The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 27th June 2003
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TROOPS OUT OF IRAQ
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
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
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
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
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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