In Britain our Party recognises that peace is the central issue. British imperialism, served by Tony Blair and the other willing tools in the Labour leadership, played a shameful role in the onslaught against Yugoslavia.
The right-wing Labour leaders claimed, when they were elected in 1997, that they would follow an "ethical" foreign policy in future. Their hypocritical claim that Nato's aggression against Yugoslavia was justified by the need to help the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo-Metohija was echoed by Tory and Liberal Democrat leaders. The capitalist media danced to their tune, ignoring the fact that Anglo-American imperialism had said nothing about the slaughter of a million Rwandans which only a few years before had been carried out by a regime backed by France and Belgium; the deaths of over a million Iraqis from famine and disease caused by the cruel imperialist blockade which has been in place since 1990, or the fact that the longest post-war refugee problem, that of the Palestinians, remains unresolved entirely due to world imperialism's support of Israel. During 1999 there has been a growth in direct western intervention in the Asia-Pacific region which is most clearly evident in their changing strategy towards Indonesia when, after decades of supplying military equipment to that country, which was used to slaughter the East Timorese, they have now intervened directly.
The purpose of the war had nothing to do with the fate of the Kosovans and everything to do with imperialism's European agenda to incorporate all of eastern Europe and the Balkans into the Nato war-machine, and exploit the people and the resources of all these countries for European and American imperialism. Yugoslavia, already largely broken up into pro-Western puppet regimes by imperialist intrigue, remained an obstacle to their plans.
The imperialists say nothing about Angola where the continued offensive of UNITA, backed by western arms, has resulted in 10,000 deaths, three million refugees and hunger on a massive scale. Little is said about Turkey, whose genocidal policies have destroyed at least a thousand villages since 1990, killing and displacing tens and thousands of the Kurdish.
The Yugoslav government refused to submit to imperialism's economic, military and strategic demands. Yugoslavia refused to crawl to Nato and the European Union. Yugoslavia refused to provide an open door to the transnationals. Yugoslavia chose to fight to defend its independence and its social system.
For eleven weeks it held the might of Nato at bay, finally accepting terms which were an improvement from the Rambouillet ultimatum which Nato used to launch its undeclared war.
Within the Labour Party attempts to stifle dissent were not entirely successful. Some Labour MPs took the principled stand against the war, joined by members of other parties including the Scottish and Welsh nationalists. Even a handful of Tories opposed the conflict. Though the right-wing leadership of the TUC and that of the majority of unions followed the imperialist line, rank-and-file opposition to the war grew as the conflict went on.
The peace campaign, led by the Committee for Peace in the Balkans, and supported by many other organisations including the New Communist Party, reflected the genuine wishes of millions of working people who had neither been consulted nor wanted the criminal slaughter being done in their name.
The Party's all-round support for peace and solidarity with liberation movements all round the world must continue, particularly focusing on the role of British imperialism. We must counter Labour's "ethical" foreign policy, which is identical to that of the Conservatives, with progressive demands for:
o An immediate and unconditional end to the bombing of Iraq together with an end to the cruel blockade of that defiant Arab country.
o Support for the restoration of all the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to an independent sovereign state in Palestine and the right of the refugees to return to their homes.
o An immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all British and Nato
troops from the Balkans.
OPPOSE THE LABOUR GOVERNMENT
We welcomed the defeat of the Conservatives in 1997. We called for the biggest possible majority for Labour and argued that a Labour government, under pressure from the most militant sections of the working class, could introduce important reforms for the class and the people as a whole.
The Blair leadership won the election on the barest list of reforms to ensure that people's expectations were not raised. They have kept some of their promises and we have welcomed some of their moves.
The new Government responded realistically to the demands of Sinn Féin for serious talks on the problem of the north of Ireland and the cease-fire which the Irish Republican Army still holds. The establishment of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh National Assembly goes some way to meeting the Scottish and Welsh people's demands for greater democracy in their own countries. The recognition of the conditional right to union recognition is a modest gain for the trade union movement.
But the Government refuses to repeal the anti-union legislation passed since 1979 when Labour was last in office; it refuses to restore state welfare to the levels enjoyed prior to 1979, it has no intention of restoring the public sector privatised during the last period of Conservative government; it has continued the process of "creeping fascism" and it refuses to contemplate restoring progressive tax levels to the rates operative in 1979.
Millions upon millions of pounds can be found for wars against the people of Iraq and Yugoslavia, while benefits continue to be cut in real terms and millions are condemned to short-time or unemployment by the capitalist system that the Blair government claims is working and maintains is the only viable economic system in the world.
If the success of capitalism was measured by low inflation and low interest rates then indeed capitalism has worked in Britain. If it's measured by casualisation, unemployment and poverty then it fails time and time again. The capitalist system exists solely to guarantee a life of ease and pleasure for the exploiters, based on wealth produced entirely by working people in Britain and throughout the world.