New Labour was routed in the Crewe & Nantwich by-election because Labour voters wanted to punish Gordon Brown. The decision to increase taxes for some of the poorest paid and for many pensioners topped the list of grievances but working class people are seeing prices soar as this government tries to hold wage rises below inflation.
New Labour fought the most right wing election campaign in its history, attacking the Tories for not wishing foreign nationals to carry identity cards at all times. When asked about this leaflet on the morning after the poll, New Labour’s deputy leader and one time champion of civil liberties, Harriet Harman, defended the leaflet concerned and raising the immigration issue in general.
When the centre left plays the immigration card, we do not need to look far to see the consequences. In the build up to last month’s Italian general election the centre left leader, Walter Veltroni, ordered police to forcibly clear Roma encampments. His defeat by Silvio Berlusconi has been followed by the torching of another camp in Naples, mass round up of migrants and a wave of racist attacks.
As the Crewe & Nantwich result was announced it emerged that virtually all of New Labour’s funding in the first quarter of 2008 came from the trade unions, with three unions, Unite, Usdaw and GMB, contributing £1.9 million out of a total of £3.1 million.
The trade unions should be asking if they are prepared to fund a campaign which panders to racism like that waged in Crewe & Nantwich and instead fund candidates who represent union policies.