The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 8th September 2006

March to stop Remploy closures

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by Daphne Liddle

are moving fast as Labour MPs, junior ministers and even Blair’s best friends are lining up in force and publicly to telling him he must go.

 These are not the “usual suspects” – left-wing principled MPs and trade unionists who have been telling Blair to go for years now.

 These are the “New Labour” careerists who fear that Blair’s plummeting popularity and credibility is likely to drag them down if they don’t distance themselves from him publicly now.

 On Monday a group of 18 Labour MPs, said to be the majority of the new intake of MPs in the 2001 election, led by Rhondda MP Chris Bryant and Birmingham Erdington MP Sion Simon sent Blair a “private” letter calling on him to quit now.

 This followed the news that Blair was still refusing to set a firm date for his departure. His backers had said he was planning to stay in office for “another 12 to 18 months”.

 This sparked a predictable show of public loyalty from the dwindling coterie still around Blair, who at the same time hinted that Blair would probably announce the date of his resignation some time next May.

 But Blair is notorious for giving vague hints that he is prepared to go in good time and then claiming he never said anything of the kind.

 At last Labour MPs are now wise to this and both the supporters of Gordon Brown and Blair’s former supporters want him nailed to definite promises. They declared that next May was “not good enough”.

Then on Wednesday a number of junior ministers resigned, adding to the pressure on Blair to resign now. Leading them was former junior defence minister Tom Watson, along with six parliamentary secretaries.

 The Brownites are desperate that the handover of power should be as quick as possible and that there should be no debate about Labour’s policies. Brown’s lieutenant Ed Balls rejected the idea of a debate as “absurd”.

 On the other hand, the party is in serious financial difficulties and the unions hold the purse strings. The unions – and the rank and file Labour members – do want a serious debate and a change of policy.

 TGWU general secretary Tony Woodley said: “With a new leader must come a new agenda. Downing Street seems to be in a state of denial about the real state of the party – and indeed the real popularity of ‘New Labour’.

 “At the last two elections Labour lost millions of votes, mostly from working people. The electoral system has given us big parliamentary majorities on fewer votes than we used to lose on – and support is further slipping away, particularly as a result of our policy in the Middle East.

 “Unless we address this dissatisfaction, which is far from solely about the Prime Minister, a leadership election will achieve little.” He added: “A halt to privatisation would be a vote winner.”

 The spin doctors around Blair are claiming that he wants to plan his retirement to go on a high note – a farewell tour of Britain, appearances on popular TV programmes and “a wave of euphoria”.

 Blair wants to be remembered as a great statesman. But he will be remembered most for leading Britain into an illegal war against Iraq on the basis of lies in order to please George Bush; he will be remembered as the man who privatised more state assets than Thatcher did and as the man who sold peerages for “loans” to the party.

 Tony Woodley commented: “Euphoria there may be, nevertheless. But it will not be secured by appearing on every TV show short of  I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, as the delusional spin doctors imagine.

 “It will be because an entirely unnecessary and self-inflicted period of political damage has been brought to an end.”

 But it is not only the people of Britain who will celebrate when Blair goes. Throughout the world everyone opposed to George Bush’s imperialist wars and aggression will be glad to see the back of Bush’s chief lieutenant.

 Blair must not be allowed to wriggle off the hook – and we should not underestimate his ability to wriggle – especially with the backing of George Bush. Nor must we imagine he has an ounce of regret or compunction about the damage he is doing to Labour or Britain. His loyalties are elsewhere.

 Left Labour MP John McDonnell, who leads the Labour Representation Committee, has already declared his intention to stand against Brown when Blair resigns. A united left campaign behind McDonnell will maximise the chances of a genuine debate over Labour’s policies and a return to a working class agenda.


The fate of imperialism

THE LOSS of the RAF Nimrod with all aboard, in Afghanistan last weekend has once again highlighted the price we are paying for Anglo-American imperialist aggression around the world. Some 30 British servicemen have been killed over the past three months on a fool’s errand in Afghanistan.

Controlling the Afghan mountains was part of the “great game” when British imperialism vied with the Russians for control of Central Asia in the 19th century. But even then it was a “game” that more than one could play and the men of the Afghan mountains gave more than they got in the hills of their homes. Now we’re being sucked into yet another brutal and futile war as British troops hunt rebel tribesmen in Helmand province to prop up a puppet regime in Kabul. This regime depends  entirely on imperialist bayonets for what little authority it has in the country Anglo-American imperialism invaded five years ago.

Only a few months ago Blair’s ministers were claiming that the enlarged British military presence in southern Afghanistan would be playing a part in the reconstruction of the war-shattered country. When the first resistance was encountered we were then told that British troops were there to halt the cultivation of the poppies that provide most of the world’s supply of illicit opium. Now it’s clear to everyone who didn’t see it at the time, that the real objective is to crush the resistance that has emerged under the leadership of a renascent Taliban movement.

Back in Iraq the dreams of Bush and Blair are turning into dust as the resistance hammers the armies of occupation throughout the country. In what was originally intended to be the British zone around Basra troops are withdrawing to secure bases in what is increasingly looking like a staged retreat. In the rest of Iraq resistance forces and local militias control most of the towns and villages that the puppet leaders dare no go while American troops try to minimise their own losses by trying to terrorise the population with punitive raids, collective punishments and helicopter gunships.

It’s an old story that began well over a 100 years ago when Britain and the other imperialist powers used their industrial muscle to colonise and plunder the rest of the world with modern armies and navies that spanned the globe. Monstrous crimes were committed against the peoples of Africa and Asia in the name of what the imperialists called “civilisation”. Millions upon millions of people were reduced to coolie status to build the dams, canals and railways of the colonies. They slaved in the fields that were once their own to pay for the mansions and servants of the ruling class that still rules Britain today. They starved whle indifferent colonial governors watched when the crops failed and they sweated for peanuts in the factories the imperialists built to maximise the profits from their investments.

A few measly crumbs were given to organised labour in the heart of the British Empire. But British workers, who powered the plants that made Britain the factory of the world, fared little better. Living in slums and hovels they were doomed to die as cannon-fodder in their millions during the First World War.

Empires are built on the money and blood of working people at home and abroad. It is indeed an old story. But there’s also an old ending. Wherever there is oppression there is always resistance. The fury of the masses in Ireland, India, Cyprus and Africa erupted into resistance. The Union Jack came down, one way or another, throughout the British Empire and it will again, together with the Stars and Stripes, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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