Fredrick Engels once defined the state as "armed bodies of men", together with their appendages, in defence of private property. Last month's BBC 2 TV programme in Britain entitled True Spies by Peter Taylor examined one of these appendages, Britain's secret services. The programme revealed how in "democratic" Britain, MI5 and the Special Branch systematically infiltrated political groups and organisations, and secretly spied on trade union leaders such as Arthur Scargill and Derek 'Red Robbo' Robinson. While none of the revelations are particularly startling, what was of interest was the use of first-hand interviews by ex-M15 agents in explaining their sordid undercover activities.

The dearth of leadership in the Tory Party is not the cause of their crisis, but it is not an accident either. The failings of these leaders faithfully reflect the impasse of their system. Nye Bevan once said of the Tory leaders (including Churchill) they have nothing to say about tomorrow, and harp on about the past because they have no part to play in the future. They are a doomed party representing a doomed class and a doomed system. The crisis in the Tory Party is symptomatic of the impasse facing the profit system. The sickness of that system spreads like a cancer affecting every aspect of society.

As the Fire Brigades Union in Britain goes out on strike for the second time, we are publishing the second Firefighters' Bulletin distributed by the Socialist Appeal throughout the fire stations up and down the country. The struggle of the firefighters in Britain is becoming a major industrial battle with the Labour government commited to smash the union. We support the struggle of the firefighters for fair pay.

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