The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 12th December 2003
Comrade Ri Si Hong from the Workers Party of Korea
with NCP Chair Alex Kempshall at the 14th Congress of the NCPB last weekend
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BLAIR MUST GO AND BROWN TOO
by Daphne Liddle
CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown last Wednesday
made his regular pre-budget statement, which, reading between the lines, admits
that Government borrowing has rocketed way beyond his predictions – and a
lot of that money has gone on the illegal war against Iraq.
Nevertheless he put on a show of optimism, pointing out that economic growth
is doing well enough to cover the rise of £17 billion rise in Government
borrowing, taking it to £37 billion, the highest since 1997 and £10
billion more than he predicted.
total so far
He set aside another £800 million to spend on occupying Iraq, Afghanistan
and “the war on terror”, bringing the total so far to £6.3 billion.
He is putting this country very deeply in debt in order to please
the American warmongers, on the strength of an economy that appears strong
now – but which is based on unprecedented levels of personal debt in Britain
that cannot be sustained forever.
This country is now very vulnerable to an inevitable global economic
This comes at a time when many political commentators have been predicting
that Brown is likely to replace Blair as Prime Minister early in the New Year.
Next month Blair faces the publication of the results of the Hutton
inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly as well as the House of Commons vote
on the Bill to increase student tuition fees.
Blair has already said that he will resign if the Bill is not passed, giving
those who want to see the back of him a powerful incentive to vote against
So far at least 150 Labour MPs are committed to opposing the Bill.
Liberal and Tory MPs are also likely to oppose it for different reasons.
Blair and Education Secretary Charles Clarke are trying to win round
the Labour rebels over the Christmas break but with little success so far..
It seems as though Blair may at last have realised that he has now
become an electoral liability for the Labour Party – his recent minor health
scares that could give him a chance to quit with dignity “on health grounds”.
But he and Brown are determined the pro-American, pro-war, pro-privatisation
policies will remain unchanged. Hence they are preparing for a smooth change
of leadership to Brown.
These efforts to stitch up the succession will not go unchallenged.
Britain’s ruling class is deeply divided.
Pro-European forces are deeply alarmed at the growing aggression and
militarism of the United States and its drive to control the world’s productive
powers, in the name of the “war on terror”.
This is why the major European powers, including France and Germany
did not back the invasion of Iraq, even though they had supported the attacks
on Afghanistan and the US interventions in the Balkans.
This stand played a crucial role in denying the United States a United
Nations mandate for the invasion – something Bush and Blair had not expected.
Their decision to go ahead with the invasion without the authority
of the UN put them at odds, not only with peace and progressive movements
but also with many bourgeois liberals who had backed them until that point.
tipped the scales
In Britain it tipped the scales and set the majority against the war. Blair’s
defiance of public opinion and international legality fatally injured his
The pro-European part of the mainstream press – papers like the Independent
and the Mirror – backed the peace movement and, along with the BBC, have supplied
a continual succession of embarrassing revelations surrounding Blair’s manipulations
and machinations to make a bogus case for the war.
Those pro-European elements of the ruling class that want rid of Blair
will not go away. They will be putting all the pressure they can in January
to make sure he goes.
They won’t want Brown either. The pre-budget statement said nothing at all
about Europe. Brown’s economic assessments put Britain further away from joining
the euro than ever. Blair and Brown, in their subservience to Bush, have
burnt their bridges with Europe.
There will be a battle over Blair’s succession and no outcome is guaranteed.
The working class will be no better off with Brown than with Blair
but we need to go further than the pro-European sector of the ruling class.
They are just as much in favour of increased privatisation and maximum exploitation
as their pro-American enemies.
The organised working class, the trade unions, peace and progressive movements
have an opportunity now to use the division in the ruling class to press for
a genuinely socialist leadership for the Labour government – one that will
ensure Labour will be re-elected at the next general election.
Allowing the Tories back does not bear thinking about.
Blair’s dismal record
THE “SEASON OF GOODWILL” is approaching so we
can expect the usual platitudes from our rulers about “peace and goodwill”
and the wonderful paradise that is Blair’s Britain today. And, of course,
it is a paradise for the exploiters of the parasitical bourgeoisie who live
off our backs. There’s plenty for the rich in Blair’s new world.
But the latest report from the Rowntree Foundation show that millions of
workers and their families are languishing in abject poverty. Though there
has been a marginal drop in the numbers below the official poverty line, this
is largely due to the fact that more people are in work than before.
According to data prepared for the Rowntree Foundation, the number of people
living on low incomes, defined as 60 per cent of median weekly income which
currently stands at £114 for a single person and £273 for a couple
with two children, dropped by a million last year. But it also revealed that
12.5 million people were still below this miserable threshold and that Britain
has proportionately more poor people than any other member of the European
Union except for Greece and Portugal. Conditions have worsened in the North
East of England and London has the highest proportion of people living in
poverty in the whole country.
One of the authors of the report stated that: “There is still a long way
to go before the number of people living in low-income households reaches
the level of 20 years ago. But the reduction in poverty levels to below those
of the 1990s is a notable milestone and suggests real progress.”
Some “milestone”. What “progress”?
What an indictment of Blair’s Labour government that it cannot even restore
workers’ basic living standards to the level they once had during the last
Labour government in the 1970s.
This is a Government that is more concerned about the rights of the rural
rich to continue hunting foxes than with eradicating poverty. This is a Blair
leadership that will spend billions on arms and wars but does little or nothing
to restore our crumbling health service or pay the elderly a decent pension.This
is in one of the richest countries in the world. This is a Government happy
to scapegoat asylum-seekers to divert working people from their problems –
problems due entirely to the capitalist system. This is a Government
that wages war against the people of Iraq in partnership with American imperialism
while turning its back on the millions who voted it into office.This is Blair’s
The Labour back-bench revolt over student “top-up” fees and the simmering
discontent over Iraq and the European Union open up the prospect of Blair’s
defeat in Parliament next month. Blair himself has said his leadership is
on the line.
The Prime Minister must be held to that promise if the Government is defeated
and the peace and labour movement as a whole must mobilise now to stop a cosmetic
change at the top that alters nothing.
We must ensure that Blair is not replaced by Gordon Brown or another
from his “New Labour” clique. And above all we must fight for a Labour leadership
and government that will bring the troops back from Iraq and meet the just
demands of the trade union movement.
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