The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 12th May 2006
Asda workers demand union
Welcome To Our Weekly Digest Edition
by Daphne Liddle
THE MORE pressure is put on Blair to step down, the more he
digs his heels in. And in doing so he is tearing the “New Labour”
Last Thursday’s local election results were a damning verdict on
Blair’s premiership, with the Tories returning to power in local
government throughout the country where many hoped they had been long
dead and buried.
A few years ago there was hardly a Tory local authority in the
country. Now they predominate, with no-overall-control councils coming
second. Even in inner London only a handful of councils remain
Labour. In total Labour lost 317 seats and 18 councils.
Many people will suffer from the policies of right-wing local
authorities – especially council house tenants whose homes are now more
likely to be transferred to the private sector.
Though Blair had pushed for the privatisation of local services,
some Labour councils had dragged their heels – to the benefit of local
residents. Many of them have been thrown out for no fault of their own
but because they were betrayed by Blair and his henchmen.
This is the price the working class is paying for Blair’s
arrogance and stubbornness. Some of the defeated Labour councillors
around the country made their feelings very clear.
Keith Bobbin from Basildon said: “He should stand down soon. He
is only hanging on to pass Margaret Thatcher’s record in power. He
should have gone after last year’s election. I think that Tony Blair
was a liability to the party and local members are leaving the party.”
Abdul Sattar-Butt from Brent said: “Muslim voters here told me I should
be ashamed of the Labour Party. They said Labour’s hands are covered in
blood. Muslim workers, even Muslim children, have told me that.”
And Albert Clarke of Newcastle-under-Lyme said: “I think Blair
should have stood down last year. I am as red as you can be, and I
would still tell him to his face that he should stand down. He should
go. Full stop. If he had gone last year, we would not be in this
The day after the disastrous but well predicted election results
Blair set about a dramatic reshuffle of his Cabinet. All his moves
plainly signalled that he was entrenching himself, at the expense of
Left Labour MP Glenda Jackson pointed out that he missed the most
important reshuffle of all – himself.
The sacking of Home Secretary Charles Clarke was expected but not
the demotion of Jack Straw – who so far has not been embroiled in any
significant scandal or sleaze. Yet Prescott, although deprived of most
of his power, retained all his ministerial perks. Blair regards him as
an ally and he doesn’t have too many of them now.
Rumours abound that Straw was demoted at the behest of George
Bush – who did not think Straw was gung-ho enough for a new war on Iran.
Even MPs like Nick Raynsford, once a loyal Blairite, are telling
him it is time to go. A letter signed by 50 MPs was delivered to Blair
demanding that he set a timetable for his orderly departure.
These were not the left-wing backbenchers known as “the usual
suspects” but many former Blairites – though the left-wingers supported
the move. This initiative came from New Labourites who are terrified
that if Blair does not agree to go quietly, the transition to Gordon
Brown taking power will not be smooth. They are afraid of a real open
battle for the leadership of the party that could consign the whole
concept of “New Labour” to the history books and move the party
significantly to the left.
But Blair rebuffed them. His henchmen hysterically accused the
letter’s signatories and Gordon Brown of plotting against Blair. Last
Monday Blair promised only to resign in time to give his successor
enough time to “bed down” before the next general election.
But clearly he was not serious. In a letter to Hazel Blears,
newly appointed to chair the party, he detailed changes he wanted her
to make to the structure of the party up to 2009 and beyond. This
implies that he sees himself as controlling the future of the party
indefinitely – a point that Gordon Brown did not miss.
Brown, for once, actually challenged this, reminding Blair of
Margaret Thatcher’s undignified fall from office when she had refused
to resign for too long. This suggests he has been counting those MPs
likely to support him in a leadership challenge and finally the figures
The deepening rift between Blair and Brown is tearing the party
leadership apart – but it is also opening opportunities to get rid of
both Blair and Brown and their Thatcherite policies.
Kick Blair out
LAST WEEK’S local election
results are the writing on the wall for Tony Blair and those who cling
to his coat-tails. Rocked by incompetence, scandal and sleaze the
Government looks as if it’s on its last legs with the latest opinion
polls showing that Labour’s support has fallen to its lowest level
Labour lost over 300 council seats in the English local elections and
control of 19 councils, including a number of key boroughs in London,
mostly to a resurgent Tory Party with the Liberal Democrats making only
modest gains. To cap it all, Labour suffered a humiliating reverse in
Barking and Dagenham, with 11 councillors defeated by the neo-Nazi BNP
and failed to stem the advance of George Galloway’s Respect Party in
The blame game began while the gloomy results were being tallied. Some
believe that Blair’s spin merchants were deliberately puffing up the
BNP in the run-up to the poll to divert attention away from the
expected swing to the Tories.
There can be no doubt that the widely-publicised remarks by
Barking Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who claimed that 80 per cent of white
families in her constituency were “tempted” by the BNP, gave the
fascists the oxygen to fuel their racist campaign. But that doesn’t
fully explain why a thoroughly working-class borough that was once a
Labour stronghold with a thriving local communist movement 30 years ago
should become the feeding ground for the racists and fascists.
Labour’s traditional working class supporters are deeply disillusioned.
They put Blair in office three times on the bounce and have got little
in return. A tiny minority have been duped by the lies of the fascists
who blame the woes of the workers on the immigrants and the ethnic
minorities and seek to solve the crisis by simply redistributing the
crumbs from the rich man’s table. Others fall for the old lies of
bourgeois Tory and Liberal Democrat parties who have never served the
working class and can never defend our class’s interests.
For those who think the answer is to build another left
social-democratic movement in opposition to Labour, the paltry gains of
Respect and the former Trotskyist parties of the left are a warning.
The only alternative to a Labour Government at the next election is
going to be one led by the Tories – and we only have to recall the dark
days of Mrs Thatcher and John Major to know exactly what that will mean
for the working class.
Blair’s answer was a pathetic reshuffle but if he thinks that sacking
Charles Clarke and demoting Jack Straw will take the heat off him he is
Labour’s problems begin and end with Blair and his “New Labour” agenda
that is becoming increasingly indistinguishable from the worst excesses
of the Thatcher era. Blair and his cronies bleat on that they listen to
the people when it is obvious to everyone apart from themselves that
the Labour leadership only head the advice of the most venal and
reactionary elements of the global ruling class.
They took us into the criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq reducing
our soldiers to the role of sepoys in the service of American
imperialism. While our health service totters for lack of funds,
billions are spent on the armed forces and the so-called nuclear
deterrent that is ultimately under American control.
The masses want affordable housing, decent jobs, and adequate pensions
for a dignified retirement that a country like Britain, with the fourth
greatest economy in the world, can easily provide. What we’ve got is
round the clock drinking, casinos and a minimal tax system that has
made our country a paradise for the millionaires.
Blair says he’s going but he still won’t name the day. We have to make
sure it’s as soon as possible. Blair’s an albatross around Labour’s
neck. The longer he stays the worse it will get. A leadership election
must be triggered under Labour Party rules to force him out. The sooner
he goes the better.
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