The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 25th February 2005
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ARE THE REAL TERRORISTS?
by Daphne Liddle
THE DRACONIAN Prevention
of Terrorism Bill passed its first reading in the House of Commons last
Wednesday by 309 votes to 233, with 32 Labour rebels voting against it.
The Bill is a savage assault on civil liberties.
Home Secretary Charles Clarke is under pressure to put this through as
quickly as possible because he will have to release alleged terrorists
still held in Belmarsh without charge or trial because of a Law Lords
ruling last year that this breached Human Rights legislation and was
discriminatory – it applied only to suspects who were not British
So Clarke – and his predecessor Blunkett – put together a new
series of measures to replace the 2001 anti-terror laws that were
passed in a hurry in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks in
The new measures are even more draconian and include civil
“control orders, electronic tagging, restrictions on association, the
use of telephones and the internet and possible house arrest.
The victims would have no information on the evidence against
them or any chance to challenge the accusations brought against them by
Britain’s secret police.
And it’s not as if the secret services are noted for the accuracy
of their intelligence. The 30-year war waged by British forces against
Irish republicanism was littered with horrendous miscarriages of
justice in spite of laws supposed to protect the innocent. Clarke’s
Bill will remove even that protection.
Tory leader Michael Howard last week wrote in the Independent: “Why I
am so opposed to the new terror legislation”. He said: “I believe those
accused of terrorist offences should be brought to trial … And I
believe that their innocence or guilt should be determined in a court
of law – not by the Home Secretary.”
His main objection to Clarke’s proposals was that the initial
decision to impose a control order or house arrest on a suspect
would be made by a politician not by a judge.
Clarke made a small concession and agreed that such an order
should be subject to judicial review within seven days. This is a long
way from an open trial in which the accused knows what they are accused
of and can answer back.
He also later conceded that although house arrest powers would
still be a part of the Bill, he would not use them but keep them in
reserve until he needed them. What sort of a concession is that? Who
decides when he might need them? Himself, of course.
The Liberal Democrats are making similar objections and there is
a lot of negotiating going on. If the Tories and Lib Dems maintained
their opposition to Clarke’s Bill it could fall because the
opposition from the Labour backbenches is growing fast.
But it seems this opposition is the only kind that we can rely on
in Parliament. Real opposition will have to be exerted outside
This Bill is part of a package of draconian measures that include
the introduction of compulsory identity cards within a few years. As
communists we have always recognised that, under pressure, capitalism
will readily tear up all its boasted civil liberties and human rights.
The only rights that really matter to this system are the rights to
exploit, make money and defend wealth.
That is not to say that many bourgeois politicians are not
surprised and alarmed at this gallop towards fascism.
The capitalists are not, currently, under pressure from an
organised and challenging working class. They are under pressure from
divisions in their own ranks as the world’s natural resources are no
longer enough for their greed, and they must fight each other over them.
This is what drives American imperialists to try to seize global
energy assets and control the planet and what drives others, like the
European Union and Russia, to resist.
Working people throughout the world will suffer. The assault on civil
liberties will be followed by an assault on living standards.
We must build and strengthen our own organisations and fight all
these assaults on our civil liberties.
Bush goes a-courting
George W Bush has been
wooing Europe this week but all he’s brought with him is the usual
stock of platitudes and empty rhetoric that US imperialism calls
diplomacy these days. He got nothing out of Franco-German imperialism
whose leaders’ courtesy did little to mask their hostility to the
current American stand on most key issues including Iraq.
Getting the cold shoulder should come as no surprise to Bush. He wants
the support of Germany and France but offers them nothing in exchange
except the unsaid promise of a slice of the oil-loot in Iraq that he
cannot deliver because of the uprising that is developing into people’s
Bush says he will stay his hand over Iran to give EU diplomacy more
time to reach a compromise with the Islamic Republic but everyone knows
this is only because the US war-machine has got its hands full fighting
the Iraqi resistance at the moment.
The Americans are at logger-heads with the Europeans over Washington’s
refusal to sign the Kyoto treaty on climate change and the EU’s
long-overdue dropping of its arms embargo on People’s China. Vague
promises to the new Palestinian leadership hardly marked a shift from
America’s total support of the intransigence of its Israeli lackeys,
though France did agree with US demands for Syria to withdraw its
peace-keeping force from Lebanon – but only because French imperialism
thinks it can fill the vacuum in what was once the jewel of its old
Middle East colonial empire.
Tony Blair, as usual, is singing Bush’s praises. But that’s not
surprising either. Blair destroyed the trans-Atlantic bridge that
British imperialism upheld throughout the post-war period when he broke
with his European partners to join in the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Bush now is trying to act as a “bridge” for British imperialism to try
an end Britain’s isolation within the European Union and restore
American imperialism’s dominance over the whole continent.
Inter-imperialist rivalries are nothing new. They led to the two world
wars of the last century. Now that the Cold War is over Franco-German
imperialism is striving to restore its position throughout the world
and this can only be done at the expense of the American imperialism.
While this may constrain the Americans it’s not done for the benefit of
the Iraqi people fighting to drive the invaders out but simply for the
venal motives of the French and German bourgeoisie.
One of the major lessons of the first and second world wars was that
working people can never rely on their own bourgeoisie to defend their
interests. Though they sometimes coincide – like the Grand Alliance
that was forged after the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union – the only
power that workers can rely on is the organisational strength of their
In Britain millions upon millions of working people want the British
expeditionary force to be withdrawn from Iraq – a demand that the
pro-European Liberal Democrats have taken up from the start. But the
Liberal Democrats are not pacifists. They supported the attack on
Yugoslavia that was largely instigated by German imperialism. It’s just
this war they’re against.
No imperialist war can ever benefit the working class and our class
must take the lead in the anti-war movement that is sweeping the
country. The massive demonstration set for 19th March in London demands
the greatest support from organised labour. That would send the right
message to Blair and strengthen the progressive opposition to his
clique within the Labour Party. Blair and the war camp he leads
can only be defeated by the labour movement itself. Let’s work to make
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