The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 13th February 2004
CND Cymru and Côr Cochion Caerdydd in Cardiff
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IRAQ LIES STILL HAUNT BLAIR
by Daphne Liddle
TONY Blair and his fellow
warmongers in the House of Commons are admitting they are feeling the strain
over the issue that won’t go away – why did they go to war against Iraq?
Last week Blair petulantly ordered his Cabinet to “get back to basics”
after Leader of the House Peter Hain warned: “After seven years of government,
during which we have been virtually unassailable, we have hit our very first
Hain admitted that the continuing argument over the intelligence
behind the war and a series of backbench revolts had shaken the Government.
But the row over Iraq does go on, despite Blair’s wishes that it would
all go away and we would forget that at least 15,000 innocent Iraqis were
bombed and shot to death on the basis of a lie.
They never dreamed their lies over Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)
would still be haunting them over a year later.
But as the illegal Anglo-US occupation of Iraq becomes a deeper and
deeper quagmire of blood – without delivering the lucrative oil revenue
that was the real motive for the invasion – the stupidity of the decision
to go to war in the first place is becoming plainer and plainer.
It is just a year ago this week that two million protesters marched
through London in Britain’s biggest ever demonstration to tell Blair that
the war was wrong and would lead to disaster.
He ignored them and he is paying the price. Tragically for him it
is not such a heavy price as for his victims in Iraq.
Weapons scientists, experts and inspectors have been lining up to tell
the press and the world it is not their fault – before Blair and Bush can
fit them up in the role of scapegoats.
Dr Hans Blix, the former United Nations weapons inspector, last week
accused Blair and George W Bush of “dramatising” the threat posed by Iraq’s
He said those who complied the notorious dossier, used by Blair to
make a case for war “acted like salesmen trying to increase and exaggerate
the importance of their wares”.
Former weapons intelligence chief Dr Brian Jones issued a second salvo,
saying again that intelligence chiefs had told the Government they were unhappy
with the way it was using evidence they supplied to make a misleading case
This echoed exactly the concerns expressed by his colleague Dr Kelly
to BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan, shortly before Kelly’s exposure as the
source of the leak and his apparent suicide.
The Joint Intelligence Committee, headed by John Scarlett, produced
that dossier. Much of the evidence given to the Hutton inquiry centred on
whether or not the Government exerted political pressure on the JIC to exaggerate
the threat from Iraq.
Two former heads of that committee have come forward to express their
unease about the production of the dossier.
Sir Paul Lever said it was “sloppy” in places and said that the claim
that Iraqi weapons could be deployed within 45 minutes had been “over-emphasised”
in the dossier.
“I personally would have preferred to have the JIC present something drafted
exclusively by the JIC in the format which the JIC itself chose,” he said.
Sir Roderick Braithwaite, the other former JIC chairperson to come forward,
said it was a mistake for the JIC to agree to take “presentational advice”
from Downing Street and allow Alastair Campbell to sit with it.
He told the BBC’s Panorama that when the JIC got involved with “presentation”
that means “It’s ceasing to be objective, it’s becoming an advocate” – and
so loses its independence.
But another Whitehall official pointed out that some intelligence
chiefs on that committee “did not need to be coerced into ‘sexing up’ the
dossier by Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell. They were so eager to do what
the Prime Minister wanted that they did it voluntarily. It means that the
independence of the intelligence services may have been lost, or at least
compromised, without the heads of those services being aware of it.”
Communists never imagine that any apart of the state machine is neutral
but it is interesting to see them all scrambling to shift the blame away
from themselves. Their ship is sinking and they know it.
The dossier spoke both of Iraqi WMDs and of Iraqi weapons that could
be launched within 45 minutes – and left the world to assume that the WMDs
could be launched within 45 minutes. Now they claim that only applied to
Last week we witnessed the pathetic spectacle of Defence Secretary
Geoff Hoon telling a parliamentary committee that he knew the 45-minute
claim applied only to battlefield weapons. But he did not correct sensationalist
scaremongering in some of the press – for example: “WE ARE 45 MINUTES FROM
DOOM” – because he did not notice the headlines and it was “not a matter
of great public concern”.
We also had the pathetic spectacle of Blair trying to convince the House
of Commons that he himself had been misled by the “dodgy dossier”. Apparently,
alone among is colleagues, really believed that Iraqi WMDs could strike
Britain with 45 minutes – even though he had admitted otherwise to Robin
Cook just before the war, just before Cook’s resignation.
That’s the problem for liars, they need long memories.
Unions must keep up the fight for Labour
LABOUR’S decision to expel the Rail,
Maritime and Transport (RMT) union last week was inevitable following the
decision of the biggest rail union in the land to continue to allow branches
to affiliate to the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP). The RMT leadership was
denounced by Labour Party chairman Ian McCartney for ignoring the supposed
view of tens of thousands of RMT members. McCartney cynically ignored
the fact that by cutting the links with Labour the rail union has only done
what Blair & Co have wanted for ages. It nevertheless is a backward step
for the union that helped to found the Labour Party in the first place.
The RMT decision, endorsed by a special conference, effectively led to
disaffiliation from the major social-democratic party in Britain in favour
of marginal support for another in Scotland. It breaks the link with Labour,
to allow some Scottish branches to affiliate to the SSP – a small left social-democratic
party that wraps itself around Scottish nationalism and past Trotskyite
It cuts its ties with a party that can form governments and restore the
railways to public ownership in favour of another that has a small presence
in the Scottish Parliament that has few powers to reform the railway industry
and in any case is dominated by Labour as well. It moves the union away from
opposing the Tories and backing Labour into supporting fringe parties that
spend most of their time opposing Labour.
Working people are often much wiser than the people who claim to lead them
and this is why these small parties remain isolated amongst the working
class despite all their pretensions. Labour isn’t the enemy of the working
class nor is it a barrier to communist advance.
Rail workers’ anger at the Blair government’s treatment of the rail network
was the key factor behind their union’s decision to end a link that goes
back over a hundred years. But it also reflects a view from the union’s leadership
that does not conform to reality.
Time and time again it has been proved that there is no political
space for two social-democratic parties in Britain. Labour already exists
as the major engine for social-democratic reform and alternative parties including
the SSP are never likely to be more than ginger groups on the fringe of organised
labour as long as they themselves offer little more than a left social democratic
Most left social-democrats remain in the Labour Party scoring some success
in winning the re-instatement of Ken Livingstone and almost bringing down
the Blair Government over top-up fees. Clearly one of their tasks now is
to fight for the return of RMT and the only way that can be done is by defeating
Blair and his cronies and ensuring that his successors move to speedily
renationalise the railway industry for the benefit of the people as a whole.
Though the Labour Party is dominated by the class-collaborating right wing,
the possibility of their defeat exists as long as Labour retains its organisational
links with the unions that fund it. The defeat of the right wing in most
of the major unions over the past two years shows that this is possible.
Communists must support the continued affiliation of unions to the Labour
Party and the affiliation of those that have already signed up. We want
a democratic Labour Party and a democratic trade union movement. We demand
that the Labour Party reflects the wishes of the millions of affiliated union
members expressed through their democratic procedures and we must fight for
a Labour Party controlled by its affiliates, as originally intended, to build
a powerful instrument for progressive reforms, strengthen organised labour
and benefit the working class.
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