UP UNTIL now the events of 11 September 2001 have produced little in the world of popular music other than jingoistic flag-waving by certain second and third rate US musicians.
NEW LABOUR is facing its biggest challenge yet from the unions. The strike of one million council workers, the election of left wing general secretaries, and the number of left wing motions at the coming TUC congress in September have all got Tony Blair worried.
IT'S EASY to laugh at the Tories. Last week they were going through yet another round in the Life of Brian type internal squabbles that have reduced them to an unelectable rump. Only the saddest kind of political scientist could take a genuine interest in working out what the ideological differences are between Iain Duncan Smith and sacked party chairman David Davis.
HAVE YOU ever given a future Archbishop of Canterbury a lift home from an anti-war event? Perhaps not-unless you were in South Wales some five years ago. There you could have seen bishop Rowan Williams leave a meeting against the bombing of Iraq and calmly accept sharing a car with several Socialist Workers Party members.
"A DEFINING moment in the history of the labour movement." That is how the bosses' Financial Times described the shock defeat of Tony Blair's closest trade union ally, Sir Ken Jackson of Amicus. Jackson was finally forced to concede victory to his left wing opponent Derek Simpson last week.
A GREAT crash shook the British labour movement last week-one that sounded almost like the fall of the Berlin Wall back in November 1989. Derek Simpson's election as general secretary of the engineering and electrical section of the giant Amicus union is more than the latest in a series of left wing union victories.
THE STRIKE meant more than a justified fight over low pay. In Northern Ireland, for example, Catholic and Protestant workers picketed together, united for a common cause. In Burnley, Oldham and other areas where Nazis and racists have been seeking to divide people, black, white and Asian workers struck together.
ON 16 November 1999 Jermaine Lee, a black Birmingham postal worker, took his own life. He was 26 years old. Last week the legal investigation into the case came to its conclusion. It revealed a terrifying level of racist harassment at the Aston sorting office where Jermaine worked. There is a powerful myth that racism is generated by the "uneducated" and "ignorant" people at the bottom of society. The people higher up are allegedly more "liberal".
WEDNESDAY'S walkout by over one million council workers is the biggest strike yet under Tony Blair. It has brought the reality of life for millions of working people-low pay and insecurity-to the streets of hundreds of towns and cities.
GEORGE BUSH is beating the drum of war louder as financial scandals sweep the US. He has brought forward a meeting with his loyal manservant Tony Blair to discuss attacking Iraq. Leaked papers from the US military talk of deploying 250,000 troops in the Middle East to launch a full scale invasion.
I HAD to speak at a meeting last week with a title that seemed to be quite daft- "Is the recession over before it began?" This was on a day that saw massive panic on the stockmarkets, and after George Bush had said he was worried about "how tender the system can be". He's been on television twice since to try to reassure the American people. On each occasion the result has been to increase the sense of panic. It has a much bigger political impact in the US than here. That's because the nonsense about "people's capitalism" has conned many more people there.
THE SUMMER months are shaping up to be very different from the political "silly season" that's usually inflicted on us. The strike of 1.2 million council workers against low pay called for next week is a major challenge to New Labour.
DURING THE early 1980s I used to DJ at this jazz funk club in Watford called the New Penny. One night two scrawny young men approached me clasping a seven-inch record, which they claimed they had just finished recording. They begged me to play it. I agreed. They cleared the floor and treated the crowd to a mime and dance routine that had us all in stitches.
MURDER, TORTURE and lies have been the hallmarks of the US invasion of Afghanistan. Events this week have tragically underlined that reality. US warplanes bombed a village in Afghanistan on Monday killing at least 30 members of a wedding party and injuring many more.
WHAT DID the leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) leading industrial countries do last week while they skulked behind massive police protection at Kananaskis, deep in the Canadian Rockies? The British government had been busily briefing that they would deliver the "Marshall Plan for Africa" that Tony Blair promised at the disastrous G8 summit in Genoa last year.
TONY BLAIR has more to worry him than the jibes of the right wing press. According to the Guardian, "Tony Blair is seeking to avert what threatens to be the biggest wave of industrial unrest in the public services since Labour came to power in 1997." Blair is used to entertaining big business fat cats and socialising with media celebrities.
THE TRADE Justice Movement brought thousands of people to Westminster to lobby their MPs on Wednesday of last week. They demanded a fair deal for the Third World. International development secretary Clare Short was quick to claim that the demonstrators were supporting the rich countries' campaign for free trade:
OUR RULERS must hardly be able to believe their luck. A wholly accidental sequence of events-the death of the Queen Mother, the Jubilee and the World Cup-has produced week on week of patriotic flag waving (reinforced by a decidedly unaccidental intensification of the campaign against asylum seekers).
SEVILLE IN Spain sees the two different faces of Europe this week. Tony Blair and other European leaders are meeting to force through even tougher legislation to victimise those seeking refuge from war and famine. Blair is at the heart of a right wing axis. Downing Street has leapt in to dub right wing French president Jacques Chirac "a man we can work with", as he plans huge tax cuts for the rich and an assault on French workers.
THE BLOOM has suddenly gone off the British and US economies. Until a few weeks ago the business media were stridently celebrating the ease with which they had shaken off the slowdown that hit both stockmarkets and the real economy in 2000-1.