Socialist Worker

Labour’s crisis: Gordon Brown tells us to eat the scraps

by Chris Bambery
Issue No. 2109

Gordon Brown will arrive back from the G8 summit in Japan to face growing speculation that his days as prime minister are numbered.

His “waste not, want not” advice to people in Britain who are struggling to put food on table – given as he jetted off towards a pre-summit feast – has been widely interpreted as an insult. Increasingly families are not throwing away stale bread but treasuring every slice as the cost of a loaf soars.

While Brown was away it was revealed that 350,000 people now face having their houses repossessed.

The credit crunch, combined with the slump in housing prices, is beginning to have a knock-on effect on the rest of the economy.

This week Persimmon, Britain’s biggest housebuilder, says that it expects to have laid off more than 1,100 building workers since the beginning of the year.

Labour backbenchers, already fearing the loss of their seats at the next general election, are being scared witless by internal party polls on the forthcoming Glasgow East by-election.

They show Labour’s lead falling from 13,500 in 2005 to as little as 5,500 today.

Mess

With New Labour in Scotland being leaderless following the resignation of Wendy Alexander, and Brown saying he will not be able to visit Glasgow during the campaign, there is growing speculation that Labour’s support could fall still further.

The mess over the selection of the Labour candidate – in which the favoured nominee failed to even turn up at the selection meeting – and revelation that three others were asked to stand but refused has added to the sense of gloom in the party.

Labour has now selected former Scottish minister Margaret Curran, who it hopes will beat off the challenge of the SNP Scottish nationalists.

But even if she can stave off disaster, a collapse in Labour’s vote in such a safe seat will still threaten annihilation come a general election.

The concerns of people in Glasgow East, which are driving them away from Labour, are the same as in every other working class community in Britain. They are to do with growing levels of poverty, rising bills and prices, and the threat of economic recession.

Yet New Labour’s only response is to try and brand its opponents as being “soft on crime”.

Last week Scottish Office minister David Cairns MP, who is running Labour’s campaign, met the media to say, “We will be campaigning against the SNP’s plans to release thousands of prisoners from jail.”

This is the same approach that failed so dramatically in the Crewe & Nantwich by-election in May.

The trouble for Brown and New Labour is that they are so wedded to free market policies that they cannot address issues that really concern people in Glagow East, such as bad housing and poverty.

Solidarity have selected Tricia McLeish a council worker from Shettleston, as their candidate in the by-election. Go to » www.solidarityscotland.org


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Tue 8 Jul 2008, 19:08 BST
Issue No. 2109
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