replace others
RAY IS 19 years old. He was homeless for a year but now has his own flat in Sheffield. He was offered a placement on the New Deal. Ray signed onto a computing skills course. He hoped that would enable him to get a job. But the reality did not match the hype:
"YOU Marxists believe in violent revolution," is a charge put by establishment politicians and mainstream newspapers. These people claim that, unlike Marxists, they stand for peace and non-violence. This is the utmost hypocrisy. Such people organise and cheer on the most barbaric violence when it is in their interests.
GEORGE MONBIOT is one of Britain's best known environmental campaigners. He writes a regular column in the Guardian and is writing a book due out next year on "the corporate takeover of Britain". Socialist Worker spoke to him in the run up to next week's protests against the World Trade Organisation.
"IF YOU defend yourself against a racist attacker, you get a life sentence like Satpal Ram. If you don't defend yourself, you end up six feet under like Stephen Lawrence." So said Lawrence family solicitor Imran Khan to a packed public meeting last week at the House of Commons called by the Free Satpal Ram Campaign.
THE MONEY collected for the Socialist Worker appeal has now reached £136,380.62. In the last week we received donations from many workplace collections, including: £4 from Jaguar in Solihull, £10 from Blackburn College, £14.98 from De la Rue Printers in High Wycombe, £17 from UCLH hospitals, £18 from Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, £23.50 from Oxford City Council workers, £25 from Kirklees housing workers, £27 from Newcastle General Hospital, £40 amongst Huddersfield postal workers, £80 from BT workers in Bristol St Pauls, £5 from Rolls Royce workers in Bristol, £6 from Sheffield Southey Green housing association, £10 outside Manchester Royal Infirmary and £16 at a Sheffield Trades Council
THOUSANDS OF people are set to demonstrate over the next two weeks against student poverty and the World Trade Organisation's plans to squeeze the world's poorest people. Socialist Worker reports on a demonstration against Third World Debt and looks forward to the other protests.
PROTESTS ARE to take place across Britain on Tuesday 30 November as part of a show of worldwide opposition to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The WTO is made up of trade ministers from 134 countries who are due to meet in Seattle in the US.
THERE IS only a week to go to the national demonstration against student hardship, on Thursday 25 November. It is set to be a brilliant show of opposition to New Labour's tuition fees and for the return of student grants. There is stacks of enthusiasm for the demonstration, but not much time left to ensure there is the biggest turnout possible.
"WE HAD no other option but to strike. We just couldn't go on being ground into the dirt." That was how Essex bus driver Roger Martin explained why workers at Eastern National went on strike over pay. The company is owned by FirstGroup, Britain's biggest bus operator.
DOES FREE trade benefit rich and poor alike? A few thousand rich and powerful individuals will be pumping out the message that it does as they meet in Seattle for the World Trade Organisation talks this month.
SOCIALIST Worker editor Chris Harman opened the conference with a session on the "New World Disorder". He argued that the starting point for socialists is the huge political and economic instability across the globe. "People should cast their minds back ten years to the euphoria of the ruling class at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall," Chris said.
CHRIS BAMBERY talked about how a series of political issues have exploded over the past few months in Britain. This has exposed the bitterness against New Labour amongst two groups of people. "The first group would describe themselves as 'Old Labour' or centre left, but are now hostile to Tony Blair," he said. "The second group see themselves as anti-capitalist."
"TELL HER to come down here and spend just one night. That's all I can say. And let me have her house for a night." Those are the words of Ian, who is 18 and homeless, in response to the government's so called "homelessness tsar", Louise Casey. New Labour is not content with attacking disabled people, those on benefits, asylum seekers and "squeegee merchants".
"IT'S A victory for us." Those were the first words of Sukhdev Reel on Monday after a west London inquest jury took just 50 minutes to return an "open verdict" into the death of her son Ricky.
SOCIALIST WORKER'S appeal burst through the £100,000 mark this week. Now the total has reached £114,448.51. The money we received included £365 raised from a walk by 50 people around London's East End through the sites of great working class struggles like the Match Girls' strike in 1888. A walking tour round Manchester raised £214.