Socialist Worker

Ministers desert sinking ship as Labour crisis grows

by Chris Bambery
Issue No. 2154

Gordon Brown’s government is staggering towards its grave. This is clear even before the European and local election results are known. The resignations of James Purnell, Hazel Blears and John Hutton – all supporters of former premier Tony Blair – were designed to provoke a coup to topple Brown.

The truth is that Blears and Purnell should have been sacked and should be facing prosecution for tax avoidance and misuse of their parliamentary expenses. But, there would be few left sitting round the cabinet table if Brown had taken that course of action.

Today’s ministerial reshuffle will do nothing to rescue this government, mired in corruption as it is.

This Labour government will either collapse or soldier on till a general election. If Brown is replaced by the likes of Alan Johnson there will most likely have to be an election on the autumn. The chances of Labour recovering from this disaster in time to secure victory verge on the impossible.

Early results from the local elections indicate that the right will be the big winners from yesterday’s elections. The Tories have been hurt by the corruption crisis but will win seats as Labour’s vote collapses. UKIP are doing well and the poisonous Nazi BNP are confident of winning Euro seats.

Labour is set to record an electoral result on a par with the disasters on 1931 and 1983. But those results followed splits which were repaired. This meltdown comes when neither side in the civil war engulfing the party has a strategy to replace the broken vision of New Labour. The party has seen its membership more than halve in its time in government and its numbers of councillors plummet.

The prospect of the Tories winning the next general election will raise fears of a return to the dark Thatcher years. Some will use this to urge working class people to continue to support Labour. But it was the disastrous performance of Labour in office in pushing a pro-market, pro-privatisation and pro-war agenda which helped rescue the fortunes of the Tories. Whatever their personal differences both Blairites and Brownites pushed through these polices with enthusiasm.

Both Brown and Cameron are committed to making us pay for an economic crisis. Whoever is in office the priority is to build a fight back over jobs, pensions and attempts to cut welfare. That must be combined with strengthened resistance to the poison of the Nazi BNP. By dividing black, white and Asian the Nazis will not only increase racist attacks but fatally weaken our ability to fight back together against this recession.

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