The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 25th August 2006
Victory salutes from the young!
Welcome To Our Weekly Digest Edition
Please feel free to use this material provided the New Worker
UNITES ARAB RESISTANCE
by our Arab Affairs Correspondent
In Iraq and throughout the Arab world the masses have been
celebrating Hezbollah’s victory in Lebanon. Solidarity with the
fighting Lebanese resistance cut across sectarian divides in occupied
Iraq, with the most militant Shia leaders openly supporting the south
Lebanese resistance in its struggle against Washington and Tel Aviv.
The Iraqi resistance maintained its level of attacks against the
Anglo-American occupation army and its lackeys during the conflict as
the Americans raided their arsenals to rush military equipment to
Israel. At the same time they were withdrawing forces from other parts
of Iraq to beef up their garrisons in Baghdad, battling with partisans
who already control the streets in large parts of the capital.
As usual the imperialists are trying to promote civil strife to turn
the violence away from the occupiers and onto the oppressed. Saddam
Hussein has been wheeled out for another show trial and sectarian Shia
militias linked to the puppet regime have gone on the rampage in
Baghdad, attacking Sunni Muslims and provoking predictable reprisals.
But the Shia community as a whole showed their true temper when
hundreds of thousands took to the streets on 4th August chanting “Death
to Israel” and “Death to America” in a massive show of support
for Hezbollah and the Lebanese people.
The march and rally in Sadr City, the stronghold of maverick Shia
cleric Muqtada al Sadr, passed off without violence while effigies of
Bush, Blair and Israeli leader Ehud Olmert were burnt along with
Israeli flags and the Stars and Stripes.
Al Sadr supporters trampled on US and Israeli flags painted on the main
road leading to the rally but one of the slogans “Saddam and Bush, Two
Faces of One Coin” scrawled on the burning Bush effigy
demonstrates the problems the resistance has in overcoming the
divisions of the past.
Captive Iraqi president Saddam Hussein refused to recognise the illegal
US-sponsored show trial when he faced new charges at its opening
session in occupied Baghdad on Monday. The Baathist leader and six
other members of his government are accused of “genocide” and “war
crimes” during the “al Anfal” campaign against Kurdish separatists in
the 1980s during the Iraq-Iran war.
Saddam Hussein remained defiant in court challenging its
legitimacy, as he had done at his previous trial and refusing to
give his name, telling the stooge judge: “My name is known to Iraq and
“This is the law of the occupation,” the Iraqi President
observed, before introducing himself as the “President of the Republic
and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces”.
When the chief judge told the Iraqi President that he was on “trial”
for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and asked whether
he was innocent or guilty, Saddam Hussein replied: “That would require
volumes of books”. A plea of not guilty was formally submitted by the
judge to allow the trial to continue.
Meanwhile, in the British occupied south, Basra oil workers returned to
work on Wednesday after a one-day strike over pay that closed the main
pipeline to Baghdad and brought oil exports to a standstill in the
southern Iraqi province. Over 700 members of the General Union of Oil
Workers in plants in Basra and Nassiriya, walked out in the protest
action. The puppet Oil Ministry, has promised to meet the workers’
demands which include payment of arrears, profit sharing annual
allowances and a rise in their basic rate. Workers in the oil industry
have seen their wages eroded by inflation, now running at over 50 per
cent and the union warns that if their demands are not implemented by
Sunday the strike will resume.
Though Iraq is awash with oil, the partisan sabotage has crippled oil
production in the northern and southern oil fields. Despite the fact
that Iraq has the third largest oil reserves in the world, drivers have
been lining up for hours, sometimes spending the whole night and
forming mile-long queues outside petrol stations. Six weeks ago,
Baghdad’s streets were jammed with traffic; now they are nearly empty
because pumps have all but run dry.
Petrol now costs over $6 a gallon at the pump – when you can get it –
and the costs of diesel, propane gas and kerosene have risen
accordingly. Fares on public transport, which in Iraq means buses and
taxis, have soared and the electricity is rarely on for more than four
hours a day. Those who can afford it have bought domestic generators.
Others are at the mercy of spivs who will sell power from their own
commercial generators for as much as they can extort.
The war in Lebanon may be over for the moment but the struggle for
freedom in Iraq continues.
New Labour nonsense
LABOUR’S STANDING has slumped
and the Tories are now ahead according to the latest opinion poll
commissioned by the Guardian. The poll, published on Tuesday, showed
that support for Labour had dropped to 31 per cent, the lowest it’s
been since 1987. A large majority of voters seemed to put
the blame on Blair’s policy of intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan for
the latest airport terror threat and some 72 per cent, including 65 per
cent of Labour voters, think government policy has made Britain more of
a target for terrorists.
Only one per cent of voters believed the Government’s foreign policy
has made Britain safer. The poll showed that former Labour supporters
were switching to the Tories and Liberal Democrats in almost equal
numbers, boosting Liberal Democratic support by five points to 22 per
cent and putting the Tories ahead.
Labour is on the rocks. It’s running out of money. Some unions have
jumped ship and the grass-roots organisation is moribund.
None of this will come as any surprise to us. The Blair government’s
participation in Bush’s invasion of Iraq and the despatch of British
troops for combat duty in occupied Afghanistan, not to mention the
slavish support for Israeli aggression in the Lebanon, has cost Labour
The continuation of Thatcherite policies, with ongoing privatisations
of what’s left of the health service and the post office and the
refusal to meet the demands of the unions for the repeal of the Tory
labour laws and the restoration of free collective bargaining, has
provoked a stampede out of the Labour Party.
And yet bizarrely enough Blair’s followers believe that the way to
revive Labour’s flagging fortunes is to give the public more of what
they’ve had to put up with for the past nine years.
Blairite MP Stephen Byers tells us that the answers to Labour’s woes is
to abolish inheritance tax to show middle-class Labour voters that
whoever succeeds Tony Blair is continuing the New Labour agenda.
He told the Tory Sunday Telegraph: “The danger for Labour in electoral
terms has always been that when he departs from Downing Street voters
will feel that the pragmatic and modernising approach of New Labour has
gone with him”.
Inheritance tax, or death duty as it was once known, was first
introduced in England and Wales in 1796. But is it more popularly
associated with Lloyd George, who increased it in his 1909 “People’s
Budget” to pay for the first pension scheme. Then most people saw it as
a just method of raising tax and circulating money. The exceptions were
the immensely wealthy landowners it was aimed at — or rather
their heirs – because it is a tax on an expectation which they have not
yet received. The dead cannot lose and the heirs only lose part of what
they do not yet possess.
Byers is right, of course, to point out that the colossal rise in house
prices has put more estates into the frame under the current threshold
which starts at £285,000. But even at this level inheritance tax
only affects the top six per cent of all estates. The real problem is
that the big landowners have devised all manner of methods to avoid
paying it. The answer isn’t to simply do away with the tax altogether –
which would mean the Treasury seeking other taxes to compensate for the
£3.6 billion loss – but to increase the threshold, which is
going to rise to £325,000 in 2010 anyway and legislate to plug
all the loopholes to ensure that the estates of immensely rich
landowners are once again covered by this tax.
Trying to woo the well-to-do, who aren’t going to vote Labour anyway,
is a pointless exercise. The only way to ensure a fourth Labour victory
is to dump Blair and adopt a programme that meets the needs of the
millions of working people that voted Labour in 1997 in the first
place. The masses want the “welfare state” restored, they want
affordable council housing and a health service worthy of a country
that has the fourth biggest economy in the world. They want the
restoration of the public sector as it was in 1979 with utilities you
can trust and public transport that is safe and doesn’t cost an arm and
a leg to use. They want an end to foreign wars.
This isn’t a pipe-dream. We had it all in 1979 and it can all be paid
for by restoring the income tax levels we had until the Tories came
back. The rich can afford inheritance tax and they can easily afford
super-tax as well. That’s the answer – not more nonsense from Byers.
To the New Communist Party Page