Teflon Tony, otherwise known as the 'Houdini of British politics' has narrowly escaped a major political defeat yet again. It is however fair to say that his protective layer of teflon may be wearing off, as the Labour majority in parliament was reduced to just 5, down from the on-paper majority of 161.  Thebill on tuition top-up fees passed its second reading by a vote of 316 to 311, and the Labour Party's parliamentary group is looking seriously beleaguered after an intense few days of political haggling and backroom swindles.

The Hutton inquiry produced few surprises. Naturally Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell were exonerated. This inquiry was no different to any of its predecessors, since no such inquiry ever found a government to be guilty. It was a whitewash.

Imagine a game of football where the manager of one team made up the rules to benefit his own side, where the goalposts were moved and where the referee was on his side. The outcome of such a match would, of course be known in advance by the winning side, who would then run around the stadium in a state of ecstasy, yelling “Victory!” That is precisely what happened with the now infamous Hutton report.

With the media frenzy over tuition fees and the Hutton report, you can be forgiven for not noticing the launch in the same week of a new British political party called simply RESPECT. The launching of RESPECT, also known as the Unity Coalition, was the brainchild of a layer of people disillusioned with Blair who wanted to form a left alternative to New Labour.

The decision to readmit London Mayor Ken Livingstone back into the Labour Party has came as no surprise to anybody. A third Labour victory at the next general election is no longer the certainty many once though it was. Only through a socialist programme alongside a fighting leadership, rather than the pro-big business bunch we have at present, can a Labour victory be assured and the hopes of the Tories and the rest be ground to dust.

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