The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 2nd December 2005
Welcome To Our Weekly Digest Edition
Please feel free to use this material provided the New Worker
by Daphne Liddle
PRIME MINISTER Tony Blair is
looking more isolated and beleaguered than ever after clashing with
Gordon Brown over future policy on pensions, clashing with the White
House over the leak that Bush wanted to bomb the Aljazeera office in
Qatar and at odds with European leaders over the EU budget.
To add to his woes, the bereaved families of troops killed in Iraq are
calling for a new inquiry into the decision to invade Iraq – which has
growing support from MPs of all parties.
And, according to former welfare reform minister Frank Field,
Blair’s health “will not stand another feud with Brown”. The next day
Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett publicly urged Blair to step
down “to give Gordon Brown time to settle in”.
The biggest clash – this week – has been with Brown over future
policies on pensions. The long-awaited Adair Turner report on the
pensions issue was published last Wednesday – recommending raising the
general retirement age in stages to 69 and restoring the link between
average earnings and the level of the basic state pension.
The first rise of age eligibility, to 67, would come into force in 2020
– affecting everyone born after 1955, or aged up to 50 now.
The average length of life may be growing but even this rise will
ensure that many workers never live to draw any of the pension they
have been paying for all their lives. Countless others will only get a
year or two for retirement after a life-time of toil.
Lower-paid and manual workers will fare worst as recent statistics
confirm that income and class have a huge impact on general health and
But even before the Turner report was published, Brown had made
it known the Treasury would not fund many of the recommendations in it
– including restoring the link between the state pension and earnings.
Brown prefers to continue with the clumsy means-tested pension credit
But Blair is backing the recommendations of the Turner report, as he
announced to the Confederation of British Industry annual conference in
Islington this week – after shifting from the main venue to a hall
across the street because of a peaceful and successful Greenpeace
protest on the roof of the conference hall against proposals to revive
The day before Brown had addressed the CBI conference,
propitiating them by rejecting the agreement signed last month between
the public sector unions and Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnson
which defending the current age 60 retirement for public sector workers
like nurses and teachers.
Never have Blair and Brown been so openly at odds on actual policies –
and neither is supporting working class demands to defend the right to
a decent pension after a lifetime of hard work.
President Chirac of France last week blamed the Blair-Brown war of
succession for the failure of the European Union to finalise an EU
budget agreement during Britain’s six-month presidency of the EU.
Blair is now trying to defend himself by attacking the only
people who can force his resignation – his own party. Labour chief whip
Hilary Armstrong has threatened backbench rebel MPs with expulsion from
And Blair wants to change the party constitution to cut the power
of the unions at the next party conference in 2006.
John McDonnell MP, of the Labour Representation Committee, is
calling for a fight-back. He said: “Labour’s historic commitment to
tackling poverty and inequality has been junked as New Labour refuses
to restore decent pensions, threatens to cut the earnings-tax credit
link, promotes a work until you drop retirement age and now demands a
two per cent pay policy.
“To prevent any organised opposition within Labour Party
structures to this final assault on our party, New Labour is planning
to force through the 2006 Labour Party Conference a reorganisation
which excludes party members and trade unions from any meaningful role
in the policy making and management of the party.
“The time has come to recognise before it is too late the
seriousness of this threat to the very existence of our party and the
“Immediately our task is to mobilise a coordinated campaign
across the trade union movement and Labour Party… We refuse to lie down
and let them destroy our party.”
Nuclear power is back on the agenda. The Government is
conducting an energy review and Tony Blair’s aides insist that no
decision has been made. But it is clear that the entirely bogus public
debate is intended to steam-roller public opinion behind an immensely
costly renovation and expansion of the British nuclear energy industry.
Playing on public concern about climate change, the nuclear fuel lobby
deliberately ignores the hidden costs of nuclear power and never talks
about its dangers. They would have us believe that nuclear power is
safe, clean and cheap hoping that people will now have forgotten the
partial core melt-down at the American Three Mile Island power station
in 1979 and the Chernobyl disaster in the former Soviet Union in 1986.
There are, of course, other options such as the promotion of energy
conservation and promoting non-nuclear greener energy sources.
More Government funding for scientific research and international
co-operation is needed to develop renewable energy sources such as,
solar and tidal power along with energy conservation to reduce
dependency on oil, coal and natural gas.
Nuclear fusion may also provide a safer alternative in the future.
Experimental fusion power generators have been built but so far not one
continuously generates more energy than it uses.
Though the coal industry is now virtually dead Britain still has vast
coal reserves that a planned economy could again develop. Though
British North Sea oil and gas reserves were plundered during the
Thatcher era, oil remains one of the cheapest sources of energy despite
recent price increases. Petrol at the pump would be cheaper than soft
drinks if it wasn’t for the 47.10p tax duty and the 17.5 per cent VAT
levied on every litre in Britain.
The New Communist Party’s position, laid down at the Sixth Congress in
1987, is clear. We are opposed to the construction of any more nuclear
fission power stations and we want the phasing out of all the existing
nuclear fission plants. We want more resources devoted to developing
technology for power generation by nuclear fusion and the development
of an integrated energy policy which uses the massive resources of oil,
natural gas and coal and devotes much greater resources into the
research of new technological applications of these existing sources of
Like all scientific discoveries nuclear energy has both creative and
destructive potential depending on the class that controls it. In
People’s China and Democratic Korea nuclear research serves the people.
In the West it serves the capitalists and their war-machine.
In Britain nuclear power was essentially a spin-off from the drive to
produce atomic weapons. Calder Hall, the world’s first nuclear power
station was designed for the maximum production of weapons-grade
plutonium with the heat for electricity production very much a
The problems and dangers associated with nuclear fission are
qualitatively different from anything else known to humanity.
Plutonium, a radioactive element with a half-life of 24,000 years made
in nuclear fission reactors from uranium, is the most toxic substance
in the world. Waste reprocessing at the Sellafield nuclear power
station made the Irish Sea the most radioactive in the world.
Radioactive waste is produced. stored or dumped in the oceans but it
cannot be disposed of. Future generations will inevitably pay a high
price when they eventually have to tackle the problem.
This is the crux of the matter. Capitalism simply cannot be trusted
with nuclear fission. It is far too dangerous.
To the New Communist Party Page