THE SIGHT of rejoicing people tearing down the Berlin Wall sums up for many the hopes of the 1989 Eastern European revolutions. They demonstrated the potential of the mass of ordinary people to rise up and challenge even the most repressive regimes. They proved wrong all those who had claimed that the Stalinist regimes were all-powerful monoliths that could not be overthrown. Yet ten years on the hopes of so many of those who fought for their freedom have been turned to dust.
THE WORLD Trade Organisation (WTO) meets in Seattle in the United States at the end of this month. People across the world are preparing to protest against it. The WTO claims to be about ensuring fair play in international trade. Its real function is to act as the bully boy for the world's most powerful governments and multinational corporations. It helps patrol a world where eight giant corporations grab more wealth than half of the world's people combined and where 1.2 billion people live in abject poverty.
"YOU CAN stick Loaded magazine up your arse!" "What do we want? Liberation!" That's what 600 students chanted as they marched for women's rights through the streets of east London on Wednesday of last week.
GRANTS MIGHT return for poorer students in Scotland. That could be the result of the political crisis over education funding that has swept the country. It would be a huge victory that could detonate a massive fight to bring back grants for students in England and Wales. The prospect of the return of grants is a result of the crisis facing the Scottish Executive.
"I'VE BEEN a Labour Party member for many years. But I'm so angry at the government that I came out with a torrent of abuse when someone rang me to donate to the Labour Party election fund. I'm giving the money to Socialist Worker instead." So said pensioner Thelma Battersby as she handed £5 to a Socialist Worker seller in Birmingham last week.
"WE'RE NO longer Florence Nightingales. We're fighting back." Those were the words of Susanne Kennedy, one of 10,000 striking Irish nurses who brought the centre of Dublin to a standstill on Thursday of last week.
"THERE'S NO point wishing for anything because I know it's going to carry on like this forever." That voice of despair was Tracey, a 14 year old sleeping rough who was freezing cold and had not eaten or slept for two days. She was one of those interviewed in the Channel 4 documentary series Staying Lost.
Tony Blair and his cronies are out to block Ken Livingstone from becoming London mayor. Only last week Neil Kinnock, former Labour Party leader, said: "When people get down to remembering Ken's real record as the man who brought about the destruction of the Greater London Council, the man who invented the London loony left, then they'll say we really don't want this guy to represent the greatest city in the world."
WHEN I started work as a civil servant at the London Passport Office 18 years ago I made the terrible mistake of believing I was going up in the world. I arrived at work wearing my best suit. I got the shock of my life. Everyone else was wearing jeans. All I did all day was stamp passports. I was part of a clerical production line.
IN THE summer of 1889 the London Evening News and Post reported on the huge strike wave then sweeping the capital. The Bryant and May match girls' strike a year earlier had been, it concluded, "the proverbial small spark" which had "kindled a great fire".
"NOW EVERYONE can see why the Metropolitan Police wanted no one to see this report." So said a bitter Sukhdev Reel last week after her MP, John McDonnell, and Hackney MP Diane Abbot used parliamentary privilege to read out a damning report on the police investigation into her son Ricky's death.
A CONCENTRATION camp for refugees. That is what the New Labour government is now planning. The Home Office is to open a privately run camp for refugees on the site of a former military barracks at Oakington near Cambridge. This will double the number of asylum seekers locked up at any one time.
THE SHORTLIST of Labour candidates for London mayor will be announced in two weeks time on 16 November. Tony Blair wants Labour's candidate to be in place before Christmas.
"THE ELECTORAL college has nothing to do with democracy. It has everything to do with keeping Ken out." That is how one Labour MP, speaking to the Times newspaper, summed up Tony Blair's desperate attempt to block Ken Livingstone from becoming Labour's candidate for mayor of London. Even would be candidate Glenda Jackson, who was a government minister, complained that the selection procedure had the appearance of a "stitch up".