the Disillusioned kid: May 2004
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Sunday, May 30, 2004

The "handover of sovereignty" sham continues apace with the appointment of Iyad Allawi as the interim Prime Minister of Iraq. Much has been written about his former membership of the Ba'ath Party and his credibility issues among the Iraqi people. Less attention has been paid to his leadership of the Iraqi National Accord (INA). Given the organisation's history this omission seems significant.

The INA was one of the member organisations of the anti-Saddam umbrella group the Iraqi National Congress (INC), led by Ahmad Chalabi (to whom Allawi is related). The INA was made up primarily of ex-Ba'athists and military types who, as the BBC note, "supported the idea of fostering a coup from within the Iraqi army to overthrow Saddam Hussein". This strategy made them popular with the West (they had a direct link to the American administration and received funding from the CIA and Britain's MI6) who had always hoped for what Thomas Friedman described in 1991 as "the best of all worlds", with a military dictatorship like that of Saddam holding the country together, but doing so in the interests of the US and its client states.

In 1994 and 1995 the INA carried out a series of bombings in Baghdad, attacking sites including a cinema, a mosque, outside the offices of a Ba'ath Party paper. Milan Rai points out that these attacks may have killed as many as 100 Iraqi civilians. The bombings were carried out by Abu Amneh al-Khardami, who was recruited from a jail in Iraqi Kurdistan where he was detained for the attempted murder of an INC official. Amneh additionally claimed that he had been instructed to use a car bomb against Chalabi, although he had refused.

Despite Amneh's reluctance, October 1995 saw a major explosion tear through the INC's headquarters in Salahuddin in Kurdistan, resulting in the deaths of 28 people, including the INC's security chief. Three individuals arrested in connection with the attack by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) confessed under what Rai describes as "severe interrogation" to being members of the INA and carrying out the bombing under orders from the INA commander of operations General Adnan Nuri. The CIA carried out an investigation into the bombing, but the results were never released.

This is the organisation Allawi leads and co-founded. What hope for self-determination, democracy, peace, stability and national unity in a country led by such a man? I dread to think.
Yesterday I went to a picket organised by Nottingham Stop the War Coalition outside Chetwynd Barracks, to protest against troop deployments to Iraq and the ongoing occupation. Chetwynd is apparently a major part of the British military machine and any reservists going to the Gulf have to pass through it for injections and the like. Nottm StWC have organised a number of demos there before including a march just before the invasion last year.

The picket was well attended given that the barracks is quite hard to get to, with something like 20 people at the peak. Black ribbons were attached to the fences in memory of those Iraqis killed in the conflict and there was much waving of placards. We got a fair amount of support from those driving by (and one of policemen interestingly enough), but also a few witty remarks along the lines of, "Fuck off back to the Soviet Union and get a job!"

I was greatly amused by some of the soldiers wandering around in desert camouflage and feathers in their berets. Very effective in English suburbia, they just disappeared into the background. The somewhat over-the-top police presence was also entertaining. One of them expressed some support, comparing the conflict in Iraq to Vietnam, although he did confuse Geoff Hoon (Defence Secretary and MP of a nearby constituency) with the leader of the opposition, Michael Howard.

There appeared to be a wedding of some kind going on in the base. Besuited guests wandered around inside the fence and a large stretched limo drove passed us at one point. Several of us drew comparisons between this and the recent wedding party massacre in Iraq. Presumably there were a fair few "military age males" in attendance, though the Americans were kind enough not to shoot the place up.
Ooops. Looks like the story about Rumsfeld banning camera phones might be incorrect, accidentally picked up by the mainstream press. My apologies.
OK, usually these posts offer an attempt to come up with intelligent analysis of some major political development or other, but I feel the need to post something a little more superficial, so here goes...

What is up with those stupid St George's flag things on people's cars. Its not really the whole patriotism thing I don't like (although I'm pretty dubious about that, the St George's flag is in my opinion less reactionary than the Union Jack), it's just that they look stupid and tacky. As for the idiots with full sized flags attached to their aerials, don't even get me started!

Friday, May 28, 2004

Anyone concerned about the images of torture and abuse coming out of Abu Ghraib need worry no more. Donald Rumsfeld has got to the heart of the problem. During his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee he complained,
We're functioning in a -- with peacetime restraints, with legal requirements in a war-time situation, in the information age, where people are running around with digital cameras and taking these unbelievable photographs and then passing them off, against the law, to the media, to our surprise, when they had not even arrived in the Pentagon.
Fortunately this will no longer be an issue. He's banned camera phone from all military installations in Iraq and a total ban throughout the US army is in the works.

Thanks to Justin Podur for picking this up.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Today sees the release of the Commons health select committee's report on obesity. Like all such reports almost no-one actually reads the thing itself, newspaper reports being easier to digest (if you excuse the pun). Anyway, the report apparently stops short of calling for regulation of TV advertising of junk food, instead arguing for voluntary controls. Nonetheless there are increasing calls for genuine, effective regulation. This has incited the usual moans about the "nanny state" from the free market fundamentalists, but this misses the point: we are talking about advertising deliberately targeting children and it is difficult to see what is wrong about nannying children. Surely that's exactly what they need?

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

It will probably not come as much of a surprise to anyone who reads this that the handover of sovereignty due to take place on June 30 is a sham. For a start, as Adam Roberts notes the US can hardly handover something they never had:
Under well-established laws relating to occupations, Iraqi sovereignty was always vested in Iraq - and not in the US and its coalition, which, as the occupying power, merely exercised a temporary administrative role. Indeed, Iraq's continuing sovereignty was explicitly confirmed in UN security council resolutions 1483, of May 22 last year, and 1511, of October 16. What is now planned would be better, albeit less dramatically, described as a transfer of administrative authority. (Guardian, 25/4/04)
The extent of that transfer is also dubious and unlikely to amount to much. I intend to write a full article on this at some point, but our Glorious Leaders can't seem to decide what they actually want to do, which is making it something of a challenge. In the interim, the draft resolution submitted to the Security Council on Iraq on Monday probably suggests the way things are likely to go.

The document is written in typical diplomatic speak, but it is possible to sift through that to get some idea of what is going on. One important thing to understand is the distinction drawn between the Interim Government which will be formed on June 30, the Transitional National Assembly which is to take power after elections to be held between 31 December 2004 and 31 January 2005 and the national government which will take power at some undetermined point in the future under a constitution drafted under its predecessor (got all that?!).

The passage dealing with the "the multinational force" (in truth the US/UK with a few hangers-on) is also of particular interest.:
6. Reaffirms the authorization for the multinational force under unified command established under resolution 1511 (2003), having regard to the letter referred to in preambular paragraph 10 above, decides that the multinational force shall have authority to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq including by preventing and deterring terrorism, so that inter alia the United Nations can fulfill its role in assisting the Iraqi people as outlined in paragraph five above and the Iraqi people can implement freely and without intimidation the timetable and program for the political process and benefit from reconstruction and rehabilitation activities, and decides further that the mandate for the multinational force shall be reviewed 12 months from the date of this resolution or at the request of the Transitional Government of Iraq.
The effect of this passage is that the mandate for the ongoing occupation is indefinite. It can only be ended by the Security Council, but that would require a new resolution. The brilliance of this is that the US as one of the permanent members of the council can simply veto it. As Rahul Mahajan notes, this situation is not without precedent:
[T]he United States will get to exercise the fabled 'negative veto,' just as it did with the sanctions on Iraq. There again, the Security Council passed a resolution allowing for sanctions with no fixed time period, thus allowing the United States to extend them indefinitely just by vetoing (and in practice, just by threatening to veto) any attempt to lift the sanctions. (, 25/5/04)
I'm sure comment on the effect that the sanctions regime had on the people of Iraq is unneccesary.

So the resolution, in its current form at least, allows a continuing US-led occupation with America ultimately deciding if the force is to be withdrawn. It remains to be seen whether the Security Council will have enough backbone to stand up to the US and UK, but based on past experience I wouldn't count on it. In that case ensuring genuine self-determination for the Iraqi people is up to us.

Recommended Reading:
Zeynep Toufe, 'Fox to Guard Henhouse; Decision Subject to Peridic Review by the Fox',, 25/5/04

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Demonstrators force Fascist BNP to abandon Nottingham Rally!

Hordes of anti-fascist demonstrators yesterday forced BNP fuhrer Nick Griffin to abandon plans to hold an election rally in Nottingham!

...OK, it didn't happen quite like that...

The word on the street was that Griffin was going to make an appearance as part of the British National Party's European Election campaign. Although there was a fairly good turn out of anti-fascists (30-40), representing a wide spectrum of political positions, it turned out that he wasn't coming at all and probably never was. He was spotted in Bradford, which I suppose isn't all that different. Instead of fighting with fascist bonehead (and/or the police) Nottingham Anti-Fascist Alliance supporters found themselves distributing anti-fascist literature in the city's Market Square.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

It's pretty difficult to find much positive to stay about the situation in Israel-Palestine, even at the best of times, but the one thing which it seems possible to take from recent events is the emergence of a revived Israeli peace movement. This demonstrated its strength in a demonstration in Tel Aviv on Saturday calling for an immediate Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which drew (depending on whose figures you believe) anything from 100-250,000 people.

The protest comes in response to Likud's rejection of Sharon's "unilateral withdrawal" plan. This would have seen Israel impose a "peace process" on the Palestinians, ensuring that Israel retained control of large chunks of the West Bank. Some signs declared "Sharon, the nation is with you" and "the majority decides". Additionally Simon Peres, former Israeli PM and a man responsible for much suffering among the Palestinians addressed the rally. Nonetheless there are real hopes that we could be seeing an emerging movement which can have a real, positive influence on Israeli policy.

They demonstration met under the banner "get out of Gaza and start talking", the latter being something Sharon refuses to do as he insists there is no-one to talk to. Former cabinet minister Yossi Beilin remarked, "The biggest lie is that there is no partner. There is a partner to get out of Gaza with agreement. Anyone who says there is no partner doesn't want to talk." He continued, "Ariel Sharon is not the first prime minister who didn't want to make peace, but he's the first who didn't even try. Sharon is a political and military danger to Israel."

Refuseniks on the march were prevented by organisers from displaying banners calling for soldiers to refuse to serve in the occupied territories. Nonetheless a small group of anarchists held signs calling for a complete withdrawal from the territories and denounced the IDF as an "army of terrorists".

A minute silence was held to commemorate Israeli soldiers killed in clashes recently. This was a concession to those who had called for the event to be cancelled in light of an upsurge in fighting. Nonetheless criticism from the right, in the form of Likud and the settlers was considerable.

It is clear that this is not a movement without flaws and contradictions, but then which movement isn't? The anti-war protests in this country were incredible, but February 15 was addressed by Charles Kennedy of the Lib Dems, who went on to vote for the war. Ideological purity is all well and good, but no the be all and end all. It is to be hoped that the global peace movement supports and nurtures its Israeli arm. It may just be the best hope for peace in the region and by extension (given the importance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) the world.

That's one moment of optimism. Normal service will resume shortly.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

A Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust commissioned report about the potential for BNP successes in the forthcoming European Elections is worrying, but simply reinforces what many people (including myself) have been saying for some time. Despite common misconceptions their key base of support is not amongst disgruntled elderly people, but rather former Labour voters, most of them quite young. Aditionally they are generally alienated from the electoral process, seeing all three major parties as essentially the same. BNP voters typically express the greatest confidence that their party will "make a difference" and the party is also considered to be the most active in communities, the BNP's emphasis on door to door canvassing and leafleting having been a success. While the Left tends to focus on the issues its concerned about (the war, Israel/Palestine) and focus its efforts on big-bang events in London the Far-Right is going into (typically working-class) communities and talking to people about the issues that concern them. Quite how this can be changed I don't know, but I worry about the consequences if it isn't.
With the Government now insisting that the Mirror's torture photos were fake (based, of course, on an MoD investigation) we can no doubt expect more of the usual bullshit about how much better the wonderful British troops are than their thuggish US counterparts. This is of course nonsense, there remains considerable evidence of British troops involved in "abuse" (the media still refuse to call it torture, the UN Declaration on Human Rights notwithstanding) of Iraqis, not to mention of Brits killing various innocent Iraqis. This mirrors a view which seem to be common within liberal elites and, tragically, sections of the anti-war movement, that somehow the UK is misguided and misled by an evil America, but ultimately benevolent. The reality is, of course, very different. As Jonathan Freedland argues:
It is too easy to keep blaming the Americans for this war and all that has followed, casting ourselves as the beret-wearing innocents who got sucked into Washington's evil scheme. It is no defence to say we were only following George Bush's orders. We are in Iraq by the choice of our own democratic government. We have to face that fact - and face ourselves.
Anything else would be moral cowardice.
The recent defeat of the incumbent BJP in India's elections was pretty much unforseen. All the experts, all the polls and everyone on the ground were convinced that they would return to power, probably quite comprehensively. Instead they were trounced by the Indian National Congress.

It's important not to get carried away about the importance of this development. As Arundhati Roy pointed out in an article in yesterday's Guardian "on every major issue besides overt Hindu nationalism (nuclear bombs, big dams and privatisation), the Congress and the BJP have no major ideological differences." Nonetheless that singular difference is potentially of considerable importance. In Gujarat, as Rahul Mahajan notes, the BJP "instigated a carefully planned and executed pogrom in Gujarat that claimed the lives of 3000 Muslims (supposedly in retaliation for the killing of 59 Hindus by a Muslim mob)." In the aftermath of the massacre, 287 people were arrested under the new, draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota), 286 were Muslim, 1 Sikh.

Celebrations certainly seem in order, but with neo-liberal "reforms" set to continue and no talk of repealing the country's new repressive measures it is far from clear how long these will last.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

I've never liked Donald Rumsfeld. I've always seen him as a sneering, arrogant warmonger who holds contempt for international law, diplomacy and basic humanity in contempt. His visit to Iraq has confirmed all of those prejudices and inflamed some more. Despite having admitted he's responsible for the torture which occured in Abu Ghraib Prison, he seemed to treat the whole thing as a bit of a joke in which he is the "survivor". Imagine how the world would react if footage emerged of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Ansar Al-Islam, joking about the execution of Nicholas Berg. But of course no-one's going to draw that comparison.

I can't help thinking that all it would take to finish the bastard of is one pissed-off Iraqi with an RPG. One shot. That's that. Go on. Make my day.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

My focus on the situation in Iraq had tended to be on the 'sexy' stuff, the massacre at Fallujah, the 'abuse' (don't, whatever you do, say torture!) scandal and the resistance. Of course there is another side, that experienced by ordinary Iraqis, particularly women. Houzan Mahmoud of The Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq (Owfi) notes, "From the start of the occupation, rape, abduction, "honour" killings and domestic violence have became daily occurrences." She reports that Owfi "has informally surveyed Baghdad, and now knows of 400 women who were raped in the city between April and August last year", the real figure could of course be much higher. The situation is serious:
A lack of security and proper policing have led to chaos and to growing rates of crime against women. Women can no longer go out alone to work, or attend schools or universities. An armed male relative has to guard a woman if she wants to leave the house.
This reflects what Ramzi Kysia who spent time in Iraq during the war and in its immediate aftermath, talked about on his tour of the UK last year. While the perception in the western media is that the lawlessness which came with the collapse of the Ba'ath regime (expressed most obviously in widespread lotting) was over, the level of murder, rapes and muggings was in fact chronic.

Quite how all this is supposed to square with claims about the need for the US/UK to continue the occupation of the country in order to "maintain" security is unclear.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Apparently seeing is believing, if that's the case then anyone still naive enough to believe in the high moral purpose of our current mission in Iraq should check out this video clip (originally picked up by Rahul Mahajan and apparently dating from December). It shows Iraqis being gunned down by helicopter, including one who is clearly seriously injured and incapable of posing a threat to anyone. Quite a welcome to the civillised world...
My MP has been gracious enough to respond to my letter expressing concern about Sharon's plans for a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip while ensuring its control over large chunks of the West Bank. Events have progressed considerably in the period since I wrote the letter, with Sharon's Likud Party voting against the plan, nonetheless lets see what he has to say...
Thank you for your letter. I share your concerns about the terrible situation in Israel.
Sounds good, this is no doubt a view which would be echoed by any civillised person.
Whilst I fully support Israel's right to self-determination and existence, I am deeply disturbed by the behaviour and actions of the Sharon Government...
Again a view universally shared within the civillised world.
...I believe there should be a total and complete withdrawal from most of the occupied territories (with the exception of the Golan Heights)...
A withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza Strip is undoubtedly essential, a point we clearly do not disagree on. His position with regard to the Golan Heights, captured from Syria during the 1967 War is interesting, although not one I entirely agree with. Israel's claims as to the threat which a Syrian presence in this area would pose, may well have an element of truth to them, perhaps a substantial one, but I don't believe this justifies a de facto endorsement of Israel's military annexation of the region. Surely a better solution would be for the area to be declared neutral territory and administered by UN peacekeeping forces, until an equitable agreement can be reached between Syria and Israel.
...and that the settlement that has been built since 1967 should be removed as confidence-building measures to encourage meaningful peace talks.
A not unreasonable position. The reference to settlement rather than settlements is presumably just a misprint.
I will certainly draw your views to the attention to the Foreign Secretary and I will write to you again when I have heard from him.
I can hardly wait. I should stress that the various errors ("to the attention to" etc.) are honestly not mine, an indication perhaps of how important my correspondences are considered?

Friday, May 07, 2004

Big up Breakthrough Breast Cancer! The cancer charity has decided to turn down a £1 million approach from Nestle. The food conglomerate has been the target of a long running boycott over its promotion of baby milk formula in the Third World. It was also criticised last year when it attempted to sue the Ethiopian Government and has been targetted for its support for the Israeli government. The deal with Breakthrough was a blatant attempt to 'greenwash' its image, trying to present itself as a socially responsible company. The charity should be praised for its courageous decision and it is to be hoped that others will follow their lead.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Ooohhh! My report on the Stop the War Coalition National Council has been posted on the Socialist Unity Network site. Go and marvel.
Britain's "controversial" (read principled) ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, has again attacked the former Soviet republic's brutal human rights record and pointed out that this almost certainly lay behind recent terrorist attacks in the country. How his hosts and their British allies in the Foreign Office - who have previously tried unsuccessfully to censure him - respond remains to be seen.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Just a quick thought on the torture photos fraud 'debate'...

I'm obviously not in a position to know whether the photos printed in the Mirror of British troops apparently torturing an Iraqi prisoner are real or not, but an investigation by the MoD is not worth the paper it's written on, no matter how "high-level" it may be. We need a genuinely independent, impartial investigation if we really want to ascertain what did and/or didn't happen. The failure of much of the media to even suggest such a thing merely demonstrates their subservience to the government line. To their credit Channel 5 did have an Amnesty spokesman make this point briefly, the BBC and ITV as far as I can tell haven't even mentioned it (a search of the BBC News site turned up no mention of the idea).

Monday, May 03, 2004

Found an interesting article looking at the council tax from a lefty perspective. It reflects much of what I've been writing on the issue and is of particular interest, coming as it does from the Socialist Party of England and Wales. Although pretty irrelevant today (like the Left generally unfortunately) they were formerly active within the Labour Party and were known as Militant. At this time they were actively involved (at least if their own claims are to be believed) in the ultimately successful Anti-Poll Tax campaign

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Thinking further about the comments I made regarding council tax yesterday, I remembered this article, looking at how the right-wing UK Independence Party (UKIP) are getting involved around the issue, which reinforces my concerns about the Left's apparent inaction on the matter. On this point I have discovered that the England and Wales Green Party, like their Scottish bretheren oppose the tax and support its replacement with a land value tax, nonetheless they do not seem to have made all that much noise around the issue. Similarly the Independent Working Class Association notes in its programme, their intention that "Council Tax to be abolished and replaced with an income rather than property- based form of local taxation", although they have tended to focus on campaigning around local issues, quite rightly given their stated aims and purpose.

IsItFair seems to be the pre-eminent organisation campaigning around the tax, they insist that they are "NON-PARTY POLITICAL and FOR EVERYONE (not only pensioners) who wants the existing system of Council Tax abolished", but are clearly closely tied to the Royal British Legion, who probably wouldn't think much of many of my views. During the 1980s the Anti-Poll Tax campaign was strongly supported by the Left and mobilised large sections of the working class against the Thatcher Government, arguably helping to topple it. Could the council tax have the same effect for Blair? Only time and our action (or inaction) will tell.

In case anyone doubts that tax is an issue radicals should be concerned about, check out this article.
Iraq's introduction to the civillised world continues apace with various allegations' of torture and maltreatment of Iraqi prisoners by British and American soldiers. While there have apparently been efforts to suppress much of this in the US media, it has fortunately been impossible to ignore. I don't have time for a coherent analysis of what is going on, but a few things seem to require emphasis:

Guess who they're getting in to run US detention facilities in the region... Geoffrey Miller, the man in charge of the notorious Guantanamo Bay. As Rahul Mahajan points out, you couldn't make this up.

The whole idea of soldiers investigating soldiers is completely unacceptable. One can imagine how the world would have reacted had Saddam offered to have the Mukhbarat (secret police) investigate 'allegations' that his forces were engaging in torture. As Amnesty notes genuinely independent investigations (not to mention serious prosecutions and punishment) are vital.

It is interesting and very worrying to note the apparent involvement of private contractors in interrogations. This mirrors the privatisation of warfare which we have seen recently (the force of private security firms in Iraq constitutes the largest private army in the world and accounts for 25% of the "reconstruction" budget).

My comments on the brutality of what has occurred seem of little consequence, but nonetheless I condemn completely and wholeheartedly these acts of barbarism. There is, however, a tragic inevitability behind the whole thing this is simply amnifestation of the inevitable dynamic of occupation in which the occupying force must dehumanise the people they are oppressing (the "enemy") in order to justify their presence in the country.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

The US decision to withdraw its forces from Fallujah is a major development in the ongoing conflict in Iraq and a friend's assesment that this demonstrates that they had "bitten of more than they could chew" appears to be accurate. Nonetheless we should be watchful of what is done with the withdrawn troops. If they are simply sent to attack Najaf this is hardly a particularly positive development. As ever, only time will tell.
It is unclear what the effects of the government's decision to cap the spending of several councils and fire authorities, including Nottingham council, will be, nonetheless the reductions in the amounts people have to pay are likely to be only slight and in some cases will apparently be offset by the cost of rebilling. The government claims that the decision to use these powers has been taken in order to protect taxpayers from excessive rises, but a more cynical view (and this is unsurprisingly mine) is that they are trying to head off a growing revolt over thecouncil tax, widely seen, with good reason, as inegalitarian and regressive. The failure of the Left to pick up on this issue is unfortunate, although by no means inevitable. In Scotland the Green Party have called for its abolition and replacement with a land value tax while the Scottish Socialist Party have built a large campaign around the issue and called for an income based Scottish service tax. It is to be hoped that the English Left will soon mobilise itself in this regard, because if we don't someone else may fill that vacuum, perhaps even the BNP.
May 1st has been celebrated as International Workers' Day by workers, socialists and others around the world since the days of the Haymarket Martyrs. In recent years the day has been marked by impressive and confrontational demonstrations in London, although this year this had to be cancelled, a damning reflection on the state of the anarchist and direct action movements in the UK. Nonetheless demonstrations did take place across the country including the one I attended in Nottingham.

Organised by the Notts Trade Justice Movement in conjunction with the Trades Union Council and supported by various organisations, the event was attended by something like 2-300 people. Not an amazing turnout (prior to invasion of Iraq Nottingham Stop the War organised a demo in the city with 1-2,000 people and that on a rainy, overcast day), but considerably better than last year. There was also a wide variety of groups present and causes promoted. Worker-Communist Party of Iraq supporters distributed placards opposing forced deportation, the occupation of Iraq and "political Islam" while Anti-Imperialist Action distributed flyers calling for support for the "people's war" in Nepal. Groups active around trade justice and development were also well represented, although the same could not be said for the trade unions, a criticism which was also made last year.

There were as at all such events various speakers, this time preceded by a role play about the role of international organisations (such as the EU) and multi-national corporations in the exploitation of the world's poor. I missed much of this, however, as I was perusing the stalls representing various organisations. I made my way to the truck set up for speeches to hear some of the later ones which included Sara Kassam, speaking on behalf of the University of Nottingham Students' Union (an organisation normally opposed to any kind of serious political action, so their presence today was encouraging) and Alan Simpson MP (who I saw speak at the Stop the War Coalition national conference I attended last week, surely he must be following me around!?).

Overall today's event was encouraging, demonstrating that Nottingham has a vibrant and active civil society. Sure, we didn't change the world and I doubt that Tony Blair gives a fuck, but that's hardly the point. Those on the demo have hopefully come away feeling empowered and empowerment can very easily translate into action and action is the basis of social change. As the Worker-Communists like to say, "Long live Mayday!"

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