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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by Daphne Liddle

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 liberties.

 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 – socialism.


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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