The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 4th June 2004

Protesting Scots pull no punches!

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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 Gordon Brown.

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 later.

 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 presidential election.

 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 Blair.
 But he insisted that Straw has not been to blame but was merely following orders from Downing Street.
‘great skill’

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 votes.

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 of Rome.

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 movement.

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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