Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2097

New Labour: party of business and the rich

Gordon Brown has appointed the US multi-millionairess Jennifer Moses as a Downing Street adviser. She is a former managing director at bankers Goldman Sachs and achieved considerable notoriety when her personal assistant stole £1 million from her bank account.

She and her husband had so much money that the disappearance of a mere £1 million went completely unnoticed. With this track record, she is the obvious choice to advise Brown on welfare.

Her views on “welfare reform” were considered too extreme when Tony Blair was prime minister, but she has now been brought in to help Brown carry through the “third stage” of his assault on the unemployed, the sick and single mothers.

Moses is already heavily involved with the government’s academies schools programme.

She is notorious even in business circles for her belief that the private sector is the answer to everything.

She has taken out a mortgage on her £10 million north London mansion using an offshore bank in the Isle of Man.

This allows her to retain her “non-dom” tax status. She spent £500,000 on her 40th birthday party.

Taken alongside the election of the millionaire businessman David Pitt-Watson as the Labour Party’s general secretary, it has never been clearer that the Labour Party is no longer a Labour Party by any definition.

John Newsinger, Leicester

I can’t believe that the government has abolished the 10p rate of tax (» Tax changes hit the poorest the hardest, 12 April).

My daughter is a trainee veterinary nurse working for a private company. She is paid £10,200 a year and now will have to pay more tax.

Her course will last four years. But when she’s qualified the most she can earn is £18,500.

She has to travel around London and pay for it all herself. She is living in a hostel because there’s no affordable housing. There is no union at her workplace and she doesn’t get paid for overtime.

The middle classes are on the radio complaining about their kids having to pay more tax – but at least they can help.

I’m a working class, 52 year old single parent and will never be in a position to help my daughter. We have no one to turn to.

The government wants to get young people working, but my daughter takes home £12 more a week than she would have done on income support. There’s no incentive.

Teresa Elligott, Somerstown, Central London

In defence of Obama

Comparing Barack Obama with Martin Luther King (» Obama carries only the faintest echo of the civil rights movement, 5 April) does no justice to either.

Barack Obama does not claim to be a leader in the civil rights movement. The goal he has set for himself is much more ambitious – he wants to do away with the politics of division and hatred.

The fundamental error is in trying to classify Obama according to his race and thinking that a black politician should only be concerned with matters of racial justice.

Barack Obama represents something entirely new on the political scene. In carving out this new role for himself, he has been careful not to align himself too closely with the civil rights movement.

His candidacy is an historic opportunity for the US and for the world.

After seven and a half years under the stewardship of the most corrupt and criminal administration in history, we are desperately in need of a clean break from the past.

Barack Obama offers us new hope.

Harold Baker, Corona, California, US

I think it is ludicrous to compare Obama to King because the issues have changed since King’s time.

A movement for basic civil liberties and rights has since become a movement to ensure those liberties continue to thrive.

The issue is not whether we have civil rights but rather ensuring that failed policies are replaced with policies that will change the face of the US.

Karino Rivera, Denver Colorado, US

Let me set a few things straight – Senator Obama has raised more than 75 percent of his funds from the people.

He does not take any lobbyists’ money. He is for tranparency and has passed the biggest piece of legislation in our country forcing politicians to be transparent with their constituents.

He does not account to anyone but the US people.

C Johnson, Oregon, US

Tesco does not benefit our communities

Rhys Jones says there is no problem in defending Tesco in Swansea because it provides cheap food for people in the area, including Castle ward, one of the most deprived wards in Wales (» Letters, 5 April).

But is Tesco part of the solution or part of the problem?

I live in Castle ward and, as Rhys will know, parts of the area have become run down with shops seeming to close every week.

This situation has been directly caused by huge superstores such as Tesco opening – they have so much buying power they kill off all the competition.

Of course once the damage has been done, they can at a whim decide to move out, which is what Swansea Tesco is currently contemplating.

In nearby Llanelli several superstores have done this, leaving the once thriving town centre a virtual desert.

This is crazy. The answer is not to go cap in hand to Tesco and beg them to stay put, but to campaign for policies to protect town centres and make superstores accountable to the community.

The Left Party’s candidate Moodie Khaldi is standing in Castle ward in the May elections, so people will have the opportunity to vote for a candidate who will stand up for local communities against corporate giants like Tesco.

Tim Evans, Swansea

Airport decision hurts environment

The recent furore over the plans for Carlisle airport has shown the power of capitalists in our area.

Andrew Tinkler, the boss of the Eddie Stobart trucking company based in Cumbria, wants to create a busy terminal in Carlisle.

This led to a number of protests in the area.

The local council agreed that it could go ahead but imposed over 60 conditions on its building.

These covered issues such as traffic, noise, wildlife habitats and the number of flights allowed per day.

This was too much for Tinkler and he threatened to withdraw his businesses from Cumbria, which would mean hundreds of jobs leaving the area.

The council then reduced its number of conditions to two and Eddie Stobart is set to remain in the county.

Why does everything in this society have to be run in the interests of big business?

Why does Carlisle need its own airport when there are a number of airports in the north of England and not far away at Glasgow and Edinburgh?

This is another decision that puts business over the environment.

Simone Murray, Carlisle

Neoliberalism not inevitable

As a paying student at Manchester university, I feel increasingly dissatisfied with the decisions being made on my behalf, such as the effective firing of Sheila Rowbotham and Terry Eagleton.

In contrast, “star” lecturers such as Martin Amis are paid £3,000 an hour.

For a while now, teachers, students, pupils, lecturers and others in education have accepted the inevitability of neoliberal thought. But no more.

All those in education need to come together to prepare for the strikes on 24 April.

It is vital that we involve those – such as myself – who may not normally be active in politics.

The days of apathy are coming to an end – we’ll be pacified no longer.

Ashley Singleton, Manchester

Gordon, it’s time to go

This is a message for Gordon Brown.

For the sake of hardworking people and pensioners whose lives have become very difficult under your government – please get out before you are thrown out and humiliated.

You keep on saying the same old things – it is time you accepted that you are not fit to run anything.

If you were employed in my company I wonder how long you would have lasted.

Do all of us a very big favour and just go.

Michael, Maidenhead, Berks

Keep fighting over Tibet

An excellent write up over Tibet (» Flames of anger in London at China's crackdown in Tibet, 12 April).

China’s treatment of the Tibetan people is barbaric.

Tibet should get autonomy as prescribed in the Chinese constitution, and Mao’s promises to the 14th Dalai Lama.

Cheers for the brave people of Britain who stood up and protested. Keep it up.

T Cheng, Taiwan

Don’t fall for Tory lies

Nobody should be conned by the way some Tory MPs and councillors adopt language like “local action needed to preserve post offices that are the pillars of the community”.

This is a party that legislated to ban secondary picketing.

The Tories hate the idea of collective action and the idea of preserving communities – as no doubt the likes of miners, car workers and steel workers, whose industries were decimated throughout 18 years of Tory rule might concur.

Taking concerted action against all privatisation might stop the Tories being quite so “community spirited”.

Nick Vinehill, Snettisham, Norfolk

The NHS 60 years on

This week the NHS reached 60 years old.

But the way that this has been marked is by giving health workers a below-inflation pay offer for the next three years.

Gordon Brown sees the private sector as the answer to all the problems in the service.

This is a million miles away from how the NHS was originally conceived.

Rachel Wilks, Sheffield

Real agenda of US in Iraq

The occupiers of Iraq have finally had to come clean about their real aims.

Last week, US commander general Petraeus announced that the US was stopping all troop withdrawals from Iraq.

All talk of “stabilising” the country and making “progress” has been shown up as empty rhetoric.

The occupation of Iraq is about setting up a permanent US military presence in the Middle East.

It’s about US control and power in the region – not about improving the lives of ordinary Iraqis.

Chris Slater, Newcastle

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Article information

Tue 15 Apr 2008, 19:24 BST
Issue No. 2097
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