Despite some polls last week no one seriously believed the Tories had a chance of beating Gordon Brown in a general election. But because of his obsession with “triangulation”, the prime minister still managed to create chaos over whether or not to call a snap poll.
In simple terms triangulation means that every time an opponent comes up with a policy, all you do is copy it. It is supposed to neutralise your opponent – but now Labour finds itself fast running out of right wing positions to take up.
While the establishment parties bicker over who can look after the rich most effectively, we urgently need to fill the space created on the left.
Millions are disillusioned with a political system that cannot address their basic concerns over the war and privatisation. While Brown dithers over calling elections, he has no hesitation in his determination to attack workers.
Next year will see mayoral and assembly elections in London. Respect needs to be campaigning for those elections now, and preparing for a general election campaign, by building solidarity and support for the post workers and all those who find themselves in conflict with Brown’s neoliberal government.
Profiting from disaster
Last month some 69,000 square miles of Arctic ice – an area greater than the size of England – disappeared in just six days.
This should have led to an urgent political debate about how to stop climate change. But instead our rulers are only interested in how they can profit from the disaster.
The Northwest Passage – a shipping route across the Arctic Ocean connecting Europe and Asia – has now become ice-free for the first time in centuries. This route cuts the time to travel by ship from East Asia to Europe by a third.
Canada claims to have sovereignty over the Northwest Passage. It has announced two new military facilities in the Arctic and up to eight new armed Arctic patrol vessels to police the area. The US, European Union and Japan are challenging Canadian claims to sovereignty.
Instead of combating the climate change that threatens to destroy our planet, our rulers are unable to see beyond the obscene “land grab” opportunity that the crisis has created.
Childcare in crisis
Paying for ‘free’ places
Gordon Brown played up his commitment to childcare and families in his speech to this year’s Labour Party conference. He was even moved by the theme to quote from the Bible.
The government claims that free part-time nursery education is now available to all three and four year olds. But a report out this week from the Daycare Trust shows that more than a quarter of families are still being charged for these “free” nursery places.
The survey finds many parents having to pay for childcare that fits in with the demands of their work patterns. Many parents who do have free places are also being charged a backdoor fee to cover “extras” such as food or activities.
The poorest families are the most likely to miss out on free places. Some 10 percent of those out of work or on low pay didn’t get free places.Meanwhile nursery costs for under-threes are rising year on year. It is a disgrace that in one of the richest countries in the world, we still don’t have genuinely free nursery care for all.