Socialist Worker

Talk of stability can’t hide New Labour’s problems

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2121

One unexpected side effect of the economic crisis is the – hopefully brief – return of smug arrogance to Gordon Brown.

He declared, “The stability of the system comes first. We will work night and day to make sure that Britain can come through this downturn. I think everybody will see that we have taken decisive actions at all times.”

His commitment to the system means he has indeed acted – in the interests of the rich.

So Brown threw out what few rules there are on takeovers so that the struggling HBOS bank could be bought out.

He then went on to nationalise the debt of Bradford & Bingley. He has overseen the repeated “injection” of billions of pounds from the Bank of England into the money markets.

In contrast Brown’s commitment to combating the speculators is somewhat shallow. He appointed Paul Myners, chair of the Guardian Media Group, as chair of the Low Pay Commission.

Myners is also a director of GLG, the hedge fund with the biggest short selling position of all the investors speculating on the collapse of Bradford & Bingley.

Myners paid £12,700 towards Brown’s uncontested leadership campaign and has carried out two reviews of City culture on behalf of the prime minister.

One of Brown’s other close associates is private equity tycoon Sir Ronald Cohen – sometimes labelled “Brown’s private banker” after donating more than £2 million to Labour. Cohen’s response to the crisis last month was to start up a new hedge fund.

While the economic crisis has drowned out the recent infighting in the Labour Party, the political crisis for Brown is far from over. The clamour from ministers for a leadership challenge has turned into pleas to postpone a cabinet reshuffle.

For instance, a raft of ministers including David Miliband, Alan Johnson and Geoff Hoon have pleaded rather desperately to be kept in the cabinet.

Not all of the rats are begging to stay on the sinking ship.

Transport minister Ruth Kelly resigned last week possibly to avoid having to vote in favour of abortion rights.

While most commentary surrounding her resignation focused on a chaotic 3am press conference, her statement showing the real heart of New Labour went mostly unnoticed.

She said, “There are those in the party who want us to raise draconian regulation and restrict City bonuses. I don’t agree.”

It is that commitment to capitalism and war that is at the heart of government attacks on ordinary people.

Labour’s problems show no sign of going away – and that means reports of new stability for the government are as reliable as those of a recovery in the stockmarket.

For more on New Labour and big business see » New Labour’s affair with the super rich

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Tue 30 Sep 2008, 17:58 BST
Issue No. 2121
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