The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 16th July 2004

Workers demonstrate to stop Post office closures with a tank!!!

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by Daphne Liddle

THE LONG awaited Butler report hit the streets at midday on Wednesday and, after the Hutton report in January, no one was surprised that it was a weak affair.

 Its terms of reference – into the intelligence reports behind the Government’s decision to join Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq rather than the political process – doomed it in advance.

 This is why the Liberal Democrats refused to take part in the Butler inquiry from the start and why they are still demanding a proper inquiry into the political process.

  But it did raise some valuable points:

In March 2002 the intelligence available was “insufficiently robust” to prove that Iraq was in breach of United Nations’ resolutions.

British intelligence used a lot of very doubtful sources and did not check them out before using their “evidence” in the case for war. In particular they used evidence provided by exiled Iraqi dissidents who were eager for an imperialist invasion of their country.

The Joint Intelligence Committee, headed by John Scarlett, should not have included the “45-minute” claim in the “dodgy” Iraq dossier presented to Parliament without stating exactly what it referred to. It actually referred to battlefield weapons of limited range, not weapons of mass destruction that could be launched at British targets.

The Butler report found no evidence of “deliberate distortion” of the intelligence material or “culpable negligence”. It must have kept its eyes shut. If launching a war in which thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians have been killed or maimed on the basis of unchecked tall tales from a handful of traitors is not culpable, what is?

The language of the dodgy dossier may have left readers with the impression that there was “fuller and firmer” intelligence behind its judgements than was the case.

Tony Blair’s statement to MPs on the day the dossier was published may have reinforced this impression.

The judgements in the dossier went to the “outer limits” but not beyond the intelligence available. In other words, there was a remote possibility they could be accurate.

It was a mistake to reveal that the JIC had written the dossier because that led to MPs and the public having more faith in it than they should.

No individual was to blame – it was a collective botch-up.

JIC head John Scarlett should not resign his new promotion to head of MI6. This man has carried the can and bailed out Blair throughout both the Hutton and Butler inquiries and deserves a reward for his loyalty.

The report claimed “it would be a rash person” who claimed that stocks of WMD would never be found in Iraq. But it was an even rasher person who started a war on the basis that they did exist.

no remit

• The report found no evidence that the motive of the British Government for initiating military action in Iraq was securing continued access to oil supplies. The remit of the inquiry did not include looking into the Bush family business dealings.

• The report raised concerns about the “informality and circumscribed character” of the Government’s policy-making procedures towards Iraq. John Scarlett and Alistair Campbell were far too close for independence or objectivity.

• The report found that the “style of government” hindered proper debate.

 Butler gave away his reasoning when he said he concluded that Blair could not have been deliberately lying about the WMD because “it would have been very stupid to make a claim that would so quickly be shown to be false” after the war had taken place. Well Blair was stupid. He believed that after the war people would forget about his bogus claims.

 After all it worked over the invasions of Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia. The reasons for these invasions were just as bogus but Clinton, Bush and Blair got away with it because the global ruling class was united behind them.

 But that class was divided over Iraq and its oil and the bogus reasons for going to war were not allowed to drop.

 Blair and his cohorts are now furiously shifting their ground, claiming they never did say that Iraq had WMD that could be deployed within 45 minutes and that never was the real reason for going to war.

 Of course it wasn’t. The real reason was Iraqi oil. But in February 2003 Blair used the lies about Iraqi WMD to pressure MPs to endorse the war.

 Blair claims now the reason for the war was to get rid of Saddam – a regime change that he had earlier admitted would be illegal – and because of Iraqi non-compliance with United Nations weapons inspections.

 Iraq had thrown out US inspectors who were blatantly spying on Iraq’s defences in what both sides knew was the run-up to an imperialist attack on the country.

 The UN itself did not think this “infringement” justified an invasion and refused to endorse it. In any case, at that time Hans Blix and his team of UN inspectors were back in Iraq – not finding any WMD.

  This led many MPs to wonder if military intervention should not be postponed until there was real evidence of Iraqi WMD or UN endorsement of military action.

Blair used the 45-minute claim and deliberately exaggerated claims about the WMDs to create a sense of urgency and pressure these MPs to back him.

 And, as Robin Cook wrote last week, Blair was well aware that Iraq not only did not have WMD – it did not even have usable chemical or biological battlefield weapons. John Scarlett had told both of them that, “in order to evade detection by UN inspectors, Saddam had taken apart the shells and dispersed them – with the result that it would be difficult to deploy them under attack.”

 Blair has now admitted a few mistakes in the way evidence was presented but claims he is not going to “go to the other extreme”. Starting a war on the basis of false evidence is very extreme and very foolish. He must go.


Iraq for the Iraqis

FOR THOSE in the Labour Party who argue that Gordon Brown is sympathetic to the demands of the unions, the sweeping job cuts announced in the Chancellor’s “spending review” this week will have come as a bitter blow. For the rest of us the decision to sack over 100,000 jobs civil servants is no surprise.

Millions were spent to fund British imperialism’s substantial contribution to the American invasion of Iraq. Millions more are being squandered to prop up the futile imperialist occupation in the face of a ferocious resistance. Though the ruling class is openly divided over the Iraq war the one thing they all agree with is that none of them should pay a penny extra towards it. That cost, as always, is being dumped on the working class. All wars have to be paid for and imperialist wars are always paid for by working people. The Iraq war is no exception.

Brown tells us that the devastating cuts will help promote “efficiency” by cutting “waste” and providing much needed funds for the cutting edge of what’s left of the social services. The alternative – increasing income tax for the rich – is unthinkable for the likes of Brown and Blair.

Robbing the poor to help the poor is an old Tory trick played time and time again. This time we have to make sure it fails.

Tony Blair is on his last legs. Not a week goes by without more speculation over the Labour leadership. Blair’s personal standing amongst the people is rock bottom. His credibility over the “dodgy dossier” is in shreds. His promises on education and the health service lie in tatters. Who believes a word he says these days?

 Blair clings on to office with the support of Gordon Brown, who only differs from Blair insomuch as he wants the premiership for himself. Like Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee, Blair and Brown strut along the corridors of power in search of  plaudits from the Tories and those elements of the ruling class in alliance with American imperialism. But they’ve got to the top on the backs of working people who gave Labour the greatest electoral victories in its entire history in 1997 and 2001.

Some union leaders who pose as left wingers continue to act as apologists for Blair, Brown and the rest of the “New Labour” leadership. They worked to head off open challenges at last’ years TUC and Labour Party Conference. Others have taken the principled stand and their numbers are growing.

Resistance within the Labour Party and the unions is becoming more vocal. Opposition to Blair and moves to remove him are becoming more focused. But all this talk about “reclaiming” the Labour Party is meaningless unless the most crawling and class collaborationist elements within it are defeated. The Labour Party is nothing if it doesn’t represent the unions that fund it or the millions of working people who up to now have voted Labour. If the Labour Party is to survive Blair and Brown must be dumped – and dumped now. 

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