The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 11th March 2005
Women, Class & Science
Welcome To Our Weekly Digest Edition
Please feel free to use this material provided the New Worker
by Daphne Liddle
THE PREVENTION of
Terrorism Act has been batted back and forth between the Commons and
the Lords last week – with the Lords putting in amendments on Monday
and Tuesday and the Commons voting against them on Wednesday.
The Bill was back in the Lords on Thursday with a final check in the
Commons set for Friday.
Commentators predict it is likely to be passed on Friday but
nothing is certain. The Government needs the Bill on the statue book by
next Monday, when existing anti-terror laws expire.
On Wednesday Home Secretary Charles Clarke retreated and offered some
concessions to meet the concerns of the Lords: the Lords wanted an
eight-month sunset clause so the Bill would have to be reviewed next
November, a higher burden of proof that a suspect really is dangerous
and for judges to impose the controversial control orders rather than
Clarke conceded he would agree an annual review of the measure
and for judges rather than politicians to impose the control orders in
the vast majority of cases.
The result was confusion in the Commons with many MPs uncertain about
exactly what they were voting for as the amendments from the Lords were
defeated. There was a high level of abstentions.
Nevertheless the Commons threw out the Lords’ amendment on a
higher burden of proof by 89 votes.
But the contention over whether the control orders – including
house arrest – can be imposed on people merely suspected of involvement
in terrorism by judges or by politicians is a red herring.
In effect both politicians and judges will be taking their cue
from the security services – from Britain’s secret police. It is they
who will accuse a suspect of being a terrorist with the suspect given
no chance to know what they are accused of or to challenge it. And they
are guided by the Government.
It all boils down to how much we trust our Government and our secret
police not to lie – or sex up the evidence.And we must bear in mind
that some of this secret information, that the British government is
now willing to accept, has been obtained by torture, including at
Guantanamo Bay. Information obtained by torture has always been
extremely unreliable because victims will say whatever the torturer
wants to hear just to stop the pain.
The detainees in Belmarsh, who have been held for more than three
years without charge or trial, have never been questioned about their
alleged activities. That might give them some clues about why they are
suspected. It seems that the Government does not want to hear any
information that contradicts its suspicions.
Civil rights lawyer Gareth Pierce said, in a passionate plea to MPs to
throw out the Bill: “What the Government asks for here is the ultimate
demand of any totalitarian regime: the executive is the accuser; the
moment of accusation is also the moment of the imposition of the
“The accuser, the executive, invokes a judge for one reason alone, to
give its procedure a spurious cover, to safeguard it against any future
judgement of the law lords or the European Court of Human
Earlier in the week the retiring head of the Metropolitan Police, Sir
John Stevens, added his weight to Blair’s anti-terrorist alarmism by
saying that up to 200 terrorists trained by Osama bin Laden are lurking
in Britain ready to commit atrocities. His predecessor, Lord Condon,
voted against the Bill.
Stevens’ information of course comes from our intelligence
services, who don’t yet seem to have realised that Bin Laden is
generally thought to be a financial facilitator for the loose umbrella
group that is Al Qaeda rather than a military instructor.
Probably they mean that around 200 people have visited
Afghanistan in the recent past – that seems to be their main criterion
for suspicion. Many of those will have had no contact with Al Qaeda. Of
those who have, only a handful will probably be prepared to carry out
But, as intelligence expert Richard Norton-Taylor pointed out,
“One bomber could still slip through the net, even if the security and
intelligence agencies were watching thousands of suspects. There is no
such thing as total security.”
Whether the Bill is passed or not, the fight for civil liberties
must go on. Bourgeois laws are pieces of paper that the ruling class
waves in our faces or tears up at whim. Our best defence against
totalitarianism is an organised and mobilised working class.
A slap in the face for Bush
OVER A MILLION Lebanese
took to the streets in Beirut on Tuesday to support the Syrian
peace-keeping mission and denounce imperialist interference in their
A couple of weeks ago a few thousand anti-Syrian demonstrators held a
rally in Beirut that Bush and Blair hailed as the start of the “cedar
revolution”. Anglo-American imperialism used the calls from their
own Lebanese stooges to demand a complete withdrawal of all Syrian
troops in Lebanon backed by the usual threats the Arabs have been
accustomed to over the decades.
The Arab masses want democracy; not the “democracy” that the
imperialists say they’ve restored at gun-point in Iraq or the
“democracy” of sectarianism and rigged elections that existed in
Lebanon before the civil war. What the Arab masses demand is freedom
and justice – the basis of all genuine democratic rights.
This means freedom for the Palestinian Arabs under the heel of a brutal
Zionist occupation; justice for the Palestinian refugees denied their
legitimate right to return to their homes; democracy for the Iraqi
masses who are fighting to end imperialist occupation and
restore their independence.
Bush and his followers in the war camp in Britain talk about “people
power” when it serves their purpose. In 1989 the imperialists hailed
the pro-Western rallies in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union which
paved the way for counter-revolution as great exercises in democracy.
Nothing is said about the destruction, misery and oppression that
Democracy is, of course, a much abused word. For the imperialists it
means bourgeois democracy for themselves and the freedom to oppress and
exploit anyone else. The Arabs know this more than anyone else as
they’ve been on the receiving end for decades. Their oil is plundered
for the benefit of the big oil corporations. Their land is occupied in
Palestine and Iraq. Their attempts to build Arab unity are frustrated
and sabotaged by imperialist intrigue.
Now in Lebanon Anglo-American imperialism is threatening to plunge the
country back into civil war with its threats and plots. They said they
want to hear the voice of the Lebanese people. Now they have. They had
their answer on Tuesday.
We want answers
Blair & Co talk about “open government” but all we’ve got is a
toothless freedom of information act and a culture of secrecy that has
even taken the Tories aback. The producer of a documentary about Dr
Kelly, soon to be televised on Channel 4, complains about obstacles put
in his way by a Government that is still refusing to come clean on the
Attorney General’s full advice on the legality of the Iraq war.
The circumstances that led to the mysterious death of Dr Kelly, the
arms expert at the centre of the row over Iraq’s alleged weapons of
mass destruction, will never be resolved unless a proper inquest is
The publication of the Attorney General’s full legal opinion and an
explanation of why Blair failed to disclose it to the Cabinet in the
run-up to the Anglo-American invasion is a demand that must be taken up
throughout the labour and peace movement.
If you find these articles from the New Worker
Online interesting and useful them why not subscribe to our print
edition with lots more news, features, and photos?
To the New Communist Party Page