The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 4th March 2005



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Lead

ASSAULT ON DEMOCRACY


by Daphne Liddle

THE GOVERNMENT’S
draconian Prevention of Terror Bill passed through the Commons on Tuesday with a majority of only 14, after 60 Labour rebels voted with the Tories and Liberal Democrats against the order.

They included former cabinet ministers Robin Cook, Frank Dobson, Clare Short and Chris Smith. The vote was on a series of cross-party amendments designed to ensure that all decisions on the proposed “control orders” would be taken by judges and not politicians. The amendments were defeated by 267 votes to 253.

 The Bill will now go to the House of Lords. Home Secretary Charles Clarke has promised them that he will make some concessions and amend the Bill so that only the High Court can decide whether to impose the most severe control orders. Leaving these decisions to politicians would put far too much power in the hands of the government of the day.

 But the Lords have little confidence in his promises. Shadow Home Secretary David Davis is trying to table an amendment to force the Government to reconsider the Act after eight months but Clarke is saying he has made enough concessions already.

 And Clarke needs the Act in place by next week, which is when he will be compelled to free the remaining Belmarsh detainees in line with a Law Lords ruling last year that it is illegal to hold them indefinitely without charge or trial.

 Clarke wants the new laws in place so that he can impose control orders on these men as they are released, claiming that they are very dangerous terrorists. If that were so, there should by now be some evidence that could be brought before a court.

 But Clarke and Blair are playing up the alleged dangers of a serious terrorist attack for all they are worth.

 Civil rights lawyers make the point that from the detainees’ point of view, it makes little difference whether they are locked up by a judge or a politician if they don’t know why they are being locked up, or what evidence there is against them, and have no opportunity to challenge it.

 In either case the “evidence” against them comes from faceless intelligence agents – secret police spies. And the intelligence services have made many mistakes.
 
waking up

Many politicians, lawyers and others from all political persuasions are waking up to the fact that this is possibly the most radical assault on bourgeois democracy in this country for centuries.

 But there is much more to come. The identity card scheme will involve a huge database containing detailed personal information on all of us and allow Government agencies to monitor our every move.

 The pressure to go over to all postal voting is an assault on the secret ballot.

 And now the Government is to scrap the board of governors of the BBC.

 Communists have always recognised that bourgeois democracy is a sham and that when things get difficult the ruling class will happily abandon it.

 But it is the system they prefer to use. Usually they only resort to dictatorships when they are losing control. Dictatorships are much more expensive to run and they antagonise the middle classes and the intelligentsia.

 So why the assault on bourgeois democracy now? This is one part of a divided ruling class attacking the rest. There is a war going on behind the scenes.

 There are massive divisions between those who want to see us as part of a European super state and those who want to see us as the 51st state of America.

 The pro-Americans are led by Blair. That is why he feels he cannot resign, because without him Bush would be isolated. The Blairites are following the most right-wing and reactionary elements in the US government who are gambling on a quick push for world hegemony.

 When the Soviet Union fell they saw their chance but felt under pressure to act fast before China, Japan and Europe became economic powers too big for them to subdue.

 The harder they push the more they alarm and alert the rest of the world – including their capitalist rivals, the remaining socialist countries, and more moderate capitalists in the US itself.

 These draconian measures, though harsh, are a sign that the ruling class is falling apart from within. There is every reason for working class optimism and for us to get organised to make the most of it.

 *************
Editorial

Blair’s creeping fascism

  THE GOVERNMENT’S new Prevention of Terrorism Bill got the kicking it deserved in the Commons on Monday. At one point it almost went under when 60 Labour rebels backed an opposition amendment that came within 14 votes of victory. Ten former Labour ministers took the principled stand against the latest attack on our civil liberties including four former members of Blair’s Cabinet.

Opposition to this reactionary piece of legislation goes far beyond the civil liberties lobby. It will be fiercely contested in Parliament but only mass pressure from the labour movement can ensure that it never sees the light of day.

The draconian laws being rushed through Parliament will sanction house arrest and various other “control orders” – all without charge or trial. If the Government gets its way it will soon be followed by the introduction of the most intrusive compulsory identity card in the world, giving the police and the security forces immense power over every citizen in the land. This power will certainly be abused if the past is anything to go by.

The original prevention of terrorism acts were used to hound the Irish community in Britain and falsely convict Irish people on terror charges during the last IRA campaign. Some 700 arrests were made under the new repressive laws that followed the 11 September attacks on the United States. Few of them were ever charged and even fewer eventually convicted.

The Government claims the target is “international terror” and the “several hundred people” Blair says are plotting terrorist attacks in Britain. That this is clearly not taken seriously by large sections of the ruling class can be seen by the vocal opposition of the Tories and Liberal Democrats to the new proposals.

 But it is equally evident that one section of the bourgeoisie is clamouring for it. They are the people Blair & Co believe to be the dominant section of the ruling class. They are the war camp that dragged us into the criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq. They are the people who are sabotaging the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to the north of Ireland.

They are the people who would readily plunge us into more conflicts if it suited the needs of American imperialism. They are the most venal and aggressive sections of the bourgeoisie – the people who think that British imperialism can only survive under the wing of the American eagle.

They don’t fear the random terrorism of Islamic fundamentalists that the security forces, existing law and the state’s emergency powers are more than adequate to deal with. What they fear is mass opposition to their rule in the future and they want the power to crush it in the bud.

Fascist regimes always claimed to be restoring “law and order”. These days Blair and his minions claim to be acting on behalf of the “public interest” though the people are never consulted about what is supposedly done in their name. 

Back in 1918 Lenin said that: “Bourgeois democracy, which is invaluable for educating the proletariat and training it for struggle, is always narrow, hypocritical, spurious and false; it always remains democracy for the rich and a swindle for the poor”.

Nothing has changed.

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