At this year's annual Labour Party conference it was quite clear that Blair is no longer looking as confident as only a few months ago. He has had to swallow defeat in his own party, on a key issue: the participation of private capital in the providing of public services And he also came close to defeat on his plans to wage war on Iraq! We are witnessing the first steps in what will prove to be a major turn-around inside the Labour Party over the next period.

Industrial militancy in Britain is on the increase. It reflects a general mood in the workplace that enough is enough. The Blair government is not only confronting the first national firefighters' strike in 25 years, but is facing action on a number of other fronts. This has raised the spectre of another Winter of Discontent similar to the one faced by the Callaghan government in 1978/79.

At the beginning of this month, as the first wave of strikes loomed the Blair government was preparing to square up to the firefighters. "Picket lines might be crossed… no options are being ruled out" Blair triumphantly proclaimed. This was a blatant threat of attack. Such actions would have put the government on a collision course with the unions. It shows how removed from reality Blair is in arrogantly attempting to trample over the concerns of working people. However they are in for a rude awakening.

Interview with Mick Shaw member of the FBU EC for the London Region: "We have now reached the stage where the government and the employers are hiding behind this so-called 'independent inquiry', and are refusing to engage in negotiations. Our members see no alternative but to take industrial action in order to persuade the employers to return to negotiations."

It's amazing how people change. And it's even more terrible when you forget your roots. This is surely the case with poor old John Prescott, once National Union of Seamen firebrand, and now "responsible" statesman and minister in charge of the Labour Government's stand against the just demands of Britain's firefighters.

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