Socialist Worker

The good reasons to dump Keith Vaz

Issue No. 1734

Keith Vaz, the junior Foreign Office minister, is the latest leading New Labour figure to be hit by accusations of corruption. He certainly enjoyed the company of rich people as much as the disgraced Peter Mandelson did.

Vaz also promoted the millionaire Hinduja brothers' application for a British passport. He accepted a top job with the millionaire businessman Nadhmi Auchi. The Hinduja brothers are being investigated over their links to an arms scandal, and the French authorities are investigating allegations that Auchi took bribes during an oil company deal.

Vaz's supporters claim he is being unfairly targeted because of racism. Some of his attackers in the right wing press do have a rotten record on racism. They do not like the idea that black and Asian people can get into government.

But there are plenty of good reasons to attack Vaz. He is a prime example of New Labour's love affair with the rich. His only defence might be that other ministers are into shady deals with millionaires.

Lord Sainsbury, the supermarket mogul turned science minister, was chief host at a lavish £50,000 dinner party in Auchi's honour in 1999. Tony Blair was amongst those who signed the card congratulating Auchi on his billion pound business empire.

Before leaving Iraq in the 1980s, Auchi was an official in Saddam Hussein's brutal government. Auchi now has a British passport. His business empire spans 30 countries. He and his money are free to roam the globe.

Blair welcomes him in Britain but denies refuge to Iraqis fleeing the regime of Saddam Hussein or the continued US and British bombing raids on Iraq.

We need a socialist alternative to New Labour. At the general election the Socialist Alliance and the Scottish Socialist Party are standing candidates who reject the government's devotion to big business and Tory-style sleaze.

Everyone who wants a left wing challenge to New Labour should raise the candidates' profile in every struggle and campaign.

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Sat 10 Feb 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1734
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