The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 14th July 2006

The ethnic cleansing of Gypsies continues

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by Daphne Liddle

groups reacted with dismay last Tuesday to the announcement by Prime Minister Tony Blair that he not only intends to proceed with a new generation of nuclear power stations but also planning laws are to be changed so that their construction can be speeded up.

The announcement came at the end of the Government’s Energy Review – which many critics regard as a set up job, designed to back the decision that Blair had already made.

 The Commons Trade and Industry Committee, a few days before the results of the review were announced, warned Blair not to rush into a commitment to nuclear energy.

 Peter Luff MP, who chairs the committee, said there was a danger that the review would be seen as “little more than a rubber stamp” for Blair’s own views.

 “It is vital that the Government’s energy policy is based on a full consideration of the evidence, and has broad political support – otherwise we risk repeating the mistakes of the past,” he said.

 The Daily Telegraph pointed out that the review took exactly the same facts that were available to the 2002 Energy White Paper but came to opposite, pro-nuclear conclusions.

 Two days before the review was announced there were alarming reports in the press of unexplained cracks in the cores of reactors in Britain’s existing ageing nuclear power stations, with government inspectors warning of increased dangers of explosions.

 Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling presented the review to the House of Commons. He said: “Our analysis suggests that, alongside other low carbon generating options, a new generation of nuclear power stations could make a contribution to reducing carbon emissions from large organisations.”

 Friends of the Earth Director Tony Jupiter described the decision as “a huge mistake”. He added: “Nuclear power is unsafe, uneconomic and unnecessary. We can tackle climate change and meet our energy needs through clean, safe technologies.”

 Greenpeace executive director Stephen Tindale accused Blair of having a “fixation” with nuclear power and for “fatally undermining” green energy policy.

 This was borne out by comments in last weekend’s Observer from Stephen Hale, who recently left his post as special adviser to Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett.
a sham

He described the Energy Review as a sham and said that Blair had “refused to consider the alternatives” to nuclear energy. “The depressing truth is that the review was undertaken primarily to act as a springboard to formally initiate the Government’s nuclear position,” he said.

 So why has Blair railroaded through this complete change of energy policy from three years ago?

 The chiefs of the now privatised nuclear industry say that Blair’s plans for a new generation of nuclear power plants do not go far enough and that they are too vague and will not attract investment.

 What they mean is that, so far, there are not enough opportunities to make as fortune at taxpayers’ expense spelt out. They want also guarantees that if anything goes terribly wrong, it will be the surviving taxpayers who will pick up the bill.

 But the most important reason for Blair’s change of heart comes from pressure from his old friend across the Atlantic to renew Britain’s Trident nuclear weapon system – and to produce more weapons grade plutonium to equip western imperialism’s most powerful weapons.

 The American neo-cons, the most reactionary section of world imperialism, are on the back foot after military fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their main ambition to control all the world’s oil and energy supplies are being thwarted at every turn by Iraq, by Venezuela, by Bolivia, by Russia, by China and by the European Union.

 Suddenly they feel a need to upgrade their big weapons. Meeting the energy needs of ordinary people and protecting the planet have nothing to do with this policy.

 Both Blair and Brown have declared in favour of a renewal of the Trident system, in spite of a report from the cross-party Commons Defence Committee, which said that “The most pressing threat currently facing the UK is that of international terrorism” and “the strategic nuclear deterrent could serve no useful or practical purpose in countering this kind of threat.”

 The committee found no evidence that Britain faced a current or impending threat from any established nuclear weapons state. 

 Nevertheless Blair has made it clear he intends to ensure that Britain keeps its strategic nuclear weapons but has refused to say whether MPs will be allowed to vote on the matter.


Afghanistan: dancing to Bush’s tune

BRITISH imperialism tried to conquer Afghanistan three times in the 19th century and every attempt ended in disaster. Armies of Indian riflemen, sepoys led by British officers, were destroyed by Afghan feudal levies and tribal marksmen in repeated attempts to make Afghanistan part of the Britain’s Indian Empire. This was what Kipling called the “Great Game”; the struggle between British imperialism and Czarist Russia to control Central Asia.

Now a new game is being played, only this time the Americans are calling the shots and the British are the sepoys. Some 4,000 British troops are stationed in Afghanistan and a further 900 re-inforcements will soon be on their way.

The United States invaded the country in 2001 as part of its “war against terror” in the wake of the 11th September attacks on New York and Washington. First of all the Americans claimed they were hunting for Osama bin Laden who supported the Taliban leaders and enjoyed their protection.

Then the American said they were restoring “democracy” when they drove the Taliban out of Kabul. Now we’re told the objective is to destroy the poppy fields that fire the drugs trade that has revived since the fall of the Taliban. But Bin Laden is still at large and the puppet regime in Kabul relies entirely on American support for its survival.

Imperialism’s problems in Afghanistan are entirely of its own making. Anglo-American imperialism was determined to smash the 1978 Afghan revolution from the beginning. The new Afghan government built schools and hospitals for the people. Women were given equal rights. The peasants were freed from feudal bondage.

 But the imperialists poured money and arms into the hands of Afghanistan’s war-lords to bring down the Soviet-backed peoples’ republic. They trained the Mujahideen militias that eventually took Kabul in 1992.

And when the war-lords starting fighting amongst themselves the imperialists encouraged the growth of the Taliban fundamentalist Muslim students’ movement, largely a creation of Pakistani intelligence and Saudi money, which overran most of the country in 1996.

Bush and Blair claim their troops are helping to build democracy in the Afghan mountains but their placeman, Hamid Karzai, relies entirely on their guns to stay in office. Most of Afghanistan’s democratic leaders are long dead, killed in the decades of conflict incited by imperialism. The rest have fled abroad or live uneasily under the protection of one of comparatively “liberal” war-lords in the north of the country.

American imperialism’s game is control of Central Asia’s oil-fields and pipe-lines. When the Taliban wouldn’t play ball they had to go. Unfortunately for the Americans they didn’t go far enough but only to the mountains to regroup and fight another day. Now that day has come.

The sepoys of old fought for money when soldiering was a career in an Empire which the “sun never set”.  Today the British army does Bush’s dirty work in Iraq and Afghanistan in exchange for promises that will never be fulfilled. Blair may think that British imperialism will be rewarded with a slice of the “new world order” when America achieves world domination but that day will never come.

The Afghan people are entitled as anyone else to choose their own leaders and way of life free from outside interference. Imperialist attempts to impose puppet leaders on them and exploit their land for economic and strategic purposes are as doomed as Britain’s efforts were in the Victorian era.

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