The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 16th January 2004

Iraqi resistance hits back!

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by Daphne Liddle

PRIME MINISTER Tony Blair last July, immediately after the death of Government scientist Dr David Kelly, told journalists that it was “completely untrue” that he had authorised the naming of Kelly as the BBC’s source of information about the “dodgy dossier” on Iraq’s mythical weapons of mass destruction.

 Sir Kevin Tebbit, the Ministry of Defence’s top civil servant, later told the Hutton inquiry into Dr Kelly’s death that Blair had chaired the Downing Street meeting at which the decision was made to authorise the disclosure of Dr Kelly’’ name.

 Last week in the House of Commons, Tory leader Michael Howard pointed out that one of the two must be lying. On Wednesday 7 January and on Wednesday 14 January he repeatedly questioned Blair on this point.

Blair did not give a straight answer. He replied: “I stand by all that I have said in relation to this issue,” and urged the House to wait for the imminent publication of the Hutton report before debating the issue.

But Howard – described by one commentator as acting like a skilled barrister trying to force a confession and by another as being like headmaster grilling a delinquent schoolboy – just kept repeating the question.

 It appears he is trying to force Blair into some unguarded comment that will be shown to be a lie by the Hutton report.

 Blair has said that if the Hutton report shows he has lied, he will resign. He would have to quit in any case if he can be shown to have lied to MPs about Dr Kelly – or about the alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

 Blair now seems panicked by this prospect.  He might not even attend the Commons debate on the Hutton report.

 Peter Hain, leader of the Commons, last Thursday told MPs that the Government wanted to wait until after the Hutton report had been published before deciding who would open the debate, because ministers did not yet know “where its focus will be”.

 Blair knows this could be his last month in office. He has been acting like a desperate man, trying to win sympathy from the unions with a new cosmetic package of proposals to supposedly protect the employment rights of workers engaged in industrial disputes.

 This means no employer will be able to sack a striking worker without going to the conciliation service Acas first. Unions will be able to sack active racists without fear of compensation claims.

 Employers will be barred from hiring union-busters to intimidate the workforce. And, if workers are locked out by their employers, the lockout will not be counted as part of the eight-week period after which a boss can legally sack a striker.

 Nevertheless this does not extend the eight-week period and the unions rightly point out that this undermines any true legal right to strike.

 Blair has also appeared as a very amateurish disc jockey on London’s local LBC radio, answering questions from the public. Only the questions had to be submitted and vetted in advance.
scares Blair

If one thing really scares Blair, it is meeting working class people face to face in unscripted talk. He lacks the political skills of predecessors like Harold Wilson to think on his feet and cope with hecklers.

 Without his spin-doctor Alastair Campbell, Blair is alone and afraid. Campbell last week admitted he still keeps in touch with Blair on a regular basis – but that is not the same as being at his side all the time. Tory leader Howard knows Blair is scared and is trying to take advantage to build Tory support.

 Blair must go and go quickly, he is a liability to the Labour government.

 Blair has already admitted on last weekend’s Breakfast with Frost programme that he does not know if evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction will ever be found.
fed up

He also hinted that he is getting fed up with the pressure he is under. “I do show fatigue when it is there, but this is a job where a thousand people are kicking your backside morning, noon and night so it is not surprising really.

He does not seem to understand that this is a logical consequence of presenting his backside to the world by ignoring international opinion, international law and majority opinion in Britain by joining with George W Bush in the illegal invasion and rape of Iraq and its oil fields.

 He has also presented his backside to the unions time and again by supporting big business against the workers’ interests and by continuing the privatisation of all Britain’s public assets.
for kicking

His backside will be available for kicking again on 27 January with the Commons vote on the Bill on tuition fees. Already 100 MPs are pledged to vote against this but Blair and Education Secretary Charles Clarke are trying to bully the more timid MPs with threats of resignation and general elections.

 Those MPs must stand firm and take the opportunity now to boot Blair out for good. His cronies like Brown, Blunkett, Clarke and Reid must go with him or it will be no real change.

 We will never get socialism, as we mean it, from a Labour government, but we can do a lot better than Blair.

 And there is a real danger that if Blair is not booted out, Howard will continue to use Blair’s weakness to gain strength for a Tory return. That would be an unthinkable reverse for Britain’s working class. 


The Dis-United States of America

THERE’S GOING to be an American presidential election next November and the two major parties, the Republicans and Democrats, are already firing their first salvoes in the battle for the White House.

 One of the most unexpected bombshells came from Bush’s former Treasury secretary Paul O’Neill, who last week published a book in which he said that Bush had intended to invade Iraq from the moment he took office and used the 11 September attacks as a convenient justification.

 O’Neill describes a “disengaged figurehead president” driven by a hard-line “praetorian guard” of extreme right wingers, led by vice president Dick Cheyney, ready to twist any event to suit their imperialist agenda. He says that long before 11 September the Bush administration was preparing plans to carve up the Iraqi oil fields among the world’s top oil companies. He also says he was never aware of any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

 For the first time, Bush is starting to come under the same pressure that Tony Blair has been feeling for a long time. Their rash adventurism in Iraq has turned the rest of the world against them. While it has helped some of the ruling class – the friends of Cheney, Rumsfeld and so on – it has damaged the interests of many other powerful capitalists and started a trade war with Europe that will damage both sides.

 The US Army War College has also attacked Bush’s “war on terrorism” as “unfocussed” and threatening to dissipate US military and other resources in an endless and hopeless search for absolute security”. It criticised the White House for lumping Iraq and Al Qaeda together as a single, undifferentiated threat.

 Bush is starting to look isolated and vulnerable. If he loses his willing poodle Blair soon, his credibility will sink even lower.

 In desperation, Bush is trying to divert attention by talking of setting up a colony on Mars – fine if he and Blair would be the first and only settlers. This is nonsense – he would have to raise taxes.

  The United States is currently divided into two increasingly divided camps, of fairly equal strength. Another close-call election would be a disaster.

 American public opinion recently has been influenced by the exposures of journalists and broadcasters like Greg Pallast and Michael Moore. Moore’s book Stupid White Men has sold in millions around the world and included an exposure of the way Bush literally stole the presidency from Democrat candidate Al Gore in November 2000. Greg Pallast’s book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy also covered the business links between Bush’s family business and the Saudi oil sheikhs – including the Bin Laden family. Pallast also claims that the Bush administration had curbed American intelligence surveillance of his family’s Saudi friends and this may have added to the look of horror on Bush’s face when first informed about 11 September.

 Both sides in this struggle are capitalists and are driven by the need to make profits. Democrat President Clinton was happy to bomb Iraq to provide a diversion from his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky – but he did have more political understanding than Bush and was not the pawn of the most aggressive right wing warmongers. These monsters are a threat to world peace and the future of the planet and must be stopped.

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