MARTIN AMIS is a novelist. He's also someone who the broadsheets turn to for his views on the state of the world, the meaning of art, and the purpose of life. Last weekend the Guardian kicked off its new weekly books supplement with an article by Amis on the state of the world, the meaning of art, and the purpose of life.
DRINKERS WHO are looking forward to cheap beer in their locals during the World Cup will be left feeling bitter thanks to a government con-trick. In his budget speech Gordon Brown said that, to help small brewers, he would halve the duty or tax they pay on beer: "A cut equal to 14 pence off each pint to be implemented for village pubs and small breweries in time for the World Cup."
STEPHEN BYERS' resignation has struck right at the heart of New Labour. He was one of Blair's closest ministers. As trade secretary and then transport secretary he was at the centre of this government's obsession with privatisation and policies for big business.
AMID NEW Labour's long and growing list of crimes and failures, the government's defenders constantly cite one factor in its favour-the allegedly strong state of the economy.
NEW LABOUR leaders have a clear message about how to succeed in their "enterprising Britain". It is that if you pass your exams, work hard and "fit in" with your employer you are on the way up.
GEORGE W Bush said that last week's agreement between the United States and Russia to cut the number of nuclear warheads they deploy would "liquidate the legacy of the Cold War".
THE DUTCH general election saw the latest frightening advance for the far right in Europe. The party of Pim Fortuyn came second. The Labour Party, which had led a coalition government for eight years, got its worst result since 1945. That came after the Nazi Jean-Marie Le Pen beat the leader of France's equivalent of the Labour Party, Lionel Jospin, in the first round of the presidential election there.
ARE WE really plunging into a new wave of youth crime caused by out of control children running wild? The media wants us to think so. It is full of stories about "gangs of feral children bringing fear to the streets of London".
BLAME THE victims-that's New Labour's response to the rise of the far right and Nazis across Europe. On issue after issue, New Labour ministers are adopting reactionary ideas and turning the screws on the poor and the vulnerable. Education secretary Estelle Morris was crowing with delight when lone parent Patricia Amos was jailed for 60 days.
THE GREATER the chaos in Afghanistan, the more assorted US and British generals seem compelled to proclaim a victory. "The war is all but won," announced Brigadier Roger Lane last week. He is the commander of British troops in Afghanistan, the biggest combat deployment since the 1991 Gulf War.
IN THE wake of the general strike in Italy on 16 April the Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (Communist Refoundation) organised a May Day rally which I was invited to address.
BACK TO business as usual. That was the message from much of the press and many establishment politicians this week. The threat of far right and Nazi parties has, they said, been seen off. Jean-Marie Le Pen has been soundly beaten in the run-off for the presidential election in France.
TWO LEADING Labour women were in the news last weekend. One was Barbara Castle, who died on Friday of last week. The other was Mo Mowlam, interviewed at length on Channel 4 about her gripes with Tony Blair's government.
FOR THE last few years I've kept my mouth shut when I've heard people saying that the sales of Harry Potter books were doing wonders for children's reading. On some occasions I defended the books, particularly if they were under attack from snobs. These are the kind of people who only want kids to read the books they read as a child, like Alice in Wonderland and the Just William books.
THE Nazi BNP is not just a threat in the north west of England.
FIVE YEARS ago the tune of Labour's campaign song, "Things Can Only Get Better", died away and Tony Blair entered 10 Downing Street. The hopes many people had at the time seem a very long way away now. A poll in the Daily Mirror published on Tuesday showed that 66 percent of people think that Blair has "not done enough for ordinary people". Fewer than one in five voters believe that Britain has become a better place to live under New Labour.
JEAN-MARIE Le Pen's surprise success in the first round of the French presidential elections must be seen in a larger context. There is not simply the growth of the far right throughout Europe, but also a larger process of class polarisation that has been going on for at least the last decade.
"EARTHQUAKE"-that was how French newspapers reacted to Jean-Marie Le Pen's success in the presidential elections. He came second with more votes than Lionel Jospin, the equivalent of Tony Blair. Le Pen is a Nazi. He described the Holocaust and the murder of six million Jews as a mere "detail of history".
It is not just ordinary people who have been shocked by the French election result. Establishment politicians across Europe too have been shaken. These politicians agree the only solution to the danger of Le Pen is to unite behind Tory candidate Jacques Chirac in the election run-off on 5 May. Chirac is almost certain to be elected.
I CAME face to face with the global ruling class last week. Along with others from the Colombia Solidarity Campaign, I was sitting in the annual general meeting of Britain's biggest corporation, BP. We became BP shareholders to protest at the company's role in Colombia. Alongside the protest, the event shattered the myths that supporters of capitalism push about how their system works.