The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 27th June 2003

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Freedom for the Iraqi people

by our Arab Affairs Correspondent

THE BLAIR GOVERNMENT is considering sending thousands more troops to Iraq following resistance attacks on Tuesday, which killed six British soldiers and wounded another eight. But anti-war campaigners are once again demanding an immediate withdrawal of all British troops from Iraq.

In the Commons veteran Labour MP Tam Dalyell called for United Nations intervention warning that the “unpalatable truth” was that the Anglo-American troops were seen as an army of occupation rather than “liberators” by the Iraqi people.

British forces suffered their first major post-war losses this week when they came under fire in Majar al Kabir and the nearby town of Amara, some 130 km north of the British occupied port of Basra. While hit-and-run attacks against the Americans have risen sharply since the war  “officially” ended on 1 May, British forces based largely in the southern Shia Muslim regions have not been targeted until now.

The region has traditionally been a centre for the Shia anti-Baath opposition and British troops had been welcomed in some quarters when they first moved in. But any hopes that life in the south would be better than in the rest of the country under occupation have been dashed over the past few weeks.


According to Arab reports the attacks against the British forces were triggered by the brutal actions of the occupiers on Tuesday morning when four civilians were shot dead by British military police during a demonstration outside the mayor’s office in Majar al Kabir.

Angry armed civilians then killed two soldiers and chased four others to a police station, killing them after a two-hour gun-battle. In nearby Amara, a Parachute Regiment patrol was ambushed and an RAF Chinook helicopter was shot down as it attempted a rescue. The patrol was evacuated under fire but two military vehicles were destroyed and eight paras wounded.

That same day guerrillas sabotaged an oil pipeline near Haditha, some 200 km north-west of Baghdad, the latest in a series of attacks against pipelines designed to hinder American efforts to restore the oil industry for the benefit of the big oil corporations.

In other parts of the country American forces are coming under fire on an hourly basis. A senior member of the “Coalition Provisional Authority” admitted this week that: “we are experiencing acts of political sabotage by small pockets that seek to project an image to the Iraqi people that life is worse for them now than it was before…remnants of the former regime want to send a message that things are bad and they are seeking to sabotage the progress we are making”.


What he meant by “progress” remains a mystery to all but the spin-merchants of some sections of the bourgeois press. The electricity supply has not been restored. There is no running water. Food and medicine are scarce and the health service has more or less collapsed. Eight million Iraqis are unemployed including hundreds of thousands of soldiers, police and civil servants summarily dismissed by the American governor. Law and order barely exist. Gangs of robbers roam the towns and rural areas unhindered by Anglo-American patrols or the handful of “trusty” Iraqi police re-employed by the occupation army. Saddam Hussein’s popularity is soaring as rumours spread that he is personally leading the partisans from secret hide-outs throughout the country.

The solution would be to allow free elections to enable the Iraqi people to elect a government of their choice but this is the last thing the imperialists want.


They have their greedy eyes on Iraq’s oil and they have no intention of letting go of it at the moment. Three US senators, on a fact-finding mission to the country this week, predicted that a US presence may be “required” for as long as five years. The Americans said similar things when they were in Vietnam.


Bring the troops back now

THE REPORT of the Iraqi resistance attacks that led to the deaths of six British soldiers and the wounding of eight others shouldn’t surprise us. The rising temper of the resistance would inevitably spread beyond just targeting the American occupation forces. Now British troops are being sucked into America’s colonial war in Iraq – a war which imperialism cannot win.

Bush can dream of building a new American empire based on the might of the US air force and the guns of his marines. It’s an old story and it will end in tragedy.

The European colonial system ended decades ago sometimes through bloody struggle and other times through negotiations with the forces for liberation. In either case the result was the same and the British and French colonial empires are gone for good.

Bush cannot turn the clock of history back, let alone Blair and the war-camp in Britain. This was an illegal war from the beginning. British troops should never have been sent there in the first place. They must be withdrawn immediately.


Tax the rich

PETER HAIN’S call for a rise in the higher rate of income tax and his hasty retreat after it came under fire from Tony Blair and Gordon Brown has at least sparked off a debate inside the Labour Party on the question of progressive taxation.

Hain’s intervention was welcomed by a number of Labour’s pro-European lobby, including Robin Cook, though Cook stressed that he was only encouraging a public debate and not endorsing Hain’s proposals.  And what it amounts to is no more than a call for top earners to pay more income tax. Hain did not make any concrete suggestions in the draft of the speech he intended to give to the Bevan Foundation in Cardiff last week before he was forced to rewrite it under pressure from Blair & Co. But the idea of a new 50 per cent band has been around for some time and dismissed out of hand by the Blair leadership.

The division within Labour over EMU is widening and it’s clear that the pro-EU forces are trying to broaden their support by going beyond the anti-war movement to embrace some of Labour’s traditional social-democratic policies in their bid to challenge Blair.

They know that there is mass opposition to joining EMU at the moment and they are aware of the growing pressure from organised labour for increased public spending.

For over twenty years public spending has been cut. Vital services like the National Health Service, transport, education and local amenities have been seriously underfunded.  The process started with the Tories in 1979 and Labour has done little or nothing to reverse the trend since coming to power in 1997.

Taxation is the only way that essential services can be funded. For years both Tory and Labour governments have clamoured for lower income tax. But the only people that have benefited from the massive cuts in income tax have been the rich while the least well off have got poorer.

Fifty per cent is nowhere near enough. We must campaign to restore higher income tax levels to where they stood in 1979 when Labour was last in office.

While allowances and lower bands are needed for workers on low wages, new bands starting at 50 per cent and rising by ten per cent to 90 and then 98 per cent should be restored and applied to all earnings above £40,000.

At the same time indirect taxes like VAT and insurance tax should be abolished. This is, because, in proportion to people’s income, these taxes penalise the working class. The richest 20 per cent of the population pay only 15 per cent of their disposable income on indirect taxation. Everyone else pays over 20 per cent.

For over two decades the rich have been coining it hand over fist through reduced taxation. They’ve got plenty. Make them pay. 

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