The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 11th November 2005

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by Daphne Liddle

WEDNESDAY 9th of November will go down in history as the day that Labour Party backbenchers rediscovered their long-lost back bone and put a brake on Tony Blair’s gallop towards a police state.

Forty-nine of them voted against proposals to allow police to detain terror suspects for up to 90 days without charge or trial, which led to the measure being defeated by 322 votes to 291.

 Later a proposal to double the current time that police can hold a suspect without charge to 28 days was passed with a 33 majority. Many Tories who had opposed the 90-days, including their current leader Michael Howard, supported the 28 days.

 Even this is a serious encroachment on our basic civil liberties but this defeat is a serious personal defeat for Blair and has led to calls for his resignation from all quarters – from Michael Howard to Clare Short MP.

 Blair’s authority over his own parliamentary colleagues has been shaky for the past few weeks. It began with an outbreak of small rebellions and disagreements within the Cabinet itself.

 As political commentator Matthew Parrish put it, that was evidence not of loss of unity but that Cabinet members had stopped being afraid of Blair and were more concerned about their careers once he was gone.
the first

When a political leader deliberately surrounds himself with opportunists and sycophants, he can absolutely rely on their support until he is in trouble. Then they will be the first to abandon him.

 Last week Blair lost his old ally Blunkett. On the same day the Government came within one vote of defeat on an amendment to the current Terror Bill. Certain defeat on the 90-days proposal was staring the Government in the face and the vote was postponed.

 Home Secretary Charles Clarke then made it known he was prepared to negotiate a compromise – perhaps 28 days or 60 days – to get the Bill passed.

 But Blair insisted against all advice from his closest colleagues to adhere to the 90-days’ limit. In the last few days, Downing Street and various police chiefs have bombarded us with claims that they cannot possibly make a case against suspects in anything less than 90 days.

 They have used scaremongering and bullying, telling MPs it was their duty to back the Bill or risk exposing the public to the “new breed of global terrorists”. MPs have been rung up in the middle of the night, with hints that they will be guilty of failing the public if there are future terrorist attacks.

 Yet no one has yet explained how the 90-days clause or any other measures in the Bill could have stopped the 7th July terrorists – nor how the detention of several alleged terror suspects for over two years, without charge or trial in Belmarsh prison between 2001 and this spring, made Britain a safer place.

 The measures proposed in the Bill are no use at stopping real terrorism. The climate of terror is created by imperialist governments who take it on themselves to bomb and invade other countries to plunder their oil wealth – using lies about weapons of mass destruction as a feeble excuse.

But the measures in the Terror Bill will serve the Government well in helping to control the general population and stifle any political dissent. That is exactly how the South African Apartheid regime used its own 90-day’s law.
question mark

Last Wednesday’s parliamentary defeat puts a big question mark over Blair’s chances of passing a whole raft of controversial measures he has put on a packed agenda to speed up the pace of his right-wing reforms. These include more privatisation in the NHS and education system, changes to incapacity benefit and further so-called anti-terror measures.

 It underlines Blair’s poor political judgement, rejecting the advice of all his colleagues who argued for compromise, who are now shown to have been wiser.

 Blair is now insisting that it is not a resigning matter. But now his parliamentary colleagues are no longer frightened of him it may not be up to him. He must go soon and that will be a good thing. It will be a defeat for his extreme idolisation of Bush and all his policies.

But it will not be much of a change if Brown succeeds only to adopt exactly the same policies. Now the parliamentary party is feeling stronger a real challenge to both Blair and Brown is possible.

 But if Brown does succeed, he must be under real pressure to drop Blair’s policies. Above all, last Wednesday was a victory for the integrity of the Labour Party.


China calls for peace

  CHINESE President Hu Jintao called for lasting peace and common development in London on the first day of his state visit to Britain. “We stand ready to work with the UK to strengthen mutual trust, expand exchanges and co-operation and make joint efforts for the well-being of the two peoples and a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity,” the Chinese leader declared.

Old China was the workshop of the world in the 18th century. New China is set to become the workshop of the world of the 21st century. People’s China has the fastest growing economy in the world. It will probably be second biggest economy in the world by the next decade. This has given a better life to the Chinese masses and working people across the world have also benefited from the growth of the Chinese market.

China and Britain have established a comprehensive strategic economic partnership that has benefited the people of both countries. Thousands of British people work, travel and study in China. Many Chinese now study in our colleges and universities while an overseas Chinese community has lived in Britain for generations. The Government should now move to remove all remaining Cold War barriers to trade like the European Union’s arms embargo on China and support Beijing’s efforts for the peaceful return of Taiwan to the jurisdiction of the People’s Republic.


Dump Blair now

WHEN a Labour Government proposes to give the police draconian new powers including the right to hold suspects for up to three months without trial and the Tory leader becomes a champion of civil liberties you know there must be something deeply rotten in the heart of the Labour Party.

It is, of course, Tony Blair, and his “New Labour” clique who serve the most reactionary sections of the British ruling class. Tony Blair has been a liability for Labour for years. Though Blair has acknowledged this by stating he will not stand for a fourth term of office he has still to name the day.

Some say he wants to stay in Downing Street until 2008 so that he can claim to have been longer in office than Thatcher. Others fear that Blair is determined to lead a new attack on what’s left of the “welfare state” and our civil liberties regardless of the damage this might do to his successor because he now has nothing to lose.

His cronies, a diminishing band these days, claim their leader wants to leave his mark for posterity. Basking in the sun of the American-owned media has clearly given Blair an inflated idea of his own importance. What’s he got to brag about?

He may be remembered as the man who tried to wreck the Labour Party by attempting to cut its links with the unions. He will be known as the Labour leader who dumped its traditional support for the “welfare state” and public ownership. He certainly will be recalled as the man who misled Parliament and dragged us into the Iraq war at George W Bush’s bidding. This is Blair’s “legacy”.

The last chapter has still to be written. How it goes depends on the millions of working people in the peace and labour movement giving Blair a final push into the political oblivion and disgrace he so richly deserves.

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