The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 23rd June 2006
Anti BNP demonstrations
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by Daphne Liddle
TWO-THIRDS of the Labour Party’s 200,000 members want Tony
Blair out of office by next year’s party conference, according to a
You.Gov poll conducted in the run up to last weekend’s conference of
the pressure group Compass in Brighton.
The poll also found that one third of the members want Blair gone
by this year’s conference.
It was conducted for a commission on Labour democracy, chaired by
Michael Meacher, MP for Oldham and Royton, to investigate the sense of
a lack of democratic accountability within Labour.
When questioned about policy issues, a quarter of current Labour
members said they had come close to quitting because of the invasion of
When asked to name the party’s six biggest mistakes, Iraq came
top of the list, cited by 52 per cent; subservience to the United
States came second on 49 per cent; privatisation of public services
came third at 46 per cent and failure to raise the top rate of income
tax came fourth at 36 per cent.
Around three-quarters of Labour members believe that ordinary
members have little or no influence on Government policy.
This coincided with a Guardian-ICM poll, which showed that
support for Labour among the general population has now fallen to 32
per cent, compared to 37 per cent for the Tories and 21 per cent for
the Liberal Democrats.
Meacher warned that there is a growing feeling among members that
if the party does not change, it is doomed to loose the next election.
He said: “Now is the moment, the watershed, when we have to take stock,
to have a debate in the party about the direction in which we go. There
is clearly a demand for it.”
Supporters of Gordon Brown, like Ed Balls, spoke continually of
the need for the party to “renew itself”, including at the top –
hinting that Blair should make way for Brown as quickly and smoothly as
Michael Wills MP, another Brown supporter, called for the
creation of a constitutional convention of 300 “ordinary people” to be
elected to provide a bridge between the “political class” and the
public. Anyone who had ever stood for Parliament should be excluded
from the “convention”.
This is pure spin – the creation of a body of well-meaning but
tame amateurs that politicians can pretend to consult and then ignore.
Trade union leaders Derek Simpson of Amicus and Dave Prentis of
Unison came nearer the mark when they called for strong new policies to
defend workers’ rights to raise Labour’s standing in the polls.
Simpson said: “Labour will lose unless it recognises the deep
concerns of its core supporters. Without a serious change in direction,
drawing away from the business agenda that recognises people’s desire
to be safe and secure and to be able to have a good quality of life, we
will definitely lose.”
Prentis warned Gordon Brown that he should not take his union’s
votes for granted when he sought to replace Blair.
“You’ll have to earn it,” he said. “We’ve been let down before.
We want to work with you to build trust in Labour. That means
abandoning ideological attacks on our public services.”
The current mood within the party clearly has the Blairites
worried and they have responded with an attack on Nottingham MP Alan
Simpson – a member of the Campaign Group and the Labour Representation
Committee – for his attacks on Blair’s leadership.
Simpson is being officially disciplined for comparing Downing
Street under Blair to Franco’s fascist regime.
But Simpson has refused to retract or apologise. He said:
“Downing Street may not have liked my comments about the war, but they
need to get out more. It is the party’s self-destructive abandonment of
principles that is causing the haemorrhage of support for Labour, not
those who try to criticise it.” Other left MPs are backing Simpson –
and so apparently is his constituency party.
This leaves Blair’s leadership looking very weak as the unions
and the membership are at last coming together to oust Blair.
Now the big question seems to be not so much can they get rid of
Blair, as can they also get rid of Brown and the “New Labour” policies?
It seems there is a real possibility of this.
The labour movement is a large and cumbersome vehicle but once it
starts to move leftwards the momentum could carry it a long way.
Sustaining this momentum will require a lot of effort from working
Democratic Korea has to defend itself
THE DEMOCRATIC People’s
Republic of Korea is once again the focus of United States imperialist
demands to halt its weapons development programme. They claim the DPRK
is a threat to other nations in the region.
But let us look at the history of the region and work out who is
really a threat. In its 6,000-year history, the people of Korea have
never attacked or invaded another country – but they have certainly
been attacked, invaded and occupied, both by Japan and the US. Even now
the country is divided into the independent socialist DPRK and the
American-occupied south. Both sides of the imperialist-imposed
division, the Korean people long for their country to be peacefully
The DPRK has been subjected to US imperialist hostility, threats
and blockades ever since the people of Korea, led by Kim IL Sung,
fought the invaders to a standstill over 50 years ago.
The government of the DPRK has not only a right but an absolute
duty to defend its people against further attack and invasion.
And the chief lesson of the Iraq war is that Saddam’s biggest
mistake was to comply with imperialist clamour to disarm and to scrap
his powerful weapons of defence. Iran is not falling for that trick and
neither will the DPRK. They both recognise that to disarm is to lay
themselves wide open to attack and invasion.
Government computer failures
The National Audit Office last
week criticised the multi-billion NHS computer systems upgrade for
falling way behind schedule. This is just the latest in a very long
line of Government information technology projects that have failed.
Why do Government private sector computer schemes always go
wrong? Ask almost any frontline civil servant and they will tell you
the root of the problem is that the people who negotiate with the
private computer company are top Whitehall mandarins – graduates who
have never served a day in a frontline office dealing with the public.
When the software designers ask for details of what the
programmes will need to do, these mandarins lack the knowledge of the
day-to-day operations of their departments – so the software is never
adequate to the task. Then it has to be corrected and often the
upgrades and corrections are bolted on to a system that is
fundamentally inadequate and further incompatibilities and
instabilities result. This process does not bother the private IT
companies – it makes more work and more money for them.
This is happening against a background where the Government is
hell bent on cutting civil service numbers. In theory the computers
should make their work easier; in reality badly-designed computers make
the work harder.
No wonder so many frontline civil servants in so many departments
are feeling overburdened, confused and stressed.
Let representatives of the frontline workers take part in the
system design talks from the beginning – and better still, let the
civil service employ its own computer experts and build its own
in-house IT systems. And stop cutting civil service jobs. This would
cost tax-payers far less than the present system.
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