Socialist Party | Print
AS SCHOOLS go back for the new term, many will find they are short of teachers. A headteacher survey says secondary schools in England and Wales have sacked 700 teachers and 300 support staff.
Another 2,700 teachers haven't been replaced.
Blair can find £5 billion for attacking and occupying Iraq but our schools are underfunded and understaffed. Young people who want to go to university face top-up fees of up to £3,000.
It doesn't matter how hard Blair tries to 'sex' them up, fees hit working-class young people hardest and put them off higher education.
Who wants to start their working life up to their neck in debt? Things are bad enough now. A survey by accounting giant KMPG showed nearly 1 in 5 people owe between £10,000 and £40,000, excluding mortgage repayments.
Nearly a quarter end up getting a loan just to cover day-to-day costs such as electricity bills! At the same time, one million children are suffering severe and persistent poverty.
Blair's got more than the Hutton inquiry to worry about. 160,000 Post Office workers are balloting on strike action against low wages, job losses and privatisation (see back page).
If they vote yes for action they should have the support of all workers who want to see an end to low pay and the selling off of public services.
Poverty pay, public services in crisis, privatisation, war, lies and spin - working-class people have had enough of Blair and the rest of his New Labour cronies.
Don't let them off the hook. Join the Socialist Party and our campaign for a new workers' party.
ALASTAIR CAMPBELL has finally quit as New Labour's spinmaster general. His decision to go, in the middle of the Hutton inquiry, was big news - recognition of just how powerful this unelected politician had become.
This is the man whose spinning helped turn New Labour into the number one party of big business.
Although Campbell had been preparing to leave for some time, the timing of his departure was not accidental. He hopes he has done Blair one last good turn.
Blair has tried to ensure that the Hutton inquiry avoids any proper investigation into his and Bush's real reasons for going to war with Iraq.
We can be sure that there'll be no inquiry into why weapons of mass destruction have never been found or into the link between the second biggest oil reserves in the world and the decision to attack Iraq.
Nevertheless, even within its narrow parameters, the inquiry has slightly lifted the lid on the murky world of the capitalist state forces; politicians, civil servants, the BBC and spooks all come out smelling badly.
All will probably end up getting a rap on the knuckles from Hutton. By leaving now, Campbell probably hopes to lessen the harm to Blair that any criticism of him could bring.
His exit is also expected to make it easier for Blair to make a 'fresh start' at the Labour Party conference in a few weeks time.
But in the eyes of many people the damage has already been done. The latest opinion polls show nearly 30% of people trust Blair less than they did before.
43% think him unfit to be prime minister.
Blair will probably survive the Hutton inquiry, having thrown Campbell and most likely Hoon to the wolves, but he has been seriously wounded. The running sore of Iraq will not go away (see article below).
The national demonstration on 27 September will be an opportunity for thousands of people to voice their opposition to the US/British occupation and the chaos and carnage that it has unleashed.
At the same time, the domestic front is littered with minefields for Blair which could explode at any time. The economy is in an uncertain state.
Brown could see a budget deficit of £10 billion this year. He has already warned that the next public spending round could be the toughest since Labour came to power, with spending frozen or cut.
Fed up with low pay, job losses and exploitation, postal workers are likely to vote yes to strike action later this month.
A successful strike, entirely possible if the CWU leaders learn lessons of the firefighters' strike (see pages 6 and 7), would give confidence to workers throughout the public sector to challenge New Labour's big business policies.
It's workers' action of this kind that can defeat privatisation, not cosy forums with government ministers which some union leaders are proposing.
The huge anger that many people feel against foundation hospitals, PFI, tuition fees etc will find a voice, however feeble, at the Labour Party conference as union leaders come under pressure from ordinary workers.
The Labour Party leaders may even be defeated on one or more issues. But, as usual, they will seek to ignore conference decisions which threaten their pro-business agenda.
The union leaders' plans to reclaim the Labour Party are likely to end in failure. This will pose starkly the need for the unions to participate in building a new mass workers' party as an alternative to the spin, lies and anti-working-class policies of New Labour and all the establishment parties.
I'VE BEEN a postman for twelve years. In that time we've seen the management buying up foreign businesses which have made losses and changing the name to Consignia and then back again at a cost of millions of pounds.
We've seen a government regulator who knows nothing about the business set us targets that are unfair. And now Allan Leighton has been put in place as chairman by Tony Blair to get the business ready to sell off.
Earning millions for doing little is his game, with directorships all over the place. One of the many fat cats, he has been sending us propaganda through our letter boxes for a few months.
He's belittled our union, he's complained about the "treacle" pace of negotiations. He's said we need a proper reward for our efforts but he's offered us all redundancy.
And he's offered us what he calls a 14.5% wage rise if we accept 30,000 job losses, longer rounds and longer working hours on Saturdays. He's also said the business cannot afford any more than what's on the table.
Our union, the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) has pushed forward this pay deal ballot for industrial action. Now is the time for us to make a stand against Leighton and his merry men, chief executive Adam Crozier and deputy chairman Elmar Toime.
These three received huge bonuses recently. Crozier received £57,000 after two months in the job, this is on top of his annual salary of £500,000.
Not bad when we are constantly told the business is losing millions of pounds a day.
This is nearly 40 times what we earn for getting up before dawn and delivering mail in all weathers with not the slightest bit of thanks from the managers.
Morale is at its lowest level I have ever known it.
Our rounds are getting heavier by the week, more and more "junk mail" is weighing us down.
But when we are already dead on our feet after deliveries, why are we being asked to reduce the number of postmen and women and increase the size of delivery rounds?
The only guaranteed part of the pay offer is 4.5% over 18 months. This works out less than inflation when you annualise it.
We've lost more than that due to Gordon Brown's national insurance increases.
We are earning well below the European decency threshold whilst the business is making a profit, despite the figures they show us. We deserve more money now, that's why I will be voting 'yes' to industrial action.
Ayatollah Moham-med Bakr-al-Hakim, and at least 100 Iraqis were killed in the devastating bomb blast in Najaf, in Iraq, on 29 August.
A week earlier the United Nations (UN) headquarters in Iraq and with it their chief envoy, Sergio Vieira de Mello, were blown up by a truck bomb. There have been 143 US military deaths since George Bush declared an end to combat operations - more than died in the military campaign itself.
"Retreat in the face of terror would only invite further and bolder attacks. There will be no retreat." George Bush's speech to army veterans belies the increasing desperation of the US regime faced with this situation in Iraq.
They are failing to resolve the fundamental problems experienced by most Iraqis. In Baghdad power cuts are more frequent, tap water if it flows at all is undrinkable and there is a complete lack of security.
The head of the occupation authority, Paul Bremer, has described the price of reconstruction as "almost impossible to exaggerate." The US is already spending $4 billion a month on the occupation but he estimates that the restoration of the electricity supply will cost a further $2 billion and drinking water $16 billion.
The failure of the US to address these fundamental problems is fuelling the anger of ordinary Iraqis against the occupation and support for the attacks on American and British soldiers.
US officers talk of over a dozen attacks a day.
The UN itself has become a target with the blowing up of the chief envoy. His successor, Mr Lopez da Silva, admitted that the lack of security could limit the UN's work and underline the reluctance of countries to commit their armed forces to the conflict.
The US needs to commit more troops to Iraq, some estimates say that up to one million may be required. There is a battle taking place in the Bush administration over this - poor morale in the army and doubts about the occupation amongst the American public would make the deployment of extra US troops problematic, with its echoes of the 'mission creep' in Vietnam.
Because of this, and their failure to get substantial forces from other countries, they are forced to turn back to the UN.
They need a new Security Council resolution and endorsement for a multi-national force that will draw in other countries. The US will not relinquish political control of Iraq but, according to deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, may accept a multinational UN force under a UN military commander who is American.
The turmoil in Iraq is being reflected in the US - a Newsweek poll found a majority opposed to a Bush re-election for the first time since before September 11.
This is also due to the problems in the US economy, with an expected record deficit of $455 billion this year - which in turn will limit the amount of resources the US can put into Iraq.
The situation can only get worse. Shia groups are arming themselves and escalating religious and ethnic conflict is possible.
The recent bombs show that the activity of resistance groups from inside and outside Iraq is increasing. The US is not only a deeply unpopular occupying power, its presence in Iraq will be a magnet for every group that wants to fight US imperialism.
AS SCHOOLS start a new term, a whole battery of problems threaten to engulf an already beleaguered government. Thousands of jobs have been lost already due to the funding crisis.
Some head teachers are even digging into their own salaries to keep schools afloat, on top of the huge subsidy parents already make.
Yet when it comes to SATs, money is no object. This week it was revealed that the cost of national curriculum tests for 7, 11 and 14 year olds has shot up from £8.2 million in 1997/98 to £27.4 million in 2001/02.
Not only are tests useless in educational terms they are also a huge drain on resources which could be better used elsewhere. One more good reason why SATs must go.
Throughout September the National Union of Teachers (NUT) is carrying out a survey, highlighting teachers' attitudes more clearly in preparation for a national ballot.
It is important that teachers make a massive response.
For too long many teachers have come to believe that unions are half-hearted, talking a good fight, but never doing anything.
On this issue we expect an overwhelmingly positive response, giving the union no option but to go for a real ballot this side of Christmas.
It would be a great encouragement if anyone with anything to do with schools - either in their work or as a parent or governor - could tell teachers of their support.
It would give teachers a confidence boost, which we will definitely need in this direct challenge to the Blair government's authority.
SATS undermine your confidence and bring stress, strain and pressure. I have gone through a number of tests from primary school to secondary school - no child enjoys having tests and most teachers don't enjoy giving them.
As I moved from Year 5 to Year 6 I started feeling enormous pressure to revise. Knowing that I was finding it hard in Maths (a main subject), I started to panic as the dreaded SATs came closer.
I realised then that I will have an endless journey of tests until I finish college and university.
This made me worry even more, though I hadn't even finished my Year 6 tests yet!
After the tests were over, I moved to secondary school, the pressure of preparing for more horrible tests was overcoming me. I always had a negative opinion of my own work and felt that my test results would always be bad - I was embarrassed by them and it made me hate them even more.
In my second year I found out that most tests I'd already done were not actually good for my education but to put my school in a league table. Next year's SATs - all that pressure and strain - won't be to see how good I am just to see how good the school is.
I do not like the idea of doing more tests that make me feel bad about myself and I think, well, why should I?
OVER 100 MPs have signed 'early-day' motions opposing top-up fees. The bill to introduce top-up fees, to be published later this year, will face difficulties passing through parliament.
The MPs on the education select committee reject ministers' plans to let universities charge fees of up to £3,000 a year. However the MPs, led by Labour chairman Barry Sheerman, back the idea that low-interest rates on student loans should be scrapped and claim that the money raised by charging full interest could be used to provide higher grants to the poorest students.
Although we welcome higher grants for poorer students, we campaign against putting students in debt. At the moment one in six students drops out due to financial difficulties and many of those still in higher education are in low-paid casual jobs and will leave university with debts of over £15,000.
Even though 'rebellious' MPs will make it harder for Blairites to attack higher education without having to 'sex up' their plans to convince parliament, it is the opposition of the student movement standing together for 'Free Education and Full Grants for All' which will scrap fees and loans, and force the reintroduction of the full grant for all students.
Socialist Students and the Socialist Party put forward the only strategy to defeat fees once and for all - through organising a national campaign of mass non-payment of fees backed up with mass direct action to defend those not paying from expulsion.
This will not only force Blairites to scrap fees but will also show these 'rebellious' MPs what a students' rebellion could potentially mean.
HOME SECRETARY David Blunkett has seized on a fall in the number of asylum applications to declare that New Labour's 'get tough' asylum policies are working.
These include stopping all benefits to asylum seekers who do not claim refugee status as soon as they arrive in Britain and refusing all applicants from a 'white list' of 24 countries considered 'safe'.
There was a 32% fall in the number of applications in the first three months of 2003, compared to the previous quarter.
But how much has this to do with New Labour's policies?
The top three countries for asylum applicants to Britain are exactly the same as they were in 2002; Iraq, Somalia and Zimbabwe - all countries which have experienced war, civil unrest and human rights abuses.
These figures back up what previous research has consistently shown - war, conflict and internal repression in asylum seekers' home countries have the biggest impact on applications for asylum.
For the majority of refugees fleeing these countries, changes in benefit rules have no influence on whether or not they seek asylum in Britain. Most would be unlikely to know what benefits are available anyway.
There has been a 75% fall in applications from Sri Lanka.
Is this because Sri Lankans know that Blunkett wants to stop benefit payments to some asylum seekers? Or is it because the situation in Sri Lanka has become less dangerous since Tamil fighters entered into peace negotiations with the government?
Similarly, it doesn't take a genius to work out that the 70% drop in Iraqis claiming asylum has something to do with the fact that Saddam Hussein's brutal regime has gone (although the war has resulted in insecurity, poverty and instability, creating new problems for ordinary Iraqis).
New Labour's policies are a knee-jerk reaction to the vicious anti-asylum propaganda and lies of right-wing newspapers like The Sun.
New Labour wants to divert attention from the real reason why we have an underfunded health service, why teachers are losing their jobs and why there's a shortage of good quality affordable housing; their pro-big business policies put the interests of the fat cats before those of ordinary people.
We need to challenge those policies through a united campaign for more resources for local communities and working-class people.
THE HOME Office's own research earlier this year found that harsh policies supposedly geared towards stopping 'economic migrants', actually end up hurting all refugees.
Because of Blunkett's policies, asylum seekers who have suffered torture and abuse have been forced to sleep on the streets. The 'white list' now includes Bangladesh, a country where thousands face ethnic and religious persecution.
And, since visa requirements were introduced from Zimbabwe in November last year, there has been a dramatic fall in applications for asylum, even though political persecution and human rights abuses by the Mugabe regime continue.
The same research also pointed out that 'get tough' policies inevitably lead to an increase in trafficking and illegal immigration.
People in a desperate situation will look for any way they can to flee violence and persecution, even if it means risking their lives and giving everything they have in the world to unscrupulous people-traffickers.
It's the capitalist profit system which creates war, violence, poverty and instability. As long as it remains in place, people will continue to seek asylum in Britain and elsewhere - whether legally or illegally.
No amount of repressive legislation will halt that.
New Labour wholeheartedly support the capitalist system. They back the selling of arms to brutal dictators and support wars for profit and prestige.
They promote economic and social policies that create inequality and poverty at home and abroad.
All of the mainstream parties (and the fascist BNP) back the profit system. Only socialists fight for an alternative system that meets everybody's needs.
JOHN TYNDALL, ex-leader of the far right British National Party (BNP), has been expelled from the party. Luke Smith, a BNP councillor in Burnley has been suspended pending internal 'disciplinary proceedings'.
Both actions appear to be part of an attempt by Nick Griffin, the BNP's current leader, to strengthen his position against growing dissent within the party.
Griffin has wanted to get rid of Tyndall for some time. Tyndall is an unwelcome reminder to the public of the neo-Nazi views all long-standing BNP members hold.
But the real reason for Tyndall's expulsion is that his criticisms of the current BNP leadership have gained support from a number of important BNP activists.
Tyndall, leader of the BNP from its founding in 1982 to when he was defeated by Nick Griffin in 1999, has not been prepared to fade from the limelight.
He criticised the current leadership both in his magazine Spearhead and at a number of BNP meetings, and rumours of him launching a new challenge to win back the leadership of the BNP have been growing.
However, there is no real disagreement over the strategy that the BNP should follow: all those concerned, including Tyndall, agree that they have had enough of isolation and marginalisation and want the BNP to reinvent itself as a populist far-right party with a 'respectable' image.
The differences are partly over tactics, but are mostly the petty squabbles and jealousies of thieves falling out.
The suspension of Luke Smith shows that Griffin's real motivation is to protect his own position within the BNP.
Although most of their organisers are still hardcore neo-Nazis, Burnley BNP have been the most successful branch in the country at trying to 'reinvent' the BNP as a far right populist party (to shake off their neo-Nazi image and attract a wider layer of support).
This is the very strategy that Nick Griffin won the leadership of the BNP with.
THERE HAS been tension for a long time between the BNP's national leadership and the Burnley branch, who appear to resent 'interference' from the leadership.
According to the BNP national leadership, Luke Smith has been suspended awaiting an internal disciplinary hearing for 'bringing the party into disrepute' by his involvement in some kind of fight with one of Griffin's minders at the BNP's summer camp in August.
To anyone familiar with the BNP's long history of violent confrontation (between fellow members as well as against outside opponents), this charge has the hollow ring of an excuse.
The suspension has made the row between Burnley and Griffin public and damaged the BNP, particularly in Burnley. Luke Smith (whose uncle is Steve Smith, the BNP's Burnley organiser) was elected in May this year as one of the BNP's eight councillors in Burnley, when the BNP became the second-largest party on the council and the official opposition to Labour.
His suspension means that the Liberal Democrats have now taken over as the official opposition, with eight seats to the BNP's seven.
According to the Burnley Express on 22 August, Steve Smith has resigned as BNP branch organiser and Luke Smith has decided to resign as a councillor. While these threats may or may not be confirmed, it's certain that Tyndall is determined to fight his expulsion.
According to Searchlight (the anti-fascist magazine) and The Observer, Tyndall has decided to challenge the decision to expel him in the courts.
Could this be the end of the BNP? This public falling-out will create problems for them. However, while there is no real workers' party to challenge Labour, the BNP or other far right parties - will find it easier to exploit anger against the government for their own right-wing purposes.
A strong socialist alternative is needed to give genuine solutions to the social and economic problems that the BNP is exploiting.
HAVE YOU just joined the Socialist Party or have you just found out about us and would you like to know more about our general ideas? Then the new Marxist Education Pack is the ideal introduction for you!
It might look a daunting task: understanding Marxism. No need to worry.
Marx, Engels, Lenin or Trotsky wrote books for working-class people to help them understand the situation they were in and what could be done about it, to change it.
But if you've never read anything like this before, you might come across names and terms that you haven't heard of yet, so that's why we've specifically designed these packs: to summarise the basic ideas using modern examples and language.
And, of course, Socialist Party members will be more than willing to assist you in reading them.
EVEN THOUGH Marx's ideas have been developed over time, its fundamentals have stayed the same. 'Dialectical Materialism' (Marxist philosophy) for example is still the most modern method of thought that exists.
As Trotsky observed in Marxism in Our Time:
"... if the theory correctly estimates the course of the development and foresees the future better than other theories, it remains the most advanced theory of our time, be it even scores of years old".
Defenders of capitalism state continually that Marxism is outdated.
But who was voted the thinker of the Millennium in a BBC poll in 2000? Exactly: Karl Marx!
But in order to preserve the status quo, the ruling class (the capitalists), will try to discredit the ideas of Marxism. By changing and hiding the truth, they're trying to morally justify their own rule and depict capitalism as the highest and most natural form of development.
Reading the packs, you will see on the contrary, that the Marxist method offers a much richer and fuller understanding of society and life in general.
It explains that neither big personalities nor supernatural powers are the driving force behind history, but that it's the productive forces, the economy in last instance, that determine the conditions of life, habits and consciousness.
Every re-organisation of society, whether it was slavery, feudalism or capitalism, initially resulted in an enormous development of the productive forces, which in its turn offered humanity a greater control over nature.
However, from the point where a social system is not able anymore to further develop the productive forces, society enters into crisis.
This is true for the situation under capitalism today: despite the marvellous inventions it cannot solve the basic killers in the world, malnutrition, diseases and war.
Capitalism is a system based on wasteful competition between nation states where rival multinationals fight to improve market share, productivity and profit at our expense.
The market doesn't work, no matter what explanation capitalist economists try to come up with. It has outlived itself.
But the transition from capitalism to socialism will not happen automatically. It is a process that needs the conscious intervention of the working class.
And it is a revolutionary party like the Socialist Party which can act as a lever.
Trotsky, in The history of the Russian Revolution, wrote:
"Without a guiding organisation, the energy of the masses would dissipate like steam not enclosed in a piston box. But nevertheless, what moves things is not the piston or the box, but the steam".
These are the basic ideas of Marxism covered in the introduction pack: philosophy, economics, history, the State, and the need for a revolutionary party.
After reading these, we hope you're keen to read more, so therefore a list for further reading is included in each one of them.
But more than that, we hope they will give you the confidence to act, because that is what Marxism comes down to in the end: it helps us to understand current events and anticipate what could happen in the future.
And this understanding is necessary to develop a correct plan for action that can assist working class people in their struggle to change society and introduce a democratic socialist society!
COUPLES FACING problems having a baby will be delighted by proposals to offer free In-vitro Fertilisation (IVF) treatment on the NHS.
One in six couples experience some problems with conception but it's a postcode lottery when it comes to infertility treatment. Some areas - particularly Wales, the South-west and South-east - currently offer little or no access to IVF treatment on the NHS.
80% of all treatments currently take place in private clinics. Many working class couples either give up the idea of treatment and the chance of having a baby or go into debt to pay the high costs of private treatments.
A single IVF treatment can cost thousands of pounds and there is no guarantee of success which pushes up the cost.
The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) proposals are intended to come into force next year. However it's not that simple.
Many women could be ineligible by the time these changes are bought in, because they are 'too old' according to the criteria (currently women are treated on average between the ages of 23-39).
Many women now start a family much later for many reasons, including ensuring they're financially secure (huge student debts to pay off won't help many women!).
If women don't start trying to conceive until they're over 30 they may not be able to access help if there are infertility problems.
Unless new funding is made available hospitals and primary care trusts will simply shift resources from other services.
Expert nurses and embryologists to deal with these procedures will take time to train so the NHS will be forced to look to private hospitals who will keep making huge profits out of people's suffering.
Radical measures to bring the private hospitals and clinics into the NHS must be adopted.
There should be much more research into the causes of infertility, which is increasing rapidly in both men and women. Some research shows a direct correlation between increased infertility and growing dependence on chemicals in our food and our environment.
What is needed is a vast research project to find out why couples have difficulty conceiving and what other effects are there on humans.
IVF is a relatively new procedure. In the 25 years since the first 'test-tube' baby thousands of couples have benefited from these advancements.
For those couples experiencing the anguish of not being able to conceive without help, treatments should be fully funded.
After all, we could solve all the NHS's problems if we nationalised the private health care and pharmaceutical companies and redirected expenditure for the Ministry of Death to the Ministry of Health!
SIXTY YEARS ago London's tubes - then publicly owned - kept going through the Blitz. But on 28 August a summer storm caused a power failure that brought the now part-privatised London Underground (LU) and many overground services to a halt and deprived homes of power.
This blackout hit 250,000 people with scenes resembling the panic in New York's power crisis weeks earlier. The root cause was similar too - deregulation and privatisation.
A spokesperson said back-up generators couldn't cope with emergencies as big as this. "You practically need a power station," he lamented.
However LU used to have its own power station - Lots Road in west London. Last year it was shut down as the tubes were being part-privatised and it will become yet more luxury riverside housing for the rich.
This left the system to the mercies of a private consortium, Seebord Powerlink, in a deal under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The tubes became dependent on the national grid.
As Bobby Law, the RMT railworkers' union London regional organiser, said: "Using PFI contractors to supply key public services does not work."
What's more, a split, diversified London transport network can't get an emergency alternative system going any more. Who controls the network? No-one.
What motivates it? The profits of many different bus, tube and train companies.
There should be no more PFIs. The unions should step up their fight to reverse tube privatisation, renationalise all the bus services and get proper government funding for transport so an effective emergency replacement service can be organised.
Britain's power supply network is in a similarly atrocious condition. Past governments were very slow in reinvesting.
Privatisation only made things worse, despite most new owners getting the industry at knockdown prices.
It's even more under-invested - a recent survey showed only two countries invest less in their infrastructure. It's also disastrously under-staffed.
Since privatisation around half of the staff have been sacked by cost-cutting bosses or left the industry. More cutbacks are threatened as low energy prices frighten off investment from profit-hungry companies.
To prevent even worse crises, the unions should fight to renationalise the whole privatised and fragmented system.
Under democratic workers' control and management an integrated power supply system could be built that could meet the needs of the public not just boost the profits of monopolies.
THIS YEAR'S TUC conference is the first for a number of years where the Left has a good chance of making its mark in a big way and the resolutions on the agenda reflect this.
There is an edge to the resolutions from those unions who have seen a change in leadership and a move away from the class collaborationist 'partnership' with the employers.
The TUC conference has generally tried to fudge over issues that were too critical of Blair and New Labour. But this year's agenda makes this more difficult.
The issues touched on range from the rise of the BNP (12 resolutions and amendments are devoted to this and the demonisation of asylum seekers) to the increasing anger felt by millions of workers about what is happening to their pensions.
The Left-led Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has an amendment to resolution 72 on pensions from the First Division Association (see right).
In an amendment to resolution 36 on public service reform, PCS also calls for the TUC to organise a conference: "of trade union executives to plan a campaign to achieve conference policy".
This is an attempt to give some teeth to the campaign against privatisation, rather than yet just another meeting of general secretaries.
It should really be a conference open to shop stewards and others on the front line fighting privatisation but it seems even this amendment is being opposed by the right-wing!
Probably one of the biggest issues facing workers is the question of 'life/work balance'. The pressures put on workers by the bosses' "work till you drop" philosophy has never been greater.
The PCS seeks to give a lead on this. It calls in resolution 35 for a 35-hour week, proper child care provision, paid holidays in line with the best European practices and a number of other measures.
Resolution 37 also from the PCS, calls for the TUC to oppose the attempts by the government to break up national pay bargaining in the public sector (as revealed by Gordon Brown in his budget speech earlier this year) and stop the fragmentation of public-sector pay arrangements for the government's own employees.
Transport union TGWU raises the issue of foundation hospitals and trusts in resolution 39, as does UNISON in resolution 40. But neither resolution calls for concrete action.
This further move in the sell-off of the NHS requires organised opposition by the main unions. It should not be left to the privatised contract workers to fight against privatisation.
A contentious resolution (45) on teachers' workloads has been tabled by the right-wing teachers union, NASUWT.
It praises the agreement to allow teaching assistants to take on some of the teacher's classroom role.
It is part of the plan by New Labour to reduce teachers from 400,000 to 250,000. Activists from the other main teachers' union NUT rightly call this "getting teachers on the cheap".
Even though UNISON has an amendment to this which calls for the "re-grading of support staff" this is a long way from ensuring that only properly qualified and properly paid teachers teach in schools.
On the rise of the BNP, all the resolutions point out the tremendous dangers to the working class and trade union rights if the fascist and racist BNP gain power.
The lecturers' union NATFHE in resolution 20 calls for the TUC to organise "a major national event in northern England" as part of the unions' opposition to the BNP.
ASLEF, in resolution 21, calls for the repeal of sections of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act which makes illegal the expulsion from the unions of known fascists.
The section on workers' rights is once again heavily supported with resolutions from many unions. The RMT (resolution 4)) notes existing TUC policy to repeal all the anti-union laws and condemns the government's review as a "failure".
The NUJ (resolution 5) calls for the right to take secondary action in strikes, as does the GPMU (resolution 1).
The RMT also calls for the TUC to organise a mass demo next May Day for rights at work.
The TGWU in an amendment to resolution 1 calls for the removal of the right of companies to sack workers after eight weeks of a legal strike and other resolutions condemn New Labour's failure to allow workers' rights in companies with less than 21 workers.
The TUC promises to be somewhat different this year. The role of the 'awkward squad' will make the headlines, much to the chagrin of the government and the right-wing in the unions.
PCS MEMBERS are angry about attempts to change their pension entitlements. The new national executive (NEC) with its Left Unity majority have tabled a resolution to the TUC calling for a co-ordinated public-sector day of action to defend adequate state pension provision.
Despite representations from the unions, the government have decided to press ahead with its proposal to compulsorily raise the pension age for public service employees from 60 to 65.
This will mean that if staff choose to retire at 60, as is their right at the moment, they will not be entitled to a full pension.
Many of them have already worked 20-30 years and planned to retire at 60 with a full pension. They are also proposing to raise the minimum age for accessing pensions to 55.
The government also want to introduce the change initially for new entrants by the end of 2006, thereby creating a two-tier pension system for existing employees and new staff.
We are opposed to this too.
There are further implications for members who are in private-sector pension schemes (because their work has transferred to the private sector) of the reduction in how much pensions are uprated against inflation.
We support the right of members who choose to work beyond 60 to be able to do so but this is a different matter to raising the pension age.
Members are also angry that these proposals have come to light when only last year all staff were asked to choose from a series of different pension schemes.
This was allegedly to allow more flexibility and choice, though again new entrants were excluded from these options. Had this information been available, staff may have opted for different pension arrangements.
The employer claimed this is not a cost-cutting measure in their briefing to staff but then say that "savings will accrue from increasing the pension age and will help ensure pensions remain affordable".
It is clear therefore that the value of hard-working staff who have given many years service is less important than saving a bit of money.
We are tax payers too!
It is a disgrace that the government cheats and robs its own employees in this way. Workers in France and Austria and across Europe have shown the way to fight these attacks and a co-ordinated public sector-wide campaign in Britain can galvanise a similar response.
The TUC resolution will hopefully provide a framework for action.
THE 2003 Trades Union Congress (TUC) is taking place as postal workers ballot on industrial action. If the workers reject management's derisory offer and strike action begins later this month it will be the second major test of the 'New Left' union leaders - dubbed the 'awkward squad' by the mainstream media.
The first test began at about the same time last year, when the firefighters began to fight for a £30,000 annual wage - an initial increase of over 30%.
Then, a solid 'yes' vote - 89% on a 93% turnout - showed that the firefighters were ready to mount a huge struggle. This would have set an example to all public-sector workers being ground down under the poverty-pay policies of New Labour.
But the firefighters' determination was not matched by their leadership who were lucky to escape with a 'score draw' in a protracted dispute. During the dispute the government, despite overwhelming public support for the firefighters, showed it was prepared to call the bluff of the FBU leaders and face down their demands, whatever the cost and whatever it took, including mobilising the armed forces.
Both the government and the FBU leaders saved face in the dispute's ultimate resolution - although the anger is still simmering away in fire stations up and down the country - in that neither side was tested to the limit.
Had the FBU leaders seriously addressed winning the dispute and escalated the action, the idea that the dispute was 'Tony's miners' strike' would have been practically put to the test.
Given the weakness and backtracking of the FBU leaders, losing support from both the public and their own members, the union's tops were fortunate that the government did not try and rush through further radical changes to working practices and deliver on its implicit pledge to break the power of the union.
The FBU lives to fight another day, despite the inability of its leadership to see the consequences of their struggle and how to prosecute it successfully.
Inside the union, activists have expressed anger against general secretary Andy Gilchrist and many firefighters stopped paying the political levy to the Labour Party in protest during the dispute.
NOW, ROYAL Mail management is showing its intent to have a knock-down drag-out fight with the postal workers' union, CWU.
Management, under the direction of Chairman Allan Leighton and Chief Executive Adam Crozier (both on salaries of over £10,000 a week compared to the basic postal workers' wage of £262 a week), have done everything possible to try and provoke this dispute.
They have given out £20 million in bonuses to managers whilst giving workers a derisory offer, with strings.
At the same time the bosses are fiddling the figures to make the financial situation look much worse than it is. Top managers claim that Royal Mail is losing £750,000 a day or over £300 million a year.
Even if this figure was correct, which it is not, then the reason for it would be gross management incompetence. The workforce have increased productivity significantly in recent years but are still paid poverty wages.
But in fact Royal Mail made a profit of £60 million on its activities in Britain last year and makes a significant profit overall on its postal delivery service.
The balance sheet has been fiddled to include all the losses from Royal Mail's failed attempts at overseas business and also includes a massive upfront payment on pensions (about the equivalent of 30 years' worth within three years).
There are two reasons for this. One is by making the situation look worse than it is, management are creating a climate similar to that which existed before rail privatisation.
This is to prepare the way for the dismantling and selling off of the service, especially in axing 30,000 jobs. Secondly, the upfront pensions' payments represent a huge cash asset for any future privatisation pirates.
Additionally, even before the ballot over industrial action started, plans are being drawn up for private companies to deliver letters if a strike goes ahead.
Postwatch - the so-called consumer watchdog that reports to the government - has called for the suspension of the Royal Mail's monopoly for up to 12 months because they claim that the prospect of a year's business is thought necessary for private companies to invest in the mail infrastructure - even if a strike lasts for a lot less time.
Royal Mail management are preparing to face down the union and postal workers to introduce wide-ranging attacks on conditions and prepare the way for eventual privatisation.
One media commentator remarked that in appealing to the postal workers over the heads of the union leaders it recalls "the tactics of Sir Michael Edwardes at strike-prone British Leyland in the 1970s."
It is clear that the Blair government has installed Leighton and his cronies in Royal Mail, like Edwardes was installed at Leyland, to pick a fight with the leftward-moving CWU, break the union and carry out privatisation.
If a resounding 'yes' vote for action is returned in the current ballot (the result will be announced on 17 September) then postal workers and their union leaders should be in no doubt about the nature of this fight.
So far they have stood up to management pressure and bullying. But as the threat of action looms nearer more pressure will be brought to bear.
In the firefighters' strike, FBU union leaders constantly gave in to government pressure to call off strikes and this disorientated and demoralised many FBU members.
Blair's government, despite throwing everything at the firefighters, still did not break the union because of the determination of the leading rank-and-file members to ensure their leaders didn't capitulate.
But, the firefighters did not achieve the victory either that seemed within their grasp at one stage.
Any public-sector strike is now a major confrontation with a besieged government, desperately needing to face down increasing pressure over pay and conditions.
As was seen with the firefighters, any public-sector strike called now in order to be effective has to be all-out to win. And it needs to get backing, in the form of solidarity action from other public-sector unions, linking in to the struggle against privatisation and job losses.
There needs to be at least a national trade union demonstration in support of the postal workers.
Solidarity action will be especially necessary for the postal workers if management try and break the strike by using other delivery firms. If the union goes for discontinuous action, like occurred in the firefighters' dispute, this could give a vicious management the green light to launch an all-out assault on the union, taking advantage of the frustrations such action foster.
Then the bosses would prepare the way for privatisation. We've seen what a disaster privatisation has been for other public services, like rail, the coal industry and even in BT, where decades of hundreds of thousands of job losses have been followed by the company being driven to the brink of financial ruin.
ALTHOUGH THE TUC agenda shows a more combative edge against the bosses than has been on display in recent years - reflecting the rise of the new Left leaders and their influence in the unions - the practical implications of a possible postal workers' strike are likely to dominate the discussions amongst the Left union leaders at this year's TUC.
The 'awkward squad' now control most of the major unions in this country - potentially nearly five million workers who could be drawn into action in defence of workers who fight back against the bosses.
Potentially, there are many issues where public-sector workers could unite in action - from London weighting to pensions. But a national postal strike involving 160,000 postal workers will be the biggest test so far of the Left leaders' ability to turn words into action.
The 'Left' were elected because union members were dissatisfied with the old union establishment, who were seen as "being too cosy with the gaffer". But, as the defeat of Mick Rix in the train drivers' union ASLEF general secretary election shows, Left union leaders cannot simply rest on their laurels, believing that having Left credentials will see them retain their leadership of the unions.
Even if a postal workers' strike does not take place, then it is only a matter of time before other Left leaders are put to a sharp test industrially, which in turn is likely to put a further strain on the unions' links with Labour politically.
Although the level of strike action is still at a relatively low level the trend has been in a rapid upward direction. (see below) Indeed, the new Left leaders are likely to be pushed further in calling industrial action than some of them would consider desirable at this stage.
Despite an increasing confidence amongst workers, some of the Left leaders still display a lack of confidence in being able to deliver effective action to defend their members.
In the private sector, particularly, as the British Airways dispute showed, there is a crisis of profitability, which is increasingly pushing bosses to demand greater sweat and changed working practises.
Bosses, who until recently had a relatively easy ride from the previous generation of moderate union leaders, are now on a collision course with their workforces.
The trend towards greater 'efficiency drives' and cost-cutting is likely to intensify given the revised downward growth forecasts for Britain's economy.
The rising mood of discontent has shifted from removing the old union leaders towards the bosses themselves.
The Financial Times concluded recently that it's "possible that competition among both unions and union officials to be 'more awkward than thou' will lead to a return to poisonous industrial relations."
In the public sector there has been growing pressure on the issues of low pay, working hours and the weighting allowance in London. Throughout all sectors of the workforce there is a ticking pensions and working life timebomb.
Given the underlying class antagonisms and anger that exists in Britain, where working conditions and the social wage have been more eroded than in continental Europe, it's possible that a mass movement could be organised or even develop semi-spontaneously over the issue of pensions and social benefits which could surpass the movements in France and Germany.
HOWEVER, EVEN though a mood exists in many sections of society to fight the bosses and the Labour government, the unions are still recovering from how far they were driven back after the defeats of the 1980s like the miners and Wapping.
These led to the right-wing New Realism and 'social partnership' of the union leaders in the 1990s.
The election of the New Left leaders is both an indication and a hopeful sign that the working class is recovering its ability to stand up to the bosses.
But as the firefighters' dispute and the defeat of Mick Rix also showed there are limitations and weaknesses amongst these leaders. Although they have received widespread support as opponents of the old union establishment, their base inside the unions is still relatively narrow.
This means that union organisation at many levels on the shopfloor is still finding its feet. And, throughout the unions there is an urgent need to build mass, democratic broad left organisations to consolidate the Left's gains, in some cases to effectively rebuild the union's structures and to draw up a programme to take workers' struggles successfully forward.
There will be an increasing demand on the union leaders to turn words into action at shopfloor level. Trade union activists will now be weighing up the likely nature of future struggles and what kind of fighting programmes are needed to protect workers' conditions.
Given the bitter nature that most disputes will now take, many will conclude that having a Left leadership at the top, whilst important, in itself is insufficient.
SOME OF the Left union leaders still have an outlook shaped by the defeats of the 1980s - which were overstated by the right-wing and utilised to maximum effect by the Tories and New Labour.
They have a cautious approach to leading industrial action, reflecting a certain lack of confidence.
But in the future they will be faced with having to turn words into action. To do that they will have to substantially strengthen the confidence and combative ability of the unions.
Socialist Party members are already playing a key role amongst the Left in many areas of the unions, from local level right up to the national executives.
At all stages our party members will advocate a strategy that will advance workers' struggles and consolidate the position of the Left inside the unions.
This means in some instances a patient rebuilding of the unions and learning the lessons of the past.
This is a real priority that will need to be addressed to prepare for the big industrial struggles that loom for the working class in Britain
ON THE issue of the unions' political affiliation, the Left leaders have generally shown an unwillingness to disaffiliate from New Labour. However, given the huge anger of workers against Britain's fat-cat culture the union leaders could find themselves pushed much further on industrial action.
This in turn, particularly in public-sector industrial action, will find the Left union leaders facing difficulties in restraining their members who want to break with Labour.
Socialist Party members will be to the fore in supporting every move that democratises trade union funds. But we will also be adding that until the unions completely break from Labour this will inhibit their ability to struggle against the bosses when they are fighting them and financing them at the same time.
Reflecting the pressures they are under, local government union UNISON recently withdrew funds from Labour after Newham Labour council had stopped the automatic check-off of union dues during the London weighting dispute.
In retaliation, the union withheld the same amount in affiliation fees as the Labour-led council had withheld in union dues. But such half-hearted moves will not satisfy union members who are under attack.
And many workers will ask why bother only partially withholding money when the union should go the whole way.
DIGBY JONES, director general of the bosses' union CBI, got his retaliation in first this week, as he prepared to speak at the TUC annual conference. "Unions are tending to block reform" he said.
"They are tending to put ideology and the arguments of yesterday ahead of the interests of most of their members."
He's obviously worried about the signs of greater combativity amongst trade union members as the bosses try to push for more privatisation, job cuts and a clampdown on pay rises.
"I only wish that trade unions, especially those who are adopting a more militant attitude to many things, would fight the battles of tomorrow and stop fighting the battles of yesterday" he added.
Most trade unionists will conclude that if Digby's worried, that's a good thing. But future battles will have to be planned in the knowledge that the bosses will fight tooth and nail to protect their profits.
WE'RE GETTING stuff from management around every day now. Some of it is to our home addresses from "Alboy" Leighton. He's a spin doctor. I wouldn't have been surprised if he had got Alastair Campbell's job.
The CWU wants a reduction in hours. Instead, Royal Mail want us to lose jobs.
In most mail centres this is a 10% cut in wages costs. Alboy has been plugging voluntary redundancy for some time and an extremely complicated formula based on age and length of service offers up to two years pay.
But it seems that not as many volunteers for redundancy have come forward as management expected.
Part of the background to the dispute is the way the union weakened itself, by not standing up to the employer. It supported "commercial freedom" but this meant not freedom to pay us more money but freedom to buy up lame duck companies around the world.
We have accepted a series of low-pay offers.
To cap it all, the union accepted Address Interpretation. This meant that "coders", who were mostly paid more than the basic rate as former PHGs (Postmen Higher Grade), were replaced by staff at Data Input Centres and paid less than the basic rate, and these low paid workers are being offered only the 3%.
FIGURES FROM the Office of National Statistics reveal that the number of days lost to strikes since 1997 has grown steadily every year; rising from 235,000 days lost in 1997 to 1,323,000 lost in 2002.
Also, nearly a million workers were involved in some form of strike action last year.
While things have not developed quite as rapidly in the first half of 2003, with 200,000 days lost in strike action - remembering that many of the proposed firefighters' strike days were called off.
But the second half of 2003 has again shown a marked increase in days lost, with the British Airways dispute and more industrial action by UNISON members over their London weighting allowance.
This has nearly doubled the number of days lost in strikes in the traditionally quiet months of August and September.
If the postal workers take strike action, in only seven days of action the days lost will add up to over a million.
This could mark a significant doubling of the days lost in strike action, following the trend seen every year since 1998.
THE CEASEFIRE announced by Palestinian militias at the end of June was called off following the first assassination of a Hamas political leader, Ismail Abu-Shanab, by Israeli forces on 21 August.
Palestinians turned out in tens of thousands to the funeral of Abu-Shanab, who had supported the ceasefire. The Israeli forces had no evidence that he was involved in military activity.
Most press articles imply that the ceasefire was doomed by the horrific Palestinian suicide bombing of a Jerusalem bus on 19 August, which killed 21 Israeli people.
But they don't mention that this attack was almost certainly in revenge for recent "targeted liquidations" which have continued throughout the Palestinian ceasefire.
On 8 August, Israeli troops killed two Hamas activists in Nablus and on 14 August they killed the Hebron leader of Hamas's military wing.
The ceasefire was part of the US-pushed 'road map' peace plan, which was inevitably going to crumble at some point as it offers no way forward. And although the map essentially defends the interests of the Israeli ruling class and offers no prospect of meeting Palestinian aspirations, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is determined it should fail as quickly as possible, to avoid making any concessions.
Now, to the disappointment of ordinary people on both sides of the national divide, violence is back again on a daily basis with a resulting increase in feelings of insecurity.
The West Bank and Gaza strip have again been sealed off and more Israeli troops have been sent in with a stepping up of arrests, house demolitions and assassinations.
Senior Israeli military officials have said that a full-scale invasion of the Gaza strip is being considered and the possible exiling or 'elimination' of Palestinian leader Yassar Arafat.
Conditions for the Palestinian masses, which were already desperate, are now deteriorating further due to the renewed military onslaught. The suffering has recently been worsened by a move of the Palestinian Authority, under US pressure to combat 'terror', to freeze the bank accounts of 12 Islamic charities that pay out welfare.
The end of the ceasefire places the Palestinian 'government' led by Abu Mazen - the US regime's chosen man - in a precarious position. A vote of confidence in the government by the Palestinian Legislative Council was recently postponed, under US pressure, in fear that it could fall.
In Israel too, the situation at the top is far from stable. In a recent poll, about half the people questioned thought the Sharon government will not last its full term.
When asked if the general military and economic situation will improve in the next six months, only 20% of Israelis believed it would. Sharon also has the problem that his family is being investigated for suspected corruption involving hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As the Israeli pro-capitalist political leaders once again take the region into further bloodshed, the need has never been greater for Israeli workers to have their own representatives who can fight for their interests and for a socialist Israel.
Likewise, the Palestinian masses need their own independent, class-based representatives to further their struggle and fight for socialism.
IT'S LIKELY to be another 'hot autumn' for Italy's working class this year.
The ruling class plans a major attack on pensions and there will be further attempts to cut back workers' real wages and their industrial power.
Italy's economic crisis is different from that in Germany and elsewhere. It has both inflation and a fall in production.
For the last two quarters, Italy saw a decrease in domestic production, meaning it is now technically in recession. But this has been combined with a high level of inflation, producing what is called "stagflation".
The ruling class urgently needs to bring down inflation and improve the competitiveness of Italian goods. The favoured method of the past - devaluation - which hits workers hard in the pocket, is now ruled out by Italy's membership of the European Monetary Union.
There are now renewed attempts to bring in the 'Biagi reforms' which severely undermine workers' rights. For example, from 1 September, many new kinds of labour contract will be legal.
One is the "job on call" where workers have to wait for calls from the factory to work and are only guaranteed a minimum number of hours (and pay).
THERE IS likely to be another big struggle when the government tries once more to change Article 18 of the country's Labour Law, which was won by workers' struggles before 1971.
This guarantees that workers will not be fired without just cause if they work in factories with over 15 employees.
Berlusconi's government has now made it possible for a factory to be split up into many small units so that more workers are not protected by article 18.
Industrial action is promised against this move this autumn. The biggest trade union federations are calling for a general strike on the issue, but only for two hours. Much bolder action is needed.
There is mounting pressure on the Berlusconi government, both from the leaders of Confindustria - the Italian bosses' association - and also from the European Union to cut back spending on pensions and/or raise the age of retirement.
There are many disagreements amongst the ruling coalition parties about how to deal with the issue.
Some are fearful of clashes on the issue, in the light of the massive opposition to pension reform shown on the streets in France and Austria this year and also in Italy the last time a Berlusconi government tried to introduce pensions reform.
OTHER STRUGGLES continue in Italy. Two of the three major union federations have signed a new national contract for the engineering industry.
But FIOM - the metal mechanics' section of the largest union federation, the Cgil - is still fighting to win their original demands.
Their tactic, in the recent past, has been to try to conclude separate deals with individual companies if they come up to this level. But it is a mistaken policy since it undermines the strength that comes from a united struggle.
Anyway, the struggle on a national level will most likely rise again this autumn.
Inside the Cgil in particular, and the other big unions as well, there is mass pressure from below. The Cisl and the Uil - the other two major union confederations - are continually making compromise deals with the employers.
Since the 1970s, 'unions of the base' have existed - formed in opposition to the major unions' bureaucracies.
Understandably, because of long and bitter experience of betrayals by the leaders of the 'Big Three', the attitude of some of the unions of the base can, unfortunately, tend to be somewhat sectarian.
POLITICALLY THERE is confusion amongst workers because the centre-left 'Olive Tree' coalition between the two Berlusconi governments also put through anti-working class laws and neo-liberal economic measures.
At the moment, the leaders of the large left-wing Communist Refoundation (Rc) are trying to make a programmatic agreement with the centre left. Quite a lot of Rc members are opposed to such an agreement with a political coalition which would again attack the working class.
The biggest left group inside Rc is collecting signatures for a new party congress to come out against this. At the last congress Rc leaders spoke about everything except a new agreement with the centre left.
There are definitely problems with democracy in the Rc!
On the other side of the class divide, some bosses now openly support the Democrats of the Left (the DS or former Communist Party of Italy). D'Amato, the leader of the employers' federation, has also publicly applauded the DS leader, Fassino.
They believe his less abrasive, more long-term approach towards attacks on workers' living standards would be more successful than a head-on clash.
Lotta per il socialismo (CWI, Italy) sees the working class as holding the key to the Italian situation. The struggles of the metal workers and those against the new laws and pension reform will be of vital significance both in Italy and beyond its borders.
Join the Stop the War Coalition demo, 27 September, 12 noon Hyde Park. On 15 February 30 million people took part in the biggest worldwide movement in history.
We were trying to stop the brutal conquest of Iraq. Everything that has happened since has proved we were right...
No weapons of mass destruction have been found.
But the oil has been! As the occupation began - while Iraq faced chaos - US and British troops were sent to guard the oil. In Mosul, for example, only 200 troops were left in the city itself while 2,000 were used to establish a firm grip on the nearby oil fields.
In Baghdad, the oil ministry was protected immediately US forces gained control of the city, while the very same forces stood idly by as widespread looting, including of hospitals, took place.
British big-business has been rewarded for Blair's devotion to Bush - the British oil companies Shell and BP - were the first to be offered long-term rights to supply Iraqi oil.
Iraqi opposition to the US-led occupation grows daily.
Scores of US and British troops have been killed since 1 May - the date the war 'officially' ended.
15 to 25 Iraqi civilians shot dead daily in Baghdad.
Baghdad and Basra still have only sporadic electricity and water supplies. Mass protests and riots have taken place in Basra against the failure of the British occupying authority to provide enough fuel or electricity.
No democratic elections. The US administration cancelled the only democratic elections that had been planned, and they were only in one province.
There is no timetable for any democratic elections to take place.
The biggest demonstrations in world history didn't stop the warmongers occupying Iraq. Inevitably, many people wonder whether this means we are powerless to change things.
But to draw such a conclusion would be a big mistake. The New York Times accurately described the anti-war movement as a 'second super-power': a super-power which left Blair hanging by a thread.
After two million marched on the streets of London Blair was preparing to retreat. As Rumsfeld blurted out, the possibility of British troops playing no role was being discussed behind the scenes.
And Blair also warned his children they may have to leave Downing Street - because his career as PM could be over.
At that time, when the government was shaken to its core by the scale of our movement, further action could have stopped Britain's support for the war.
The Socialist Party campaigned for workers' organisations to follow the magnificent example of the school student strikes, and for the next step to be a 24-hour work stoppage against the war.
Without doubt, if the trade union leaders had called for such a stoppage, it would have had mass support from working people. If it had taken place Britain would have stopped for the day and Blair could have been forced to resign.
It is true that even this could not have necessarily stopped the war. Once Bush had committed the US to attacking Iraq it would have been a devastating blow to the power and prestige of US imperialism to retreat.
It would have taken an almighty movement in the US itself to force them to accept such a blow.
Nonetheless, the anti-Iraq war movement has left a legacy of fear in the minds of Bush, Blair and company. We have to help make those fears a reality.
Iraq is being subject to old-style colonial occupation.
The people of Iraq have already made it abundantly clear that they will not accept this. Neither will many of the ordinary Western soldiers, who are living and dying in horrific conditions in order to defend the oil wells for BP, Shell and the rest of the sharks.
Yet Bush and his cohorts cannot bomb and leave, as they did in reality, in Afghanistan. The strategic and economic interests of US imperialism mean they are under huge pressure to establish a stable client regime.
Yet, this will be enormously difficult for them to achieve. The prospect is raised of a prolonged occupation, with growing opposition within Iraq and in the West.
The parallels with Vietnam, where the anti-war movement in the US played a key role in forcing the US to pull out, are clear. But there are important differences - not least that anti-war mood in the US and in other countries is growing at a far earlier stage than it did in Vietnam.
And, after the experience of Vietnam, workers and ordinary people in the US will be far less tolerant of their sons and daughters being returned in body bags.
Build the anti-war and anti-Blair movement - but what is the alternative?
September 27 should be the first step in building a mass movement against the occupation of Iraq. Come on the demonstration and build for it in your school, college or workplace.
But we also need to go beyond that. We need a political alternative to New Labour that is capable of replacing the warmongers and of leading mass action against imperialist war.
Even if Blair is replaced by Brown, New Labour will remain a party of big business, which spends its time protecting the profits of British Petroleum and their ilk, whilst destroying public services and attacking the living conditions of working-class people.
And the other mainstream political parties are no better. Even the Liberal Democrats, whose leadership claimed to be against the war before started, showed a very different face once it had begun.
Charles Kennedy argued that he had no choice but to support the war once it had started because of his loyalty to the British troops on the ground.
Yet there is now growing discontent amongst British troops about their living conditions and the constant threat to their safety because they are part of an unpopular occupying force.
Many would undoubtedly have preferred Charles Kennedy to show his 'loyalty', as we and the anti-war movement have done, by arguing that they should be bought home instead of supporting a brutal imperialist war.
We need a completely different kind of party: a new mass party that stands up for the interests of working-class people instead of the billionaires. The Socialist Party is fighting for such a party - a party that brings together the anti-war movement, trade unionists, anti-privatisation campaigners and the anti-capitalist movement.
The struggle for a planet without war goes beyond the struggle against Bush's 'war on terror'. Conflict and instability are increasingly the norm in this capitalist profit system that is beset by crisis.
The big imperialist powers have always gone to war to defend the profits of their rich elites, as was summed up by a US Strategic Planner in 1948 when he said of the US:
"We have 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3% of its population. In this situation, our real job in the coming period is to maintain this position of disparity.
To do so, we have to dispense with all sentimentality... we should cease thinking about human rights, the raising of living standards and democratisation."(US Strategic Planner in 1948)
To permanently end the threat of war and terror we have to fight for the end of capitalism and for the establishment of a democratic socialist world run in the interests of the billions instead of for the profits of the billionaires.