Just two weeks after the Christmas holiday period we can already see the coming together of the issues that will dominate British politics for the next four months. The main parties are shadow boxing in expectation of an election in May. But on the ground there is growing opposition to the policies they agree with each other on.
PRESS REPORTS this week claimed that Tony Blair was waiting for one crucial endorsement before he could think about launching a general election campaign. It wasn't from a union leader or a pensioner or a student, or any of the people New Labour promised to help in 1997.
THE economic boom is passing millions of workers in Britain by. That is the conclusion of a study in the Financial Times this week. For some people this is proof that there is a growing "north-south divide" in Britain.
An outbreak of Loyalist in-fighting in Northern Ireland hit the headlines this week as two Loyalists were killed and British troops were returned to the streets.
"The great movement which began in Seattle has grown massively." That's the verdict of Todd Chrétien of Socialist Worker's US sister organisation on last week's demonstrations outside the Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles.
SOME 6,000 people gathered at the Marxism 2000 event in central London this week to discuss resistance to global capitalism...
THE RESIGNATION as junior defence minister of Peter Kilfoyle, an enthusiastic supporter of "modernisation", is a sign of the deep crisis engulfing New Labour. Kilfoyle's decision follows Tony Blair's worst ever week, when the press was full of headlines about Labour's betrayals.
NEW Labour's crazy transport policy sums up everything that is wrong with this government. It is a government which helps the smugly well off and spurns the homeless. It showers handouts on "entrepreneurs" but grabs back benefits from the poorest.
THE PROTESTS against the World Trade Organisation this week were a brilliant show of opposition to the multinationals and to the naked rule of profit. The protests showed the anger against the system that squeezes the very life out of people in developing countries so that bankers, bosses and their hangers-on can grow ever richer.
"IT'S LIKE George Orwell's 1984 in there. You can't even go to the toilet without someone in Coventry or London knowing where you're going and for how long." Those were the words of a BT call centre worker in Bristol who was out on strike on Monday along with over 4,000 call centre staff. Their fight is against bullying managers, understaffing and impossible work targets.
MANY PEOPLE might have expected politics to be winding down in the run up to Xmas and the millennium celebrations. But the opposite is true. New Labour's pro-business and anti working class policies have led to an outburst of anger. It was set to announce more reactionary measures in the Queen's Speech on Wednesday.
ORDINARY PEOPLE in Northern Ireland will be hoping for an end to the war which has blighted their lives as politicians continued to haggle over a peace deal this week. We did not know the final outcome of the talks as Socialist Worker went to press. But even if a deal is struck, the struggle for a better future for working class people is far from over.
GORDON BROWN surpassed himself this week, even by the craven standards set by New Labour. He stood before the bosses gathered at the annual conference of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and announced £40 million of public money to encourage share handouts to fat cats. At the same time New Labour was hoping to ram welfare cuts of tens of millions of pounds through parliament. Brown also praised the bosses' hero at the CBI. "People say that in the 1980s Mrs Thatcher created an enterprising society," declared Brown. "We must do far better than we have in the past. We must go beyond what we achieved in the 1980s."
WHAT A contrast. Ford workers strike unofficially for a day. The result: one of the most powerful capitalists in the world almost immediately flies across the Atlantic. Rail union leaders call off a one day strike over safety by guards because it is declared illegal by a high court judge. The result: Railtrack could get away with murder.