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

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

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

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

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

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