Fiona Prior

Crime and No Punishment

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Review of 'On the Wrong Line', Christian Wolmar, Aurum Press £10.99

With the companies involved in the Hatfield rail disaster having just been fined £10 million for negligence, this is a timely book. Perhaps the tube bosses should read it, and they might understand why having private contractors working on a railway is a bad idea.

On the Right Track

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Martin Smith is right (April SR) - the pressure is on to democratise the trade unions' political fund.

This has fed into support for a political alternative to New Labour. In Scotland the credible alternative is the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) with seven MSPs, whereas south of the border the launch of Respect has raised the level of discussion. After expelling the RMT for supporting the SSP, New Labour is now threatening to discipline the CWU for giving a donation to the SSP. This can only stimulate the debate further.

Torn Between Love and War

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Review of 'At Swim, Two Boys', Jamie O'Neill, Scribner £19.99

This story interweaves the innocence and romance of two boys falling in love with a sharp narrative on the political climate and events leading to the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland. The main characters' fathers, Mr Mack and Mr Doyle, joined the British army and served together. They are both Catholics and are now back in Ireland and living in a small coastal town near Dublin where their lives diverge. Mr Mack, a small corner shop owner, sees himself on the up moving into respectable society. He sees his old friend Mr Doyle as a drunk letting his family fall into poverty.

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