The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 24th March 2006
100,000 march in London
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BUDGET - SKATING ROUND THE BLACK HOLES
by Daphne Liddle
GORDON Brown last Wednesday presented his 10th budget, which
many believe will be his last before taking the premiership from Tony
Blair. It was a budget full of sunshine, green and happy things – like
more sports for schoolchildren, bus passes for pensioners, warm woollen
mittens, whiskers on kittens and brown paper parcels tied up with
All his targets had been met: inflation at two per cent; growth at 2.5
per cent, productivity 2.3 per cent up and economic growth at 2.5 per
cent. Brown declared he had met his “golden rule” on public borrowing
and was on target for a £16 billion surplus over the economic
cycle ending 2010-11.
Nothing sinister or unpleasant was mentioned. Bad words like
“pensions black hole”, “NHS cash crisis”, “manufacturing industry”,
“record personal debt” and “water shortages” were not allowed to spoil
Pensioners throughout the country will get free off-peak bus passes.
But nothing was said about rocketing fuel prices and whether or not
pensioners would get their annual £200 winter fuel allowance at
all – never mind upgraded in line with costs.
Household heating is one cost which, along with housing, travel,
council tax and other essential day-today living expenses, is not
included in official inflation figures and makes a mockery of them.
This leaves those on fixed incomes and those public employees whose
wages are to be fixed at 2.5 per cent with a steadily declining
standard of living.
Brown did say he would spend money to recruit much-needed science
teachers for schools and fund after-hours science clubs in schools. But
he also spoke of summer schools for “entrepreneurs” and scholarships to
Brown said that resources would be redirected from “failing” college
courses to ones that employers want to see.
His proposals to tackle the serious shortage of affordable homes was to
allocate £970 million for shared equity schemes to help 35,000
people get on the housing ladder. This will push prices even higher and
is woefully inadequate. London alone has more than 60,000 homeless
As expected he introduced new taxes for big “gas-guzzling”, high
polluting cars and talked of “smart metering” to makes homes
He also proposed a £20 million World Bank scheme to invest
in new forms of energy in developing nations – a bit like the little
boy in the advert who thought his dad could buy a new car for 50 pence!
Brown boasted of saving £6 billion by cutting thousands of
civil service jobs. Now he plans an increase of £1 billion on
defence spending – of which £200 million will be used to “promote
peacekeeping in the most troubled countries of the world”.
Brown clearly had the 2012 Olympics in mind when he proposed an
annual schools’ Olympics and a new national sports foundation supported
by £4 million from the Government and private sector companies.
There will also be £2 million for evening sports clubs for young
people. These will be run by the police, premier league football clubs
and community groups.
This is a budget that avoids all the serious issues facing this
country’s economy. It is a budget for show, for political posturing. It
is a budget aimed to ensure that Brown’s succession to Number 10 is as
smooth as possible.
It is also a budget that backs all of Blair’s worst policies –
sending British troops abroad to support United States intimidation and
invasion of Third World countries and continuing privatisation in
The NHS is abandoned to economic failure, ageing workers are
abandoned to a life of poverty when they reach pension age and
manufacturing industry is abandoned to further collapse. Those in deep
debt are left to the mercy of the loan companies.
This is a reckless, laissez-faire budget that will leave millions
of working people facing a grim future.
Who pays for the party?
TRANSPORT and General Workers’
Union deputy general secretary Jack Dromey, who is also the treasurer
of the Labour Party, last week delivered a bombshell into Tony Blair’s
lap when he revealed that party leaders had accepted loans of millions
of pounds from rich capitalists to fund last year’s election campaign
without telling him.
Since then, a number of the chief lenders have been awarded
peerages and the total sum involved has been revealed as over £14
million. But Dromey was not the only person in the dark. It seems that
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was not told and nor was Chancellor
Gordon Brown; only a tiny clique in the party had any idea where their
campaign funds came from.
It has embroiled the Labour Party in the kind of sleaze scandal
that sank the Tory party in the mid 90s. The Tory party is no better.
It borrowed even more from rich businessmen to fund its own
Both parties had found a way round the law passed by Labour not
long after it came to power in 1997 which compelled all donations over
£5,000 to be declared openly. The law had not mentioned loans.
Last year, in the run-up to the general election, the Labour
Party was very short of funds. The unions, who had founded and funded
the party to fight for working class interests, were angry over
continuing privatisation of the public sector and the continuing
debacle in Iraq. Some unions had reduced their donations. Blair knew
that to get more money from them, he would have to make some policy
concessions. He preferred to get the money from his big business
friends who liked his zeal for privatisation.
The breaking scandal over peerages for cash has led to renewed
calls to change the way that peerages are awarded and the way that
political parties are funded. Tory leader David Cameron has seized the
initiative and come up with a set of proposals that include a cap of
£50,000 on the size of donations from single individuals or trade
unions and that political parties should be at least partly funded by
the state – by taxpayers.
This is an attack on the power of the organised working class.
Trade unions are not individuals. They are composed of millions of
members who have voted to retain the political levy – their
contribution to Labour Party funding, so that the working class can
have a voice in Parliament to defend the interests of labour against
the capitalist ruling class.
State funding of parties would force us all to contribute to a
number of different parties, regardless of whether we supported their
views or aims. It also would undermine the influence of the unions, of
the organised working class, on the Labour Party. If the leaders of any
party do not depend on the members and supporters for funds, they
become less accountable to them.
Many believe, wrongly, that this has already happened. Blair’s
“New Labour” policies are so right wing they are barely distinguishable
from those of the Tories. They are the policies of the ruling class,
which that class seeks to impose regardless of which party sits on the
front benches. They are not the policies of Labour.
Blair is not the Labour Party – he is its worst enemy and if not
stopped soon he could destroy it. The battle raging inside that party
to get rid of Blair and his policies is the front line of the class
struggle. The ruling class wants to see all trade union influence in
Parliament ended, it wants the party divorced from the unions and
destroyed. We must resist this at all costs.
We will not achieve socialist revolution through Parliament but
until the working class is ready to overthrow our oppressors, it needs
its voice and its influence to be reasserted inside Parliament.
It would be easier to rally the working class behind this
struggle if union leaders and backbench MPs were to put up a better
fight against the Blair clique.
This latest scandal has sent support for the Labour Party into
freefall. Blair is disgraced yet again. Our union leaders and Labour
MPs must act now to remove Blair – while they still can.
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