Socialist Worker

Fury at 'wreckers' insult: 'I felt like crying after Blair spoke'

Issue No. 1786

'Wreckers.' That is how Tony Blair insulted public sector workers at a Labour conference in Cardiff last weekend. Nurses, rail workers, postal workers, teachers and cleaners are not 'wreckers'. They are the people who keep our services going.

The real wreckers are the New Labour ministers who have bled the NHS dry and handed vital services over to people who care only for profit. Marion Hennessy was a union delegate at the Cardiff conference. She told Socialist Worker, 'As a health worker dealing with older people I am stressed all the time by the demands of trying to hold an underfunded service together. I love my job. I love helping people. I don't like privatisation because I think people should come before profits. That doesn't make me a wrecker. It partly explains why I went into this job, despite the really hard work and the low pay. I felt like crying when Blair started on about wreckers. It was like before when he talked about the scars on his back from trying to change the public sector. I ask myself why I'm in the Labour Party when I hear these attacks on us. It's an insult-an insult from people who don't know what it's like to work in these services and think making money is everything.'

It's time for the union leaders to really start resisting Blair's privatisation agenda. And everyone should back the rail workers, postal workers and others who are fighting back.

Allied to attack us

BLAIR DARED to say that the government 'reformers' now faced an 'unholy alliance of the 'right and the far left'. Conference delegate Geoff Smallwood from the north east of England told Socialist Worker, 'The real unholy alliance is between the Tories and some of these people at the top of New Labour. They are allied in attacking trade unions, allied in trying to do what business wants, allied in trailing after Bush, allied in keeping taxes low for the rich.'

They beg for money

'THE NEW Labour leaders are fast enough to come round with the begging bowl when it's election time-and then they bash the unions when they get back into office. I'm still firmly for the unions giving their money to the Labour Party, but there are a lot of people I know who aren't any more, and I can understand where they are coming from.'
MAL POLLARD, constituency member at Labour conference

'This is a new poll tax'

'THE PEOPLE who do worry me are the New Labour aristocracy-reassuring themselves that involving private companies is not privatisation. Don't be fooled. It is privatisation of delivery-taxpayers' money siphoned off for private profit. We gambled on Railtrack and we lost.'
DAVE PRENTIS, leader of Unison

'THE REAL wreckers are the Railtracks, the Enrons, those who thought 11 September was a good day to bury bad news. I voted for a government and ministers to have power and responsibility. People did not vote for this government to ensure that it would hand over our public services to the private sector.'
BILL MORRIS, leader of the TGWU

'OUR POLLS show only 11 percent support for privatisation. The Tories' poll tax at its highest had 14 percent-and as far as I remember the poll tax wasn't exactly a great electoral success. The government has created, totally unnecessarily, its own poll tax, its own imploding policy that is going to drag down its support.'
JOHN EDMONDS, leader of the GMB

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Article information

Sat 9 Feb 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1786
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