The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 23rd July 2004

Protesters in London this week

Welcome To Our Weekly Digest Edition

Please feel free to use this material provided the New Worker is informed and credited.



by Daphne Liddle

THE VOTERS of Birmingham Hodge Hill and Leicester South last week gave Blair yet another clear and unambiguous message that it is time for him to go. But he remains deaf.

The Liberal Democrats took Leicester South and nearly took Birmingham Hodge Hill. In Leicester the swing to the Liberal Democrats was 21.5 per cent and in Hodge Hill it was 26.75 per cent. In both seats the Tories fared abysmally.

 The message is clear that voters do not want those political leaders who backed the illegal invasion of Iraq and prefer to support the party that took a comparatively principled stand against the war.

 On Tuesday the Butler Report was debated in the House of Commons – an opportunity for all those backbench MPs, who now say they would not have backed the war, to put Blair on the spot with awkward questions.

  Clare Short had a go, pointing out that if MPs had been told the truth about the weakness of Blair’s evidence on the alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), they would not have thought the case for war was urgent. They would have preferred to allow Hans Blix and the UN weapons inspectors more time.

 But, when Blair should have been squirming, Tory leader Michael Howard let him off the hook by taking centre stage with the most unbelievable assertions.

 He claimed that he supported the war and that it was justified in one breath. And in the next he said that, had he known then what he knows now about the weakness of the intelligence reports, he could not have voted for the resolution to go to war.

 This contradiction had the whole House laughing and Blair relaxed, believing he has once again got away with it.

 Unfortunately most of the backbench Labour MPs who managed to get a word in were as limp and useless as Butler and Hutton. The repeated theme throughout was that Blair “acted in good faith”. Though their claim to know what was in Blair’s mind – honest or dishonest – is a remarkable claim of extra sensory powers.

 The nearest anyone came to accusing him of twisting the truth to fit the agenda already agreed between Blair and Bush was when former Tory cabinet Minister Kenneth Clarke said that Blair’s “good faith” included a lot of  “self-persuasion”.

 The Liberal Democrats again put up a comparatively principled stand – to a half empty House as many MPs left the chamber after Howard’s remarks.
The most principled and trenchant attacks on Blair’s duplicity have come from outside Parliament.

 David Kay, a UN weapons inspector hand-picked by the CIA, last week condemned Blair, saying that Bush and Blair should have known that Iraq did not have any WMDs.

He maintained that Blair and Bush had an agenda for war and thus ignored the flaws in the WMD argument.

not exist

 “I think the Prime Minister should have been able to tell before the war that the evidence did not exist for drawing the conclusion that Iraq presented a clear, present and imminent threat on the basis of weapons of mass destruction,” he said.

 Former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, who resigned in protest just before the war, was very critical of the Butler report in an article the Independent. In particular he attacked the report’s failure to apportion any blame for the long catalogue of errors that led up to the war.

 “It used to be a standard mantra of Tony Blair’s speeches,” said Cook, “that ‘responsibility and rights’ are indissolubly linked. It turns out that responsibility is for job-seekers and single parents, not for our ruling classes.”

 On the House of Commons debate Cook said: “Anyone listening to him [Blair] in the Chamber could not have left with anything other than the impression that he is absolutely convinced he was right and that he would do it all over again in precisely the same circumstances.”

 And he concluded: “The irony is that the only ministers who have left the Government over the chapter of errors that led us into war in Iraq are those who could not support the war, and the only people to be sacked are those at the BBC and Daily Mirror who criticised it.

“Everyone who contributed to the errors of judgement is still in post and now patted on the head by Lord Butler for doing the best they could.

 “That may seem very British and very sensible to Lord Butler. To the rest of the world it will seem barmy.”

 Next week Blair will face another challenge as the Labour policy forum meets, with the unions and Labour constituency parties working together to force some pro-working class policies into Labour’s next manifesto.

 The unions are demanding changes on labour laws, an end to privatisation of public services, pensions and support for manufacturing.

 There is very strong rank and file support for these changes but unfortunately history shows that often union leaders can be undermined by New Labour spin and lies – concessions made that are later withdrawn.

 The union leaders must learn from experience and stick to their guns.

 One pointed out that policies are more important than personalities, saying: “If Mr Blair fell under a bus tomorrow we would still have these issues with Gordon Brown.”

 This is why Brown must go too, along with all the discredited right wing New Labour policies – or Labour stands in real danger of losing the next general election. 


The Writing on the Wall

LAST WEEK’S by-elections were a disaster for Labour. The Liberal Democrats overturned a huge Labour majority in Leicester South and they were only narrowly beaten in the other one-time safe Labour seat in Birmingham.

Even the Tories, who also fared badly, are getting the message; though their weasel words are confined to the issue of whether Tony Blair misled Parliament while they say nothing the war that they continue to support.

Blair may still believe that the applause of his sycophants in Parliament will drown the questions raised by the Butler Inquiry over the Iraq War. He may think that he can brazen it out until the American elections, praying for the Bush victory that could boost his standing in the polls. But none of this will cut any ice with the British people.

 Blair’s refusal to come clean over the real reasons behind his decision to back the American invasion of Iraq has created an immense credibility gap that will haunt Labour for as long as he remains at the helm.

Scraping the barrel

Blair’s new “five-year plan” for law and order is yet another cynical ploy to distract the public from the central issue of war and peace, and blame every social problem on every one else. Blair bleats on about the “end of the 1960s liberal consensus” and “rules, order and proper behaviour” – but what is his alternative? More spy-in-the-sky electronic surveillance, community cops and electronic tagging. Doubtless more prisons are on the way as well.

His merchants of spin clearly believe that everyone is as stupid as themselves. But the old hanging, flogging and birching brigade is a dying breed confined almost entirely to the fascist BNP and neanderthal elements within the Tory party. It’s not going to woo many of the middle strata that are deserting Labour in droves in favour of the Liberal Democrats over the Iraq War. Nor does it have anything to over the millions of workers in run-down estates who want to see real improvements to their lives – not cosmetic gimmicks or cheap sound-bites about tinkering around with the council tax.

It’s the same on transport. While no one can deny that road congestion is an increasing problem in all our major cities, simply penalising the motorist with more road tolls is not the answer. Though congestion charging has worked in central London, most goods and services are ultimately delivered by road transport and increased charges are inevitably passed onto the public in higher charges.

The answer is an integrated and publicly owned national transport system that would attract more passengers and draw more commercial traffic away from the motorways and trunk roads. A subsidised rail, bus, and tram system that delivered an efficient and cheap service would solve most of the problems that plague our cities today.

That would, of course, mean increasing income tax – and that is the last thing Blair and Brown want to do. They both must go.  

 Back to index

If you find these articles from the New Worker Online interesting and useful them why not subscribe to our print edition with lots more news, features, and photos?

To the New Communist Party Page