The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 26th October 2007
African history month
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FEARS EU VOTE
by Daphne Liddle
PRIME MINISTER Gordon Brown last Monday faced attacks from all
sides in the House of Commons – including the Labour benches – after
taking the first step towards signing Britain up to new European Union
treaty that differs little from the rejected EU constitution.
The constitution would have been a big step towards a European
super-state. When it was proposed the major EU states were at odds with
US President Bush’s over his illegal invasion of Iraq.
Tony Blair, Britain’s Prime Minister at the time, threw a spanner into
the EU works by promising the British public a referendum on acceptance
of the constitution – more to please George W Bush than out of any
sense of democracy towards the people of Britain.
This pledge led, as Blair knew it would, to pressure on other EU
governments to have their own referendums on the issue. The
constitution died when the people of the Netherlands and France
rejected it – before Blair had to fulfil his promise to the people of
Brown now claims the new treaty is in no way a replacement for
that constitution, despite contrary assertions from other EU leaders.
He claims the various opt-outs guaranteed to Britain – the famous “red
lines” – were made stronger at last week’s EU summit in Lisbon, where
he gave an initial signature to the treaty on behalf of Britain.
The treaty has yet to be formally signed at another EU summit, also in
Lisbon, in December. After that the EU governments will take it to
their parliaments for final endorsement and incorporation into the
legislation of those countries. If endorsed, the treaty will come into
effect in January 2009.
Now a wide spectrum of the public in Britain – ranging from trade
unions and Labour backbench MPs to the Tory leadership – is demanding
that Brown must honour Labour’s pledge for a referendum. Brown has no
intention of doing this because he knows the vote would go against him.
And he is hoping that the whole issue will be well over, signed sealed
and forgotten, before the next general election, probably in 2009.
The Tories are now in disarray because their leader David Cameron,
although clamouring loudly for a referendum now, has refused to promise
that if he was elected in 2009 he would hold a retrospective
referendum; he said it would be “too late” by then.
Brown claims that as a result of last weekend’s Lisbon talks the EU
could not make any changes to Britain’s opt-outs without Parliament’s
approval and that he would oppose any further changes in the EU towards
But the Prison Officers’ Association plans to challenge the strength of
opt-outs. Unsurprisingly some of these opt-outs so hotly defended and
supported by Labour and Tories, concern trade union and human rights.
While defending the “red lines”, Brown is claiming that the EU Charter
of Fundamental Rights is not enshrined in British law.
The POA will demand the right for its members to take strike action by
challenging the legality of the opt-out.
POA general secretary Brian Caton has been collecting a monthly levy of
£1 from 37,000 members to fund the legal costs of asking British
judges to refer a case to the European Court of Justice.
The Tories are promising a parliamentary battle for a referendum but
are unlikely to win. The Liberal Democrats are supporting Brown.
Meanwhile the American sub-prime lending crisis continues to send shock
waves through the stock exchanges of the western world and recent steep
rises in oil prices are leading to predictions of a slump and
Banks are raising loan rates and many working class people are finding
their income undermined by the rising costs of paying their mortgages
and other debts.
This is leading to a drop in high street sales and the possibility of a
fall in house prices. The International Monetary Fund claims that house
prices have risen by 50 per cent more than they should have done over
the last decade and that falling house prices are now a major threat to
Capitalism continues to follow its regular cycle of boom and bust. The
sooner it is stopped the safer our planet will be.
Avoiding Dr Watson
DR JAMES D WATSON came to
Britain to promote his latest book, Avoid Boring People; Lessons from a
Life in Science, and his crackpot racist theories which were splashed
across the bourgeois media last week. The veteran American scientist,
who won a Nobel prize for his role in the discovery of DNA back
in 1962, may have welcomed the initial publicity but he certainly
didn’t anticipate the furore provoked by his crass remarks during Black
For the past 35 years Watson has been the Director and President of the
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York that is no stranger to
controversy. From 1910 to 1940 it was also the centre of the Eugenics
Record Office that opposed immigration to America by ethnic groups it
considered lower on the evolutionary scale than “Anglo-Saxon”
whites and advocated laws that led to the forced sterilisation of many
Americans deemed “feeble-minded”.
In his book, out this week, Watson says: “There is no firm reason to
anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically
separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically.
Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal
heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so.”
Dr Watson has since apologised for suggesting that blacks were
genetically inferior to the rest of humanity, claiming he was
misunderstood. He’s been forced to cancel his speaking tour and he’s
even been suspended by his own research institute.
But his original comments, presented as the considered views of an
eminent scientist, have been trumpeted by the neo-Nazis while the
closet racists in the Tory camp bleat on about the right to free speech
and scientific debate.
There is not one shred of evidence to back Watson’s claim that black
people are less intelligent than whites and that was clearly
demonstrated by the outrage in the scientific world when his views were
first aired. And there is, of course, nothing new, in what he said.
Bogus science is part of the ideological arsenal of imperialism. In the
past the ruling class were never short of “scientific” arguments
to justify slavery and colonial oppression. The supposed superiority of
the “white man” was promoted long before the modern science of genetics
began in the late 19th century. And when the study of heredity and
variation in living organisms began to be based on scientific
observation and experiment genetics was easily distorted to justify the
“colour bars” in the imperialist colonies; segregation in the former
slave-states of America and the apartheid system in South Africa.
Genetics spawned the eugenic and pseudo-Darwinian argument that human
hereditary traits could be improved through various forms of
intervention, which was embraced by the Nazis who were never
short of professors willing to peddle the theory of the Aryan “Master
Race” and the “sub-human” Jews that led to the gas-chambers and the
The British ruling class like to boast about their alleged tolerance
and how they’ve welcomed millions from the former British Empire and
beyond to these shores. But the millions have come to fill huge gaps in
the labour market and their “welcome” is laced with the
institutionalised racism of an unspoken caste system that exists
to keep the working class divided and in their place.
Dr Watson has come and gone. Few will read his book and he will soon be
forgotten. But racism, bigotry and prejudice will continue to be
foisted on working people until they themselves consciously take the
lead against it. Marx wrote long ago that “labour in a white skin can
never be free so long as labour in the black skin is branded”. That’s
as true today as it was in 1867.
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