The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 16th May 2008
Soviet memorial day in London
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GORDON’S PANIC PACKAGE
by Daphne Liddle
PRIME MINISTER Gordon Brown last Wednesday made a statement in
the House of Commons promising a series of Bills and measures to “help
family finances” at a time of rising living costs and unemployment,
coupled with an accelerating housing crash.
It followed and announcement by Chancellor Alistair Darling made
the day before, outlining a £2.7 billion package of tax cuts to
compensate for people on low incomes who will suffer from the
withdrawal of the 10 pence tax rate.
Both measures are designed to stem the dramatic fall in popular
support for Labour since the full implications of the 10 pence tax
fiasco broke last month.
And they come against a background of growing economic disasters
that combine rising inflation with economic stagnation – the result of
a global economic crisis that the Labour government can do very little
The Governor of the Bank of England on Wednesday announced what
he called “the end of the nice decade”; inflation will rise to about
four per cent, with household energy bills rising another 15 per cent;
house prices are crashing and the value of wages will fall.
It is virtually unprecedented in recent years for a government to
announce major tax and policy changes except through the annual Budget
or Queen’s Speech and the decision to do both now marks the level of
panic within the Cabinet.
Darling’s tax package will give a £120 tax cut to 17
million basic-rate taxpayers. He will raise personal tax allowances by
£600 so that anyone earning up to £40,835 this year; it
will be backdates to April. The Tories described it as a blatant
Brown’s new measures include:
• Allowing the Bank of England, Treasury and Financial Services
Authority to intervene earlier to prevent bank crashes like Northern
• A new savings scheme for the low-paid with Government contributions;
• New powers of local authorities to levy a surcharge on business rates
to fund local economic development;
• More public access to the coastline with more leisure activities
• Simplifying the management of historic sites;
• Promoting “fair” access to schools, improving the performance of the
weakest schools and giving parents the rights to regular information on
their child’s progress;
• Giving workers the right to demand training;
• Simplifying laws on equality and discrimination;
• More flexible working rights for parents.
There are many other measures proposed. The descriptions of these
measures use bland, populist phrases and clichés – it is
impossible to assess their worth quickly.
But we suspect the “improvements” for hospitals and schools will
include yet more involvement of the private sector and will have the
Furthermore we have to ask whether any of these measures will have any
meaning at all, given the huge swathes of job cuts that have cut
hundreds of thousands of workers from the civil service – who will
there be to carry out the measures?
And some of the proposed measures, like the Geneva
Conventions and United Nations personnel Bill, sound potentially
The whole exercise is cynically designed to win electoral
support; yet we have to hope it succeeds in that at least because the
alternative is a return to Tory rule, which would be even worse.
As John McDonnell of the Labour Representation Committee pointed
out, there is little point now in calling for a change in the Labour
leadership – there is no one in the higher echelons of the party who
would be any better than Brown.
If Labour wants to win the next general election it will have to
rediscover why the party was formed in the first place and bring in
policies that will genuinely help the working class. We’ve had more
than enough hot air and spin.
But the dire situation the working people of this country are now
facing – inflation, unemployment, falling wages, increasing house
repossessions – brings home the total inadequacy of this bourgeois
parliamentary system to meet the needs of the workers.
There is no one that workers could vote into Parliament who would
be able to prevent the coming economic storm, which is an integral part
of the capitalist system. Parliament cannot control capitalism; it is
the other way round.
Capitalist storms are not like the weather; the system was
created by human beings – rich and powerful human beings – for the
protection of their power and wealth. And it can be brought down by
other human beings, by the workers who create that wealth and the power
Only workers themselves, by organising to get rid of this mad
system and replace it with socialism, can create a government of
workers for the benefit workers.
CYCLONE Nargis has brought
flooding and destruction to Myanmar, the former British colony once
known as Burma, that has followed the path of strict neutrality and
non-alignment since independence in 1948. Tens of thousands have died
and over a million people have been left destitute by the cyclone that
swept through Myanmar on 2nd May.
The Myanmarese army has set up relief camps for the homeless and relief
supplies from home and abroad are been delivered by trucks, helicopters
and boats. Some of it is being air-dropped in flooded areas where the
helicopters cannot touch down while healthcare workers are moving into
the villages to provide medical treatment for the survivors.
The ruling military State Peace and Development Council has welcomed
emergency supplies from abroad to assist in the relief work but will
not accept “aid” teams from imperialist countries because it fears,
quite rightly, that they will be infiltrated by intelligence agents
bent on undermining the regime.
Myanmar’s neighbours respect the government’s stand and have rushed aid
to the capital, Yangon, to assist the Myanmarese people. Planes packed
with medical supplies and relief goods from People’s China, India,
Indonesia and Thailand have been landing for over a week to help the
Myanmarese in their efforts to deal with the crisis. One American
supply plane has also been allowed to land under strict supervision.
But aid from Britain and the United States has been delayed because the
imperialists are insisting on their presumed “right” to oversee its
management and distribution.
US imperialism is the least qualified to lecture people about disaster
management after the incompetent way it responded to Hurricane Katrina
which devastated New Orleans in 2005. The Bush administration refused
to accept material aid from other countries including Cuba and
Venezuela to help the people of New Orleans who had been virtually
abandoned by the federal authorities. But Washington bleats on about
its “right” to send whatever “aid” it chooses overseas to step up the
imperialist campaign for regime change in Myanmar.
The bourgeois media and the “human rights” gang are banging the
imperialists’ drum branding the Myanmarese government as a military
junta to imply it has no legitimacy and to support an opposition
movement that is openly backed by Western governments. This is from the
same people who would routinely call any dictator in the pay of
imperialism, like General Musharraf of Pakistan, by their assumed title
and describe their Iraqi puppets as the “government” of Iraq.
During the Cold War the imperialists grudgingly accepted Myanmar’s
strict neutrality which applied to the Soviet Union as much as the
West. A Myanmarese diplomat, U Thant, even served as Secretary General
of the United Nations from 1962 to 1972. But when the Cold War ended
with the collapse of the Soviet Union the imperialists saw Myanmar as
an obstacle to their “new world order”. They want to exploit Myanmar’s
strategic location in the heart of south-east Asia and open it up for
the benefit of the big Western corporations eager to plunder its
The Myanmarese people have the right to choose their own way of life
and their own form of government. They don’t want outside interference,
least of all from the imperialists.
While the imperialists shed crocodile tears over the plight of the
Myanmarese people who are the victims of a natural disaster, they say
nothing about the tragedies of their own making in Iraq where over a
million Iraqis have perished since the Anglo-American invasion in 2003,
or the plight of the millions of Palestinian refugees driven from their
homes by the Zionists and their imperialist masters. If the British
government and the Western aid agencies genuinely want to help the
people of Myanmar they should simply send in material aid and let the
Myanmarese get on with the relief work on the ground.
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