WHAT A debacle. Tony Blair's disastrous cabinet reshuffle was supposed to help strengthen his government's purpose and resolve. It has had the exact opposite effect. Now a number of key Blairites like Alan Milburn have joined the ever expanding ranks of ex-ministers on the back benches.
"BLAIR'S REFORMING reshuffle," read the Guardian's headline on Friday last week. How naive can you get? In the first place, the post of Lord Chancellor is undoubtedly an outdated hangover from an earlier era.
LAST WEEK'S headlines in the mainstream press showing a large increase in the rise of sexually transmitted infections will come as no surprise to anyone who works in the area of sexual health. Sexual health workers, many with great expectations of a Labour government after years of the Tories and their back to basics morality, have been lobbying the government consistently over crippled resources and a steady rise in infections. The Sun's shock warning "Sex could kill you!" laid the blame at the feet of irresponsible young people. It also blamed asylum seekers for the rise in HIV. A cursory glance at government policy gives a truer picture.
THE LIES told by Tony Blair to justify war on Iraq are coming back to haunt him. This week the conference of Britain's fourth biggest union, the GMB, called for a public inquiry into events leading up to the war. If Blair was found to have lied, said the motion, he should resign. The conference also supported the Stop the War Coalition and voted to review its links with Labour MPs.
GORDON Brown "yesterday set the government on course for another nine months of wrangling over the euro". That was the verdict of the Financial Times business paper on the government's euro announcement.
THERE HAS been much optimistic comment on the meeting last week in Aqaba, Jordan, between US president George W Bush, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority representative Abu Mazen. The fact that Bush seems to be putting his shoulder to the wheel and making a serious effort to implement the so-called road map, intended to revive the Middle East peace process, has surprised many people.
WILL DAVID Beckham leave Manchester United? That's the question every tabloid newspaper is asking. And in the chase to get the latest scoop, the exploitative world of big business and football is being exposed. One friend of Beckham says he feels Manchester United have betrayed him. He feels he is being "traded round like a piece of meat".
TONY BLAIR is facing his most profound crisis. Politicians have been caught lying and cheating many times before. Blair's lies over Iraq are of a different order. He lied so he could join in killing thousands of Iraqi people.
TONY BLAIR was dealt another severe blow by trade unionists last Saturday when members of the powerful TGWU union elected Tony Woodley as their new general secretary. Woodley, who had wide support from the left in the union, got 66,958 votes, 43 percent. He decisively beat Jack Dromey, seen as the most pro-Blair candidate, who came second with 45,136 votes, 29 percent.
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