Socialist Worker

The problem is New Labour

Millions are furious at Gordon Brown over the rising cost of living, the war and housing prices – but it is not just him that is to blame

Issue No. 2103

The knives are out for Gordon Brown. New Labour ministers are writhing around trying to explain their party’s deep unpopularity.

Some blame Brown’s personality. Others suggest a cabinet reshuffle. Some even suggest that all was well until the day Tony Blair quit Downing Street.

But the problem is not one of Gordon Brown or his personality. The problem is New Labour.

Since the day New Labour was elected, it has pushed free market policies that have hit the very people the Labour Party has traditionally represented.

New Labour was elected in 1997 on a wave of revulsion against the Tories. Yet instead of acting on that anger, Blair and Brown took up where the Tories left off.

The policies implemented by New Labour can be summed up in four words – private good, public bad.

It has massively expanded privatisation in health, education, housing, the post and every other public service.

Now Brown is demanding that public sector workers accept below-inflation wage deals – at the very time that the cost of living is soaring.

Then, to cap it all, Brown increased taxes on some of the poorest people in Britain. That one act symbolised what New Labour has become – a party geared towards making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Brown and Blair will go down in history as the Labour leaders who took Britain into the most unpopular war in its history.

Millions see the connection between New Labour’s arrogance over Iraq and its blind pursuit of unbridled free market policies.

Brown and his policies have paved the way for the return of the right. And neither Brown nor any of his possible replacements in New Labour offer a way to halt that advance.

Instead, we must look to all those who oppose war and privatisation, who are active in the unions or in resisting racism.

We need to build from the bottom up to fight for an agenda which offers hope to those who have been deserted by Brown and whom the Tories can never represent.

That means fighting now for a living wage, for council homes, against war and privatisation. And it means dumping not just Brown, but all the right wing policies at the heart of New Labour.

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Tue 27 May 2008, 18:52 BST
Issue No. 2103
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