Editorial

Battle Stations

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It's a question of 'weeks not months', warns the warmonger in the White House.

Bush and his trusty friend and military ally Tony Blair have drawn up the timetable for war. They have Iraq in their sights. While our prime minister may scurry around to try and cobble together a UN resolution, the US government has made it clear it wants to redraw the map of the Middle East and grab a greater share of the oil. And whether or not the pressure and inducements in the UN succeed, Blair and his New Labour government support the hawks all the way.

War on War

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George W Bush and Tony Blair are resolved to bring devastating war to the people of Iraq.

Bush's justification of this blatant aggression--'We cannot...allow the world's worst regimes to develop the world's worst weapons'--better describes the rogue superpower than the numerous countries it wants to bring to heel. US military spending of $17 trillion since the Second World War dwarfs that of any other nation.

The Heat is On

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Tony Blair's speeches on the firefighters could have been written by the 'Sun'.

We are witnessing a Labour government talking the language of Thatcherism and preparing to break the strike of a union whose members fund the Labour Party. The government talks of the loss of thousands of firefighters' jobs, not a penny extra for the pay claim and a humiliating defeat of the FBU. Blair proclaimed that 'no government on earth could afford the pay demands'. Yet every concession by the FBU leadership has been met with intransigence and insults from the other side.

Fight Fire with Fire

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By any standards it has been a bad month for Tony Blair. One of the strongest and most powerful groups of workers, the firefighters, threatened their first national strike since the 1970s, support for the anti-war movement continued to grow, and one of Blair's closest allies, Estelle Morris, chose to jump ship as incompetence and controversy piled more pressure on New Labour.

Blair pretends to talk tough, but his government is at its weakest since its election in 1997. Nothing sums this up better than its approach to the dispute with the firefighters. One week before the strike was due to start Gordon Brown warned that he 'would not tolerate inflationary pay settlements'. Two days later Blair let it be known that he regards the FBU's actions as 'Scargillism', by implication comparing himself to Thatcher. The next day John Prescott talked of possible reconciliation and negotiations, with hints that there may be more money on the table.

War on Two Fronts

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The countdown to war has begun.

In his holier-than-thou style Blair presented to parliament what he claims to be compelling evidence that Iraq is a threat to world peace and stability. In words that would have made his master in the White House glow with pride, Blair assured us that 'regime change' and military might are needed in Iraq, with or without the consent of the UN.

Who Wants This War?

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August was a bad month for hawks.

Despite the best efforts of the Bush and Blair governments to continue their preparations for war without public scrutiny or debate, increasingly loud and anxious voices continued to be raised about exactly why the US and Britain were proposing to attack Iraq. These voices included a great number of trade unionists, Labour MPs and anti-war activists, but they also encompassed some of those who have been enthusiastic warmongers in the past. James Baker, key adviser to Bush Sr, is only the latest to have counselled caution.

Safe as Houses?

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Welcome to Britain in the 21st century--a place where the old are told they will have to work until they die; where even some of those on a reasonable income cannot afford a place to live; where the sick are forced to wait months, if not years to get treatment; and where the poor are blamed for the state they're in.

New Labour politicians constantly tell us that the economy is in good shape. They point to the low levels of inflation and high levels of employment and say everything is alright. Yet if this is what we face after a period of so called boom, how much worse will it be when the economy goes into crisis? Serious economic problems are now obvious as is seen with the collapse in share prices, both in Britain and the US and the threat of recession.

Waging War at Home

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The resignation, when it came, was widely expected. The decision by Stephen Byers to quit the government has cheered everyone who is sick of the appalling state of the transport network.

The railways teeter on the brink of collapse, the privatised air traffic control system repeatedly breaks down and the roads are congested.

Byers and New Labour claim none of this is their fault. The line following his resignation was that he was forced out by a hostile media and City investors who are angry with his decision to take Railtrack into administration. For many, however, the last straw came with the deaths of seven people at Potters Bar following a train derailment.

Red Alert

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'The centre cannot hold.' This is the conclusion of the French presidential election, whose results sent shock-waves around the world.

The fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen knocked Socialist Party prime minister Lionel Jospin out of the second round. Jacques Chirac, the right wing president, scraped just under 20 percent of the vote. His expected win in the second round will hardly be a ringing endorsement, since he will be elected by those bitterly opposed to his policies.

The Power of Protest

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Thousands of jobs to go in the Post Office; taxpayers to fund a compensation package to Railtrack shareholders; open talk about a leadership challenge to Tony Blair. Is it any wonder that the gloss is coming off the New Labour project?

Recent polls suggest that Labour's lead over the Tories has been halved over the last month. One poll for the Sunday Times found that 54 percent of people said they felt Blair had been a disappointment, 20 percent thought he should go now and 43 percent thought he should go at the next election. The speed at which the disillusionment with New Labour is increasing is now alarming even the most ardent Blairite loyalists. Former Labour ministers such as Chris Smith, Peter Kilfoyle and Glenda Jackson have all spoken out against the government.

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