The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 1st December 2006

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by Daphne Liddle

Tony Blair last Thursday, 24th November, railroaded his Cabinet into supporting his plans for a full replacement for the ageing Trident nuclear missile system.

The full plans will be published in a White Paper in December and then after three months “public debate”, Labour MPs will be ordered to vote in favour of it. Since the Tories are likely to back it, Blair is confident the weapons upgrade will be rubber-stamped and the “public debate” is just a cosmetic exercise.

  The cost of the new American-made submarine-based system will be at least £25 billion – it was the most expensive of several options. But, unlike other public expenditure, it has the blessing of Chancellor Gordon Brown and the Treasury.

 Not all the Cabinet were happy about Blair’s plans; one complained: “The PM is determined to force this through and there is little we can do to stop him. It’s a bounce. It’s just a pity we couldn’t debate the issue.”

 That is nonsense. There is plenty they could do to stop him. They could show a little backbone and resign, as Robin Cook did in protest at the start of the illegal war against Iraq. Blair’s government is already weak; a handful of high-up resignations would stop him. These people are more concerned about their careers than about preventing a nuclear disaster.

Hans Blix, the former United Nations weapons inspector who crossed swords in the run up to the attack on Iraq over claims about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, attacked Blair’s decision in a speech to the British Institute of International and Comparative Law in London last Monday.

 He warned that upgrading Britain’s nuclear arsenal will put the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) under “strain” and cause resentment among non-nuclear countries.

 Blix also attacked other members of the UN Security Council for failing in their obligations under the NPT by not doing more to eliminate their own nuclear arsenals.

 He told the meeting that his Stockholm-based WDM Commission has proposed that the UN General Assembly should call a world summit on disarmament to revive the NPT and reduce the risk of a nuclear war.

 The Commission, Dr Blix said, believes that top priority should be given to ratification of a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

 Blix has supports on Labour’s backbenches, including Walthamstow MP Neil Gerrard, Leyton and Wanstead MP Harry Cohen, and North Bury MP David Chaytor, who are among 30 or so MPs who are warning their leadership that replacing Trident would breach the terms of the NPT.

 Neil Gerrard said: “Dr Blix was proved right on WMD and a lot of people will agree with what he is saying now. It is possible that Mr Blair will lose a majority of Labour MPs on this issue.”

 Jack Straw, now demoted to Leader of the Commons, has defended Blair’s decision to impose a three-line whip requiring Labour MPs to support the Government decision. He claimed: “This is about the defence of this country and its people and its future over many decades. We have a responsibility not to cop out on this.”

 But he failed to make it clear how a new nuclear weapons system would make Britain safer – especially a system which is not independent at all and could only be used with the permission of the United States, which itself poses the biggest threat to nuclear war.

 Harry Cohen challenged Straw’s assessment of the dangers facing Britain, saying they would make the White Paper another “dodgy dossier” like the one ahead of the Iraq War.

  Kate Hudson, speaking on behalf of CND, said: “The Government must consider all the options for Britain’s future security, including acting on our commitment to multilateral negotiations for nuclear disarmament under the NPT.”

 Meanwhile CND members and other peace activists throughout Britain are preparing for lengthy sieges of nuclear bases like Faslane in Scotland and Aldermaston in Berkshire.


Speaking for Scotland?

NORTH of the border Labour’s dinosaurs are gearing up for next year’s Scottish parliamentary elections with a string of attacks on the Scottish National Party (SNP) from Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chancellor Gordon Brown and Home Secretary John Reid. They have quite rightly concluded that increasing numbers of Scottish voters are thinking of deserting Labour. They know that many of Labour’s traditional working class supporters are angry at the Government’s support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq and that many Scots have been equally disappointed at Labour’s continued commitment to reactionary Thatcherite policies in the national and Scottish arenas.

    Knowing that the Nationalists and the Scottish Liberal Democrats are eager to garner the protest vote following the collapse of the Scottish Socialist Party, and fearful to take the Lib/Dems – their coalition partners in the Scottish government – head on, Scottish Labour has chosen to make the SNP the bogeyman of their campaign.    

Instead of trying to woo Scottish workers back with a manifesto committed to reform and social progress, Labour’s leaders have bizarrely chosen to challenge the Scottish Nationalists on the SNP’s own agenda, using the clapped-out arguments of the Tories in an attempt to divert the electorate away from their own failures and betrayals.

    It’s all very well for Reid to claim that the SNP are unfit to face the great challenges of the coming decades and to argue that international terrorism, organised crime, mass migration and the environment do not stop at the border. But reducing the argument to talk of “border guards” at Gretna Green and the numbers of Scots with relatives in England was an insult to the intelligence of the Scottish people.  And claiming that the “true liberation” of Scotland lies solely through “education” showed a lack of imagination and a contempt for the voters that will surely rebound on the Scottish Labour Party next spring if it carries on this way.

    Though the SNP supported the establishment of the autonomous Scottish government, they have campaigned for full Scottish independence since their foundation in 1934. The SNP supported the campaign for devolution, which began in the 1970s, as a step in the right direction. But what they never acknowledge is that the campaign for a Scottish parliament only succeeded when its demands were embraced by the Scottish labour movement which led to its establishment by the Labour Government in 1999.

The New Communist Party has long recognised the rights of the Scottish nation to full national self-determination. We support Scottish demands for the right to preserve and develop their culture and national identity. We support their right to possess and control all the physical and other resources present on their land or in their territorial waters. We acknowledge the honourable role of the SNP and the Scottish Liberal Democrats in campaigning against the war in Iraq but we also recognise that these bourgeois parties can never represent or defend the interests of the Scottish working class.
The Scottish Nationalists and the Scottish Liberal Democrats do not represent the interests of the working class or the trade union movement. The Scottish Labour Party is still the party of organised labour and it still relies on the unions for most of its funds.

Only the labour movement in Scotland, England and Wales can defeat Blair and his cronies. Only the organised working class can reclaim Labour to implement democratic reforms, restore the public sector and the “welfare state” and only the Scottish working class can lead the Scottish people to genuine independence and popular democracy.

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