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.
LONDON AND Glasgow are not yet Rome and Barcelona. Nor is Britain yet seeing the kind of militant industrial struggle witnessed in the Italian general strike on Tuesday. Italian workers are fighting the government of Tony Blair's right wing friend Silvio Berlusconi, who is pushing through a major attack on workers' rights. But Britain is not immune from the mood of resistance.
ONE MOMENT summed up for me the enormous tensions that George W Bush's administration is creating with its support for Ariel Sharon's reign of terror in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. US Secretary of State Colin Powell spent a week dawdling around the world before arriving in Israel on his supposed "peace mission".
I RECENTLY attended a press conference at Birmingham Town Hall to announce the result of the council housing sell-off ballot. On my way in a press officer, power dressed in the way that only New Labour types seem to think looks good, asked me to sign the book of condolence for the Queen Mother.
The US government was trying to pose as a peacemaker in the Middle East last week. What a nerve. US Secretary of State and supposed "peace envoy" Colin Powell said he wouldn't even consider cutting back on the $2.7 billion the US government gives in "aid" to Israel every year.
The Guardian last Saturday tried to explain the decision by George W Bush and his advisers to reverse their previous policy and demand that Ariel Sharon pull Israeli troops out of the West Bank:
ONE OF the tricks played by the news media is to present events as if they can be explained by pictures of gun battles and two-minute interviews with spokespeople. Nine times out of ten this suits the oppressor, not the oppressed. It shows the resistance of the oppressed as "terrorism" and the actions of the oppressor as "peacekeeping".
The British media has absolutely sickening priorities. Newspapers have filled page after page with "tributes" to the Queen Mother. The TV and radio programmes at first ditched part of their schedules. There has even been a ridiculous spat over the BBC's "loyalty" to the royal family because a news presenter wore a burgundy tie instead of a black one.
"The mother of all bank holiday protests." That is how the Independent described the plans for protests in London on 1 May. The article reflects the constant alarm in the press about anti-capitalist protests.
The Queen Mother was a racist snob who excelled in extravagant living. Amid all the grovelling, hypocritical tributes paid to her this week, here are some facts to remember. The Queen Mother referred to black people as "nig-nogs" or "blackamoors". She backed white minority rule in Rhodesia. She criticised Lord Mountbatten, viceroy of India, "for giving away the empire" and his wife because "her mother was half-Jewish".
The Oscars won by black actors at the recent Hollywood awards have opened up a huge debate about race in the US. Some of the press claimed the Oscars were a sign of the progress black people have made.
The US has a new bestseller-and it's not about wars, Marines, or the glories of the US. In fact, it's about Stupid White Men, and especially one stupid, white man, George Bush. The author is US writer and film, maker Michael Moore.
Sacha Baron Cohen has always walked a razor's edge between satire and reaction. In his new film he has come down on the side of reaction. My first warning of this came from one of the black students I teach at college. He announced that Ali G was a fool, but then added quietly that when he saw the film in the West End he felt people were laughing at him.
IT WON'T just be George Bush choking on his pretzels after the events of last week. Three months ago Bush, Blair and their media supporters were declaring victory after victory.
Tony Blair took time off from the Barcelona summit to attack TUC general secretary John Monks for criticising his alliance with Silvio Berlusconi. "A large part of Europe's centre left take a more modern view of this," he said. Blair had proved the modernity of his own outlook two days earlier. During question time in the House of Commons he defended the creationist gang who are imposing a medieval view of the world on their pupils at Emmanuel City Technology College in Gateshead.
I had the misfortune of going to see Mel Gibson's latest movie, We Were Soldiers, last week. It depicts the first major battle in Vietnam between the US army and the Viet Minh in 1965. Lines in the film like "I'm glad I died for America" will have you reaching for the sick bag.