Opinion

Going Nowhere Fast

Issue section: 
Author: 

The rail unions have built up some powerful muscle they can flex.

When Stephen Byers was spotted in a Westminster canteen just before Xmas, deep in talks with Mick Rix of Aslef, eyebrows were raised all round. We were all under the impression that trade unions had been virtually airbrushed out of the frame. Now here was one apparently on the best of terms with the transport secretary. One interpretation might be that, with the railways in particular, the government has dug itself into such a hole that it needs every bit of help it can get to winch itself out again.

Torture US Style

Issue section: 
Author: 

The treatment of Afghan prisoners shows the brutal face of US imperialism.

So there we have it! A 'war against terrorism' turns out not to be a war at all. A 'war of precision' turns out to be a war of totally indiscriminate killing, and a 'war for civilised values' ends up with the most brutal and uncivilised treatment of the enemy.

Somehow it is meant to be the opponents of the war who got it all wrong. All those who thought it a civilising mission are apparently in the clear, despite the evidence in front of their very own eyes.

Into the Heart of Darkness

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

The global 'civilisers' have left a bloody legacy in Africa.

It seems appropriate that Francis Ford Coppola's 'Apocalypse Now' should be reissued. Its central figure, Kurtz, the crazed officer who reverts to a state of barbarism deep in the rainforest, might be taken to symbolise the same 'evil forces' that Blair and Bush denounce in their daily meetings with the press. Kurtz first appeared in Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness', but his role was complex.

Speaking Ill of the Dead

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

The general public was seriously underwhelmed by the death of Princess Margaret.

It was a striking symbol of the decline in popularity of the royal family. The crash barriers had been erected to hold back the crowds who would turn up to sign a condolence book for Princess Margaret, yet there were no crowds. The crash barriers were as surplus to requirements as Jo Moore at the Ministry of Transport. If you add to this indifference the apparent panic about the lack of interest in the queen's Golden Jubilee, you can see how far things have travelled in the last 25 years.

No Time for Misplaced Optimism

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Is the recession coming to an end? Chris Harman is sceptical.

Soon after Greg Dyke took over as head of the BBC he decreed that its coverage had to be much more friendly towards big business. One consequence of this is a second god slot in the 'Today' programme--only the god this time is not called Jehovah or Allah but money. The slot, for those of you who don't get up so early, runs from 6.15am to 6.25am, when it gives way to the lesser god of sport. One message comes blaring through, day after day. There is no need to worry about the economic crisis. It never hit Britain, and if it did it's already over, not just here but in the US as well.

Heralds of Free Enterprise

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

The collapse of Enron has shone the torch into a cellar full of crimes.

Luckily for Bush and Blair, the relentless drone of the B-52s has helped mask the thunderous clatter of the biggest bankruptcy in corporate history. Not only was the Enron corporation the world's biggest energy trader, but it had also emerged over the past decade as the archetypal global corporation, dominating the world's energy markets through online manipulation of supply fluctuations, and constantly changing prices for gas and electricity.

Chocks Away, Biggles

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Labour's chair is an old acquaintance of Pat Stack who recalls fond memories

I was once told by someone that I was the most dishonest person he'd ever met. This is not a remark one would normally take lightly, let alone treasure as a compliment. Yet some 25 years or so later I still look back fondly on the remark, rather as I do my favourite denim jacket of about the same time.

The Wrong Attack

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Why has the anti-war movement in France has not matched others?

I wrote two months ago how in most countries the movement over globalisation had moved on to become a movement against the Afghan war. One reason for this was the way the movement's best known figures had seen the war as the military face of globalisation.

Unfortunately there were exceptions. A year ago France had the biggest movement around globalisation, focused to a very large extent by the organisation Attac. Yet it was the one major European country without serious protests against the war.

Pages

Subscribe to Opinion