Socialist Worker

Labour conference: we deserve better than Brown’s plans for Britain

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2070

Gordon Brown got his four minute standing ovation at the Labour Party conference. But that won’t be enough to deal with the disgust and disquiet millions of people feel at what his government has done – at home and abroad.

Brown’s threats of even harsher treatment for migrants and young people will rightly anger many Labour supporters.

The media speculation over whether he is going to call an election is enabling Brown – in the guise of courting of “middle England” – to push his government further to the right.

Following Brown’s meeting with former Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher earlier this month, and his repeated emphasis on “Britishness”, Brown is clearly courting Tory voters by adopting their policies and language.

The right wing ranting over clamping down on crime and forced repatriation for immigrants who break the law are as offensive as his ridiculous slogan, “British jobs for British workers.”

Policies

This is not just electioneering – it is also about driving through the government’s neoliberal policies.

While not wanting to talk about Iraq, Brown is still committed to George Bush’s imperial project in the Middle East.

Some of his proposals are odd and some are just nasty. For instance, he promised a minimum of four days’ public holiday for everyone – yet we are already supposed to have eight.

The apparent “new offer” of free education for low-income students up to the age of 21 rings hollow. Brown championed the tuition fees which deny working class people access to the education which he and all the New Labour cabinet enjoyed for free.

On housing, despite much hype over the last few months, Brown is proposing more backing for speculators and building bosses.

He talks up the NHS and education but in hospitals and schools Brown insists that privatisation is the way forward.

Brown dared to say he wants a country “not divided by class, but united by aspiration”.

He has slashed taxes on business profits in Britain to levels lower than even the Tories ever dared.

Brown has repeatedly insisted that public sector pay must be kept to around 2.5 percent. He demands job cuts across the public sector, worse pensions and more competition.

The threat that we should all remain loyal to Labour to stop the Tories getting in gets weaker with each rightward step by Brown.

There is a deep thirst in Britain today for a alternative to what the Labour government has done.

The millions who opposed war and who are sick of privatisation and low pay need and deserve more than Gordon Brown.


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