Almost a year after firefighters tabled their claim for a pay rise to £30,000 a year, new strikes are being prepared because of the intransigence of the employers and a Labour government hellbent on attacking public services.

With most of the results in from the local council, Welsh Assembly and Scottish parliament elections the message to Blair is clear - his imperialist adventure in Iraq was deeply unpopular, and at least as unpopular are the government's proposed attacks on public services, the introduction of foundation hospitals, the further privatisation of the NHS, and the introduction of top-up fees for students.

The resignation yesterday of Clare Short, the former international development secretary, is a shattering blow to the Blair government. It could spell the beginning of the end for Blair, as things begin to unravel with increasing speed.

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