The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 18th July 2003
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Palestinian children calling for the release of over 6000 political prisoners
held by the Israelis
NO CHANGE OUT OF SHARON
by our Arab Affairs Correspondent
Tony Blair’s attempts to project himself as an international
power-broker took a further dive with a round of pointless talks with Israeli
premier Ariel Sharon in London on Monday.
The Blair government had assured its diminishing band of Arab friends that
the imperialist attack on Iraq would soon be followed by a dramatic new initiative
to solve the Palestinian question. All they got was a largely meaningless
“road-map” and immense pressure to accept and police a ceasefire in return
for the usual worthless platitudes the Arabs have heard for over 30 years.
General Sharon probably got the better deal out of his three days in Britain.
He’s got very few friends in western Europe these days so any trip abroad
boosts his standing at home – at least with his own supporters. But the hardline
Zionist leader saw no reason to go beyond his previous stated position towards
the Palestinians in the talks in London – which is to offer them next to nothing
on a take it or leave it basis.
What both men would agree on is Iraq – which fortunately for Sharon is not
an Israeli problem at the moment. While Tel Aviv did nothing to disguise its
delight at the downfall of the Saddam Hussein government, Israel avoided any
direct involvement in the invasion and occupation of Iraq – an occupation
which is going so badly wrong for British and American imperialism.
Since 1 May, when the Baghdad government fell, the British contingent in
Iraq has been reduced by more than half to some 11,000 troops stationed mainly
around the port of Basra. American forces have been beefed up to more than
cover the deficit and there’s now over 148,000 US troops in Iraq.
And those American troops are increasingly coming under fire from the resistance
which has risen from the ashes of the old Iraqi Baath party and its allies.
According to the Pentagon 266 imperialist troops have been killed since
the war began in March and over a thousand have been wounded.
This week the guerrillas have marked the anniversaries of the republican
revolution in 1958 and the Baathist revolution of 1968 with deadly attacks
on American patrols throughout central Iraq and in the heart of the capital,
Hit and run raids together with attacks by individual snipers and commandos
are now routine and the American governor, Paul Bremer, has been unable to
Last weekend Bremer managed to get his puppet “interim council” up and running
– a motley collection of pro-American Iraqi exiles, has-beens and nobodies
– which theoretically will provide the basis for a new Iraqi government.
The “council” which has yet to agree a leader has no real powers and no
authority in a country seething with anger at the American occupation. And
it will have no legitimacy in the Arab world or internationally. “If this
council was elected it would have gained much power and credibility,” Amer
Moussa, the head of the Arab League, declared last Sunday.
Most Iraqis, including many who had no time for him when he was in power,
believe that Saddam Hussein is still alive and personally leading the resistance.
What is certain is that a determined underground army has been set up along
the lines of the FLN which drove the French out of Algeria with the active
support of the people in central Iraq.
While no-one knows who is leading the resistance, one partisan leader who
called himself “Khaled” told the media that it was a loosely organised front
drawn from the Saddam Fedayeen Youth, former soldiers and members of nationalist
movements based on underground cells.
“We know each other and we have ways of communicating with one another.
The Americans made a big mistake by thinking that we all disappeared after
the war,” Khaled said. “The advantage we have over the American soldiers
is that we believe in our cause and they don’t. We’re willing to die and
they’re afraid of death. That’s why we’re going to win”.
A poke in the eye for Blair
Tony Blair got a slap in the face this week
when thirteen other social-democratic leaders from Africa, Europe and Latin
America rejected the Prime Minister’s attempt to endorse the new imperialist
principle of military intervention in “failed” states.
The pompously titled “Progressive Governance Summit”, which met in
Surrey last weekend, brought together the leaders of Argentina, Brazil,
Canada, Germany, Sweden and South Africa as well as others from Europe and
Africa. And while they all had to put up with the usual New Labour platitudes
about “modernisation” and “radical reform”, they firmly rejected Blair’s attempt
to get backdated endorsement of the invasion of Iraq and a blank cheque for
future acts of aggression. The summit instead inserted a clause upholding
the role of the UN Security Council as “the sole body to authorise global
action in dealing with humanitarian crises”. The “Third Way” is unravelling
internationally almost as quickly as it is at home.
At home Labour MPs have gleefully voted for a complete ban on fox-hunting
in England and Wales against the wishes of their leader. The Tories claim
this is a class issue and they are right on this occasion. Blair &
Co can bleat on for as long as they like about compromising with a largely
mythical “Middle England” and its rural pursuits but the root of the matter
is ending a “sport” which should have been banned years ago.
Working class “blood sports” like cock-fighting, bear-baiting and dog-fights
were all banned in the nineteenth century because of the cruelty to
the animals involved and the gambling which accompanied it. Chasing
a fox across the countryside and tearing it to bits by a pack of hounds was
exempted because this was a sport of the country gentry and the rich and therefore
The argument that abolition would lead to destitution in rural areas is
plain nonsense and if it were true the Government could easily remedy it
by pumping money into popular sports like horse racing and show-jumping.
A crucial third
The Government’s plans to end the automatic right to trial by jury have
be defeated in the House of Lords by a coalition of Labour rebels, Liberal
Democrats and Tories all concerned at this threat to basic rights that people
have taken for granted for centuries.
The new Criminal Justice Bill seeks to abolish jury trial in complicated
fraud cases or where the police believe there is a high risk of jurors being
intimidated. Strip aside the Home Secretary’s patronising arguments and what
are you left with?
The theory that trials can only be judged by the judge is based on the principle
that certain laws are beyond the understanding of ordinary people and the
hidden class logic that while some or all of the jurors can be bribed or intimidated,
one judge cannot.
It’s absolute nonsense. It’s a matter for the barristers and the judge to
make the issues clear to jurors during the trial. Once the right to
trial by jury for all serious offences goes in one category than it will go
in all. The right to trial by jury must be defended.
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