The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 13th April 2007




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Lead 

BLAIR: LABOUR’S WORST ENEMY

by Daphne Liddle

THE LABOUR
Party is facing defeat in the coming elections for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly according to current opinion polls and Blair and Brown are blaming each other.

 A poll conducted last week by the Observer newspaper found that, throughout Britain, only 11 per cent are satisfied with the “New Labour” government; more than 60 per cent feel that Blair is out of touch with ordinary people and 58 per cent say that Britain is not a happier place to live since Blair came to power in 1997.

 In Scotland the Scottish National Party has a six-point lead over Labour and the SNP is canvassing on the slogan that this election will be the people’s last chance to give Blair a good kicking.

 The latest reports from Number Ten indicate that Blair is likely to resign within a few days after the elections and this is his last election campaign. He should have been forced out four years ago, since the illegal invasion of Iraq he has been a millstone around Labour’s neck. The New Labour leadership is divided, with the ultra-Blairites now firmly backing David Miliband to take the leadership after Blair resigns, rather than Chancellor Gordon Brown, who has been waiting 10 years for his chance at the helm.

 The rest of the Cabinet are avoiding involvement in an election campaign that is plainly not going to bring any honours to their curriculum vitae.

 The Miliband backers are saying that if Brown cannot win in his home Scotland, he would not be able to win a general election.

 Brown’s chief handicap is his closeness to Blair and all Blair’s disastrous policies in Iraq, the cash-for-coronets scandal and the latest cash-for stories scandal connected to the 15 sailors arrested by the Iranian authorities and released a week ago. Senior figures in the armed forces are saying that the decision to authorise two of the sailors to sell their stories to the tabloid press came from Downing Street, in an attempt to make a propaganda point against the Iranian government, which was clearly winning the propaganda war on this issue.

 But that propaganda war was lost long ago when Britain and the United States resorted to kidnap, torture, humiliation and imprisonment without trial in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib – and when British troops killed civilian prisoner Baha Mousa and others in Basra in 2003.

 The Iranian treatment of their British prisoners was, by comparison, exemplary.

 General Sir Michael Rose, a former Army Adjutant General and director of British Special Forces, said the management of the sailors after their return from Iran had clearly been masterminded from Downing Street.

 “In my view,” he said, “the decision to treat the hostages as heroes from the outset can only have come from Downing Street for I cannot believe that any Service chief would have signed up to a policy that is so ultimately damaging to the military ethos.”

 Many suspect that Blair himself was behind the decision, which has spectacularly backfired, but Defence Secretary Des Browne is carrying the can.

 The whole fiasco certainly seems to be an issue on the doorsteps in Scotland, along with the whole Iraq War and the privatisation of public services like the NHS and education.

 The SNP has pledged in its manifesto to ballot in 2010 for independence for Scotland and this policy is winning support. The SNP is also campaigning against the war in Iraq and against replacing the Trident nuclear missile system.

 This is putting the Scottish Labour activists in an almost impossible position. There can be little doubt that many of them would be happier with a divorce from the Westminster Cabinet.

 Blair seems to be doing everything he can to damage the Labour Party in the short time he has left in power and his squabbling cronies are helping him.

 He is out to destroy the political wing of the organised working class in Britain. The unions must fight back and at the moment the best way to do that is to back the campaign for John MacDonnell to succeed Blair as leader of the party and as Prime Minister.

 McDonnell is committed to withdrawal from Iraq, to scrapping Trident, to ending privatisation and to restoring working class policies within the party. This will not bring what we mean by socialism but it will mark a significant defeat for the Blair-Bush imperialist axis.

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Editorials

On classes and classrooms


THE NATIONAL
Union of Teachers last week called on Black Caribbean parents to shoulder more responsibility for their children’s education, after a major survey reported that they were underachieving in schools. The figures showed that 52.6 per cent of all boys achieved five A* to C grade passes at GCSE while only 41 per cent of black Caribbean boys attained that level. Professor Gus John, author of the report Born to be Great and a black academic from Strathclyde University spoke of a “culture of low expectations” and an increasingly anti-academic culture.

 But statistics, taken in isolation, can be misleading. Other statistics show that when class is taken into account, the worst achievers in our schools are white working class boys. The statistics compiled in Gus John’s report include boys from all classes, including the middle and upper classes who can afford to send their children to private and public schools or to move into the catchment areas of the best state schools.

 When we look at the prospects of young black boys in inner city comprehensives they are low – but so are the prospects of the white boys sitting next to them. It is their class that holds them back – the lack of funding for their schools and in their neighbourhoods; the low pay and long hours worked by their parents and a thousand and one other factors that make working class children generally disadvantaged. The reason that black boys appear to do badly in the statistics is because their parents figure disproportionately among the low-paid working class.

 The anti-academic attitude and culture of low expectations affect working class children of all colours. Blaming black parents will not help. White working class parents, based on their own experiences at school, are also disenchanted with what bourgeois educationalists have to offer. Black and white parents are well aware that giving schools a change of name, a lick of paint and selling them off to the private sector is the state’s way of abandoning them.

 What is needed is a lot more funding going to the schools – not into private pockets – to employ more teachers, so they can reduce class sizes and spend more time preparing lessons that will interest and inspire young pupils of all colours.

 But just as much needs to be done outside the schools. This includes reducing parental working hours so they can spend more time with their children and investing in local community facilities for families to take and active part in affordable leisure activities together.

 Another significant statistic that came out last week was the high level of youth unemployment in our inner cities – and this is one area where black youths still do suffer from racist discrimination. And a high proportion of the jobs on offer in inner city areas are poor quality, low-paid McJobs. Children will not be motivated to knuckle down to studying is they do not believe their prospects justify the effort.

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Stop the fascists

The British National Party last week announced it is to stand a record 880 candidates in the May local elections and they believe they can win 100 seats. John Cruddas, the MP for Dagenham where the BNP won 11 seats last year, has warned that the fascists are targeting poorer areas and hoping to take votes from Labour.

 The anti-fascist organisation Searchlight has identified 92 wards that could fall to the BNP.

 The most effective way of stopping this happening is to join the growing army of active anti-fascists and trade unionists going door-to-door, countering the lies and disinformation that the BNP canvassers are telling people on their doorsteps. It is important that every one of our readers who can should join them. Contact the campaign on the www.hopenothate.org.uk

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