The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 12th August 2005
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WAR FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES
by Daphne Liddle
TONY BLAIR’S announcement of a series of new
“anti-terror” laws, including the prospect of secret courts,
information withheld from suspects about the nature of the charges
against them and people being held for up to three months without
trial, have heightened fears that this country could be heading fast
towards a fascist police state.
Civil rights lawyer Gareth Peirce commented: “There is nothing I can
say as a lawyer that can adequately react to so terrifying an
announcement. This is a statement of dangerous self-delusion,
deliberately ignoring history, legality, principle and justice.”
But as each measure is announced, opposition is growing fast, including
powerful sectors within our deeply divided ruling class who are not
happy with Blair’s adherence to the increasingly fascistic neo-con
policies of George Bush.
In the United States itself scores of the country’s wealthiest people
have each pledged $1 million (£560,000) or more towards a new
effort to revive the American left and counter the Republican neo-cons.
The money will be funnelled through a new Democracy Alliance which will
fund a network of think-tanks to work out how to stop the shift to the
right. This is a typical bourgeois approach to the problem. It will no
doubt be left to the working class to mobilise and do the actual
The neo-cons are also betraying desperation and confusion within their
own camp, knowing that their plans for American world domination are on
a knife edge and that time is against them.
Blair’s proposed new laws are strikingly similar to those of South
Africa’s apartheid regime where anyone could be imprisoned without
charge or trial for 90 days; then released and re-arrested within half
an hour and held for another 90 days. The Nazis used a similar
The proposed identity cards scheme carries echoes of apartheid’s pass
laws. But the Blair government is backing off from this now that the
logistics of implementing it are becoming ever more complex and
The Minister responsible, Tony McNulty, last Thursday admitted:
“Perhaps in the past the Government in its enthusiasm oversold the
advantages of ID cards. We did suggest or at least implied that they
may well be a panacea for ID fraud, benefit fraud, terrorism and
entitlement and access to public services.”
No doubt the government intends this small retreat to be temporary.
Given time they will come up with a cheaper but even worse scheme. They
will be counting on further terror attacks to panic MPs into allowing
outrageous legislation to go through on the nod.
The London terror attacks have allowed Blair to push forward many
measures that he and former Home Secretary David Blunkett tried to get
through earlier this year but were thwarted in the courts.
Civil rights lawyer Louise Christian pointed out: “Politicians tell the
public who travel on public transport to remain calm and carry on
“Yet the response from politicians and police to terrorist
attacks in London is one of panic and hysteria. Already one innocent
man has been shot dead. Armed police roam the streets and innocent
people are being arrested and searched at gunpoint.
“Worse still, police have produced a ‘shopping list’ of new legislation
to be rushed in, and the leaders of all three main political parties
have already agreed to much of it in a cosy chat in Downing Street
without any parliamentary involvement.”
Even the Prime Minister’s wife, Cherie Blair, has baulked at the
measures her husband hopes to implement. She is aware of the level of
opposition among Britain’s judges who could sink the new laws by
refusing to implement those that contradict our human rights
legislation. This is why both Blair and Tory leader Michael Howard have
been trying to browbeat the judiciary.
The pro-American, Blairite papers are doing their best to create an
atmosphere of fear and panic that will allow the Government to act
against the judges. Most working class people in Britain are too
phlegmatic to be taken in by this but our MPs are another matter.
As for the terrorists – the general level of anger all around the world
at the imperialists’ invasion and rape of Afghanistan and Iraq and the
continuing injustice of Palestine are understandable.
But these terrorists are like the Red Brigades and Bader-Meinhoff
groups of the 60s and 70s, with no roots in the working class
community, their main victims are workers.
They are making Bush and Blair stronger.The imperialist leaders do not
care if their own working class is massacred on the way to work. They
only care if their profits and their power are threatened.
Ultimately that can only be achieved by a mobilised working class.
Robin Cook 1946–2005
THE UNTIMELY DEATH of the
Scottish MP Robin Cook last weekend has been a bitter blow to the
parliamentary opposition to the invasion and occupation of Iraq and a
personal tragedy to his friends and relations.
Cook originally entered the House of Commons in 1974 with left
social-democratic credentials and he soon won a reputation for himself
as a skilful parliamentary debater. A member of the Tribune group, he
was a supporter of unilateral nuclear disarmament and an outspoken
critic of the right-wing policies of the 1970s Labour governments led
by Harold Wilson and James Callaghan.
These pacifist and “left” views were soon forgotten as Cook gravitated
more and more towards the dominant right-wing bloc during the long
period when Labour was out of office, aligning himself first with Neil
Kinnock, then John Smith and finally ending up as a supporter of Tony
Blair and his “New Labour” project. His reward was the Foreign Ministry
when Labour won the 1997 general election.
He was a mediocre Foreign Secretary who tried to pass off the stale old
aggressive policies of British imperialism as “ethical” and
“independent” while his initiatives over Palestine and Kashmir failed
because they simply did not have the blessing of US imperialism.
Cook was a keen supporter of integration within the European Union and
had no problems in endorsing the attack on Yugoslavia or the criminal
blockade of Iraq when these policies were also those of France and
Germany. But Blair turned increasingly towards the most aggressive,
venal and reactionary sections of the British ruling class: the war
party who see their best interests served in exclusive alliance with US
imperialism. Cook’s pro-European stance became an embarrassment and his
demotion to Leader of the House was inevitable after Blair won another
landslide victory for Labour in 2001.
Cook’s pro-European sentiments, essentially in support of those
elements within the ruling class that aligned themselves with
Franco-German imperialism, led to his isolation within the Blair
Cabinet, though he remained publicly loyal up to the eve of the
invasion, resigning on 17th March when it became clear that Blair was
going to war without the fig-leaf United Nations mandate that France
and Germany had denied him.
Cook put to shame those “left” posers who jumped on Blair’s band-wagon
seeking fame and favour and betrayed the movement that had put them in
Parliament in the first place by supporting and justifying the criminal
onslaught against the Iraqi people. Cook ridiculed the claim that
Saddam Hussein held weapons of mass destruction and he rallied a
considerable number of Labour rebels against the war and stiffened the
anti-war position of the Liberal Democrats and those pro-EU Tories like
Kenneth Clarke who also spoke out against it.
Though never a part of the anti-war movement, Robin Cook will always be
remembered for taking the principled stand in resigning from the Blair
Cabinet in protest at the Government’s decision to join forces with the
United States in the invasion of Iraq and for his later attempts to
bring down the Blair government. In doing so he marched in step
with the demands of millions of working people who want an immediate
and unconditional withdrawal of all British troops from Iraq. It is not
surprising that at the last general election in May 2005 Cook was one
of the few Labour MPs to actually increase his majority.
Like Kenneth Clarke, Robin Cook represented the alternative leadership
the pro-European camp hoped would eventually triumph over Blair and the
Tory Euro-sceptics. It may be some time before they can find some one
else to step in Cook’s shoes.
On 6th August Robin Cook collapsed on rocky terrain while hill-walking
on Ben Stack in Sutherland, Scotland. He was taken to Raigmore hospital
in Inverness by helicopter where he was pronounced dead on arrival. The
post-mortem revealed that he had died of hypertensive heart disease.
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