"THIS IS a strike you can't win." That was Tony Blair's message to the firefighters this week. And the Sun pushed the same argument. No one should fall for this bluster. Blair may want to present a tough image. But in reality his government is totally split over the firefighters.
"SCARGILLITE" is how Tony Blair attacks the firefighters' union. But it is not Scargillism that is threatening our livelihoods and public services - it is Thatcherism, the doctrine of Blair's New Labour government. On every front those at the core of this government are pushing right wing policies animated by the spirit of the former Tory leader. Education secretary Charles Clarke and his sidekick Margaret Hodge are two of New Labour's "ultras". They are determined to force students to pay "top-up" fees of up to £10,000 to go to some colleges. Clarke also wants to force every student to pay fees, regardless of their or their parents' income.
THE WORLD is much closer to a terrifying war after the United Nations Security Council vote last week. "Senior British and US officials say that both George Bush and Tony Blair privately regard war against Saddam as inevitable," reported the Observer on Sunday.
FORMER MI5 officer David Shayler was jailed for six months on Tuesday for revealing state secrets. He should have been congratulated for shining a tiny bit of light on the stinking covert forces whose existence subverts any notion that we live in a real democracy.
NEW LABOUR presents itself as a party that won't be pushed around. But over the last week we have seen how it can be forced to change its tune. First the government insisted it would not be influenced at all by the firefighters' threat of strike action. Blair resorted to the same sort of language Thatcher used against the miners.
NO ONE should have any doubt why the government is refusing to budge in the face of the firefighters. Andrew Rawnsley, the well connected political commentator of the Observer newspaper, reported on Sunday a discussion he had with "a member of the New Labour high command just before they came to power":
George Bush and Tony Blair claimed that their "war on terror" would make the world a safer place. The horrific bombing of the Sari nightclub in Bali last weekend shows that they were lying.
GEORGE BUSH has the military power to smash Iraq easily. But for all his attempts to pose as an all-powerful president, he is a very nervous man. One week he talks about regime change, the next he is doing deals to get UN backing for war, and now he talks of building a coalition.
TONY BLAIR is fighting on two fronts. His speech at Labour's conference shows he is determined to press ahead with backing George Bush's war plans and pushing through PFI. To add insult to injury, he is openly abandoning the principle of comprehensive education by talking about "post-comprehensive education".
OPPOSITION TO launching a military attack on Iraq is growing in Britain, according to the latest opinion polls. The feeling against war has led to a significant drop in Labour's support on the eve of the party's conference.
THERE IS a massive potential for a serious fight to tackle low pay. The strikes and ballots called by trade union leaders we report on these pages are a reflection of a deep anger among ordinary workers. The immediate battles are concentrated among workers in public services.
IRAQ'S OFFER on arms inspections wrong-footed the US state at the start of this week. This means we can expect a torrent of lies to blunt opposition to a murderous attack on Iraq. The goalposts have already been shifted. We were told a few weeks ago that Iraq is a nuclear-armed state on the brink of invading its neighbours. But a study last week found that Saddam Hussein does not have nuclear weapons. None of the six states that border Iraq fear invasion. So now we are told Saddam Hussein is a bad man who could possibly get nuclear weapons in the future if someone gave him the technology possessed by only a handful of states.
TONY BLAIR is marching towards the deepest crisis he has yet faced. He is caught in the jaws of mounting opposition on two fronts. Delegates at the TUC conference this week ripped into his craven support for Bush's war against Iraq, and into the heart of New Labour - profit before people. They backed the firefighters, who are heading for national strikes next month against low pay. Those union leaders who spoke out echoed the clear majority of people in Britain.
THE GOVERNMENT is pushing for a minute's silence to mark the anniversary of the 11 September attacks next Wednesday. People will want to mark the pain and anguish of a day which saw almost 3,000 people killed in New York. But Tony Blair has his own agenda. He wants to exploit the anniversary to boost support for Bush's plans to launch war on Iraq.
THE PROTESTS against the rich and powerful at the Earth Summit in South Africa have been inspiring. Following on from the protests in Barcelona and Seville earlier this year, they are a powerful rebuttal to all those who claimed the anti-capitalist movement was dead after 11 September.
THE EARTH Summit starts in Johannesburg, South Africa, next week. World leaders will talk about tackling poverty, dealing with the environmental crisis and embracing "sustainable development". US president George W Bush is hostile even to making such noises. This could lead some people to think that the summit must contain something good.
GEORGE BUSH and Tony Blair are more isolated than ever over war on Iraq. But the madman in the White House is determined to press ahead, and a Downing Street spokesman insists the prime minister is "not going wobbly". The scale of opposition to the war shows the potential to make Blair more than wobble.
WHY IS George Bush so hell bent on a war on Iraq? The US devastated Iraq in a war 11 years ago. US-backed economic sanctions have already killed 500,000 Iraqi children, according to Unicef. A US war on Iraq risks destabilising the Middle East and sparking wider wars. It looks mad, but behind Bush's crazy logic stands his desire to have a war to assert US dominance around the globe.
THE RIGHT wing axis of Blair, Berlusconi and Aznar has united to drive privatisation policies through Europe. Now Blair hopes to turn their axis into one that backs the US war. Even Germany's leader Gerhard Schršder has come out against the war on Iraq. These two issues, war and privatisation, are at the centre of the European Social Forum which is being held in Florence, Italy, in November.
NEW LABOUR is facing its biggest challenge yet from the unions. The strike of one million council workers, the election of left wing general secretaries, and the number of left wing motions at the coming TUC congress in September have all got Tony Blair worried.