The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 16th May 2003

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by Daphne Liddle

BLAIR’S days in office are numbered. Within the last week he has faced two significant backbench revolts – on foundation hospitals and the future of the fire service. He faces more on tuition fees and House of Lords reform.

A senior member of his Cabinet, Clare Short, has resigned with an acrimonious attack on his leadership and broken promises over Iraq. The judiciary is opposed to his changes in the law and sentencing rules that will breach human rights legislation.

 And the trade unions are becoming more determined in their fight against privatisation and are calling for more democracy within the Labour Party.


Kevin Curran, general secretary elect of the GMB general union, last week put on hold a £40 million package of financial aid for the Labour Party because, he said, Blair’s “love affair with the private sector” is tearing the party apart.

 He said he would reconsider the plan next spring, when the union had completed a review of its links with Labour.

 The Fire Brigades Union is also considering its position on this issue.

 The giant public sector union Unison pays the Labour party £1.5 million a year. But this weekend, at its annual conference in Glasgow, it will consider a motion reviewing its constitutional ties under the “partnership in power” pact, adopted five years ago.

 The motion calls for urgent reform and warns that Labour Party membership is falling and lamenting a “declining interest” among members in taking part in the policy process.

 The motion marks the strong contrast between the “sterility” of Labour’s spring conference in Glasgow and the “vitality” of the Stop the War demonstration outside, which attracted thousands of marchers.

 The motion effectively calls for a restructuring of the policy making process within the Labour Party, to become more continuous and inclusive, with opportunities for greater participation from the membership.

 Unison is particularly critical of Labour’s refusal to abide by its own conference decisions. One resolution urged the Government to restore the link between the state pension and average earnings. Another demanded an inquiry into the private finance initiative.

 Unison’s revolt is targeted not just a Blair, but also Chancellor Gordon Brown and Health Secretary Alan Milburne.

 The rail union TSSA is also considering its relationship with the Labour Party. In recent years the GMB, RMT and CWU have all reduced their contributions to Labour in protest over anti-working class policies.

 The unions have been infinitely patient and willing to negotiate with Blair and his clique but to no avail. He still insists on opening up our remaining precious public services like health and education to the vultures of private enterprise.

 And so he must go. Even his former best friends are aware that he has become a liability and are making their own contingency plans for when he goes, distancing themselves from him and allying themselves to potential replacements. The rats are leaving the sinking ship.

 But the opportunists, like Clare Short, although ready to jettison Blair, want to hang on to his policies and head off the growing revolt within the party, persuading it to settle for a new leader, not much different, such as Brown.

 Blair has publicly admitted that just before the war on Iraq, his career was hanging by a thread because of public opposition.


He had hoped that when that war was quickly brought to the conclusion the imperialists wanted, people would change their minds. He was hoping for the “Falklands factor” that saved the career of Margaret Thatcher.

 But that has not happened. Nobody is much surprised that a giant super-power, armed to the teeth, and its tame ally, Britain, were easily able to smash the defences of an impoverished Third World country and occupy it.

 Other imperialist countries were opposed to this war of greed for oil and the rifts created have left Bush and Blair isolated in the world.

 Thousands of Labour supporters and activists were appalled by the decision to go to war in the teeth of United Nations and popular domestic opposition.

 This includes members of the parliamentary Labour Party, many that once were New Labour “Blair babes” and sycophants. Even they can no longer stomach his servility to United States imperialism and the global finance fat cats.

 Clare Short came to Blair’s aid before the invasion of Iraq, when he faced a possibly damning vote against the war in the House of Commons.

 First she supported him, then changed sides very publicly, making friends within the peace camp. Then she backed down, again publicly, at the crucial moment before the vote, undermining the peace position.

 Now, as Blair again faces the end of his career, she has resigned from the Cabinet, once again appearing to be in the camp of those who oppose Blair. Once again, her role is to confuse the issue and head off the rebellion.


This time she is suggesting that Blair step down, to make “an elegant succession” for Brown to take over – with much the same policies.

 The unions and Labour membership will see through this drama queen act. They want a real change, elegant or otherwise.

 It will not of course be possible to get real socialism from any parliamentary Labour government – that requires a revolution.

 But a revolution requires a confident and organised working class and getting rid of Blair, all his clique and his policies will be a big step towards building working class and union morale. 


The road to nowhere

PALESTINE DAY, on 15 May, marks the beginning of the tragedy of the Palestinian Arabs. On that day in 1948 the British colonial mandate ended and the State of Israel was proclaimed. On that day the first Arab-Israeli war began. It has never ended.

The first war led to the expulsion of a million Palestinian Arabs from their homes by the Zionist regime. Those refugees and their descendants have never given up their right to return to their land. And this is the  heart of the crisis in the Middle East that has led to five wars and continuing simmering conflicts.

This week the American foreign minister Colin Powell is touring the region to promote the so-called Road Map to Peace in the Middle East.  It is little more than a watered-down version of the deal tabled at the American sponsored Camp David talks in 2000 which was rejected by the Palestinians.

 And it is doomed to fail.  This is partly because General Sharon’s reactionary coalition in Tel Aviv is not prepared to make even the modest concessions the proposals demand.  But more importantly it is because the “road map” fails to address the heart of the matter – the Palestinian refugees’ right to return and Israel’s continued illegal occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Syria’s Golan Heights.

The American plan calls on the Palestinians to end their armed struggle and calls on all the other Arabs to cease supporting the Palestinian resistance and normalise their relations with the Zionist entity. In return the Palestinians are offered a “state” with no defined borders but clearly little more than the “autonomous” zones they administered under the previous Oslo agreements and a vague hope that Israel might in the fullness of time evacuate other parts of the West Bank to make this “state” economically and politically viable.  The issue of the refugees is ignored.  But the Sharon government has made it clear that the Palestinian refugees must renounce all their rights if talks are to progress.

wag the dog
The response of Sharon and his cohorts is not surprising. His Likud-led coalition represents the most reactionary elements in Israeli society – the Zionist fanatics and religious bigots who hate and fear the Arabs. But their petty ambitions and dreams are not the driving force of Anglo-American imperialism.

Israel is economically and politically entirely dependent on American imperialism and successive Israeli governments have existed to serve the needs of American imperialism in the region. And those needs are to weaken and divide the Arabs to ensure that the big oil corporations can continue their exploitation and plunder of Arab oil until it eventually runs out.

The tail doesn’t wag the dog and Israel and the American “Zionist lobby” does not dictate American foreign policy. They serve it.  They provide Anglo-American imperialism with a convenient alibi to play the role of “honest broker” in the Middle East. They enable the feudal Arab oil princes whose thrones are propped up by imperialist bayonets to claim that the Arabs’ enemy is not imperialism as such but Israel and this supposedly all-powerful  “Zionist lobby” which pulls the strings in the United States.
In a slightly more sophisticated way, Israel’s ruling circles play the same game claiming to serve a mythical Zionist ideal as a bulwark against persecution. In reality they simply provide imperialism with cannon-fodder for the strategic aims of Anglo-American imperialism. Far from being a Zionist paradise, Israel today is one of the worst places for Jews to live, racked by continuing conflict with Palestinians and economic hardship due to its isolation and total dependency on the United States.

a just peace

Past UN resolutions have provided the basis for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. First of all Israel must totally withdraw from the occupied territories seized in 1967. The Palestinians must be allowed to establish a state of their own on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Palestinian refugees whose homes are now in Israel must be allowed to return or if they so wish be paid appropriate compensation in exchange. All states in the region, including Israel, should have internationally agreed and recognised frontiers guaranteed by all the Great Powers.

Anglo-American imperialism believes it can call all the shots in the Middle East today. The imperialists believe that all resistance can be crushed by brute force and they hope to find willing Arab tools to do their bidding, hoist up the white flag and sign a surrender peace.

But wherever there is oppression there is always resistance. In the Middle East imperialist violence always leads to an equally violent resistance.

Imperialism’s refusal to recognise this has led to the spiral of violence and terror which began in 1948 as a regional war, to a conflict which now spans the whole world. Colin Powell should have pondered this when he walked amongst the rubble of the western compounds bombed in Saudi Arabia this week.

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