The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 18th June 2004

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by Daphne Liddle

TONY BLAIR’S reaction to last week’s disasters at the poll has been to tell MPs they must “hold their nerve” and “see it through”. The man is unhinged. He has lost all contact with reality and is stubbornly, arrogantly refusing to accept the verdict of the British electorate that his policies in Iraq – and at home – have been a total disaster.

 All sections of the Labour Party – in parliament, the constituencies and the unions – must now work together to find a way of getting rid of him or he will destroy the party.

 Labour’s overall performance in last Thursday’s ballots was the worst for nearly a century. Labour activists reported that the catastrophe of Iraq dominated complaints against the party during canvassing.

MP Glenda Jackson, speaking for many other former ministers and backbenchers, said: “From his response so far, Tony Blair is incapable of hearing what was said to him loudly at these polls. But it’s not MPs he needs to reassure – it’s the electorate.

“How dare he say to the hundreds of councillors that have lost their seats to ‘hold your nerve and see it through’,

 “The issue is Iraq – it was his war, it was his misjudgement – and he should resign.”

 In spite of the efforts of UKIP, Iraq remained the biggest issue hanging over the European elections in Britain. In Italy Berlusconi, Blair’s fellow Bush lackey, was also given a good kicking by his electorate for his support of the illegal invasion of Iraq.

Labour lost more than 450 council seats; they lost Newcastle and Leeds and Burnley and Cardiff and Ipswich and Swansea and others.

 Deputy premier John Prescott admitted the electorate had given Labour “a good kicking”.

 Robin Cook, who resigned as Foreign Secretary over the issue of Iraq, pointed out that, “Out there, there are a lot of people who withheld their Labour vote because they disagreed with what we did in Iraq.”

 He warned that the “kicking” is not confined to a mid-term protest or blip of Labour fortunes. “If we are to win these people back, it’s not enough to simply say we are holding our nerve, we are seeing it through.”

 Cook also warned that the voters will not elect Labour again if they believe it would do exactly the same again in a similar situation.

He called for a public apology from Blair, an admission that Iraq has been a big mistake.

 But he is unlikely to get it. Blair has told the party he has no intention of changing course. He is still clinging to an illusion that after the pretended hand-over of power in Iraq to Bush’s puppet Iraqi collaborators, the issue will somehow go away and be forgotten by the next general election.

 He did concede that there were “lessons we have got to learn” – and angered his MPs even more.

 “Who the hell does Blair think he’s talking to?” said one angry MP. “We have lessons to learn? He has repeated time and time again that he has to do what he feels is right. But now ‘we’ have lessons to learn.”
no prospect

Clare Short, the former international development secretary, expects far less than Cook. She believes there is no prospect of Blair admitting to any error over the Government’s military backing for a US invasion of Iraq.

 Blair still cannot admit that Iraq did not have any weapons of mass destruction and three weeks ago said he thought they would still be found – a remark that earned him the description “delusional” from David Kay, the former head of the Iraqi survey group.

 “The electorate is sending a message to Tony Blair,” said Clare Short, “because the Labour Party is incapable of correcting him. What he did in Iraq has brought disgrace and dishonour to Britain around the world. As Tony Blair won’t change the policy, the only way to make a correction is for him to step aside from the leadership.”

 Blair’s spin doctors in Number Ten are beavering away, trying to produce a “re-launch” of Blair, with major speeches on domestic reform and a three-year spending review announced within a fortnight.
They hope to improve his standing by the Labour party conference in September. It cannot work. His reforms are all to do with further privatisation of the public sector.

 His boasts about maintaining independence from the European Union all consist of protecting British fat cats from European labour laws.

 He is hoping to keep the right-wing press on his side as in previous elections.

 Every time he opens his mouth he shows his contempt for the working class – the majority of voters.

 He can only damage Labour’s standing in the polls even more. Yet if the Labour Party were to get its act together, with a vote of no-confidence in the Parliamentary party, the Cabinet or at September’s conference, they could rid the party and the country of the Tory cuckoo in the workers’ nest – Tony, his New Labour clique and their Tory policies.

 The whole working class movement would be wonderfully strengthened and encouraged.


Blair gets a good kicking

NOT EVEN the finest talents of Blair’s merchants of spin could do anything but concede that Labour suffered an immense defeat in the regional and European polls last week. Labour lost over 460 council seats and eight councils including former northern strongholds like Newcastle and Leeds. And though Labour held the London Assembly that was clearly due to the leadership of anti-war campaigner Ken Livingstone, so recently returned to the Labour fold.

Despite the higher than average turnout it was the worse Labour vote since 1910 and the major beneficiaries have been the Liberal Democrats and the Tories. Now not even Labour’s chiefs can deny that the slump in Labour’s fortune is due to the disastrous and criminal war in Iraq.

Many Labour supporters sat on their hands in protest at Blair & Bush’s war and others swung to the Lib Dems cashing in on their anti-war position. Though the Greens made some marginal gains the dismal and predictable failure of George Galloway’s Respect coalition demonstrated once again the futility of a social-democratic challenge outside the parameters of mainstream British social-democracy.

It was more or less the same in the worthless European elections, though this time the major beneficiary was the vociferously anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) that garnered the votes of neanderthal right-wingers and Tory Eurosceptics to bag 12 seats in the Strasbourg parliament.

What it shows is that the vast majority of the population is opposed to the imperialist war in Iraq. It also shows that a similar majority, if you combine the UKIP vote with the millions who boycotted the EU poll altogether, are opposed to the EU parliament and the institutions of the European Union.

Blair is trying to brazen it out with Dunkirkian platitudes like “holding our nerve and seeing it through” in the hope that the public will forget all his lies over Iraq when the general election comes. Well it’s not going to happen and Labour cannot afford to risk the return of the Tories to continue to carry this albatross around their necks. Blair and his cronies must be dumped and a new leadership elected that will reflect the just demands of millions of working people in Britain for peace and social justice.


Let the Iraqis choose!

Back in occupied Iraq the miserable farce of a “hand-over” is set for the end of the month. Anglo-American imperialism may have hoped to fool the world into thinking that a changing the titles of their puppets represents a significant step towards Iraqi independence. But it hasn’t fooled anyone least of all the Iraqis whose determined resistance is striking at will, gunning down puppet ministers in the streets, and hitting the occupation army and its hirelings wherever it can find them.

The new “government” of hand-picked stooges has no more independence than Vichy France or Vidkun Quisling’s Norway during the Nazi occupation.

Apologists for Blair and Bush babble on about whether the puppet regime can or cannot veto the day-to-day operations of the occupation army in an attempt to give the collaborators some sort of credibility. Given the fact that the British and American people themselves had no say in the decision to go to war or the conduct of the occupation forces, it’s hard to imagine any Iraqis being consulted, least of all this bunch of Iraqi spivs and traitors chosen by Washington.

Millions upon millions of people all around the world support the battle for Iraqi independence. All Anglo-American forces must be withdrawn unconditionally from Iraq to pave the way for genuine free elections and an Iraqi government chosen by the Iraqi people. Their cause is just. They will surely win.

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