In my view column

Credit crunch: A winning formula?

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The credit crunch has wiped £600 billion - more than £1 million a minute - from Britain's total wealth in the past year.

According to a recent set of figures, which seem almost impossible to take in, these losses are caused largely by falls in the value of houses and shares. They begin to highlight the scale of the economic crisis which is upon us and which shows every sign of getting much worse before it gets better.

The war in Afghanistan is not a noble cause

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The most noble cause of the 21st century was how Des Browne, the defence minister, described the war in Afghanistan.

This isn't just a grotesque and insulting way to describe a war in defence of corrupt government, warlords and opium poppy production. It is part of a concerted attempt to rebrand Afghanistan as the good war, the war worth fighting and dying for, the war worth spending billions of pounds to maintain.

Unembedded in Iraq

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When a journalist decides to "embed" they can only report on the unit they are with. They see what the unit sees, and limit themselves to what the military decides they will see.

In many instances they sign forms granting the military the right to censor their work. It is impossible for such "embedded" journalists to report accurately on how Iraqis are being affected by the occupation.

My type of reportage, like other independent journalists, focuses instead on the Iraqi perspective. I have focused my stories on how rampant unemployment, lack of water and electricity, the US-backed segregation of Baghdad, and the horrible security situation had an impact on Iraqis.

London mayoral elections: Vote for the Left List

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What happens when your economic policies rely on a booming City of London and you're suddenly faced with a banking crisis and a credit crunch?

That's the dilemma facing the Labour government. It is also hitting Ken Livingstone in his mayoral contest, with Boris Johnson, the right wing Tory, ahead in recent polls. Many believe that the contest will be decided on transfer votes as the smaller parties' second preferences are divided between the two main candidates.

London mayoral elections: Race and class in the city

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Race has been an issue in London all my life.

When I look back now, it is nowhere near the racist city it once was. London is visibly multicultural, much of the fabric of London life draws from ethnic minority culture, and there is not the same overt racism and bigotry which has dogged generations of immigrants who have been refused rooms, meals and jobs because of their racial or national origins.

London mayoral elections: Why I'm standing

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The election for London mayor is shaping up to be a celebrity clash between the incumbent mayor, Ken Livingstone, and his main rival, the Tory Neanderthal MP for Henley, Boris Johnson.

It is also getting nasty, especially since the Dispatches programme by Martin Bright last month which attacked Livingstone from a number of angles.

Both are well known figures, and already the level of media coverage surrounding the contest is high. Livingstone is facing daily attacks from London's main paper, the Evening Standard, while representatives of ethnic minorities, not to mention the left, quake at the thought of Johnson running City Hall.

Kosovo - back to the brink

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The Balkan province of Kosovo has been largely forgotten in British politics since the war there nine years ago. It was obvious at the time that the post-war settlement would come to a crisis over the question of Kosovan independence.

If a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo doesn't lead to war, that's only because the Serbs are too war weary and defeated to fight against what most of them see as a further attack on their country.

Defending abortion rights

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This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the private member's bill which led to the Abortion Act of 1967, allowing abortion up to 28 weeks of pregnancy, that was lowered to 24 weeks in 1990 by the Human Fertilisation Act.

The 1967 act ended 164 years of misery for women with unwanted pregnancies. In 1803 abortion was made a capital offence, after centuries when abortion had been legal until foetal movements could be felt. Countless women died agonising deaths as a result of illegal abortion. Fear of prosecution prevented them from seeking medical help. Since the act came into force, the number of abortions each year in Britain has increased from 54,819 in 1969 to 193,000 in 2006. One in three women in Britain can now expect to have an abortion.

The grotesque bargain

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Last month Gordon Brown became the nearly man.

The debacle of his preparing for an election and then pulling back from it has confused and demoralised his own side, and given the Tories a major political advantage. While the election has probably now been pushed back nearly two years, Brown's own popularity has plummeted in the opinion polls.

Soft in the middle

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Anyone who has recently tried to obtain a mortgage or loan will have known Northern Rock long before the current crisis broke - it was a byword for favourable rates.

The company's spectacular demise has sent shockwaves through the money markets, government, investors and general public, who all look on in amazement as something supposedly so good has become so bad.

No one can remember queues outside a British bank as investors struggled to remove their savings. Those scenes seem reminiscent of Weimar Germany or the US Depression of the 1930s. They seem to presage worse economic news to come.

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