Opinion

A Very Special Relationship

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Pat Stack's world exclusive on that affair.

The tabloids have been full of it, the eyes of the world have watched aghast, everyone is talking about it, but here - for the first time - one of the couple tagged the 'text bombers' tells us exclusively about the affair.

Stack on the Back: Tony, can I ask you how the affair started?

Tony Blair: It was funny really, because when I first met him I hardly noticed him - I was very much in love with Bill at the time. But as you know, Bill walked out of my life and there was this void, and suddenly George was there.

Pick Your Site

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The 20th anniversary of the miners' strike offers an opportunity to examine how the internet has been used to archive and record British trade union history.

Unfortunately the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is one of the few British trade unions not to have a website, so material relating to the miners and their history is limited, or from a right wing point of view. The BBC has part of its site devoted to the anniversary, and while its archive of images, film and interviews is extensive, it can be unusual. It includes, for instance, an 'animated map' that allows you to watch the 'UK's coal mines disappear'.

Why Numbers Matter

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Secondary picketing could have won the 1984-85 miners' strike.

Most press coverage of the 20th anniversary of the miners' strike has been pretty crass, turning it into nothing much more than a glorified punch-up. There was plenty of violence, of course, mainly courtesy of Maggie Thatcher's boot boys - entire regiments of coppers shipped into mining villages with ruthless instructions to spare no quarter. But the main reason for the eventual defeat of the miners a year later was that the tactics adopted by the miners 12 years earlier - in the fantastic strike of 1972 - were not replicated.

Jumping Off the Bandwagon

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Mike Davis assesses the options for the left in the coming US elections.

Is the Pentagon too small, the war on terrorism too meek, and the Department of Homeland Security too underfunded?

John Kerry thinks so. In recent days he has repeatedly attacked the Bush administration for failing to put sufficient troops in the field or move aggressively enough against Al Qaida and North Korea.

Sects, Lies and Virile Monks

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The history of decadent, out of touch rulers should worry Tony Blair, writes
Mike Gonzalez.

Listening to Blair's Churchillian blast at Labour's spring conference was a peculiarly unpleasant experience. As usual, he mobilised his two good old standbys - moralism and fear. Like Canute, Blair stood resolutely on the beach looking out across the water and commanded the waves to turn back. This was a man so obviously lying to himself and others - so obviously acting a part - that not even the toadies and sycophants lined beaming along the front row of the hall could have believed a word of it.

Hostage to Misfortune

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The Guantanamo detainees are as much hostages as Terry Waite was, argues Pat Stack.

Hostage tragedy, hostage farce. That was the only way to describe the antics of the last few weeks.

Despite the appalling treatment that has been dished out by the US towards the hostages at Guantanamo Bay, the British tabloids have been happy to carry any old hogwash the US State Department may throw at them about those recently released British citizens. They were all Taliban and Al Qaida according to the Sun, relying directly on US information issued in retaliation for those hostages describing the horrors of the camp.

Virtual Unity

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This month brings an email from an activist with the AUT at a major British university. He describes how email and the internet have become useful tools in their attempt to organise workers at the university.

He writes, 'We are of course in a good position in the AUT in that almost all members have email at work. However, with the spread of email I think the unions are missing out on a potentially very useful organising tool.' He goes on to add, 'Of course it is only one tool as part of a major improvement in branch activity recently, including recruitment stalls and a newsletter (on paper), but it is an important one.'

Mind the (Gender) Gap

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Shocking new figures have put equal pay back on the agenda.

A batch of recent statistics on the role of women in the labour market highlight the fact that widespread discrimination has not gone away - even though women now make up virtually 50 percent of the workforce in Britain. The figures on pay discrimination are particularly scandalous given that it is now more than 30 years since the Equal Pay Act came into force and - despite all the ballyhoo about 'Blair's babes' - there has been hardly any shift in the gender pay gap since New Labour came to power.

How to Fight the System

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Coalitions can't substitute for revolutionary organisation but are a vital prerequisite.

A couple of years ago Paul Foot wrote an article in Socialist Worker arguing that people who were involved in the anti-war movement needed to belong to something more, a political organisation that took up other issues as well. We received two letters criticising his argument. They were from people who argued that they already had a wider organisation, the electoral united front the Socialist Alliance, and saw no reason to be in the Socialist Workers Party.

The Great Wall of Capital

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The free market means a maze of fortified borderposts.

When delirious crowds tore down the Berlin Wall in 1989 many hallucinated that a millennium of borderless freedom was at hand. Globalisation was supposed to inaugurate an era of unprecedented physical and virtual-electronic mobility. Instead neoliberal capitalism has built the greatest barrier to free movement in history.

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