As we put this article online, the Blair government has launched a new offensive against the firefighters. Deputy Prime Minister Prescott has announced his intention to change the law to take direct control of the fire service and impose a settlement on the firefighters. This would mean the imposition of the Bain proposals, the derisory pay offer of 4% and thousands of job cuts, resulting in the closure of fire stations and the undermining of the fire service. Such measures are a threat to the entire labour movement, and must be answered by the movement as a whole.

Despite all their lofty promises about the priority of "education, education, education", and their pledge that there would be no top up fees, Blair and co intend to pass the bill for higher education once again onto students and their parents, making it yet more difficult for students from poorer backgrounds to get to university.

Labour Councils are being forced to choose between cuts in services or increases in the Council Tax. But the resources are there. Proof of that is the huge amount that has been set aside for the war against Iraq. In Southampton we have the courageous stand of Labour Councillor Perry McMillan who has refused to vote the increase in the Council Tax. Steve Jones explains what has been happening.

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