Labour Party

Poplar Idol

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Review of 'George Lansbury', John Shepherd, Oxford University Press, £35

George Lansbury was one of the most popular figures on the left of the Labour Party. Consequently he is still patronised and reviled by newspaper columnists, and Historian AJP Taylor claimed Lansbury's Lido on the Serpentine was the only lasting achievement of the 1929 Labour government. Given that the current government will leave the derelict Dome as its only memorial, Lansbury's open air swimming pool looks more impressive.

Young, Gifted and Back

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Cabinet resignations, backbench rebellions and increasing public anger are all making life difficult for the government. Rob Hoveman views the prospects for the left.

Tony Blair and New Labour are in trouble. The most dramatic political event in years - the war on Iraq and the mass movement against it - created deep splits in the party. Some 140 Labour MPs voted against the government even though Blair effectively made it a vote of confidence in him. The movement against the war very nearly forced Blair from office. Two cabinet ministers - Robin Cook and belatedly Clare Short - have now resigned because of the war.

The Conquest of Iraq

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The Stop the War Coalition is now entering a new phase of its evolution.

From its first meeting in September 2001 it has been clear that the coalition is unique as a single-issue campaigning body. Its precursor was the anti-globalisation movement, whose broad critique of capitalism and methods of organisation entered into its bloodstream at birth even if it never formed part of the coalition's explicit programme.

Privatising the Privates

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Labour now plans to privatise the military.

While this war is fought for the corporations, the next one will be fought by the corporations. Labour's military privatisation programme means companies will supply and operate key warplanes, warships and army vehicles. The firms will even lure, train and employ soldiers under the Private Finance Initiative (PR). Privatising war is a Labour priority.

Labour's Welsh Roots are Withering

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The crisis that has engulfed Blair and New Labour will be exposed in the forthcoming Welsh Assembly elections in May.

There are signs of real desperation within Wales's New Labour ranks. First Minister Rhodri Morgan has stated that there is 'clear red water between Cardiff and London'. Ron Davies, the former Welsh secretary, has weighed in with a warning that Labour could lose the election to Plaid Cymru, stating that if the Labour manifesto is not radical enough they will face meltdown in the polling booths.

'A Party I am Beginning to Despise'

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Labour Party activists talk about their anger at Blair's drive to war.

A war on Iraq could plunge the Labour Party into its biggest crisis ever, with the possibility of mass resignations and the certainty that tens of thousands of Labour Party members will be marching against the government on 15 February. This is a prospect that, you would think, would worry the Blairites at head office, but that's not the feeling I got when I telephoned Labour's headquarters to ask for a response: 'We're not aware of anyone leaving the Labour Party because of the war on Iraq. Nor are we aware of any feeling of discontent.

Obituary: Red Barbara's Rocky Road

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The life of Labour left winger Barbara Castle.

I first heard Barbara Castle speak at a Young Socialist rally in Skegness in 1963. She was 53, I was 25. She was magnificent. She sensed an iconoclasm in the hall, with which she immediately identified. She had a way of rolling her body round her more eloquent phrases that gave the infectious impression of movement, passion and change.

Funds for the Future

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New Labour can no longer take the trade unions' money for granted.

For over 100 years the trade union movement has supported the Labour Party both politically and financially. Last year alone trade unions donated £10 million to Labour's coffers. But, as last month's Socialist Alliance trade union conference showed, New Labour can no longer take that support for granted. With over 1,000 trade unionists attending, it was the biggest unofficial trade union gathering in over two decades. The key debate was the question of opening up the unions' political funds to parties that oppose privatisation, defend union rights and protect jobs.

Labour and the Unions: We are Throwing Down the Gauntlet

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RMT activist Greg Tucker explains how growing radicalisation is leading to a rift between New Labour and the unions.

The RMT leadership was always proud of the deep links between Labour and the union at all levels. At the top the RMT sponsored half the shadow cabinet and had great expectations of a Labour government. A significant number of union activists had been encouraged to become Labour councillors and at the grassroots the union boasted the highest density of party membership of any trade union.

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