THERE'S AN idea that floats around the world of the arts that being engaged in politics is really rather unpleasant. The Times Literary Supplement describes a new collection of socialist poetry, Red Sky at Night, edited by Adrian Mitchell and Andy Croft, as "quaint".
EVERYONE SHOULD smell a rat when Rupert Murdoch's Sun claims to care about mass sackings of workers. Billionaire Murdoch is responsible for massacring many thousands of jobs in the print industry here and abroad. But Tuesday's Sun had the nerve to play on fears of redundancy in order to whip up pro George Bush hysteria over Europe.
ANYONE WHO believes that the government's assault on asylum seekers leaves the most desperate "legitimate" refugees untouched, should look at Abas Amini's face. The Home Office is appealing against a decision to give him asylum in Britain. He is so desperate he has sewn up his own eyes, mouth and ears in protest.
ONE OF the biggest talking points of the past few months has concerned where the war on Iraq leaves relations between Europe and the US. Many people on the left have been speculating that the European Union (EU) can, under French and German leadership, emerge as a counterweight to the US.
THE FIRST voice I heard as I left the cinema was saying, "Well I thought that was total bollocks, I really did." No one seemed to disagree, certainly not me. The original Matrix was a successful film because it was clever, because it used its effects budget well, and because it had what Hollywood calls "crossover appeal".
THE £22 million payout for GlaxoSmithKline boss Jean Pierre Garnier has revealed the obscene scale of the wealth, opulence and luxury at the top of society. It shows that nothing has changed under New Labour. Bosses are still awarding themselves millions in salaries, bonuses, share options and "golden parachutes". In fact the fat cats are revelling in an even more grotesque way than they did in Margaret Thatcher's heyday.
OVER 5,000 people rallied in Trafalgar Square on Saturday of last week in support of the Palestinians. The date was chosen to mark the 55th anniversary of the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians at the founding of the Israeli state in 1948.
THE DEBATE over Britain joining the euro currency is tearing New Labour apart. The government's deep splits have been reopened in the run-up to the announcement on the euro on 9 June. Gordon Brown and Tony Blair are set to haul in cabinet ministers one by one to try to hammer home a line.
FOOTBALL USED to be called "the people's game". Not any more. The professional game now mirrors Blair's Britain, with a growing gap between the handful of rich clubs at the top of the Premiership and the also-rans in the Nationwide leagues. Clubs used to be owned by local businessmen with big cheque books and even bigger egos. But now the top clubs are listed on the stock exchange and are controlled by the City of London institutions.
CLARE SHORT'S resignation has exposed the weakness of the Blair government. It shows that his loyal supporters are an incredibly thin layer of people. Her departure has further increased the serious problems for Blair, a leader who only a few weeks ago was presented as walking on water by the media and many politicians.
Kevin Ovenden on key agent Stakeknife
BLUR HAVE just released their new album, Think Tank. The band's lead singer, Damon Albarn, was one of the most outspoken opponents of the war against Iraq. To many, his stand is even more remarkable given his close connection to New Labour just eight years ago.
HERE'S A simple question - who is an expert on war? Watching TV during any war gives us a simple answer. Experts on war are made up of the reporters "out there", and back in the studio, the ex-generals or "defence analysts" - people who work for military hardware catalogues, departments of military studies or for strange "institutes" devoted to studying wars.
LAST WEEK'S elections revealed not a "Baghdad bounce" but a sharp backlash against Tony Blair, especially in Labour heartlands. The sense of utter betrayal by this Labour government, which grew this week over the issue of foundation hospitals, brought breakthroughs for socialists.
IN ONE of these carefully staged media events so typical of this global "war on terrorism", George W Bush used the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to announce victory in Iraq on May Day. Actually, he didn't use the word "victory".
AFTER THE war on Iraq, Tony Blair has declared war on the welfare state and the trade unions. Blair believes his position has been strengthened by the war. But he faces huge opposition and sharp battles in the near future.
THE MEDIA has reacted in typical fashion to the SARS flu-like disease. Truth has been the casualty in a media frenzy driven by the need to sell newspapers, outdo rivals, and push particular ideological agendas over issues like racism. Some, headed by the Daily Mail, talk as though we were all about to be wiped out by SARS.
THE WAR on Iraq was based on blatant lies, and the warmongers are still lying today. The pro-war press owners are trying to smear George Galloway MP and, through him, the anti-war movement.
TEN THOUSAND demonstrators fought off police attacks on workers from the Brukman tailoring factory in the Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires, on Monday night. The factory was being run successfully under workers' control after the boss tried to close it down 16 months ago.
THREE CHEERS for the protesters who gave Tony Blair and the other pro-war prime ministers such a hot time when they visited Athens for the European Union summit last week. At the beginning of June George Bush will attend the Group of Eight (G8) meeting in the French city of Evian, just over the border from Geneva in Switzerland.