Britain

Blair is having a lot of problems convincing us that he told the truth abouth the so-called Weapons of Mass destruction (WMDs). The majority of people in Britain no longer trust him. Mick Brooks unravels the contradictions in the various explanations givene by Bush and Blair to justify the war.

We live in an epoch of sudden and sharp turns. On Thursday night, as Tony Blair slept aboard a Boeing 777 bound from Washington to Tokyo, he was rocked by the news of the death of Dr David Kelly. In a single instant the whole situation was transformed. The magnitude of these events signifies the inevitability of resignations at the highest level, so the Prime Minister is frantically looking around for friends prepared to fall upon their swords in order to protect their Lord and Master.

The surprise defeat of Mick Rix by a right winger for the position of General Secretary of the rail union, ASLEF, will have come as a great shock to many in the union and in the wider Labour and trade union movement. Certainly it was not something that could have been easily predicted or even guessed at. The winner, Shaun Brady, is an old-style right-winger, relatively unknown in the union. He talks about taking the union back to the membership but in reality he means the membership of the Strategic rail Authority, CBI and the City of London! How did this happen? What does it mean? What lessons must be learnt from this?

As we were preparing for publication, the news came through of the sudden death of Dr David Kelly. Dr Kelly had been publicly named as the source of a report by BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan, that exposed the manoeuvres of the Blair government to justify the war against Iraq.

As the summer break draws near, the thoughts of politicians, as those of ordinary mortals, turn to sunny beaches where one can forget the travails of life and relax in pleasant company. For the British and American soldiers sweltering in temperatures of 50 degrees, dodging Iraqi bombs and bullets, this pleasant prospect is further away than for most of us. And for Tony Blair, besieged by an ever more hostile press and public, the holiday season cannot come quick enough.

This is the leaflet distributed by Socialist Appeal supporters at last Saturday's (July 5) Socialist Campaign Group Conference in London. A full report will follow in the next few days. You can also download this leaflet in PDF format.

We have reported in many articles the inexorable shift to the left that has been taking place in the British trade unions. Last year's move to the left in the AEEU (engineering workers) general secretary elections has probably been the most striking episode in this general process. Equally significant was the change in the TGWU (transport workers) where again the left took the position of general secretary. The latest development among the civil servants is another striking example of how deep the process is.

Why are pensions being cut or not paying out money that was promised? All over Europe pensions are under attack. Everywhere workers are being asked to retire later, to give up on the idea of a guaranteed state pension and to look to the private sector for a pension. British Socialist Appeal looks at the real reasons behind the pensions crisis.

Marx explained long ago that capitalism operates through a series of booms and slumps. In the boom of the Nineties, his ideas were laughed at. Now, the situation is turning out differently as the world capitalist economy splutters. No wonder a recent article in the Financial Times stated, "Marx seems to be getting the last laugh yet."

The MSF and AEEU held their conferences last week as part of the process of fusion into one union, Amicus. A steady move to the left is taking place. The next step is the battle of the left to win the executive, after last year's victory that saw the candidate of the left, Derek Simpson, elected to the position of General Secretary of the AEEU.

The victory of Tony Woodley as general secretary of the powerful Transport and General Workers' Union, Britain's third biggest union, is a further confirmation of the continuing swing to the left in the British trade unions. It is also a clear indication of the discontent within the union rank and file with right wing trade union leaders and the policies of the Blair government.

Mick Brooks looks at the question of the movement of labour (emigration and immigration) and how the bosses have always managed to have a flexible approach on this question depending on the needs of their system at any given moment. In the end whether they are campaigning for it or against it, it is always used to enhance their profits as they attempt to divide the workers on this issue.

This weekend the AMICUS conferences (of the MSF and AEEU, the two unions that have merged to form Amicus) start in Blackpool. This document analyses the present situation in the union and also looks at its history and how the left managed to win the position of General Secretary of the AEEU - a good insight into the state of the British trade unions as they steadily shift to the left. It also looks at the tasks ahead for the left in the union.

The debate over whether Britain should join the Euro is heating up. On both sides of the debate we find a capitalist logic being applied. One side stands for so-called British "sovereignty", the other praises the merits of the wider market. Neither side is defending the real interests of the workers. As Mick Brooks points out, "The answer is surely for us to control the movement of capital by taking over the means of production, not relying on the goodwill of our enemy, the capitalist class."

A process of radicalisation is taking place among the British engineering workers (or metal workers). This is reflected in the main union of the sector, Amicus. The old rightwing lost the position of General Secretary recently. Now the left of the union is preparing to take a majority on the union's national executive committee.