Tony Blair's speech on Monday, in which he stated his determination to press ahead with the planned education bill, shows he wants to use his final months in office to drive neo-liberalism into every corner of our lives.
The plans are so extreme that even some cabinet members have balked at them. Blair admitted this week, “I have got significant numbers of my own side who are against it.”
But he plans to continue – if necessary with support from David Cameron’s Tories. He certainly knows he can rely on Gordon Brown, who pledged backing for Blair's education policies this week.
Blair sees the measures as “fundamental to the government”.
The education proposals go hand in hand with more free market fundamentalism – attacks on disability benefits, on the NHS and, above all, on pension rights.
The plans by public sector unions to ballot for strikes over pensions raise the possibility of the kind of resistance that can beat back the attacks. But the right wing neo-liberal consensus that unites Cameron and Blair shows the need for a political alternative.
Respect can begin to fill the vacuum on the left, cracking open this consensus. That’s why the politics of Respect must run through all of the coming struggles.
No easy way out for the US from Iraq
Bush and Blair can draw little comfort from the final results of the Iraqi elections.
The pro-Iranian United Iraqi Alliance holds a majority in the new parliament while the US backed parties have sunk into obscurity.
Military might has also failed to bring stability.
Last year the resistance launched over 34,000 attacks on occupation troops, a massive rise on 2004.
One city symbolises this US failure above all others – Fallujah. In November 2004 the city was devastated by a massive assault, an attack hailed as a turning point in the occupiers’ battle against the resistance.
Yet during the elections in December Fallujah staged a series of strikes and the city is, after Baghdad, the most dangerous place for US troops to be.
Neither the elections nor military power have delivered respite for the occupation. The only solution is an immediate end to the occupation.
Good news for two recent campaigns
This week sees two victories for freedom of speech, in cases supported by Socialist Worker in recent weeks.
We featured Kurdish academic Kamal Sayid Qadir on our front page after he was sentenced to 30 years in jail by a court in US-controlled Iraqi Kurdistan for criticising the government.
He is now set to be released from prison. His sisters have slammed the Western media for largely ignoring a case that showed the idea of a new, democratic Iraq is a sham.
And the Turkish government has dropped charges against author Orhan Pamuk, who had spoken out about the massacre of Armenians.