The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 30th November 2007

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by Daphne Liddle

PRIME Minister
Gordon Brown must be wondering what is going to hit him next as his government is rocked by one crisis after another. A week ago it was the scandal of £24 billion of taxpayers’ money handed over to shore up a failing bank.

 Then it was a succession of army generals criticising the defence budget, lost data discs and now it’s another dodgy donations scandal.

 He could hardly be blamed for thinking that someone – a powerful someone, and that rules out most of the likes of us – has got it in for him.

 We are again witnessing the classic symptoms of an almighty split within the ruling class and we suspect that Brown’s plans to endorse the new European Union treaty-cum-constitution are at the root of the matter.

 Obviously genuine socialists, peace-lovers, defenders of civil liberties and those fighting for the restoration of democracy within the Labour Party are not happy with Brown, never have been and have never made any secret of this.

 But the ruling class likes to pretend to a united front against the workers, which means their back-stabbing battles can take some strange turns. And the press is playing a key role.

 The £24 billion “secured loan” offered to Northern Rock to stop the first run on a bank in Britain since Victorian times was rightly denounced as a scandal – especially since afterwards it transpired that the considerable assets that were the security for Northern Rock’s loan were in fact mortgaged to the tune of £53 billion to an offshore company.

 This filled the headlines for days, unlike  another scandal – that Labour’s commitment to private finance initiative (PFI) projects to replace the country’s public sector infrastructure – is going to cost taxpayers around £170 billion by the year 2032. That is nearly £3,000 for every person living in Britain.

 The figures come from the Commons public accounts committee, which has warned that private firms are taking advantage of the lack of competition and the Government’s dogmatic insistence that all public works must be carried out through PFI contracts to raise their prices by 26 per cent.

 This has the effect of forcing local councils, the NHS and other public bodies who have to foot the extortionate bills to make drastic cuts in the services they can afford to provide.
waiting to happen

Then came the scandal of the lost child benefit data discs, which was, as the PCS civil service union had warned, an accident waiting to happen after merging the Inland Revenue with Customs into one department and imposing 25,000 job cuts on the newly merged department.

 This leaves surviving employees under enormous pressure, with targets to meet and with the civil service internal mail system privatised to a commercial courier firm, corners were going to be cut and a disaster was inevitable.

 Now the Labour leadership is embroiled in another scandal about donations made to the party – and to the election campaigns of leading figures in it, by David Abrahams. He is a wealthy businessman who gave hundreds of thousands anonymously, using four different people as fronts for the donations.

 This is contrary to rules on political party donations that were introduced recently by the Labour Party and, after last year’s scandal surrounding claims of peerages for “loans” that were disguised donations, the party’s administrators can hardly claim they did not understand the rules.

 It turns out that Abrahams has been a long-term supporter of Labour and is a friend of Tony Blair and received a recent letter from Jon Mendelsohn, Labour’s chief fundraiser, thanking him for “help and support over many years”. He claims he made the donations anonymously because he was shy.

 Now Brown, Straw, Harman and Hilary Benn are all claiming they do not know Abrahams personally.

 These scandals surfacing all at the same time are unlikely to be coincidence – it seems a powerful sector in the ruling class wants Brown out.

 Who would replace him? There would almost certainly be a general election – and a danger of a return to Tory rule.

 This would accelerate the privatisation of the NHS and education, without any pretence that it was doing otherwise. Local authorities could expect more drastic cuts; “affordable” housing plans would be abandoned.

 Cameron currently criticises the Government’s anti-terror measures and pretends to support civil liberties, but the Tory record in the past shows he would soon adopt and accelerate them.

 There must be many Labour MPs now wishing they had supported John McDonnell’s challenge to Brown taking over the Labour leadership without a contest.


Another false dawn

TONY BLAIR, so we are told, craved for some sort of dramatic act that would be recalled in times to come as the “legacy” of his 10 year premiership. But all he’s remembered for is his resignation.

Now Blair has to console himself with the largely meaningless post of Middle East envoy for the “Quartet” of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. But his mentor, George W Bush, is joining in the act by sponsoring a Middle East “peace” conference in the United States that will produce nothing beyond photo-opportunities for the leaders of the imperialist camp and the usual platitudes they reserve for these occasions.

Though the gathering at the US Naval College in Annapolis has been presented as some sort of conference it is nothing more than a one-day exchange of views between Arab envoys, Israel and its imperialist masters. The supposed aim of the meeting is to build the “framework” for the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But the Palestinians are only represented by their weak and ineffectual leader, Mahmoud Abbas, who controls the “autonomous” zones in the West Bank. The militant Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip and its 1.5 million inhabitants, is excluded.

As usual Bush hypocritically struts the stage posing as an honest broker when, in fact, the United States is the major protagonist in the Middle East conflict. Israel is a total dependency of United States. US imperialism bankrolls the economy of the Zionist entity and arms it to the teeth to serve America’s strategic interests in the Middle East. At no time has the United States ever been an honest and impartial arbiter in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and at no time has it ever addressed the Middle East issue even-handedly; its acts, practices and policies have always been part of the problem.
The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 plunged the Middle East into endless conflict. From its very foundation Israel has been a cats-paw of imperialism first at the behest of Britain and France and latterly in the service of the United States. Israel’s refusal to recognise the legitimate rights of the Palestinian Arabs has led to six major wars in the region and continuous confrontation with the Arabs. Though the Arabs have been the victims of Zionist terror for years the Israeli public have not been immune. They have also suffered from the venal and criminal actions of their own leaders – most recently last year when northern Israel endured a rain of rockets during its failed invasion of southern Lebanon.

Bush and Blair drivel on about the United Nations when it suits them. They argue, deceitfully, that the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq was sanctioned by the UN – which it was not. They claim that they have a UN mandate for the continued occupation of Iraq – which they don’t. They want to use the UN to justify imperialist interventions in Darfur and Myanmar (Burma). They bleat on about “human rights” to justify support for reactionary, pro-imperialist separatist cliques from Kosovo to Tibet. But they soon shut up when it comes to Palestine.

The United Nations as a whole has repeatedly laid down the parameters for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.  These are the total withdrawal of Israeli forces from all the Arab territories seized during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, including Arab East Jerusalem and Syria’s Golan Heights; the establishment of secure and permanent frontiers for Israel and the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and the recognition of the right of all the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes or be paid suitable compensation if they so wish.

The Middle East conflict has gone on for over 50 years and it will continue for generations to come until the imperialists recognise that the Palestinian Arabs have at least the same rights as the Israeli Jews to Palestine. That clearly is going to be for another day – it’s certainly not going to happen in Annapolis.

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