The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 26th January 2007

Blair would rather hang out  with ex-pop stars

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by Daphne Liddle

Tony Blair was afraid to show his face in Parliament last Wednesday for a debate on the Iraq war almost four years after the disastrous imperialist invasion of that country began, a war which the resistance fighters in Iraq are slowly but surely winning.

 But before the debate began, during Prime Minister’s question time, Blair attacked a proposal from Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell that a definite timetable should be set for the complete withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, beginning in May and ending in October.

 Blair responded, saying: “That would send the most disastrous signal to the people that we are fighting in Iraq. It’s a policy that, whatever its superficial attractions may be, is actually deeply irresponsible.”

 He then hurried away before the proper debate started, leaving Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett to open the debate for the Government.

 She said that “Operation Sinbad”, a joint British and Iraqi mission targeting police corruption and militia influence in Basra, where the British forces are concentrated in the south of Iraq, offered the prospect of a “turning point for Iraq, hopefully in the near future.”
aim to

Beckett told the Commons that coalition forces aim to hand over responsibilities for all 18 Iraqi provinces by November and that military commanders estimated British-controlled Maysan and Basra would be transferred to local security in the spring – though the Ministry of Defence could not given definite dates for these transfers.

  Chancellor Gordon Brown, who is more and more standing in for Blair as Prime Minister, said the Government intended to withdraw several thousand British troops by next December.    
 Meanwhile in Parliament Square protesters from Stop the War braved freezing conditions to hold a noisy demonstration, with placards that read: “Time to Go” and “UK-USA, Genocidal Psychopaths.”

 Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn told the debate in the House of Commons: “There is worldwide condemnation of this war; there is worldwide condemnation of the strategy behind this war and the crazy thinking which leads inexorably to yet more wars.”

 Respect MP for Tower Hamlets George Galloway described the puppet government in Iraq, installed by Britain and America, as “a group of warlords in Baghdad” bent on settling sectarian scores. “It’s not a government, it’s Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York,” he said.

 Menzies Campbell reiterated his proposal to the House: “It is no longer reasonable or legitimate to ask our armed forces to carry the burden any longer,” Campbell said. “It is time to go.”

 Blair’s cowardice in avoiding the debate drew an accusation from failed former Tory leader William Hague that Blair had shown he preferred the “mentality of the bunker to the open thinking of debate.”

 Prior to the debate John McDonnell MP had said: “The choice is not between some cowardly avoidance of one’s duty and the brave commitment to war and blood sacrifice.

 “It is the choice between a Prime Minister who seeks to promote and secure peace and one that engages in the bloody invasion of a country in support of a Bush regime whose motives were to secure the control Iraqi oil and a dominant strategic military presence in the Middle East.”

 A few days before the debate Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary and Secretary of State for Wales, had launched an attack on Bush’s policy in Iraq in the New Statesman. Hain said: “The neocon mission has failed. It’s not only failed to provide a coherent international policy, it’s failed wherever it’s been tried, and it’s failed with the American electorate, who kicked it into touch last November.

 “The problem for us as a government was actually to maintain a working relationship with what was the most right-wing American administration, it not ever, then in living memory.

 “All that we’ve achieved on the international agenda, whether it’s trebling aid to Africa, or leading the fight for trade justice, all of these things people have forgotten about because of the Iraq conflict.” Hain is hoping to be selected as Deputy Prime Minister under Brown as Prime Minister when Blair goes.


Bread and circuses

IN THE ROMAN era the masses were kept quiet with endless diversions ranging from chariot racing to matched pairs of gladiators in the arena. Nowadays we have to make do with trash reality shows on TV designed to bring out the worst in the contestants for the amusement of the viewers.

Last week was no exception with racist bullying by one participant on Celebrity Big Brother and a support for slavery from another on Shipwrecked. Though the wave of protests from viewers shows that these comments are totally unacceptable to British society today, the furore in the media merely reflects the gross hypocrisy of much of the bourgeois press.

The red tops scream their disgust at racism and the programme chiefs who have devised these shows while ignoring the fact that much of the institutionalised racism of the British state is generated by the tabloid racist stereotyping that passes almost unnoticed from day to day.

Not so long ago it was the Irish who were portrayed as bombers, bigots and savages. Now it’s the Muslims’ turn. Repulsive racist stereotyping of West Indians and Muslims in the TV characters Ali G and Borat is passed off as “humour” and when there’s a lull the perennial scare stories about scrounging immigrants and gypsies are churned out to fill the gap. The aim is to divide the class and impose a caste order within it for the benefit of the bourgeoisie.

Anyone who speaks out against it is routinely dismissed as a “politically correctness” fanatic who threatens our supposed right to free speech and our alleged “traditional” British values.

Racism is neither particularly traditional or British though its roots originate from the days when the British ruling class amassed immense fortunes from the slave trade and from the slave labour on the plantations of the West Indies.

The slave trade was abolished in the British Empire in 1807 and bicentennial celebrations to honour William Wilberforce, who introduced the legislation, will doubtless be used to praise the reformer rather than expose the origins of the return of slavery in the modern era.

Slavery underwrote the commercial and industrial expansion of the British bourgeoisie in the 18th century. Millions were taken from Africa to slave in the cotton, tobacco and sugar plantations of the Americas while over 10,000 African slaves worked in the great houses and estates of their masters in Britain. Some were “black boys” dressed in livery to flaunt their master’s wealth. Others were house slaves who could be beaten for the slightest misdemeanour.

The ruling class would rather not talk about it this shameful episode in their history now but we have to recall those days for them to show that the capitalist system is based on plunder and ruthless exploitation.

Racism is the ideological prop of imperialism. In the 19th century it was used to justify the supposed superiority of the “white man” in Africa and Asia and that of the “Englishman” across the entire world. The Jews were the targets of “Mother Russia” in the days of the Czar and we all know the form it took in Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire during the 1930s.

More subdued events will take place to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on Saturday 27th January, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp by the Red Army in 1945. Racism and its twin, religious bigotry, are the ideological weapons of the most reactionary elements of the bourgeoisie to divide the working class. It starts with the taunts and the jeers. It ends up with the mass murders of the Japanese Imperial Army and the horror of the Nazi gas chambers.

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