THIS WEEK'S budget isn't notable only for Gordon Brown's willingness to squander billions on the conquest of Iraq. It comes against the background of increased difficulties for both the US and British economies. The situation is worse in the US. Last week figures were released that showed that the number of jobs outside agriculture fell by 108,000 in March. This is the fifth fall in the past seven months, including a huge drop of 357,000 jobs in February.
THE ANTI-WAR movement is sending the advertising hacks into a spin. Canny corporations see the anti-war and anti-capitalist movements as new marketing tools to get to young people. How they connect into these movements takes many different forms. Corporations like Nike with its "Just do it" theme or FCUK with its anti-establishment stance are playing on relatively safe ground. Meanwhile Qibla and Mecca Cola are trying to take a small bite out of Coca-Cola and Pepsi's markets by plugging themselves as an ethical alternative to these global giants.
THE WAR against Iraq is about brutal occupation, not liberation. And every honest commentator admits it's going to get worse. More death, more destruction. Yet the government and its friends in the media say that having started this war, we have to finish it.
WHATEVER THE eventual outcome, the war's first two weeks saw a defeat for those who pushed most vehemently for unleashing the barbarity - the hard core around Bush and Rumsfeld in the White House. That is the significance of the criticisms of Donald Rumsfeld's - and Tony Blair's - strategy by high placed US and British generals.
"I'm not fighting for Saddam, I'm fighting for Iraq." Those were the words of Nasr Al Hussein, a former Iraqi special forces parachutist, on Monday. He was one of hundreds of Iraqi exiles in Jordan queuing to board coaches to take them back across the border to Iraq so they can fight US and British forces.
A FRIEND of mine was talking to her mother on Sunday. Her mother had always been opposed to her daughter's political activity. My friend was amazed to be congratulated on going on Saturday's demonstration in London. She was even more amazed by what came next when her mother said, "But demonstrations are not enough. People need to do more."
"ONCE OUR boys are fighting, opposition to the war will virtually evaporate." The Blairites, the Tories and the political commentators close to them all agreed on this after the parliamentary debate 10 days ago. A section of the left, believing the media are all-powerful, agreed. How wrong they were.
News reports treat the war like a video game. But anti-war protesters are organising and refuse to be silent
BUSH AND Blair have signalled the start of mass murder in Iraq. They are prepared to turn Iraq into a wasteland of blasted bodies, shattered minds, mangled corpses and weeping children. This war has always been wrong. It remains so now. It does not become better or "moral" or worthy of anyone's support because the missiles are launched and British soldiers are sent into battle.
SOME IN the anti-war movement argue that once war starts it would be better for it to be over quickly, with the US and Britain winning with the minimum of fighting. That is an understandable reaction, motivated by wanting to see the least loss of life in the immediate conflict. It is, however, mistaken.
MANY YEARS ago when the benefits of parliamentary democracy were shared by very few of the world's population, the Russian revolutionary Lenin pointed to a fundamental problem. He argued that "hidden beneath the polished exterior of modern democracy are deceit, violence, corruption, mendacity, hypocrisy and oppression of the poor". Tony Blair's New Labour has managed to illustrate each one of them in six short years. One measure of the outcome is the declining number of people who vote in elections.
BUSH AND Blair threatened war on Iraq within days as Socialist Worker went to press. Tony Blair cannot miss the scale of opposition to war. He saw two million march in London, he watched 122 Labour MPs rebel, he knows that this is the greatest crisis inside the Labour Party for over 70 years. Any lingering belief that he still had the majority with him must have been dispelled on Monday night.
THE GLOBAL movement against war on Iraq continues to go from strength to strength. In Britain it is tearing New Labour apart. But there are people who are asking, "What can it achieve? Bush is going to go to war anyway, whatever anyone else thinks." The argument is mistaken on a number of counts. First, despite Bush's bluster, key sections of the US ruling class are worried about going to war without some cover from other governments.
MUSICALS, WESTERNS and good old fashioned love stories dominated Hollywood films of the 1950s. On the surface many of those films appear to be politically innocent. But beneath the surface, and using only the subtlest of references, a moral, sexual, ideological and political battle took place.
INTENSIFIED BOMBING. B-52 bombers moved to Gloucestershire ready to rain death on Iraq. George Bush and Tony Blair are in the final stages of unleashing war. It must now be plain to everyone that United Nations resolutions and arms inspections are, for Bush and Blair, just camouflage. They are hellbent on war whether or not they can bully and bribe other states to back it.
WE'VE BEEN told this week that Blair's cabinet are 100 percent behind him. It may well be true that New Labour is splitting up faster than lovers in EastEnders, but no worries for Blair - he's got solid support where it counts.
BUSH AND Blair are desperately seeking new ways to justify their slaughter in Iraq. They have now resorted to claiming they want to bomb Iraq into freedom and democracy.
WHEN AN establishment paper like the New York Times reacts to the anti-war protests on 15 February by commenting that "there may still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion", you know things are beginning to move.
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.