Socialist Worker

Nothing for us in Bush's war

Issue No. 1779

'George Bush's war is the opportunity of a generation to cut jobs without the risk of strikes.' This is what top managers at British Airways (BA) have written in a secret document, obtained by the Observer, as they prepare to axe 10,000 jobs. This is on top of the 7,000 redundancies they have already announced. It is one sign of how rotten the system is that Bush and Tony Blair have gone to war to defend.

The chief executive of BA, Rod Eddington, has been planning savage cuts since he took over in July 2000. Like hundreds of other companies, BA is using the events of 11 September to sack thousands of workers.

The biggest cable television provider in Britain, NTL, announced 2,000 job losses last weekend. The Blue Circle cement company sacked 250 workers in London this week. Child poverty in Britain remains at staggering levels. A new report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that in the year to April 2000 there were 13.3 million people living below the official poverty line, including more than four million children.

According to a report by the Child Poverty Action Group, 'Anxiety about affording food, a poor or monotonous diet, high food prices and even hunger are a reality for many families on low incomes. At particular risk are two million children.'

In the US the situation is even worse. Bosses have sacked over 800,000 workers in the last two months.

Many of these will not be able to claim full unemployment benefits because of the increasingly draconian US welfare system. Less than one in three unemployed workers receive the full benefits. One in three workers also lose their health insurance when they lose their jobs. Some 23.3 million people in the US were forced to rely on charities for food in the past year, a 9 percent increase since 1997.

At the same time the US government has given over $700 million to big business in tax breaks. The US now accounts for 36 percent of the world's arms spending. This is Bush and Blair's 'civilisation'. They are now planning to bring their 'freedom' to Iraq, Somalia and any other country they believe has stepped out of line.

They want us to believe that we are all together in the so called war against terrorism. But their war means hunger, unemployment and poverty on the streets of Kabul, Baghdad, Mogadishu, New York and London.

Since the protests against the World Trade Organisation in Seattle in November 1999 a global movement has risen to challenge their interests. The tens of thousands of people protesting in Brussels, Belgium, this week outside a meeting of European leaders are part of the latest stage of this movement.

Everybody should support this protest, continue to build the movement and make links with workers across the world, who are the victims of the 'war on terror'.

Demonstrate against the war this Saturday, 12 noon, George Square, Glasgow.

Out of the frying pan...

Paul Marsden, the rebel Labour MP who stood out against the war in Afghanistan, defected to the Liberal Democrats this week. Labour whips tried to bully and intimidate him into toeing the party line. He has stood up to New Labour's attempts to silence him, and has inspired many people in the anti-war movement, particularly with his left wing speech at the 100,000-strong march in London last month.

Liberal Democrats try to present themselves as a left wing alternative to New Labour. But the Liberal Democrats back this war and have continually backed war. Tony Blair knows the Liberal Democrats are not a left wing alternative. Part of his project has been to move the Labour Party closer to them.

'To jump ship to another party that supports the war does not have the most immediate logic to it,' said Alan Simpson, the left wing Labour MP. But nor does staying in a party that supports war. What is needed is a socialist alternative to New Labour.

That is what the Socialist Alliance and the Scottish Socialist Party are building. They are against the war and policies such as privatisation which all the main parties support.

Solidarity with the Palestinians

Around 1,000 people demonstrated in support of the Palestinians in Glasgow on Monday.

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Article information

What We Think
Sat 15 Dec 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1779
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