BURIED AMID the largely vacuous coverage of Tony Blair overtaking Clement Attlee as the longest serving Labour prime minister were a couple of interesting facts. The Independent on Sunday put together a mass of figures to try to establish whether or not we are better off now than we were in 1950, when Attlee was prime minister.
LIKE MOST people, I was shocked by the results of a report published last week into the effects of taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). The huge study of over one million women aged between 50 and 65 found that those who took the most common form of HRT, a combined dose of oestrogen and progesterone, were twice as likely to get breast cancer.
BETWEEN THE peaks of excitement over who won Big Brother and the whys and wherefores of Geoff Hoon's holiday arrangements, you may have missed an unnerving and at times unpleasant TV history of the Baader-Meinhof episode. It told the story of what happened when a group of Germans in what was then West Germany formed the Red Army Faction.
TONY BLAIR has been forced to admit that his official spokesman tried to discredit dead weapons expert David Kelly as a "Walter Mitty" fantasist. That revelation came on the eve of Kelly's funeral. The timing showed just how callous this government is, but also how it is desperately losing control. There are now bitter recriminations between three of the central institutions that promote capitalist stability in Britain-the government, the BBC, and the secret services.
THE RECESSION in the US is over, according to the guardian of American economic statistics. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NEBR) announced recently that the recession actually ended nearly two years ago, in November 2001. Tell that to the Americans who are still losing their jobs. The US economy shed jobs for the sixth consecutive month in July.
TONY BLAIR is in a crisis for one reason - his whole case for war on Iraq was based on a great lie. To justify that lie, Blair lied again, and again and again. He constructed a pyramid of lies and now that pyramid is collapsing around him. Blair's government is in chaos. The BBC and the government are at each other's throats. More and more people, in the media, the Labour Party and the establishment, are calling for Blair to go.
Huw Williams Blackwood, Wales
TONY BLAIR headed off this week to Sir Cliff Richard's Sugar Hill estate in Barbados for a luxury holiday. But he won't be able to escape the reality that New Labour is falling apart.
TENS OF thousands of people flocked to Hyde Park in London last Saturday as part of the annual lesbian and gay Pride event. The march from the Embankment grew and grew as people joined in along the route. It followed the path taken by the great stop the war marches, and many people on the Pride demonstration took leaflets for September's march against the occupation.
FOR AS long as I can remember, people have been saying that the left needs to organise at a European level to match the development of the European Union. For years, this was just talk. Now, in an absent-minded sort of way, it's happening.
IT'S THAT time of year again when Edinburgh holds its breath and waits for the biggest arts festival in the world to explode across its streets. The Edinburgh Fringe is a highlight of the year for many socialists and radicals across Britain and, indeed, throughout the world. In these days of mindless musicals and trash "reality TV", the Fringe offers an opportunity to escape the mass manufactured garbage which so often dominates our culture.
THE HEADLINES in the papers slammed Tony Blair as he set off this week to the US, Japan and South Korea. They reflect a now near universal feeling that his days are numbered. Just this weekend you could read "We don't trust you: Tony Blair has lost the trust of the British people over war on Iraq" (Daily Mirror). "Lost on the Third Way to nowhere. He's run out of drive and so have his policies" (Sunday Times).
SALMA YAQOOB chair Birmingham Stop the War Coalition
THE AWARD of a knighthood to outgoing TGWU union general secretary Bill Morris might have caught many people by surprise. He has never been identified as being inside the Blair camp.
"GEORGE BUSH is coming to South Africa with his hands dripping with the fresh blood of Iraqi people. When they roll out the red carpet for him, it will be to hide the bloodstains." That's how Trevor Ngwane, the leading South African anti-privatisation activist, summed up what Bush's tour of Africa means.
THE BLAIR government lurched towards further confrontation with its own supporters over the health service this week. A bill which includes plans for foundation hospitals had its third reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday. The widespread opposition of Labour backbenchers has forced health secretary John Reid to make some cosmetic changes to the proposals.
ONE OF THE most shameful injustices in Britain's dirty legal history was back in the news last week. In Cardiff Crown Court a man pleaded guilty to the murder of Lynette White in 1988. This is the same crime that Yusef Abdullahi, Tony Paris and Stephen Miller were convicted of in 1990.
"REFORM" USED to mean things would improve for the better. Under Tony Blair "reform" means things will get worse. New Labour fears its plan for the reform of the NHS through foundation hospitals could produce another rebellion inside its own ranks next week in parliament. That prospect saw the government attempt to soften up MPs this week. It scuppered its own bill over foxhunting. This has paved the way for a vote on an outright ban on hunting.
THE WHEELS have come off Tony Blair's bandwagon. Millions of people have rumbled his lies over the war. A television mock trial, which presented the anti-war case badly, still found Blair guilty of mass deception by a margin of two to one. The aftermath of the war and New Labour's ongoing attacks are producing immense political debate and questioning across Britain. It finds only the faintest echo in the cosseted world of official politics.
THE SEARCH for weapons of limited destruction in the shape of guns haunts our cities, according to senior police officers of the Met. They talk of wild gun-toting Yardies and Albanians threatening the fabric of our society, especially in the suburbs where they threaten to flood us with drugs. Newspaper headlines scream out that gun crime has reached epidemic proportions and that it's no longer safe to tread any urban street.