The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 21st April 2006
80th Anniversary of the General Strike
Welcome To Our Weekly Digest Edition
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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.
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.
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
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.
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
It’s a bit like making the mafia responsible for drawing up
legislation on corruption on the grounds that they are the experts!
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
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
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
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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