Just two weeks after the Christmas holiday period we can already see the coming together of the issues that will dominate British politics for the next four months. The main parties are shadow boxing in expectation of an election in May. But on the ground there is growing opposition to the policies they agree with each other on.
There is a growing sense that different struggles around the world are closely connected. The Palestinian intellectual Edward Said recently wrote that the new intifada against Israel "is another example of the general discontent with the post Cold War order (economic and political) displayed in the events of Seattle and Prague".
Any day now I'm expecting someone in the culture business to tell us that history is the new rock & roll. It's everywhere. One moment it's Simon Schama in his History of Britain series, standing on the battlements, the next it's Tony Robinson and the Time Team in a ditch.
PRESS REPORTS this week claimed that Tony Blair was waiting for one crucial endorsement before he could think about launching a general election campaign. It wasn't from a union leader or a pensioner or a student, or any of the people New Labour promised to help in 1997.
"WE'VE had a good run. Enjoy it while it lasts because you cannot always expect it to be as good." So warned Eddie George, governor of the Bank of England, just before the new year. He spoke as a mood of deep gloom was spreading among the world's capitalists at the thought that the US boom of recent years might be collapsing. The Financial Times reported:
A FORMER spy for the British secret service and a product of the establishment has written a brilliant novel that rails against the power of multinationals. John Le Carré is best known for books of British and Russian government intrigue during the Cold War like The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.
THE economic boom is passing millions of workers in Britain by. That is the conclusion of a study in the Financial Times this week. For some people this is proof that there is a growing "north-south divide" in Britain.
An outbreak of Loyalist in-fighting in Northern Ireland hit the headlines this week as two Loyalists were killed and British troops were returned to the streets.
"The great movement which began in Seattle has grown massively." That's the verdict of Todd Chrétien of Socialist Worker's US sister organisation on last week's demonstrations outside the Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles.
KOSOVO. THREE men in a car hurl a grenade at a group of children playing basketball and then speed off.
I HAVE a confession to make. Yes, I have found myself watching Big Brother. And I know I'm not alone.
SOME 6,000 people gathered at the Marxism 2000 event in central London this week to discuss resistance to global capitalism...
THE RESIGNATION as junior defence minister of Peter Kilfoyle, an enthusiastic supporter of "modernisation", is a sign of the deep crisis engulfing New Labour. Kilfoyle's decision follows Tony Blair's worst ever week, when the press was full of headlines about Labour's betrayals.
TONY BLAIR was off swanking at the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland last week. He lectured European business and political leaders that they needed to copy the flexible, free - market model offered by British and US capitalism. "Does Europe continue with the old social model, that has an attitude to social legislation rooted in the 60s and 70s, or does it recognise that the new economy demands a redirection of European economic policy for the future?" Blair asked.
I GUESS many a reader of Socialist Worker enjoys the fire of the Observer's columnist Nick Cohen. On Sunday he turned his attention to New Labour's announcement that 27 January will be Holocaust Day. Cohen loathes everything about the idea. He is nauseated by Labour politicians' hypocrisy commemorating persecution whilst mounting attacks on asylum seekers. He thinks that official memorials like this let modern leaders off the hook. It means they can be compassionate about the past whilst not giving a damn about the present.
NEW Labour's crazy transport policy sums up everything that is wrong with this government. It is a government which helps the smugly well off and spurns the homeless. It showers handouts on "entrepreneurs" but grabs back benefits from the poorest.
ANYONE WHO watched Panorama on BBC1 on Monday night could not fail to realise that Blair's entire election machine is being deployed to stitch up Ken Livingstone. Every dirty trick in the book is being used to ensure Blair's man, Frank Dobson, becomes Labour's candidate for mayor of London.
THE GREAT demonstration in Seattle will make its reverberations felt for years to come. One of its more minor side effects was that on Wednesday last week, much to my surprise, I found myself in the Newsnight studio defending the protesters against the World Trade Organisation from European commissioner Leon Brittan's criticisms.
RIGHT WING commentators love nothing so much as to pour derision on John Prescott's inability to speak in coherent sentences. The snob Tory historian David Starkey summed up their attitude on Question Time last week. Prescott, he claimed, showed what horrors followed if any working class person was allowed to escape from the fate decreed for them in the old selective school system. Starkey destroyed his own argument by sinking into incoherence in the face of a hostile audience reaction. But he had already showed that for an alleged historian he has a very short memory.
THE PROTESTS against the World Trade Organisation this week were a brilliant show of opposition to the multinationals and to the naked rule of profit. The protests showed the anger against the system that squeezes the very life out of people in developing countries so that bankers, bosses and their hangers-on can grow ever richer.