The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 29th April 2005
Saigon 30 years ago. When will it be Baghdad?
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RETURN TO TORY NIGHTMARE
by Daphne Liddle
FORMER Labour MP Brian
Sedgemore last week quit the Labour Party to join the Liberal Democrats
because, he said, of Blair’s lies to drag this country into taking part
in the illegal invasion of Iraq and because of Blair’s assault on civil
liberties in this country, in the name of fighting terrorism.
Many Labour supporters share Brian Sedgemore’s concerns. But his change
of party was obviously timed very carefully to have maximum impact on
the outcome of the general election.
The effect Sedgemore could produce is a Tory government – which
will not improve the situation in Iraq or on civil liberties.
Both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats have spent the last few
days hammering Blair over his Iraq lies. And this is having an impact –
putting the election result in doubt.
Blair has left himself wide open to such attack. If he were not
so arrogant he would have resigned last year to let someone else lead
the party into the election.
But the man is so self-centred he would sooner see the Labour
Party lose the coming election than admit his mistakes over Iraq. Blair
is more of a danger to Labour than Howard or Kennedy.
But the rest of the Labour and trade union leadership must take some
responsibility for allowing Blair to do this when they and only they
could have stopped him.
Now all socialists and progressives have a struggle to persuade
voters to elect the party again in spite of its leader.
There are thousands who are rightly angry over Iraq and other
issues who, like Brian Sedgemore, want to let Blair know that he cannot
get away with it.
The problem is that if enough people do not vote Labour, we will
end up with a Tory government. This will do little to punish Blair. As
Robin Cook pointed out a few weeks ago, whatever happens Blair has a
nice career ahead of him in big business, here or in America.
But it will punish the ordinary people of Britain, in particular
the working class and the trade unions.
Blair has failed to repeal the worst of the Tory anti-trade union
laws but he has introduced a few labour protection laws. A Howard
government would be sure to make things far harder for the trade unions.
We deplore Blair’s attacks on civil liberties – detention without
trial for alleged terrorists, identity cards and so on. Howard would
not abolish these. In his time as Home Secretary he clashed with the
judiciary many times. He would accelerate the attacks on civil
We remember that when Howard was Home Secretary, women prisoners
in labour were chained to their hospital beds while giving birth. He
has promised a massive new prison building programme and intends to
lock up even more, although Britain already has the highest proportion
of its people in jail in Europe.
Blair is introducing private sector investment and control into
education and the health service by the backdoor. Howard would welcome
it by the front door.
Howard has attacked Blair’s policy on Iraq but has made no
promises to withdraw British troops.
In this election campaign Howard has not hesitated to play the
race card and to attack vulnerable minorities like asylum seekers and
Gypsies. If he were in power these attacks, aimed to divide and divert
the working class, would increase.
The Liberal Democrats have been slightly more principled over
Iraq. But they supported the attacks on Afghanistan and the former
Yugoslavia. Their former leader Paddy Ashdown is still in Bosnia,
administering it on behalf of western imperialism.
They would have supported the invasion of Iraq if there had been
a second United Nations resolution.
The Liberal Democrats are very much in favour of freedom – for
capitalism, for free trade and profiteering. But they are against
freedom for trade unions.
For the working class of Britain, the best result from the
election would be another Labour victory. It would leave the Labour
party membership and the trade unions with the real possibility of
getting rid of Blair and getting a better leader.
But with either Howard or Kennedy in charge, the future for the working
class would be grim.
The fight to get Britain out of Iraq, to defend civil liberties
and to stop the privatisation of our health and education services
would be easier with a strong trade union movement. Under a Howard
government it would be a much harder struggle.
Whatever happens, the struggle must go on. And we must remember
that Parliamentary elections are only a part of that struggle. The
really important struggle is to build the organisation and confidence
of the working class so that it can throw off the whole corrupt charade
of bourgeois democracy and introduce real working class democracy –
Imperialist flies conquer the flypaper
THIS week we celebrate May
Day, Workers’ Day, along with millions of other workers all around the
world. We also celebrate the 30th anniversary of the victory of the
people of Vietnam, led by their Communist Party, against the forces of
United States imperialism.
This is a very important victory for the whole world’s working class
because it proved that in spite of having vastly superior weapons and
financial resources; the imperialists could not defeat the will of the
ordinary people of Vietnam.
Washington threw everything it had at Vietnam: years of massive
bombing, gassing, napalm, Agent Orange, massacres of civilians, lies
and deceit. Warmonger Kissinger could not believe the people of Vietnam
did not have the breaking point he was seeking.
The Americans were bewildered. They could easily win all the big, set
piece battles but lost the war. Ho Chi Minh and General Giap, like Mao
Zedong and Kim Il Sung before them, rewrote the rule book on war,
leaving the experts of West Point, Sandhurst and the Japanese military
academy at Ichigaya Heights in despair.
The imperialists believed that when they marched in and took over a
country, that was the end of the matter. But it was only the beginning.
To quote Steinbeck in The Moon is Down, it was just the flies
conquering the flypaper. The harder they went in, the more they were
stuck, prisoners of their own adventurism.
They are learning the lesson again today in Iraq, where the imperialist
invaders are afraid to venture outside their small, heavily guarded
enclaves. With hindsight we can see that Saddam, who was no Marxist,
was mistaken to comply with imperialist-imposed weapons bans and United
Nations inspections. It made Iraq more likely to get invaded, not less.
Democratic Korea, Iran and Syria have noted that lesson.
But Saddam did one wise thing, when he could see that invasion was
inevitable, he armed the ordinary people so they could continue the
fight after the Americans and British thought they had won. Now they
never can win. They are stuck on the flypaper as firmly as they were in
Vietnam and cannot find a way out.
Way back in 1973, Salvador Allende knew the US imperialists, led by
Nixon, were plotting a coup to bring down his socialist government.
Castro advised him to arm the people but he was afraid to do so because
it might spark a civil war and bloodbath. The bloodbath came anyway
after the Pinochet coup.
The lesson is that appeasing the imperialists does not prevent
bloodshed. But history is showing that those who have the courage to
stand and fight, however long it takes, in the end, cannot be defeated.
There can be no doubt the sacrifices made by the Vietnamese people and
now the Iraqi people have been enormous. But the alternative –
accepting conquest, oppression, exploitation, poverty and all the
associated illness and misery would be even worse.
Next week we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi
Germany. This was brought about by a broad alliance of many
anti-fascist forces. Chief among them was the Red Army – the armed
manifestation of the mighty working class of the Soviet Union. May is a
good month for workers’ power.
“The people, united, can never be defeated” is no meaningless mantra.
The imperialists, in spite of all their money, their vast weaponry,
their technology and their spies, do not own the future of this planet.
That belongs to the workers of the world.
Long live May Day!
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