The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 5th October 2007

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by Daphne Liddle

Brown call an autumn election or won’t he? He’s ahead in the polls and he’s asked the unions to pay up their regular contributions to the Labour Party in advance so he’s definitely considering it. But Brown is a cautious man and opinion polls can be fickle.

 Whatever he decides, the Tory party at its annual conference in Blackpool this week has been giving ample to cause to make sure it is never elected to form a government again.

 Tory leader David Cameron put on a public school party piece by delivering his keynote speech without script or auto-prompt. It was high on style but the content was the usual old bashing immigration, attacking human rights legislation and other favourite Tory targets.

 The Tories have been promising tax cuts – on stamp duty on house sales and for the heirs of millionaires. The feudal landlords of Britain have always resented the principle of paying death duties, even though such taxes, in different forms, go back to 1066 and are an acknowledgement that all property really belongs to the Crown, or state, and that inheritance is a privilege, not a right.

 But most of the wealthy property-owners have in any case found ways round these taxes. Anything announced in Blackpool last week will make little difference, which is just as well because, according to Treasury officials and independent tax consultants, the Tories have got their sums very wrong.

The Tories traditionally promise tax cuts that in reality benefit only the very rich – but spin this as a vote winner for middle-income tax payers who, in their imaginations, just might win the lottery next week. In reality they pay for the tax cuts through cuts to the social wage – schools, hospitals, libraries and so on.

 The Tories also traditionally promise to reduce benefit costs and this year has been no exception. As usual they are targeting incapacity benefit – paid to the long-term sick, injured and disabled. There are currently 2.5 million claimants with a total bill of £7.7 billion.

 People who are sick and disabled are an easy target; it is hard for them to fight back. But there are, as ever, no attacks on the causes of long-term illnesses caused by bad employers, rising workplace accident and injury rates and the epidemic of overwork-induced stress and depression.

 And of course the Tories are targeting single parents. Ian Duncan Smith said: “Everyone who is on benefit should be seeking work. When a child is five a single parent should be back in the job queue. If you are not seeking work you should not be entitled to benefits.”

 There was nothing about providing affordable good quality childcare through school holidays and the hours before and after school.

 The Tories failed to mention the most obvious public spending cuts that could be effected by withdrawing British troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

 Cameron also attacked immigration levels and the human rights legislation that prevents immigration authorities from deporting people where they could be killed or tortured.

 Boris Johnson, now the Tories’ official candidate to stand against Ken Livingstone to be Mayor of London, attacked spending levels by Transport for London – a clear message that the pensioners’ precious Freedom Pass would not last long with him.

 The Tories said they would scrap plans for identity cards – which is good. Then they said they would spend the money construction more prisons. Trying to construct a society where fewer people need to be locked up has never entered their imaginations. They are not socialists.

 New Labour are not socialists either but the Tory party conference has delivered a message that  there are even worse alternatives.

 If ever they were allowed back in power the current ruling class attack on working class living standards and human rights would definitely be accelerated – to the benefit of the super rich.


Dictators and democracy

IF THE United States government were a psychiatric patient it would be diagnosed with having a multi-personality disorder it its attitude to dictators and democracy in other people’s countries.

 The world’s most powerful imperialist state gave full support – both morally and with funds and weapons – to the Indonesian right-wing Suharto, who, in the mid 1960s, overthrew the democratically elected left-wing government of Sukarno and then proceeded to massacre around two million communists and their supporters.

 It gave full support to the fascist coup of General Pinochet in Chile which toppled the left-wing democrat Allende and then set about imprisoning, torturing and slaughtering communists, socialists and trade unionists. The US attitude to most dictators was “he may be a son-of-a-bitch but he’s our son-of-a-bitch”.

 US imperialism, in the 1980s, started by backing Panamanian dictator Noriega but later changed its mind when he failed to be as compliant to US interests as they wished. The US government staged an intervention “in the interests of democracy” and removed him.

 A similar pattern followed with Saddam Hussein – only it proved a lot more difficult than the Americans imagined.

 In Pakistan, behind-the-scenes American influences are trying to get the military dictator Musharraf re-elected with attempts at a strained coalition with Benazir Bhutto. This is a country with two million bonded labour slaves, where the big landowner owners of these slaves have their own private militias and jails to keep their labourers from escaping – all in flagrant contradiction of the constitution.

 The US loves some dictators and national leaders, but others it hates: like Mugabe, Milosovic and now the government of General Than Shwe and Deputy Senior General Maung Aye in Myanmar (Burma).

 American imperialism has a technique for removing governments it does not like. It fosters and funds huge demonstrations by opposition groups – usually full of very young people – like the teenagers in the Kosovan Liberation Army it armed to the teeth to destabilise Yugoslavia and like the “Orange revolution” in the Ukraine.

 The subsequent unrest gives the US an excuse to pressure the United Nations for direct military intervention. And guess what? Myanmar has oil and gas reserves.

 Fortunately some members of the UN Security Council have witnessed this tactic used time and again, and in the case of Myanmar, the Americans have not got the backing for an intervention that they hoped. Instead the UN has sent special envoy Ibrahim Gambari to investigate.

 The people of Myanmar undoubtedly have real problems and grievances but nothing that will not be made a whole lot worse by US-backed imperialist intervention motivated by another grab for oil.


Workers need homes

23rd September, on the eve of the Labour Party conference, BBC interviewer Andrew Marr asked Prime Minister Gordon Brown about Britain’s mounting personal debt crisis. Brown replied the record levels of personal borrowing were due to the low interest rates that he had promoted for the last decade – and that this had enabled thousands of people to get mortgages and get homes – and wasn’t this a good thing!

 Brown is proud of his policies that have turned us into a nation of debtors, working long, long hours to pay our debts, losing our leisure, recreation and family life in the process. All this extra work has made a fortune for the bosses from our exhaustion. And house prices have risen way out of sight for most workers on low or middle incomes. Speculators have made billions.

 The rate of home repossessions is up by over 30 per cent compared to last year and bankruptcies are at record levels. Marr failed to press Brown on any of these points but Brown seems complacent about the combined debt and housing crisis that is stalking Britain. And as interest rates start to rise it seems worse is to come.

 We must actively support the calls to defend and expand council housing – doing away with misleading jargon like “social housing” and “affordability”. For millions on low wages, council housing is the only route to secure decent homes – a human right for all.

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