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Here follows an article from new Voices newsletter: One by-product of the Mandelson scandal was a mini-reshuffle in which Peter 'I fought apartheid, I'll fight Saddam' Hain was shunted out of the Foreign Office to fight for nuclear power and so on as Energy Minister. Brian Wilson Hain's successor at the Middle East section is one Brian Wilson (no Beach Boys jokes). The Prime Minister was thwarted in his attempt to make Mr Wilson the new Secretary of State for Scotland, apparently, and put him into the Foreign Office instead. Mr Wilson has served in the DTI and the Scottish Office. Given his previous experience as trade minister, it would have made sense for him to take on Energy at the DTI instead of Hain. 'That Mr Blair opted instead to put him in the Foreign Office adds to the view that Downing Street wanted Mr Hain out.' (Guardian, 26 Jan.) *Former campaigner Like Mr Hain, Mr Wilson has a campaigning past to live up to. According to the Guardian, Mr Wilson once campaigned against US sanctions on Cuba, was in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and raised funds for medical support for Nicaragua in the 1980s. Unlike Mr Hain, however, Mr Wilson has not been openly hostile to the US son-of-Star Wars 'National Missile Defence' system, a sentiment the Foreign Office is very nervous about expressing, apparently, in case it is taken as a dig at Downing St. *The old Wilson David Walker described Wilson thus in the Guardian (6 April 2000): 'Brian Wilson, 51, class of 87. Scot with Scottish seat, ex-journalist. Media relations temporarily bad, after temper tantrum. Little admin work; hates Scottish parliament.' George Monbiot points out that Mr Wilson was an enthusiastic opponent of the hated Skye toll bridge - before he became a junior minister. In 1995, he described the bridge as "a shocking story of ideologues using a remote place for an experiment that they could not have got away with anywhere else". The toll regime, he announced, was "immoral, unacceptable and unjust"; while the people of Skye were the "near-monopoly prisoners of... ruthless commercial interests". (Similar remarks might be made about the economic sanctions Mr Wilson now presides over.) In 1996, Mr Wilson joined the demonstrators, marching over the bridge with a pipe band, and announced that the Tartan Toll Tax (the toll on the new Skye bridge ) was "an injustice which will not be meekly acquiesced in". Monbiot writes that 'Soon after the election was won, ministers announced that scrapping the tolls would be impossible... Brian Wilson told Scotland on Sunday: "It's just a lie to say that either I or the Labour party promised to abolish the tolls." (The local Labour candidate for the 1997 general election told voters, "The Labour party is committed to work in partnership to abolish the tolls within the shortest practicable timescale.") 'When the islanders requested that they be allowed to reopen the kyle ferry service and run it in competition with the bridge, Wilson told them it was a silly stunt. '"What hurts us most," John Campbell told [George Monbiot], "is the sense of betrayal. These ministers were campaigners before they got into power. Now they're just suits."' (Guardian, 9 Sept. 2000) Cuban ships Mr Wilson has been described as 'brave' for publicly defending the MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Investments), which disappeared in a welter of criticism in 1998. Perhaps he can summon up the same kind of courage to denounce the economic sanctions on Iraq. After all, the former Cuba solidarity activist did help try to secure an order for 12 Cuban bulk carriers for a Scottish shipyard in 1999. (Guardian, 3 May 1999) If not, there is always the fact that Mr Wilson's seat is not safe if the 16% swing from Labour to the SNP seen in the Falkirk West by-election is repeated in a general election. END -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk