The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 26th May 2006
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RESCUE BLAIR – AGAIN
by Daphne Liddle
DEPENDING on the Tories to get his Bills through is getting to
be a habit with Prime Minister Tony Blair and he did it again last
Tuesday when 69 Labour MPs voted in favour of a rebel amendment to the
Education Bill but the Bill still got through unscathed because the
Tories backed it.
The amendment would have forced schools to hold a ballot of
parents before becoming independent trusts but was defeated by 412
votes to 121.
On Wednesday evening the Bill cleared the House of Commons on another
vote backed by the Tories. This time 50 Labour backbench rebels voted
against the Bill.
Labour MP John McDonnell, who leads the Labour Representation
Committee, commenting on Tuesday’s defeat of the amendment, said: “This
is a crippling blow to the Education Bill, which the Prime Minister is
only able to force through the Commons on the back of Tory votes.”
The Bill will now allow schools to become “self-governing” – that
is to say governed by private sector sponsors who have forked out a
£2 million donation, which is a small fraction of the total cost
of the school. The taxpayers, who will meet the rest of the costs, will
have little say in the policies of trust schools.
Blair, and his new Education Secretary Alan Johnson, are claiming
these semi-privatised schools will improve education standards in
But schools already in the Government’s £5 billion academy
programme have failed to improve results compared to the comprehensives
they replaced, according to a study published last week by a senior
academic at Edinburgh University.
The Liberal Democrats supported the amendment. Speaking for the
Lib-Dems, Sarah Teather MP said: “This research pulls the rug out from
under ministers who have made extravagant claims about the results
academies are delivering.
“The truth is that their performance is much less impressive than the
Government has spun.”
Meanwhile popular support for Blair’s government is falling fast
according to a Guardian/ICM poll published last Wednesday, which put
support for Labour currently at 34 per cent compared with 38 per cent
for the Tories and 20 per cent for the Lib-Dems.
This is the Tories’ highest rating in 13 years and is inspired
not so much by confidence in David Cameron as disillusionment with
The financial crisis in the NHS, which is cutting swathes of
health sector jobs, along with the current shambles at the Home Office
are blamed for the falling support – along with all the usual issues
like the Iraq war, pensions, privatisation, sleaze and so on.
NHS officials are now claiming that having fewer beds will
improve the health service because new treatments mean that people do
not have to spend so long in hospital. So it’s back to the Tory days of
flinging people out of hospital as quickly as possible. In theory they
go to convalesce cared for by family and by community nurses, GPs and
other community support services.
But, as in the Tory days, the provision of community care is
woefully underfunded and inadequate – and much of what there is has
been privatised to be supplied by profit-making agencies.
Calamities at the Home Office continue to hit the headlines, with the
news that 2,700 completely innocent people have been wrongly labelled
as criminals by the Criminal Records Bureau because their personal
details were similar to criminals. The Home Office said the mismatches
were “regrettable” but failed to apologise.
Other scandals to hit the Home Office include serious offenders
being able to simply walk out of open prisons – with many still at
large – and four illegal immigrants found to have been working at the
Home Office building in Croydon for several years.
Newly-appointed Home Secretary John Reid has had no option but to
agree that his department is in a mess and to threaten drastic changes
– including sackings.
Like many Government departments, the Home Office is beset by
poor communications, inadequate information technology supplied by the
private sector and insufficient properly trained civil servants. It is
hardly surprising if the civil servants who have survived the culls,
facing daily vilification and expected to implement ever more complex
Government legislation, become demoralised amid the shambles.
And the employment of illegal immigrants as cleaners in
Government buildings shows that the Government, like any private
cheapskate boss, is happy to use the sort of agencies that pay the
lowest wages, cut corners, exploit vulnerable workers and infringe the
law to keep costs as low as possible.
The whole Government is a shambles – and cannot be anything else
as long as the utterly discredited Tony Blair remains in charge. He
Blair: errand boy of imperialism
THOUGH Tony Blair rarely shows
his face in public at home there’s nothing he loves more than strutting
across the world posing as an international statesman and basking in
the plaudits of the apologists of imperialism on both sides of the
Atlantic. Largely dispensing with his own Foreign Secretary, Blair
willingly assumed the role of messenger boy for George W Bush in the
service of the most venal and aggressive sections of the British ruling
class. But these days Blair’s less and less welcome abroad and he’s now
been reduced to making a flying visit to Iraq to meet the puppet
leaders who serve Anglo-American imperialism.
Needless to say Blair said nothing new during his few hours in the
fortified US military compound in the heart of Baghdad that houses the
Vichy-type regime that relies entirely on the bayonets of British and
American imperialism. Blair told the Iraqi people that there was now
“no excuse” for the bloodshed to continue now they had a “new
government” that was a “new beginning” which would allow Iraqis to
“take charge of their own destiny”. That he clearly doesn’t believe
this himself was demonstrated by the fact that a senior official in his
entourage told the media that the withdrawal of the present
multinational force should be accomplished within four years.
Whether the Iraqi people are going to wait that long remains to be
seen. The guns of the heroic Iraqi resistance are blazing throughout
the country. The British zone of southern Iraq has erupted into
anti-occupation violence. British troops can no longer patrol on
foot for fear of ambushes, while the alternative – helicopter
gunships – is becoming equally hazardous.
When Blair threw in his lot with the war party he clearly expected to
reap a handsome reward for his services from the United States that
would more than compensate for the souring of relations with
Franco-German imperialism and the end of British hopes of playing a
leading role in the European Union. Events have shown that the leaders
of France and Germany had more sense than to get involved in this
When Blair ordered the army in after misleading the public and lying to
Parliament over Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, he assumed
that he would be basking in jingoistic popularity when Iraqi was
overrun. His spin-merchants talked about the “Baghdad bounce” that
would send Blair’s popularity soaring. They were soon proved
wrong because the British people are much wiser than he.
Britain faced the same problem when it first occupied Iraq after the
First World War. The Arabs, who had been tricked into believing that
the defeat of Germany and the Turkish Ottoman Empire would lead to
their freedom, were furious when they discovered that all they were
getting was new chains for old.
The Iraqi revolt made Mesopotamia, as it was then called, ungovernable,
provoking an intervention by Colonel T E Lawrence, the
chief British agent in the Middle East during the war, that still rings
true today. Writing to the Sunday Times in August 1920 “Lawrence of
Arabia” said: “The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into
a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour.
They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information.
The Baghdad communiqués are belated, insincere, incomplete.
Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration
more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to
our imperial record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary
cure. We are today not far from a disaster”.
Lawrence’s solution was simply to replace the British colonial
occupation with a pro-British feudal Arab king, whose family sat on the
throne until most of them were shot during the Iraqi revolution of
1958. The age of kings is over even in Arabia but Colonel Lawrence’s
general advice is as true now as it was it 1920. There must be an
immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all British troops from Iraq.
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