'TONY BLAIR'S New Labour was being returned to power for a second term by an apathetic landslide. "People voted for them because there didn't seem to be a credible alternative. In the country Blair's government would now oversee, the gap between rich and poor has never been wider. The fatally dilapidated railway infrastructure, the crisis in education, in housing, in health, in social welfare. Funding withdrawn, never returned. Thatcher's legacy-time bombs exploding all over the country."
THE BBC may well feel its back is against the wall in its battle with New Labour over coverage of the Iraq war. But the corporation must be on safer ground with another conflict, World War Two.
DARIO FO is the author of radical theatre classics such as Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Can't Pay? Won't Pay! During Fo's 50-year career he has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature-but he has also been arrested, had his house firebombed and been tried dozens of times for blasphemy and libel.
THE NEW film Girl With A Pearl Earring about the Dutch artist Vermeer has provoked interest in the life and society of the great Dutch painters. JOHN MOLYNEUX looks at the reasons why Dutch society produced a flowering of great art in the 17th century.
SOME 200 years of struggle by working people in Britain is the theme for a new website which the Trades Union Congress has helped put together. "The Union Makes Us Strong-TUC History Online" covers the years 1815 to 2000. Its motivation is the fact that "trade unions have played and continue to play a decisive role in shaping economic and social developments in Britain. Yet much of their history is at present unknown and inaccessible to the public."
ARUNDHATI ROY says, "Fiction dances out of me. Non-fiction is wrenched out by the aching, broken world I wake up to every morning." In every essay in this collection you will find the same passion, clarity and rage as in her inspiring call to action at the opening ceremony of the World Social Forum last month.
Your book about the intelligence services has just been reprinted. Why did you write the book?
CD - Elephant
Country music icon Willie Nelson has just written a protest song against the war in Iraq. He hopes it will stir the passions in those who hear it.
No shame in this artistic licence
THE CHAOS runs thick and fast through the opening scenes of this outrageously funny new drama from Paul Abbott (creator of State of Play and Alibi).
ALL THOSE who oppose the US war on Iraq should try to get to a performance of the play Pugilist Specialist. Performed by US theatre ensemble Riot Group, the play has just begun an extensive tour of Britain and Ireland.
Do you think there has been a radicalisation in music in the US?
THE GREAT rebellions of 1968 inspired many innovative and exciting films. The National Film Theatre in London is showing a season of films inspired by 1968. But don't worry if you can't make it-some of the best are available on video or DVD, and some are shown regularly on TV.
Frankenstein's monster is one of the most enduring ghouls of horror books and films.
"All over the world this year, we are seeing the same phenomenon of electorates waiting, bewildered or furious for their own leaders to catch up with them, and trying to understand the mystery of their refusal."
A Soldier's Sad Story
Five to catch this week