The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 30th May 2008

Prospects for Pakistan's freed bonded labourers 

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by our Arab Affairs Correspondent

resistance fighters have withdrawn from the northern city of Mosul but partisans continued hit-and-run attacks across Baghdad, while Mahdi Army commanders warned that aggressive searches by puppet regime troops in their Sadr City stronghold could jeopardise the fragile truce that ended the fighting in the east of the capital last week.

Muqtada al Sadr is now returning to the political front against his rivals in the Shia hierarchy that dominate the puppet government; underground Baathist leader Izzat Ibrahim al Duri has called on the resistance to keep up the fight. Meanwhile the price of oil hit record levels amid market fears of continuing instability in the region.

Radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr has called on his supporters to mount weekly peaceful protests against a new American security plan that would perpetuate the US occupation. The US proposals would allow American troops to remain in Iraq with the agreement of the venal puppet administration. Al Sadr has the support of senior Shia clerics for this saying: “What comforted me are the oral and written edicts, fatwas, which forbid the agreement between the occupation forces of darkness and the Iraqi government”.

Though the top Shia clerics refused to publicly be drawn into the recent conflict between the Sadr movement and the Shia- dominated puppet administration, they’re behind him on the US “security” plan. Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani has expressed his anger, saying he would not permit the Iraqi government to sign a deal with “US occupiers” as long as he lived. “It is necessary to take action rather than remain helpless,” Al Sadr declared demanding that “any agreement brokered with the US be put to a popular referendum” and vowing to gather a million signatures rejecting the deal.

Meanwhile Arab Socialist Renaissance Party (Baath) leader Izzat Ibrahim al Duri has vowed to fight on until the imperialists withdraw, his country. Interviewed by an Egyptian magazine, Saddam Hussein’s deputy president said some 120,000 Baathist supporters had been killed in the fighting over the past five years but the resistance would continue “until the total liberation of Iraq”. The resistance would negotiate with the Americans but only if they agreed to withdraw their troops, dismiss their puppets and recognise the Baath Party as “the legitimate representative of the Iraqi people”.

The Bush administration is once again claiming its divide and rule tactics have the partisans on the run but this confidence is reflected in the global oil industry.

The price of oil has tripled since the invasion of Iraq, costing the world a staggering $6 trillion in higher energy prices alone. Oil economist Dr Mamdouh Salameh, who advises both the World Bank and the UN Industrial Development Organisation (Unido), says that the price of oil would now be no more than $40 a barrel, less than a third of the record $135 a barrel reached last week, if it had not been for the war of aggression against Iraq.

Dr Salameh, director of the British-based Oil Market Consultancy Service and an authority on Iraq’s oil, said it is the only one of the world’s biggest producing countries with enough reserves substantially to increase its flow.

Production in eight of the others –  the United States, Canada, Iran, Indonesia, Russia, Britain, Norway and Mexico – has peaked, he says, while China and Saudi Arabia, the remaining two, are nearing the point of decline. Before the war, Saddam Hussein’s regime pumped some 3.5 million barrels of oil a day, but this had now fallen to just two million barrels.

Dr Salameh told the all-party parliamentary group on peak oil last month that Iraq had offered the Americans a deal, three years before the war, that would have opened up 10 new giant oil fields on “generous” terms in return for the lifting of sanctions. He said that this would certainly have prevented the steep rise in the price of oil. “But the US had a different idea. It planned to occupy Iraq and annex its oil.”



More bad news for Labour

LABOUR’S massive defeat in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election last week clearly shows that “New Labour” is dead in the water and that we’re going to get the Tories back in two years time unless the Brown government responds to the demands of working people in time.

Brown’s minions are running around blaming their dismal showing on poor local campaigning as if it had nothing to do with them. Other Blairites are plotting behind the scenes to find a new leader who will somehow woo the electorate with communication skills that the Prime Minister apparently lacks.

Well it was a rubbishy campaign. Running around in top hats ridiculing “Tory toffs” is no substitute for class politics – least of all from this Government which has bent over backwards to serve the ruling class and put the entire burden of the current economic crisis on those who can least afford it. It was a childish campaign but not as puerile as the belief that Labour voters are so inherently stupid that they can easily be won back with yet another new face at the helm.

John McDonnell, the chair of the Labour Representation Committee (LRC), said: “This leadership speculation is degenerating into farce.

“It is pointless changing leader without changing policies. And it is pointless supporting a coalition to depose the existing leader which comprises all those who have consistently supported the New Labour policies which have brought this crisis upon us”.

But many union leaders, including many of those who came to power with the support of broad left factions, argue that open debate could split Labour and speed the way for the Tories.

Make no mistake – a Tory Government would be much worse than Brown’s for the unions and the working class as a whole. But the voters who sat on their hands in Crewe and throughout England and Wales in the May local elections didn’t do it because they’ve taken a Freudian dislike to Gordon Brown’s dour ways. They did it because they don’t like his policies, which differ so little from those of David Cameron and Boris Johnson that the prospect of a Tory come-back now no longer strikes fear amongst the working class – particularly those too young to remember the dark days of Thatcher and Major.

The millions who voted Labour time and time again over the past 10 years have been betrayed by a Government that has led Britain into a criminal war in Iraq and another futile foray into Afghanistan. Working people expected a revitalised Welfare State and a National Health Service and education system worthy of a country whose economy we are told is the fifth largest in the world. What we got was the same Tory package of tax breaks for the rich, privatisations and cuts greased with a few modest reforms and third-rate appeals to “patriotism” that made even the Tories cringe with embarrassment.

The LRC and the centrist Compass group are both calling for an open debate within the Labour Party in the wake of May’s disastrous polls to draw up a new programme that could revive the party and restore its credibility amongst its traditional working class supporters. The affiliated unions which now provide virtually all of Labour’s funding must play a decisive role in supporting the demands for a new Government agenda focused on the needs and demands of the organised working class.
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