The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 21st April 2006




80th Anniversary of the General Strike

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Lead

BLAIR UP TO HIS NECK IN SLEAZE

by Daphne Liddle

NEXT MONTH’S
local elections are approaching fast and every day brings new trouble, sleaze and scandal to Tony Blair’s doorstep, worsening the prospects for Labour in those elections.

Scotland Yard is investigating the “cash for honours” scandal after a Sunday Times journalist, posing as a possible financial backer of the Government’s sponsored academies policy – handed over a taped conversation he had with former academies adviser Des Smith.

 Smith is a former headteacher from Dagenham, who allegedly told the journalist that David Miliband was worth approaching “for a knighthood”. He is also alleged to have told the reporter that for a donation of £10 million “you could go to the House of Lords”.

 This comes exactly a month after Labour Treasurer Jack Dromey accused Blair and his New Labour clique of keeping him in the dark about loans made to the party of millions of pounds in the run-up to last year’s general election.

 This move circumvented anti-corruption laws introduced by Blair himself in 1997 which outlawed large undisclosed donations to political parties from people hoping for peerages.

determination

The new scandal is centred on Blair’s determination to push his Education Bill through Parliament in the face of serious opposition from his own backbenches. Already he has had to depend on Tory support to get the Bill through its first reading.

 He wants some new sympathetic peers in the House of Lords to ease the Bill’s passage there.

 The reforms will break the link between state schools and elected local education authorities. They will allow rich individuals, companies and religious pressure groups to sponsor schools for up to £2 million. The state (taxpayers) will provide the rest of the funding – usually in the region of £10 million upwards.

 But the sponsorship deal will allow the sponsors to dictate the schools policies on curriculum, discipline, admissions and budgeting.

 There are already 27 sponsored academies – some of which are run by fundamentalist Christians who teach children that creationism is an equally valid “theory” with evolution.

 The Government wants to create 200 more of these academies by 2010. Seven academy sponsors have already been rewarded with honours.
 
questioning

Police are currently questioning Labour Party fund-raiser Lord Levy about the “cash for honours” allegations and there is much speculation about how long it will be before they question Blair. But Blair has to be at the centre of this scandal because it is the Prime Minister who has ultimate say on who makes it on to the list of nominations for peerages.

 Blair has turned on his critics and asserted that those who have sponsored academies are worthy of peerages as educational philanthropists – and their specialist expertise is needed in the House of Lords to guide the Education Bill through.
 
experts

During the enclosure movement of the 18th century – when Britain’s common land was privatised – the ruling class argued that only rich landowners should be allowed to speak or votes in debate on enclosure motions – because they were deeply involved in enclosing land they were natural experts on the issues involved. Popular opposition was outlawed and crushed.

 It’s a bit like making the mafia responsible for drawing up legislation on corruption on the grounds that they are the experts!
 
not allow

Blair must not be allowed to get away with this.

 Now another scandal is about to hit Blair as MPs consider launching an inquiry into the current financial crisis in the NHS.

 Dozens of hospitals are set to close and around 7,000 hospital jobs are going. Meanwhile family doctors are being paid £250,000 a year and PFI companies are raking in millions.

 Blair and Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt are at last admitting that their reforms of the NHS “have reached a crunch point” but insist that “we must keep our nerve” and that the reforms are on course.

 It’s only just beginning to dawn on some MPs that the purpose of the reforms is to destroy the NHS as we know it, and turn it into a small administrative body that sends people to private hospitals and clinics for treatment. The Education Bill is designed to do the same thing to state education.

 Blair should have been thrown out long ago – before he joined in the invasion of Iraq. But only the Parliamentary Labour Party and the trade unions have the power to do that. We call on all our readers to contact their MPs and union leaders and urge them to act before it is too late.

 *************
Editorial

A tale of two London boroughs

ANTI-FASCIST and anti-racist campaigners all over Britain have, for the last few weeks, been pounding pavements on countless housing estates, delivering leaflets and newsletters and speaking to voters on their doorsteps to convince them not to vote for the fascist British National Party. This is not difficult.

Once voters are told who and what the BNP is and the lies told by the BNP are explained and refuted, only a tiny, tiny handful would ever support them. The vast majority of the working class in Britain are not racists or fascists.

 And it is not difficult to find volunteers to do this work – much easier than to find people willing to canvass votes for Blair’s New Labour. Many are trade union activists and campaigning against the BNP can involve people from a wide political spectrum from the left fringe to Tories.

 But this weekend these valiant volunteers all felt as though they had been stabbed in the back by remarks from Barking Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who claimed that eight out of ten voters in the estates she has canvassed in her constituency have considered voting BNP. This is an enormous exaggeration and an insult to the working class people of Barking. But more reliable research by the Joseph Rowntree Trust and by Searchlight anti-fascist magazine puts the figure of those considering voting BNP at between 20 and 30 per cent – which is quite high enough to raise real concerns.

 The BNP has targeted the area, as it has the neighbouring borough of Dagenham but there is a different story in Dagenham. Dagenham Labour MP Jon Cruddas has a long and honourable record of leading the anti-fascist campaign in Dagenham, of going round on the doorstep, talking to people and taking up their concerns. Consequently support for the BNP in Dagenham in last year’s general election was less than half what it was in Barking.

 Hodge has never done this door to door work until now. Like too many of the New Labour elite, talking to ordinary people was beneath her. Now suddenly she is crying that Labour has neglected the needs of the white working class and thousands of people are going to vote for the fascists in protest.

 New Labour has neglected the concerns of all the working class whatever their colour – and it expects to do badly in the coming local elections. Some believe that Hodge may be preparing an alibi in advance for that electoral disaster to come. If so, she is playing with fire. The BNP itself is jubilant at her remarks.

 Others believe she is trying to scare people into voting Labour on the basis that there is no alternative. Searchlight criticises other mainstream parties – the Tories and Liberal Democrats – that they are not standing in many wards, leaving voters who oppose Labour with nowhere else to go but BNP or abstention.

 Make no mistake, the BNP must be stopped. Its aim is to gain up to 70 council seats throughout Britain on 4th May. It will do nothing with these seats. BNP councillors have never functioned as proper councillors. But the party aims to use this base to go on eventually to take a seat in the European Parliament; to become part of the neo-fascist bloc with Le Pen from France and Haider from Austria and so get European Union funding.

 The condescending New Labour elitism of Margaret Hodge will not be able to stop them. The traditional Labour grass roots hard work of Jon Cruddas, talking to voters and taking their concerns seriously, can smash the BNP’s hopes.

 Other measures that would turn out the Labour vote in force on 4th May of course would be bringing the troops home from Iraq, rescuing the NHS from its financial crisis, dropping the privatisation of our public services and sacking Tony Blair.

 We call on all Labour MPs – along with trades unionists like those who have been campaigning tirelessly against the BNP – to use the strength they have in the Labour Party to bring this about.


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