THE DEMONSTRATIONS last Saturday have plunged Tony Blair into the biggest political crisis of his life. Every commentator knows it. Blair knows it. For days the media has been filled with attempts to understand the demonstrations, and speculation about whether Blair can ride out the storm. Now we have to cause such turmoil that Blair is forced from office. If we don't shift Blair, we allow him to ignore democracy.
AT LEAST one person from each of 1.25 million households in Britain marched last Saturday, according to a survey in the Guardian. They showed on the streets the anti-war feeling of the clear majority of the population.
NEVER IN recent times has the gulf between a government and the people been so wide. Tony Blair marches to war while the vast majority resolutely oppose him. Saturday's demonstration shows that huge numbers of people are prepared to actively oppose the government's war plans.
THE BIGGEST demonstration in British history is set to take place next Saturday. The anti-war march is already expected to be so big that it has to have two assembly points. It is no wonder the government is panicking. Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, tried to ban the march from its usual rallying point in Hyde Park.
What happens in Britain in the next few weeks will shape history. Everyone in the anti-war movement can be part of making that history. The clock is ticking relentlessly towards war. On Monday chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix reported that his team had found no evidence of any Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction". We cannot trust the UN to block the war.
THE BIGGEST day of anti-war protests the world has ever seen took place last Saturday. But instead of listening to the majority around the world who oppose war on Iraq, Tony Blair sent a quarter of the British army to the Gulf. Support for the war in Britain has fallen to a new low and outright opposition has risen to new heights, according to a poll in the Guardian that has tracked opinion since August.
LAST WEEK'S Socialist Worker outlined the "troubles ahead for New Labour" this year. That issue had not even hit the streets when Tony Blair issued his grim new year message. He spoke of a year of war, recession and insecurity-a far cry from New Labour's 1997 election theme song, "Things Can Only Get Better". The message was devoid of any sense of personal responsibility for what he called the "difficult and dangerous" problems the rest of us face.
"THERE IS every reason to think we are about to enter the most dramatic year in the story of New Labour." "At home and abroad in the year ahead the prime minister and New Labour will be tested as never before." These predictions (from key articles in the Financial Times and the Observer) are spot on.
TWO IMPORTANT social forums took place at the end of last month. Activists met at the Palestine Social Forum in Ramallah, which is under Israeli occupation. It called for support for the international day of action against the war on Iraq on 15 February.
GEORGE BUSH and Tony Blair may preach hollow words of peace and goodwill this Christmas and New Year. But their policies have ensured millions of people around the world live with hunger and fear.
WHAT PLANET are Tony Blair and New Labour on? One thing's for sure - it's not the one the rest of us inhabit. There are top-up flats for their kids and top-up fees for ours. As the Cheriegate furore grew this week, Blair again lashed out at public services and the workers who keep them going.
THE firefighters' dispute has highlighted the depth of opposition to New Labour among ordinary people. But it has also shown that opposition needs to be much more sharply focused and organised.
"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.