Socialist Worker

Britain can’t avoid its carbon commitment

Issue No. 2033

This week Tony Blair suggested that since Britain only produces 2 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, any reductions in our greenhouse gases would be dwarfed by increases in countries such as China.

The 2 percent figure is the amount of carbon directly created on this island. But Britain is the world’s fourth largest economy, and is responsible for far more emissions than that.

Companies listed on the London Stock Exchange produce 15 percent of global emissions. The British government should take responsibility for curbing this figure.

According to radical geographer Doreen Massey, Britain is one of the few countries that may hit its Kyoto target for reductions. But this is not because companies have cleaned up their act – rather, reductions in British manufacturing industry have meant that companies have effectively exported their pollution.

We need to force the government to take a lead in reducing global emissions – and that means taking on big business.

Public transport

These fare rises feed profits at our expense

The massive increases in bus, train and tube fares are pricing people off public transport. Unregulated national train fares rose by an average of 4.7 percent this month.

A recent study showed that London is now the most expensive city in the world for public transport. London cash bus fares have just gone up 33 percent. A single cash tube fair in central London now costs an incredible £4.

The massive fare rises are not ploughed into any improvements – we still face overcrowding and delays on tubes and trains. Neither does the money go to pay transport workers a decent wage.

Instead, the private transport companies are making huge profits at the expense of passengers and off the backs of low paid workers.

A serious strategy to get people out of cars would mean making public transport affordable. And a crucial step in that would be to take it back from the profiteering private companies.

Party funding

Blair’s plan to take labour out of Labour

As part of his farewell, Tony Blair wants to cut union power by slashing trade union donations to the Labour Party. He prefers money from the rich.

Blair took over as leader with the dream of making Labour a wholly “classless” party, like the US Democrats. He hasn’t fully succeeded, but he’s making another effort.

Blair asked Sir Hayden Phillips to propose new rules for funding political parties. His “interim assessment”, which Blair backed, included discussion of a cap on donations from an individual or organisation. That would sideline the direct influence the unions have on Labour.

The plan has split the party’s national executive and enraged many MPs. One backbencher said it would be a “Thatcherite dream come true”.

By the end of January final proposals will be out. The unions need to discuss seriously exactly how they use their funds, defend their right to give to whoever their members’ choose – and ask if they should give all the cash to Labour.

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What We Think
Sat 13 Jan 2007, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2033
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