Archive article from The Socialist Issue 425
100 British victims of Blair's war
ON 31 January, it was announced that the 100th British soldier had been killed in the war and occupation of Iraq. This government is risking the lives of young soldiers in order to help fight US imperialism's battles to control this vital oil-rich area of the world.
Blair and his government have persistently lied about this deadly war and occupation. The week before, New Labour Defence Secretary John Reid had sent 3,300 British troops to the Helmand province, a stronghold of drugs barons and Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, Bush and Blair's other main theatre of war.
They are part of a new 9,000-strong Nato multinational brigade taking over from US forces in south-east Afghanistan. The deployment will last three years at a financial cost of £1 billion to Britain's Treasury. But it's the 100 dead British soldiers and the tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian dead who are paying the highest price for Blair's bowing and scraping to George Bush.
The Stop the War Coalition is organising protests at the occupation's deadly toll in all major towns and cities in Britain. The Socialist Party says:
Stop and search trebles in four years
IN RECENT years the Blair government has introduced more and more authoritarian laws that threaten civil liberties. In the year up to April 2005 nearly 36,000 people were stopped and searched under the 2001 anti-terror laws' emergency powers.
Every year since the Act came into force, the numbers have soared from 10,200 people being stopped in 2001 to 35,776 searches of vehicles and people recorded last year under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act. And these figures don't include people stopped and searched in the months following the July bombings in London.
The Terrorism Act, when sanctioned by a senior officer, allows police to stop and search people even without suspicion. This is seen as a throwback to the notorious "sus" laws of the 1970s.
The laws give police sweeping powers to stop people even if they have no grounds to suspect them of a crime. The powers are said to be essential to disrupt terrorist activity but they have already have been used against non-violent protesters, such as those arrested under the Terrorism Act for protesting at an international arms fair in London in 2003.
Now people are being stopped at the rate of nearly 100 a day, including 82-year-old Walter Wolfgang, stopped for barracking Jack Straw at last year's Labour Party conference. Despite the huge number of people stopped, only 455 were arrested.
They have also been used to whip up prejudice against minorities such as the Muslim community. In 2003-04, more than one in five of those stopped were black or Asian. Reports suggest a huge increase in the number of black and Asian people being stopped since the London bomb attacks.
Trade unionists, socialists, civil rights campaigners and all who need to protest at some stage against governments and big business need to keep fighting all these repressive laws.