CHORUS SINGERS at the English National Opera (ENO) struck on Tuesday. They are staging a series of one-day strikes to prevent 20 of the 60 chorus singers losing their jobs. Their strike is about much more than the jobs, important though they are. It raises the question of who controls access to art in our society.
THE DEMONSTRATIONS last Saturday have plunged Tony Blair into the biggest political crisis of his life. Every commentator knows it. Blair knows it. For days the media has been filled with attempts to understand the demonstrations, and speculation about whether Blair can ride out the storm. Now we have to cause such turmoil that Blair is forced from office. If we don't shift Blair, we allow him to ignore democracy.
LAST SATURDAY'S great demonstration was one of those "once in a lifetime" events which it would be hard to find anything to match. One of the few that begin to compare - in my experience at least - was the million-strong anti-war march that concluded the European Social Forum (ESF) in Florence on 9 November last year.
AT LEAST one person from each of 1.25 million households in Britain marched last Saturday, according to a survey in the Guardian. They showed on the streets the anti-war feeling of the clear majority of the population.
NEVER IN recent times has the gulf between a government and the people been so wide. Tony Blair marches to war while the vast majority resolutely oppose him. Saturday's demonstration shows that huge numbers of people are prepared to actively oppose the government's war plans.
THE ANNUAL conference of the NATO military alliance has for 40 years been an occasion for mutual backslapping and bland statements by leaders of the Western powers.
THE BIGGEST demonstration in British history is set to take place next Saturday. The anti-war march is already expected to be so big that it has to have two assembly points. It is no wonder the government is panicking. Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, tried to ban the march from its usual rallying point in Hyde Park.
RETURNING FROM the World Social Forum (WSF) at Porto Alegre in Brazil, I feel as if I have just emerged from a vast, multicoloured sea that swept all the participants along in a great exuberant wave.
QUESTION TIME is the kind of TV show that spends much of the year trying to drum up support for itself. Anxious trails from David Dimbleby tell us that we'll be lucky enough to hear the views of a panel made up of cold sponges, wet towels and old flannels. It's as if he's warning us not to switch over to Newsnight or we'll miss hearing from someone as thrilling as Margaret Beckett - a politician sadly afflicted by a strange illness.
What happens in Britain in the next few weeks will shape history. Everyone in the anti-war movement can be part of making that history. The clock is ticking relentlessly towards war. On Monday chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix reported that his team had found no evidence of any Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction". We cannot trust the UN to block the war.
THERE WAS a small revolution in St Albans last week, one that should give Tony Blair pause for thought as he shackles Britain to the chariot wheels of US imperialism. A meeting called by the Stop the War Coalition turned out to be the biggest protest meeting the city has seen in living memory.
IT'S A fair bet that when Doreen and Neville Lawrence accepted their OBEs in the new year they had no idea the report they had fought so hard for would be tossed into the bin by the home secretary.
THE BIGGEST day of anti-war protests the world has ever seen took place last Saturday. But instead of listening to the majority around the world who oppose war on Iraq, Tony Blair sent a quarter of the British army to the Gulf. Support for the war in Britain has fallen to a new low and outright opposition has risen to new heights, according to a poll in the Guardian that has tracked opinion since August.
THE WEEKEND'S newspapers had some of the most uplifting coverage for ages-and some of the most disgusting. On the one hand, there was extensive coverage of the mushrooming anti-war movement across the globe. On the other, there was a deluge of bile against asylum seekers, linking them with terrorism and whipping up a frenzy whereby every refugee could be a killer with a vat of ricin in their flat.
THE ASIAN Social Forum (ASF) held in Hyderabad in India ended last week with a closing rally of over 10,000 people. It was followed by a demonstration that drew in thousands more. Trucks and coaches from across the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh arrived with people who had made the trip to demonstrate their opposition to imperialism and war.
I REMEMBER it like it was just yesterday-the day 14 years ago when four men carrying hammers walked into the nightclub I was DJing in and proceeded to smash up the record decks. Apparently these hammer-wielding psychopaths came from a rival sound system which wanted to put us out of business. It was my first and hopefully my last brush with the activities of the criminal underworld.
LAST WEEK'S Socialist Worker outlined the "troubles ahead for New Labour" this year. That issue had not even hit the streets when Tony Blair issued his grim new year message. He spoke of a year of war, recession and insecurity-a far cry from New Labour's 1997 election theme song, "Things Can Only Get Better". The message was devoid of any sense of personal responsibility for what he called the "difficult and dangerous" problems the rest of us face.
TALK OF empire is everywhere. Right wing historian Niall Ferguson is presenting a TV series on Channel 4 celebrating the British Empire. American neo-conservatives like Charles Krauthammer openly boast that the US has acquired a global empire since the end of the Cold War.
"TROOPS IN the Philippines have rescued a kidnapped Italian priest who had been held on the southern island of Mindanao for six months. He was kidnapped in October by a gang of bandits called the Pentagon Gang. The military says the group is mainly made up of former members of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Philippine President Arroyo said Father Pierantoni's rescue was a big step towards achieving peace in the troubled southern Philippines. " 'Give them no quarter. Annihilate these criminal gangs. I appeal to the people, to our Muslim brothers, to help us end this scourge of kidnapping,' she said."
"THERE IS every reason to think we are about to enter the most dramatic year in the story of New Labour." "At home and abroad in the year ahead the prime minister and New Labour will be tested as never before." These predictions (from key articles in the Financial Times and the Observer) are spot on.