The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 14th July 2006
The ethnic cleansing of Gypsies
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AGENDA BEHIND NUCLEAR POLICY
by Daphne Liddle
ENVIRONMENTAL 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
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.
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,”
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
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
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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