Editorial

2005: The Year The Tide Turned

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Given Tony Blair's loyal support for George Bush's demented political programme, it is fitting that the two men appear to be going down together. For 2005 will surely be remembered as the year things finally went belly up for Bush and Blair.

Their international standing has been battered by mass movements against the neo-liberal project they champion. In May the French people voted no to the EU constitution, the European bosses' pet project. The vote was a result of a mass popular campaign uniting the left, the unions and the global justice movement. It was soon followed by a similar result in the Netherlands.

Critical Levels

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Tony Blair's contempt for free speech and democracy has reached critical levels.

The defining image of this year's Labour Party conference was 72 year old Walter Wolfgang being manhandled out of the hall for heckling. That says a lot about both the conference and the popular perception of New Labour. The incident was shocking and demoralising for even the most hardened delegates. That Walter and 600 others in Brighton were detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act has become another mini scandal among Labour members.

Going from Bad to Worse

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One of the great myths of the occupation of Iraq is that, despite the problems in the rest of the country, the situation in the south around Basra has been improving because it is under the so called 'softly-softly' approach of British forces.

This myth was blown apart recently when British troops launched an assault on a prison in Basra. The images in the press which saw British troops forced to flee burning tanks after they were set alight by protesters says much about the relationship between the British army and local Iraqis.

Forging a New Left

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Political paralysis, a big fall in the value of the euro and talk of a policy vacuum showed that Europe's bosses suffered a serious setback following the general election results in Germany.

Angela Merkel, the leader of the CDU and strongest advocate of neo-liberalism, was the biggest loser. Having led the polls for months and widely tipped to be the next chancellor, she was unable to secure an overall majority and is now desperately trying to cobble together some sort of workable coalition. Gerhard Schröder's SDP received its lowest vote for 15 years as people expressed their anger against high unemployment and economic stagnation. The political turmoil looks set to continue for months, leading to further instability in Europe's largest economy.

Nothing but Contempt

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As if the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes, the innocent Brazilian man shot at Stockwell tube on 22 July by the Metropolitan Police, was not shocking enough, the behaviour of the police since has been appalling.

Despite initial claims, Jean Charles was not wearing a padded jacket, he didn't run from the police, nor did he jump the tube ticket-barrier and there were no grounds for seeing him as an immediate threat.

Keeping Up the Pressure

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Is George Bush facing 'tipping point' over the war in Iraq - the point when the majority of US opinion turns finally and permanently against the war?

This is being openly discussed in the US as recent polls now show support for the war slipping dramatically. A Gallop poll last month showed that 54 percent of Americans now believe it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq, and Bush's approval rating has slumped to the low 30s. The comparisons with the Vietnam War are now being made as once support for the government for that war dropped below 50 percent it never recovered.

Feeding the Dogs of War

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The latest US military offensive, codenamed 'Operation Spear' and supported by British warplanes, on the so called 'village' of Karabila near the Syrian border left dozens dead and many more injured.

Using brutal tactics reminiscent of the attack on Fallujah, the US army sealed off the town (population over 60,000), trapping hundreds inside. Over 7,000 refugees were forced to flee to the desert in a desperate attempt to survive.

Experience suggests that this latest offensive will only increase the resistance's determination to step up its attacks on occupying forces and those in the Iraqi government who support them. Since prime minister Ibrahim Al Jaafari announced his cabinet on 28 April nearly 1,200 Iraqis have been killed.

Life Before Debt

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It wasn't long ago that the world's leaders could meet for conferences in glorious isolation. The anti-capitalist protests of the last few years have changed all that. Now the scandal of global poverty mobilises an immense, angry movement.

The organisers of the $275 million G8 summit at the luxury Gleneagles Hotel have used the usual scare tactics to try to minimise the protests. On the other hand the G8 leaders - and Gordon Brown and Tony Blair in particular - have tried to associate themselves with the public desire for real action on debt relief, aid and trade. The Make Poverty History (MPH) campaign has struck a chord with millions.

The Logic of Mutiny

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The established political logic is that wars are vote winners, and that armies, whatever their private misgivings, do as they are told.

New Labour's heavily reduced majority on 5 May gave the lie to the first assumption, and the growth of Military Families Against the War (MFAW) to the second.

Thrill on Capitol Hill

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The neo-cons got more than they bargained for when they invited George Galloway to Capitol Hill last month.

More used to subservience from its visitors, instead it was the Senate committee and, by extension, the whole Bush administration which found itself on trial for the illegal war in Iraq. George Galloway has spoken for the millions throughout the world who have opposed one of the great crimes of modern times.

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