The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 18th May 2007
Most Labour voters oppose the war
in Iraq -
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LEADERS BETRAY VOTERS
by Daphne Liddle
TONY Blair has set the date for his resignation on 27th June and
MPs and trade union leaders have acknowledged this as a great
opportunity to examine, debate and refresh the Labour Party’s policies.
But, it seems, too few have been willing to put their money where
their mouth is and back a real change. Instead they are bowing their
heads to the perceived inevitability of Gordon Brown’s succession and,
fearing to get into his bad books, they are letting down their
constituents and memberships rather than jeopardise their careers.
This is hardly a new phenomenon and illustrates yet again the
inadequacy of bourgeois democracy to defend the interests of the
As we go to press, John McDonnell MP, the only possible
challenger to Brown’s succession, is 15 MP signatures short of the
minimum 44 that he needs to trigger and election contest and there is
less than 18 hours to the deadline.
So in spite of Brown saying he would welcome a contest and a
proper debate he and the majority of Labour MPs have opted to do the
opposite and to stick with New Labour policies: with privatisation and
with backing George Bush’s disastrous occupation of Iraq.
The McDonnell campaign has been working hard. A letter to the
Guardian from supporters, said: “As a range of MPs, Labour Party NEC
members, trade unionists, councillors, party activists, community
workers, and campaigners, we are asking Labour MPs to nominate John
McDonnell in order to allow a genuine debate about the future direction
of our party.
“We believe that a coronation of Gordon Brown that excludes party
members and trade unionists from having a say will be inconsistent with
the proud democratic traditions of our party. Polls show that an
overwhelming proportion of party members want the chance to participate
in a leadership contest with more than one candidate.
“We welcome John McDonnell’s commitment to a leadership contest
based on policies, not personalities. His grassroots campaign has won
huge support right across the labour movement and has succeeded in
winning large numbers of people back to the Labour Party. Above all, we
believe that having a leader imposed on us without any democratic
mandate will prove to be far more divisive than having a healthy debate
which can only strengthen our party.”
The campaign has also published a manifesto: Another World is
Possible – a social democrat programme that could not deliver that
alternative world under the current bourgeois parliamentary system but
which could have made some important advances for the working class.
Outside Parliament the real class struggle goes on, as ever. And
the changeover from Blair to Brown is still an opportunity to bring
pressure to bear on the Government on vital working class issues.
Union leaders have been calling for change and although their
actions have been a lot weaker than their words, there is every reason
for their members to confront them and hold them to their word on
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis criticised Blair’s record
of “reforming” public services. He said: “It has become all too obvious
that change is being brought about in haste and without any assessment
of whether it will improve our public services for our communities.
“Endless reforms and pointless reorganisations across public
services are sucking away vital resources from frontline delivery.
“As a consequence, the morale of public services workers is low
and urgently needs lifting. This will be a huge challenge for the new
Paul Kenny, the GMB general secretary, said Blair’s departure was
a new opportunity for change. He said: “The challenge now for the
Labour Party is to find a new direction and to restore the idealism,
energy and vision which brought the party to power in 1997 or face
defeat and the political wilderness for a long time.”
The new giant union Unite, formed by a merger between the
Transport and General Workers’ Union with Amicus, called for the party
reconnect with its core supporters.
Tony Woodley, general secretary of the TGWU section of Unite,
said: “Tony Blair’s legacy as an election-winner for Labour and as
someone who did so much to bring peace to Northern Ireland will
unfortunately always be overshadowed by the catastrophe of the Iraq
“Today Labour must look to the future. The debate around the
leadership must focus on those issues which have driven so many voters
away from the party – growing inequality, the loss of manufacturing
jobs, privatisation of public services and, of course, Iraq. If, under
new leadership, the party can reconnect on these issues we can surely
stop David Cameron’s march on Downing Street.”
Joint general secretary Derek Simpson, of the Amicus section of
Unite, said: “Over the next seven weeks the labour movement has a
precious opportunity to re-engage with its core supporters and align
policy with the aspirations of hard working families.
“The new leadership of the party must focus on the easing the
daily struggle that working people face, the struggle for job security,
for decent and affordable housing, for equal opportunity for their
children and for a balance between their working and their family lives.
“The next seven weeks of labour pains should be a rebirth for our
party and our government.”
With or without a leadership contest, genuine labour and trade
union activists must step up the pressure on the new Labour leader to
abandon Blairism and “New Labour” and to deliver an exit from Iraq and
more working class friendly policies at home.
Which side are they
BLAIR HAS FINALLY announced
his impending resignation as Prime Minister and Gordon Brown is now
wooing the British public to support his succession. Given the media
assumption that this is a foregone conclusion we might wonder why he is
bothering but perhaps he is more worried about the challenge from the
left than he pretends. Brown claims he does not believe in spin and
that policies are more important than style – but that claim in itself
is driven by spin.
Brown has suddenly become charming and outgoing and, more to the
point, is hinting there will be real policy changes. He says he will
prioritise housing and has hinted he may drop the mad identity card
system and back off from NHS privatisation. If these hints were true,
he would certainly be a better Prime Minister than Blair.
But what is his record in office as Chancellor? His very first
act was to give the Bank of England control over interest rates; he has
practically halved corporation tax so that the international top
capitalists now regard London as a tax haven. He has doubled spending
on health and education but structured it in such a way that all the
extra money ends up in private business pockets. And he has presided
over debacles in pension funding and the tax credit system.
In 1997 Blair and Brown were elected on a promise to rescue the
NHS from the internal market system introduced by the Tories. They did
so and for a few years it began to improve. Now, with foundation status
trusts, they have reintroduced the internal market. They have saddled
trusts with huge PFI debts and economic penalties for exceeding their
budgets that effectively set them up to fail. They poured NHS money
into private hospitals and treatment centres at the expense of the
Is Brown really on the side of the bosses or the workers? He is
sweet-talking the electorate now and he may even make a few popular
changes initially. But in the long term, big business and the
international global capitalist structures want privatisation
accelerated; they like housing shortages because it puts up house
prices, rents and land values – all sources of great profit.
And even if the police are not so hot on the giant
all-encompassing data base that will back up the ID card system – big
business is drooling over its marketing and sales potential. And of
course it is big business that will build and run the IT system – as it
has done with all other Government IT systems. They hardly actually
need an elected government now to run things when their machines can
micro-manage all our lives.
Brown has kept economic depression at bay on the strength of
spiralling personal debt that has enslaved most of the population,
forcing us all to work long, long hours to pay off our debts. It is a
form of Keynesianism that sees the working class take on the burden of
deficit spending in order to keep the economy going – but it’s a trick
that cannot last long. The personal bankruptcies and home repossessions
are already mounting.
In the long term Brown will do what big business wants. On the
other hand his sole remaining challenger, John McDonnell, has a clear
manifesto of policies that really will benefit the working class,
including the full restoration of trade union rights. Seventy three per
cent of all Labour Party rank and file members want a proper leadership
contest to re-examine Labour’s policies and the majority back the
policies that McDonnell is campaigning for. If the Labour MPs do not
come up with the necessary 45 signatures to trigger a real contest they
will have helped Blair to kill the Labour Party.
Even if McDonnell does not win, the debate and election process
will bring more pressure to bear on Brown to come across with some
improvements for the working class and will reinvigorate the struggle
within the party.
Real change will not come about through Parliament; it will only
come about when the working class in Britain is organised and mobilised
to impose its demands on the ruling class but a win by McDonnell will
lift the morale of every active working class fighter in the country
and bring that day nearer.
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