TONY BLAIR returned from his jet-setting this week to face a domestic political crisis. He and his government face a groundswell of opposition over a range of issues - the crumbling NHS, mounting job losses and, above all, the transport crisis. A top aide to transport secretary Stephen Byers infamously wrote on the day of the destruction of the World Trade Centre, "Today is a good day to bury bad news."
THE NEW year has opened with two different sides of the world on show. The first is the horror and the barbarism seen in the US's continuing bombing of Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Taliban. US president George Bush declared there is more slaughter in store. "2002 will be a war year as well," Bush said last week.
This year has seen the ugly reality of global capitalism. It has ended with the third war in ten years involving the US and Britain. The US bombing has already killed over 3,767 Afghan civilians, according to thorough research by a US professor (see page 7).
"George Bush's war is the opportunity of a generation to cut jobs without the risk of strikes." This is what top managers at British Airways (BA) have written in a secret document, obtained by the Observer, as they prepare to axe 10,000 jobs. This is on top of the 7,000 redundancies they have already announced. It is one sign of how rotten the system is that Bush and Tony Blair have gone to war to defend.
The Taliban surrender of the last city they controlled last week was, according to Tony Blair, a "total vindication" of the two-month US-led war in Afghanistan. But it is not any justification for George Bush and Tony Blair's claims to be leading the world to greater liberty and prosperity.
Tony Blair and his government have backed US president George Bush's war in Afghanistan to the hilt. But even some sections of New Labour are worried about his plans to spread his war to Iraq, Somalia or any other country the US decides is a "rogue state".
"Afghanistan is just the start." Those were the words of George W Bush last week as he made a sickeningly violent speech to 15,000 troops, including the 101st Airborne Division-the aptly named "Screaming Eagles". Bush whipped them into a frenzy by chanting "Airborne assault!" as they pumped their fists in the air.
The war against Afghanistan has been going badly for the US and its allies. Every day last week brought news of another setback for Bush and Blair. Tony Blair's tour of the Middle East to shore up support for the "coalition against terrorism" was a complete fiasco.
Support for Bush and Blair's war against Afghanistan is ebbing fast. Tony Blair tried to claim that the bombing was "moral" in his speech to the Welsh assembly on Tuesday. But what is moral about slaughtering hundreds of people through aerial bombardment?
US AND British forces had bombed Afghanistan for a week and a half as Socialist Worker went to press. Their "war on terrorism" means killing innocent Afghans in revenge for the attacks on the World Trade Centre-attacks which didn't involve a single Afghan. Yet, despite the carnage Bush and Blair are raining down on Afghanistan, the US and Britain are worried the war is not going their way.
DELEGATES TO the Labour Party conference on Tuesday gave Tony Blair a standing ovation. He is going to use this as an excuse to wage war on Afghanistan. But Blair only got such support because people believed, wrongly, that he is a restraining influence on George W Bush and the US military.
"SINCE I was 12 all I have known is fighting and more fighting. So once again innocent people will be killed and nobody will care about it."
Faiz, a 33 year old market trader in Kabul, Afghanistan
THE SPEECHES by union leaders at and around the TUC this week were among the angriest and most confrontational ever under a Labour government. It was not an industrial issue like wages or a single piece of legislation like a proposed anti-union law which was in the spotlight. It was the whole relationship between trade unions and New Labour.
THE DEVASTATING attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in the US have seen politicians and press unite to denounce those responsible as "evil terrorists" with no regard for "the sanctity of human life".
"THE WORST is yet to come." They were the words of a City economist as British manufacturing industry was officially declared to be in recession. Figures released this week showed the biggest fall in manufacturing output for a decade.
Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee spent 1,200 words last week attacking the Socialist Alliance. That she had to do so is a sign of the resonance the Socialist Alliance is getting among thousands of people. Toynbee is a staunch defender of New Labour, although she sometimes criticises aspects of its policies.
Foot and mouth disease has dominated the press and TV for the last week. The disease is highly infectious, and action is needed. But it is not like BSE, mad cow disease, which passed to humans with devastating consequences. There is little risk to humans from foot and mouth disease. No one is likely to die or even get ill.
"The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist. McDonalds cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas. The hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies to flourish is called the US army, air force, navy and Marine Corps."THOMAS FRIEDMAN, right wing US journalist
Nuclear weapons were suddenly back on the political agenda this week. They were in focus because of the determination of protesters at Faslane, and because the government is ready to do the bidding of the US and spend billions more on new missiles that could destroy the earth. The outcry against nuclear weaponry runs deep. At the Faslane protest police arrested over 370 people, including Scottish Socialist Party MSP Tommy Sheridan, Labour MP George Galloway and Green MEP Caroline Lucas. Nuclear weapons show Labour's priorities.
New Labour was falling apart last weekend. The leaders of the project that was supposed to have transformed politics for all time were tearing each other apart. New Labour's sleaze is a result of the way it has sold itself to business, put company chiefs at the centre of decision making, and allowed firms to rake in profits from the NHS.