The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 4th June 2004
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CRISIS WEEK FOR BLAIR
by Daphne Liddle
BLAIR’S premiership will be on the line as soon as Thursday’s
election results are in and the leadership clique, including Blair himself,
have been making renewed efforts to ensure a smooth transfer of power to
On BBC1’s Breakfast with Frost programme Blair confessed: “It gets more difficult
as you go on as Prime Minister, that’s for sure. But also Iraq has been a
very divisive issue.”
Later, commenting on the coming week’s local and European elections,
he added: “Iraq is the shadow over our support, there’s no doubt about that,
there’s no point disputing that.”
He also refused to confirm earlier assurances that he would be leading the
party for a third full time and began praising Brown.
“These decisions are for the future,” he said, “but I’ve always made
clear he high regard I have for him. It’s been a great partnership, he’s
been a brilliant chancellor, he’s delivered huge economic strength, and he’s
a tremendous asset to the party and the country.”
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott recently compared Blair to Harold
Wilson in the days before he stood down from his premiership.
In public they are still talking about Blair leading the Labour Party
into the next general election and maybe handing over the Brown a few years
But Brown’s economic policies, based on phenomenal levels of public
personal borrowing, may not be looking so good in a couple of years.
The New Labour clique realise that if they have got to have a change
of leader, it would be better done quickly.
Brown can be relied on to follow the same agenda of keeping Britain
more closely allied to the United States than to Europe, to continue with
the steady privatisation of public services, described as “reforms”.
But even a change from Blair to Brown will be a small step forward
for the working class simply because it has been forced on the New Labour
clique against their will.
It will be an acknowledgement on their part that Blair’s extreme pro-Bush
warmongering was a mistake. It will be a very small retreat for the new colonialism.
And this is likely to add to the pressure against Bush and his mentors
Rumsfeld and Cheyney and make a Democrat victory more likely in November’s
Capitalism will still be very much in charge but the extreme right-wing
lunatic fringe of it will have been defeated, for the time being.
But there is huge turmoil inside the Parliamentary Labour Party and
plenty who want a better leader than Blair’s best buddy Brown.
Robin Cook – who took a principled stand against the war on Iraq from
the beginning and resigned as Foreign Secretary – has recently been dropping
heavy hints that he knows his successor in that post, Jack Straw, has also
been opposed to the war but could not speak out because of the constraints
of his office.
In a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph he described the Bush
and Blair post-war strategy as “ham-fisted” and “a personal tragedy” for
But he insisted that Straw has not been to blame but was merely following
orders from Downing Street.
Cook said: “I think Jack has a very difficult hand to play and has played
it with great skill,” implying that Straw’s own views on Iraq were not the
same as Blair’s.
“He has been impeccable in making sure that he reported to the Commons
and consulted MPs,” Cook continued. “I think under all circumstances he has
done as well as anybody could.
“As the world knows, a lot of the driving decisions in this area have
been made in Downing Street. The decision to support Bush on the invasion
of Iraq was made in Downing Street.”
Cook also claimed that Straw had very little opportunity to influence
the policies of Blair and Bush because his US opposite number, Colin Powell,
has been “very weak”.
Cook went on to admit dismay at the lack of post-war planning by the
Americans in Iraq and at Blair’s dogged loyalty to Bush.
He said he found the coalition’s failure to keep any records of the
numbers of Iraqis killed “deeply offensive arrogance”.
“They don’t even attempt to count those they kill. Iraqi lives are
not even registered as a statistic.”
Below the surface, the Labour Party in Parliament and in the country
at all levels is ready and ripe for change. How far that change goes will
depend on the level of pressure exerted.
Now more than ever, all political activity is important. Voting in
next Thursday’s local elections is part of that but only a part.
There must be no let up after the elections. Pressure must come crucially
from the trade unions, from the constituencies, from the peace movement and
all sorts of other broad movements.
It is not so much a question of which personality ends up in Downing
Street as the policies they are forced to adopt to get there.
It is more important to defeat the politics of the new imperialism
than its puppets.
Boycott the EU poll
NEXT WEEK’S European elections have degenerated into the usual nonsense
with Blair & Co in great difficulty trying to get people to actually
vote let alone mark their crosses for Labour. Bemused millions in northern
England will have received their postal ballot packs, many of them late,
in another Government stunt designed to encourage participation in this most
pointless of exercises.
Delays in printing the 14 million postal votes have been branded by the Liberal
Democrats as a “democratic disgrace”, while the Tories claim that this immense
effort covering the North West, North East, East Midlands and Yorkshire &
Humberside is simply a “politically motivated” stunt designed to boost Labour
Of course the reason most people don’t bother to vote in the European elections
is that is it isn’t worth even the trouble of opening the ballot pack or
walking to the polling station. The European Parliament is a powerless debating
society whose major purpose is to provide financial assistance to all the
parties on the EU gravy train.
Seats in the Strasbourg parliament are the gift of the political machines
who use them to reward loyal time-servers in the same way as a seat in the
House of Lords was awarded in the past. Members of the European Parliament
are paid a small fortune to maintain the façade that they represent
the people of Europe, and that EU structures are democratically controlled.
Of course they’re not and the EU isn’t. Boycotting the EU poll is the best
way of showing our contempt for this farce and our opposing to the Treaty
Only Labour can defeat Blair
The regional elections are different. In London the Labour list headed by
Ken Livingstone deserves a massive vote of confidence for the work the London
Assembly has done. Livingstone himself won his Labour membership back because
of the mass pressure of London’s labour movement maintaining his principled
stand against the Iraq war and continuing to be a prominent supporter of
the anti-war movement.
Some on the left are once again falling for the illusion that support for
fringe left social-democratic parties is the only way to defeat Blair and
his clique at the top of the Labour Party. It’s an old game that has never
worked. The “Socialist Alliance” has come and gone, Arthur Scargill’s Socialist
Labour Party is on its last legs following another split and George Galloway’s
Respect platform, a motley coalition revolving around the Trotskyite SWP,
revisionists and some self-appointed representatives of the Muslim community,
is going along the same road.
The simple fact in British politics is that social-democracy cannot be defeated
by imitation and the lessons of the disastrous theories of the “British
Road to Socialism” – the slow death that destroyed the old Communist Party
of Great Britain – have still to be learnt in some quarters of the labour
Of course social-democracy in any form cannot lead to socialism. Ultimately
social-democracy only exists to serve capitalism. Real people’s democracy
and genuine socialism can only be achieved through revolutionary change.
That’s why we need to build a powerful communist movement in Britain. In
the meantime, significant social reforms can be wrung from the ruling class
through collective bargaining and mass struggle and we certainly don’t have
to put up with the likes of Blair forever.
The simple truth is that Blair and the labour traitors and class collaborators
who are currently at the helm of the Labour Party, can only be defeated by
the labour movement itself. The revulsion against the Iraq war and the anger
at the way the Blair government is pursuing the old Tory agenda must be converted
into concrete action to replace Blair with a leadership that reflects the
just demands of the movement for peace and social justice.
Communists have a crucial role in the unions in building militancy at a rank-and-file
and national level to lead the campaign for a Labour government that pulls
out of Iraq, restores union rights, rebuilds the “welfare state” and returns
the privatised corporations to the public sector.
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