Feature

Countdown to 10 June: Wipe the Smiles Off their Faces

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Peter Morgan looks at the unique opportunity we have to teach Blair and Bush a lesson on 10 June.

There is one memorable moment in Errol Morris's masterly new film The Fog of War, in which Robert S McNamara - the secretary of defence under Kennedy and Johnson and the man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese - admits that both he and Lyndon Johnson knew the US was embroiled in a war it could not win and a war it had to get out of. That point came, he admitted, after about 23,000 US servicemen and women had been killed. Yet the final total of US casualties in the Vietnam War ended up being 58,209.

Striking parallels

Countdown to 10 June: A Winning Formula

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For Londoners, 'Super Thursday' will be the most complicated election ever held. Sally Campbell demystifies the process.

There are three elections taking place on 10 June:


European Parliament

Which voting system is used?

Regional list system: The UK is divided into 12 regions (eg North East, North West, London, Scotland) and each elects a certain number of MEPs, so London is likely to elect nine, Scotland eight, North West ten.

Each political party puts forward a list of candidates for the region matching the number of seats (independents can also stand as individuals).

Red Light from the Greens

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The Green Party's resistance to making an electoral arrangement with Respect is unfortunate, but not entirely uncharacteristic, finds Andrew Stone.

The destructive forces of capitalism are driving us headlong into the sixth great species extinction of the earth's 5 billion year history. The Green Party has done the left a valuable service in highlighting this environmental emergency, and in explaining human-induced climate change as one of its prime motors. It has been disappointing therefore that attempts by the Respect coalition steering committee to cooperate in campaigning for the 10 June elections were so robustly refused by the Green Party leadership. This article explains why.

Moderate progress

Mordechai Vanunu: Israel's Whistle Test

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Paul Foot hails the 'whistleblower' who exposed Israel's nuclear programme.

I have been a journalist for the last 40 years or so, and most of that time I have been exceedingly fortunate in that I have been able to decide what to investigate and what to write about. All that time I have been struck by the ingenious and comprehensive methods by which capitalist society protects itself from the circulation of information. The essence of that society is exploitation, and the facts and figures of that exploitation are wherever possible kept secret from the exploited. This is not to say that there is nothing to discover.

Trade Unions: Making Labour Pay

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The expulsion of the RMT from the Labour Party is hastening calls to democratise trade union political funds - and not before time.

For 100 years the trade union movement has loyally backed the Labour Party. In the past few months real cracks have begun to open up. At midday on 7 February 2004 the Labour leadership expelled the RMT. Its crime? A special conference decision to uphold the right of branches and regions to support parties other than the Labour Party. The decision to expel the RMT was not just made by the cabal around Blair - NEC delegates from Amicus, GMB, GPMU, TGWU and Unison voted for their expulsion. Members of the 'awkward squad' control all five of these unions!

The Politics of Terror: The Threat to Freedom

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Our civil liberties are being eroded in the name of anti-terrorism.

Bush and Blair say the war on terror is a war to defend freedom. Some freedom. Over 700 people have been arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000, and many more have been harassed and threatened with detention. Only about 70 of them have been charged - mostly with immigration offences. By December 2003 just seven had been convicted. None of these were found guilty of planning or carrying out specific 'acts of terror'. Almost all of the people arrested and harassed have been Muslims, but only two of the people convicted were Muslims.

The Politics of Terror: Who are Al Qaida?

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Bin Laden's network has become a byword for 'evil'. Anne Ashford looks at the reality behind the hype.

In the beginning was the base. There is nothing mysterious about the name of Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaida organisation. In Arabic, the word usually means a base, or military training camp. In its earliest form, Al Qaida was a network of bases for the foreign volunteers who joined the Afghan Mujahadeen in their holy war against the Soviets. Osama Bin Laden's family firm, a Saudi construction company, provided engineers who built a huge tunnel complex for the fighters in Khost with US taxpayers' money. It was 1986, and the CIA was keen to raise the stakes in the global war on Communism.

'The Democratic Rebellion'

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David Karvala reports from Barcelona on how the people overturned the government.

Until Thursday 11 March everything pointed to another victory for the Popular Party (PP) led by Aznar's nondescript replacement, Mariano Rajoy, in the general elections due that Sunday. The reasons are complex. Essentially, despite the more than 90 percent opposition to the war across the Spanish population, the parliamentary opposition parties had failed to convince people that they represent a real alternative to the right. Then, at around 7.40am on 11 March, bombs exploded on four commuter trains entering Madrid.

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