Socialist Worker

Blairite fixer Ruth Turner is denied access to breakfast

Issue No. 2035

New Labour minister Tessa Jowell was bewildered at the manner in which a police dawn raid was carried out. David Blunkett accused the police of 'theatrics'.

Unfortunately the official outrage came not at 200 riot cops storming a Muslim's home, or at officers shooting someone dead on the tube.

They were upset at four cops investigating the loans for peerages scandal calling to arrest Ruth Turner, a member of Tony Blair's inner circle, before she had finished her breakfast.

Four businessmen who gave Labour £4.5 million in unpublicised loans were subsequently nominated for peerages.

Turner apparently visited Ian McCartney, who was then chair of the Labour Party, in hospital so that he could sign a peerage nomination.

Turner is known as 'Tony's gatekeeper'. Her job is to decide who gets access to Blair.

Access is what lies at the heart of the scandal. Those with wealth get access and a say. The rest of us suffer the consequences.

We can't simply wait for the cops – or even less likely, the Labour Party – to get rid of Blair.

We need to throw our weight behind what caused Labour's crisis in the first place – the anti-war movement – and use the 24 February Stop the War demo to push Blair out of office.

Northern Ireland

Colonial tactics

Having occupied a country, a foreign power sows the seeds of communal violence – implementing a divide and rule policy, recruiting and running sectarian death squads.

Iraq? No... Northern Ireland.

This week the Northern Ireland police ombudsman revealed that British Special Branch officers there colluded with a Loyalist murder gang operating out of north Belfast which was responsible for 15 murders. Gang members were protected from prosecution.

Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain ruled out a public inquiry, stressing that the new Police Service of Northern Ireland has moved on.

Sir Ronnie Flanagan, police chief constable at the time, has also moved on – to become inspector of constabulary, responsible for police standards across England and Wales. In 2005 he was sent to the British occupied region of Iraq to review police arrangements there.

That link should remind us that past colonial policies are being played in Iraq – with even more murderous consequences.

Transport costs

Can't pay, won't pay

Rail passengers on First Great Western trains got a free ride from Bath to Bristol on Monday morning – having refused to pay in protest at a reduced service and overcrowding.

Across Britain thousands of passengers face commuting in cattle truck conditions while paying through the nose for the privilege.

That's certainly true on London Underground. London mayor Ken Livingston introduced fresh price rises which mean London has the highest transport costs in the world, with a single tube journey costing £4 if you pay by cash.

In 1981 Livingstone was head of the Greater London Council (GLC) which tried to reduce ticket prices. After Tory-initiated legal action the courts outlawed the move. GLC leaders urged a non-payment campaign.

Perhaps it is time for a similar campaign.

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What We Think
Sat 27 Jan 2007, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2035
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