Some 20,000 people joined an anti-war march through London last Saturday. How right they were to protest has been underlined by events in the last week. First Tony Blair cheered on US president George Bush's plans to launch a new war against Iraq. Then the war in Afghanistan erupted in some of the heaviest fighting yet seen.
If you sacrifice public interest for private sector gain you have to bury bad news every day. That simple truth lies at the root of the row surrounding transport secretary Stephen Byers. The media and mainstream parties are focusing solely on the tale of who said what to who.
George Bush has lit the fuse for war on Iraq, a war that will kill thousands of innocent people. Next weekend is your chance to protest against this rush to mass murder. The bombing of Afghanistan has been horrific, killing more civilians than died in the World Trade Centre. War against Iraq will be far worse.
"Tony Blair talks about public sector workers putting scars on his back, and then calls us wreckers. I think public sector workers should be a boil on Tony Blair's nose." Julie Pih, a Rochdale homecare worker, is furious with the government, especially after Blair's "wreckers" insult. She is one among millions. Julie was one of the delegates who expressed their anger at last week's Unison women's conference.
"I am under pressure from rank and file members of my union to disaffiliate from the Labour Party." That was the message from Dave Prentis of Unison to his fellow union leaders last week. Both Unison and the GMB union have launched big advertising campaigns in response to Blair's "wreckers" insults. They rightly point out that public sector workers are not wreckers.
The scandal surrounding the collapse of giant US corporation Enron is coming closer to the heart of New Labour. The party received £36,000 from Enron after coming to office in 1997. As Socialist Worker reported last week, a string of meetings between ministers and Enron bosses followed.
"TORTURED" was the outcry on the front page of the Mail on Sunday. Pictures released by Bush's government boast of the barbaric treatment meted out to prisoners taken from Afghanistan to the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The prisoners are caged, masked, bound hand and foot, and forced to kneel before US soldiers.
"FLAKY." That's how transport secretary Stephen Byers described the core ideas of the New Labour government this week. It is an astonishing admission from a man who has long been one of Tony Blair's closest allies. Byers was an evangelist for the "Third Way" ideas he now concedes are off the wall.
TONY BLAIR returned from his jet-setting this week to face a domestic political crisis. He and his government face a groundswell of opposition over a range of issues - the crumbling NHS, mounting job losses and, above all, the transport crisis. A top aide to transport secretary Stephen Byers infamously wrote on the day of the destruction of the World Trade Centre, "Today is a good day to bury bad news."
THE NEW year has opened with two different sides of the world on show. The first is the horror and the barbarism seen in the US's continuing bombing of Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Taliban. US president George Bush declared there is more slaughter in store. "2002 will be a war year as well," Bush said last week.
This year has seen the ugly reality of global capitalism. It has ended with the third war in ten years involving the US and Britain. The US bombing has already killed over 3,767 Afghan civilians, according to thorough research by a US professor (see page 7).
"George Bush's war is the opportunity of a generation to cut jobs without the risk of strikes." This is what top managers at British Airways (BA) have written in a secret document, obtained by the Observer, as they prepare to axe 10,000 jobs. This is on top of the 7,000 redundancies they have already announced. It is one sign of how rotten the system is that Bush and Tony Blair have gone to war to defend.
The Taliban surrender of the last city they controlled last week was, according to Tony Blair, a "total vindication" of the two-month US-led war in Afghanistan. But it is not any justification for George Bush and Tony Blair's claims to be leading the world to greater liberty and prosperity.
Tony Blair and his government have backed US president George Bush's war in Afghanistan to the hilt. But even some sections of New Labour are worried about his plans to spread his war to Iraq, Somalia or any other country the US decides is a "rogue state".
"Afghanistan is just the start." Those were the words of George W Bush last week as he made a sickeningly violent speech to 15,000 troops, including the 101st Airborne Division-the aptly named "Screaming Eagles". Bush whipped them into a frenzy by chanting "Airborne assault!" as they pumped their fists in the air.
The war against Afghanistan has been going badly for the US and its allies. Every day last week brought news of another setback for Bush and Blair. Tony Blair's tour of the Middle East to shore up support for the "coalition against terrorism" was a complete fiasco.
Support for Bush and Blair's war against Afghanistan is ebbing fast. Tony Blair tried to claim that the bombing was "moral" in his speech to the Welsh assembly on Tuesday. But what is moral about slaughtering hundreds of people through aerial bombardment?
US AND British forces had bombed Afghanistan for a week and a half as Socialist Worker went to press. Their "war on terrorism" means killing innocent Afghans in revenge for the attacks on the World Trade Centre-attacks which didn't involve a single Afghan. Yet, despite the carnage Bush and Blair are raining down on Afghanistan, the US and Britain are worried the war is not going their way.
DELEGATES TO the Labour Party conference on Tuesday gave Tony Blair a standing ovation. He is going to use this as an excuse to wage war on Afghanistan. But Blair only got such support because people believed, wrongly, that he is a restraining influence on George W Bush and the US military.
"SINCE I was 12 all I have known is fighting and more fighting. So once again innocent people will be killed and nobody will care about it."
Faiz, a 33 year old market trader in Kabul, Afghanistan