Opinion

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.

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.

The Perfect Cure

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One of the biggest problems facing users of the internet is viruses.

They cause billions of pounds of damage each year. But viruses are not only a big problem--they are also big business. The anti-virus company Sophos detects between 600 and 700 new types of virus a month--and is making serious money from it. Last financial year Sophos's revenue increased by 40 percent--a profit of over $14 million. You can imagine the corporate glee with which it penned a press release www.sophos.co.uk announcing a similar bonanza in 2001, titling it 'Fighting Viruses, Making Profits'!

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.

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'.

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.

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