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See Naples and revolt


IN THE wake of the general strike in Italy on 16 April the Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (Communist Refoundation) organised a May Day rally which I was invited to address.

Not going back to business as usual


BACK TO business as usual. That was the message from much of the press and many establishment politicians this week. The threat of far right and Nazi parties has, they said, been seen off. Jean-Marie Le Pen has been soundly beaten in the run-off for the presidential election in France.

The best of Old Labour


TWO LEADING Labour women were in the news last weekend. One was Barbara Castle, who died on Friday of last week. The other was Mo Mowlam, interviewed at length on Channel 4 about her gripes with Tony Blair's government.

Potter's no magic cure


FOR THE last few years I've kept my mouth shut when I've heard people saying that the sales of Harry Potter books were doing wonders for children's reading. On some occasions I defended the books, particularly if they were under attack from snobs. These are the kind of people who only want kids to read the books they read as a child, like Alice in Wonderland and the Just William books.

What needs to be done now to turn the tide against the Nazis


THE Nazi BNP is not just a threat in the north west of England.

Five years hard Labour from Blair


FIVE YEARS ago the tune of Labour's campaign song, "Things Can Only Get Better", died away and Tony Blair entered 10 Downing Street. The hopes many people had at the time seem a very long way away now. A poll in the Daily Mirror published on Tuesday showed that 66 percent of people think that Blair has "not done enough for ordinary people". Fewer than one in five voters believe that Britain has become a better place to live under New Labour.

The centre cannot hold


JEAN-MARIE Le Pen's surprise success in the first round of the French presidential elections must be seen in a larger context. There is not simply the growth of the far right throughout Europe, but also a larger process of class polarisation that has been going on for at least the last decade.

French shockwave sweeping Europe


"EARTHQUAKE"-that was how French newspapers reacted to Jean-Marie Le Pen's success in the presidential elections. He came second with more votes than Lionel Jospin, the equivalent of Tony Blair. Le Pen is a Nazi. He described the Holocaust and the murder of six million Jews as a mere "detail of history".

Time to unite with Chirac?


It is not just ordinary people who have been shocked by the French election result. Establishment politicians across Europe too have been shaken. These politicians agree the only solution to the danger of Le Pen is to unite behind Tory candidate Jacques Chirac in the election run-off on 5 May. Chirac is almost certain to be elected.

In a class all of their own


I CAME face to face with the global ruling class last week. Along with others from the Colombia Solidarity Campaign, I was sitting in the annual general meeting of Britain's biggest corporation, BP. We became BP shareholders to protest at the company's role in Colombia. Alongside the protest, the event shattered the myths that supporters of capitalism push about how their system works.

Another link in the chain of resistance


LONDON AND Glasgow are not yet Rome and Barcelona. Nor is Britain yet seeing the kind of militant industrial struggle witnessed in the Italian general strike on Tuesday. Italian workers are fighting the government of Tony Blair's right wing friend Silvio Berlusconi, who is pushing through a major attack on workers' rights. But Britain is not immune from the mood of resistance.

Shakes in the Middle East


ONE MOMENT summed up for me the enormous tensions that George W Bush's administration is creating with its support for Ariel Sharon's reign of terror in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. US Secretary of State Colin Powell spent a week dawdling around the world before arriving in Israel on his supposed "peace mission".

Dear Billy Bragg


I RECENTLY attended a press conference at Birmingham Town Hall to announce the result of the council housing sell-off ballot. On my way in a press officer, power dressed in the way that only New Labour types seem to think looks good, asked me to sign the book of condolence for the Queen Mother.

The 'peacemakers' who want more war


The US government was trying to pose as a peacemaker in the Middle East last week. What a nerve. US Secretary of State and supposed "peace envoy" Colin Powell said he wouldn't even consider cutting back on the $2.7 billion the US government gives in "aid" to Israel every year.

Why Bush is worried


The Guardian last Saturday tried to explain the decision by George W Bush and his advisers to reverse their previous policy and demand that Ariel Sharon pull Israeli troops out of the West Bank:

How Israel was founded


ONE OF the tricks played by the news media is to present events as if they can be explained by pictures of gun battles and two-minute interviews with spokespeople. Nine times out of ten this suits the oppressor, not the oppressed. It shows the resistance of the oppressed as "terrorism" and the actions of the oppressor as "peacekeeping".

Media ignores the real human tragedy


The British media has absolutely sickening priorities. Newspapers have filled page after page with "tributes" to the Queen Mother. The TV and radio programmes at first ditched part of their schedules. There has even been a ridiculous spat over the BBC's "loyalty" to the royal family because a news presenter wore a burgundy tie instead of a black one.

The united May Day coalition of revolt


"The mother of all bank holiday protests." That is how the Independent described the plans for protests in London on 1 May. The article reflects the constant alarm in the press about anti-capitalist protests.

The Queen Mother: The nation's best granny?


The Queen Mother was a racist snob who excelled in extravagant living. Amid all the grovelling, hypocritical tributes paid to her this week, here are some facts to remember. The Queen Mother referred to black people as "nig-nogs" or "blackamoors". She backed white minority rule in Rhodesia. She criticised Lord Mountbatten, viceroy of India, "for giving away the empire" and his wife because "her mother was half-Jewish".

After the Oscars how much has changed for black people?


The Oscars won by black actors at the recent Hollywood awards have opened up a huge debate about race in the US. Some of the press claimed the Oscars were a sign of the progress black people have made.

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