The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 17th March 2006
Farewell to Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade
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HAS WALKED OUT ON LABOUR’
by Daphne Liddle
PRIME MINISTER Tony Blair “effectively resigned as leader of
the Parliamentary Labour Party” on Wednesday night according to a
statement by Labour MPs who belong to the Labour Representation
They were speaking just after Blair had succeeded in getting his
controversial Education Bill through the House of Commons by 458 votes
to 115 – but only with the backing of the Tory opposition.
John McDonnell MP, who chairs the LRC, said that Blair had
undermined his own authority and lost the party’s confidence by relying
on Tory support against his own backbenchers.
“Tonight the Prime Minister has walked out on the party and
effectively resigned as leader,” said the MP for Hayes and Harlington.
Fifty-one Labour backbenchers voted against the Bill. This would
have been enough to defeat it if the Tories had opposed it.
At one stage the Tories were divided, some of them wanted to
force a Government defeat even though the Bill was solidly in line with
The prospect of Tory leader David Cameron deciding to vote
against the Bill scared Blair so much that, in the Commons, he accused
Cameron of failing to keep his backbenchers united against it – an
irony that had the whole House laughing.
But Cameron is not yet ready for the snap election that a
Government defeat on this flagship Bill might provoke if Blair handed
the reins of premiership to Gordon Brown tomorrow.
So the Tories backed Blair, adding weight to the view expressed
by many that Blair is “the best Tory leader since Thatcher”.
But troubles are rising on every side for Blair. For a third time
the House of Lords has amended the Identity Cards Bill so that it will
not become compulsory for those applying for a new biometric-style
passport to have the details entered on the national identity base
until after another general election.
This will add costly delays to the compiling of this sinister,
all-embracing database that will underpin the ID cards and the close
monitoring of everyone in the country.
New scandals are erupting around Blair’s leadership of the Labour
Party after elected party officials accused Blair of keeping them in
the dark about large loans to the party from various tycoons – many of
whom have since been granted peerages.
Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of the Transport and
General Workers’ Union and Labour Party treasurer, has said he was not
informed about secret loans made to the party in the run-up to last
year’s general election.
Dromey has launched a probe into the loans, which are now at the
centre of a “cash-for-peerages” scandal. And he has called on the
Electoral Commission to investigate the decision to accept the money,
including a £1.5 million loan from Dr Chai Patel, who is now
complaining because he has not yet been awarded a peerage.
Dr Patel owns a chain of residential care homes which have been
the subject of controversial claims.
And the scandals around financial affairs of Culture Secretary
Tessa Jowell’s husband continue to reverberate.
But Blair is not the only one in trouble. Gordon Brown is also
in hot water after Parliamentary Ombudsman Ann Abrahams ruled that the
Government – and in particular the Treasury – were guilty of misleading
workers over the security of final salary occupational pension schemes.
This could lead to a£5 billion compensation claim by 85,000
workers who lost their pensions when their employers went bankrupt.
Unions representing these workers will be presenting their case for
compensation to the European Court of Justice next spring.
When Blair came to power, he promised to put an end to Tory
privatisation policies and Tory sleaze. He has done the opposite and
Brown has helped him. They must both go and make way for a more honest
Death in The Hague
WESTERN politicians could
barely conceal their glee at the news of the death of Slobodan
Milosevic, who died of an alleged heart attack last Saturday. But
they’ve been shamefacedly silent about the circumstances surrounding
his death in the Dutch prison of the “International Court” set up by
imperialism to try him for war-crimes.
The former Yugoslav leader had been suffering from high blood pressure
and other heart problems for some time – brought on largely by the
conditions of his detention and the stress of having to defend himself
in the kangaroo court for the past four years. Milosevic complained
about the treatment he received from the doctors assigned by the court,
while doctors he trusted were not allowed to see him.
Two weeks ago Milosevic asked to be transferred to Moscow for an
examination by Russian specialists. The Russian Government pledged that
he would be returned to the court after any course of medical treatment
in Moscow. This was denied. Milosevic wrote to the Russian Foreign
Minister complaining that he was being prescribed drugs only used for
treating leprosy or tuberculosis. He feared he was being poisoned.
On Saturday 11th March Milosevic was found dead in his cell at the
International Court’s complex in Scheveningen. Though the cause of
death was put down to a heart attack a Dutch doctor says he found
traces of drugs in Milosevic’s blood which may have neutralised the
treatment prescribed for his heart conditions. Bizarrely, this doctor
suggests Milosevic may have been deliberately taking unauthorised drugs
as part of ploy to get transferred to Moscow for treatment. Equally
bizarre is the suggestion from the chief United Nations war crimes
prosecutor that the former Yugoslav president may have taken his own
life to avoid being condemned and sentenced to life imprisonment. There
is, of course, a more obvious explanation.
In any other circumstances an independent investigation would have to
proceed, to rule out foul play. Milosevic’s son believes his father was
murdered and four Russian doctors have been sent by Moscow to The Hague
to conduct their own autopsy.
We are repeatedly told by the imperialist media that Slobodan Milosevic
was the first head of state to be tried for crimes against humanity.
What is rarely admitted is the fact that there is nothing in the UN
Charter that gives authority to the UN Security Council to set up a
body like the “International Criminal Tribunal on the Former
Yugoslavia” in the first place.
Though the Yugoslavia he led, which consisted of Serbia and Montenegro,
was defeated by American and European imperialism in 1999, the war
ended with a negotiated settlement for Kosovo that was never honoured
by Nato. Though the fighting ended, the campaign to remove the Yugoslav
and Serbian leader who continued to be an obstacle to imperialist
designs for the Balkans continued. Western money was pumped into the
hands of venal Serbian politicians willing to dance to their tune.
Milosevic was defeated in the 2000 elections and arrested at gun-point
in 2001 to be packed off to this war-crimes tribunal.
Now the Milosevic case is closed. Though the former Yugoslav leader had
barely begun to rebut the so-called evidence against him, his assumed
guilt was taken for granted by the imperialist media from the day he
was kidnapped and taken to The Hague. Now’s he gone, the man who led
Yugoslavia when it was defying the might of US and European imperialism
during the 1990s is presumed guilty by those who imprisoned him.
While the war-crimes condoned by the leaders of imperialism and their
lackeys have gone unpunished throughout the existence of the United
Nations the Yugoslav leader was singled out for exemplary humiliation
and punishment by his enemies for daring to stand up to them. This is
what the imperialists call justice.
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