The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 27th August 2004
Iraq - the fight goes on!
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IRAQI MASSES MARCH AGAINST THE INVADERS
By our Arab Affairs correspondent
IRAQI RESISTANCE fighters are continuing to fend off American
attacks around the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf while thousands of Shia
faithful are marching to their holy city following a call from their
supreme spiritual leader to "save the city and end the US siege on its
Last week Mahdi Army militiamen stormed the central prison in al
Amarah, a southern town on the banks of the river Tigris, and freed all
Across the country American-led imperialist forces, backed by puppet
local auxiliaries, are fighting pitched battles on the outskirts of the
towns and cities liberated in June and the partisans have stepped up
their attacks on the oil installations and deep in the heart of the
occupied capital Baghdad.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani returned to Iraq from London, following
a heart operation, to rally the Shia community in defence of Najaf,
where rebel Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr, has vowed to defend to the
death. Al Sistani returned to the southern provincial capital of Basra
on Wednesday via Kuwait to urge all Iraqis to march on Najaf and halt
the fighting. Al Sadr's rebel Mahdi Army is ready to hand over the keys
of the shrine to al Sistani and the Shia Islamic council and they've
declared a cease-fire in British occupied southern Iraq to welcome the
But puppet "defence minister" Hazim Sha'alan has been mouthing off his
usual threats on behalf of his American masters. Last week he told the
imperialist media that the Mahdi Army had surrendered to his men in
Najaf. Now he's repeating the threat to storm the shrine unless they
give in. No one takes Sha'alan's threats seriously. His 500-strong
"crack" force has yet to be seen in action though the Americans are
using them for rear line patrols in the parts of Najaf they have moved
Back in Baghdad, two puppet ministers narrowly escaped with their lives
when their convoys were ambushed in two separate attacks in the heart
of the capital. The puppet "environment" and "education" ministers were
unhurt but five of their bodyguards were killed when their convoys were
bombed on Tuesday.
Fighting continues in the Shia stronghold of Sadr City, a slum
neighbourhood controlled by the Mahdi Army that the Americans claim to
have subdued last week. The guerrillas are increasingly using Grad
ground-to-ground missiles to devastating effect. The Grad is 6 metres
long and it strikes with a force more than 18 times that of an ordinary
rocket and every day resistance units are rocketing Saddam
International Airport and the US "Green Zone" military compound where
the puppet administration is located.
The Americans are now in a dilemma entirely of the own making. They've
wanted al Sadr and his Mahdi Army out of the way for months. They
clearly hoped he could be dealt with, once and for all, while al
Sistani was in London. But they've neither been able to drive him out
of Najaf or force him to submit to the authority of the puppet
If the Americans storm the holy mosque while the Grand Ayatollah is
leading his followers to the shrine they'll trigger an upsurge far
greater than the one they can't quell at the moment. If they don't the
Americans face the prospect of al Sistani in charge of Najaf and al
Sadr remaining with his reputation enhanced for defending the Shia
shrines against the imperialists. Anglo-American imperialist dreams of
elevating their puppet government on the international stage will be
totally shattered. It's all bad news for Bush and Blair who dreamed of
strutting on the world stage as "liberators" and conquerors.
The patriotic Iraqi resistance, which spans the entire spectrum of
Iraqi political life from Islamic clerics and Baathists, to the
patriotic communist movements, have shown once again that the
imperialists are paper tigers and that ultimately it is people who
decide the outcome of wars -- not guns and technology.
Blair backs down
So now the puppet "premier" of Iraq is not coming to Labour
Party Conference after all. It only took a week of protests to force
the Blairites to back down.
Labour CND and the other campaigning groups within the Labour Party can
chalk this up as an advance but the major target is to change the
Government's direction internationally and on the home front. That can
only come by replacing the Blair & Brown camp with a leadership
committed to advancing the demands of organised labour.
The Iraqi resistance is fighting Anglo-American imperialism tooth
and nail and the anti-war campaign is mobilising for new protests in
the weeks to come. Communists have a crucial role in supporting the
peace efforts and getting the communist message across to the millions
who are taking to the streets to oppose the criminal occupation of Iraq.
Taxing the Rich
Modest proposals by a Blairite think-tank to raise the level of
inheritance tax, or death duties as they were previously known, have
provoked howls of outrage in the Tory press. The scheme, drawn up by
the Institute for Public Policy Research, would start at a
£263,000 threshold at 22 per cent followed by a 40 per cent band
and raise the rate on estates worth more than £763,000 to 50 per
cent bringing an extra £150 million a year to the Exchequer.
Though this would mean that heirs of the very rich would pay more the
new sliding scale would see the level of tax levied on estates falling
in 87 per cent of cases.
Death duties have always been part of the progressive agenda. In 1848
the Communist Manifesto placed the abolition of property in land, heavy
progressive or graduated income tax and the abolition of all right of
inheritance as the top three demands in the battle for democracy. In
1905 Stalin said one of the first acts of the provisional revolutionary
government that would sweep away Czarism must be "to abolish indirect
taxes and introduce a progressive profits tax and progressive death
In Britain it was seen as a money circulation scheme and painless and
fair way to raise taxes to pay for social reforms. Death duties were
first introduced by the Liberals in the 19th century. The Chancellor,
Sir William Harcourt, famously quipped that "we are all socialists now"
when he moved the proposal in his budget in 1894. The rich squealed
with anger and they roared even louder when Liberal Chancellor Lloyd
George doubled death duties in the 1909 "People's Budget".
The immensely wealthy call it robbery but death duties rob no one. The
deceased have lost nothing as they have gone to a "better place" while
their heirs are simply being taxed on unearned income they never had in
the first place. The rich claim they seek to help their children but
none of them argue for the abolition of wills or the automatic right of
all offspring to an equal share of the estate.
What the rich really hate is that the essential principle of
inheritance tax attacks hereditary wealth and the absolute right to
They would like to see death duties abolished altogether so that
they could build dynasties on their piles of land and money like their
ancestors did in the 18th and 19th century.
Whether the Government does adopt the Institute's proposals remains to
be seen. What the labour movement must do is pile on the pressure for
the restoration of progressive taxation to the levels we had in 1979.
The homeless, the sick and the pensioners are crying out for
assistance. The rich have got plenty of money. They can well afford to
part with some of it.
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