Opinion

Dumb and Dumber

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This is a war without reason, justification or explanation.

Tony Blair recently proclaimed that even if he were in a minority in the country he would still be committed to wage war on Iraq. Today it appears he is, so he's going to get the chance to prove it.

Never has a war seemed to have less reason, justice or explanation. It is impossible to find a single persuasive argument in its favour.

Not Another Bloody Makeover!

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What does modernisation of public services actually mean? More managers or more money?

The more you hear about what New Labour means by 'modernisation' of the public services, the more you realise the astonishing degree to which so much government thinking is still in thrall to a past era--of Thatcherism. This was probably most obvious in the first couple of weeks of the firefighters' strike when it was only too apparent that some of Blair's closest associates could hardly wait to get their knives into the FBU and tag leaders of the union as 'Scargillite' at every opportunity.

A Virtual World to Win

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If you were one of the tens of thousands of people who bought a computer game (or indeed other software) for Xmas, then you are probably still smarting from the price you paid.

One icy night in 1855, the celebrated street brawler John Morrissey walked into a Broadway saloon and spat in the face of Bill 'The Butcher' Poole, the even more renowned goliath of the New York streets. Poole, who led a murderous mob of anti-Catholic 'know nothings', was the arch-foe of Morrissey and other Irish gang leaders in the pay of Tammany Hall. Morrissey tried to blow Poole's brains out with his pistol but it misfired and Butcher Bill was preparing to 'bone the Irishman's cutlet' when the police intervened.

Striking a Bargain

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The role of the trade union leaders is complex and contradictory.

Arguments over reform and revolution are as old as the working class movement. That does not stop people repeatedly confusing the issues at stake. One of the most widespread confusions in Britain is the belief that reformism is embodied in one political formation, the Labour Party, and cannot exist outside it.

Great Polls and Ire

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The great and the good form a self-selecting club which ignores the rest of us.

'Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go' (Hamlet)

Recently, the air has been full of talk of greatness. Churchill, Brunel, Princess Diana, Darwin, Boy George were all candidates for the Great Britons award. It was predictable enough that Churchill ultimately won.

Amey, What Can the Matter Be?

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Attacks on the firefighters and PFI go hand in glove in the name of modernisation.

Could there possibly be a connection between New Labour's sudden relish for a showdown with the firefighters and the latest batch of woes to have descended on the government's pet PFI plans? At just about the same time as ministers were pondering the wisdom of squaring up to the FBU, some of the key firms involved in highly valued PFI and PPP projects were owning up to write-downs that set jaws agape on the stockmarket. Both Amey and W S Atkins were forced to postpone the signing of final agreements on London Underground infrastructure renewal projects until the New Year.

A Thunderstorm Against the Wind

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Byron struck an image that still enthrals many. Mike Gonzalez traces the sources of his popularity.

Lady Caroline Lamb's spiteful description of her ex-lover Lord Byron--'mad, bad and dangerous to know'--has remained with us in a cascade of society scandals. Now it is the title of a new travelling exhibition, linked to a new biography by Fiona McCarthy. Suddenly Lord George Gordon Byron is everywhere. In an age of tabloid fascination with 'celebrity', it is the flagrant, challenging homosexual, the athletic lover, the dandy with the club foot, the merciless satirist, the man who courted scandal by parading his love for his sister, who is rediscovered.

Get This Party Started

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To ban parties from the movement would only benefit established parties.

One of the biggest and most enthusiastic meetings at last month's European Social Forum in Florence was about 'parties and movements'. Five thousand people crammed into a hangar-like hall 150 metres long for what was, in many ways, a rerun of a much older debate, that on 'party and class'.

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