Socialist Worker

Who gains in a post-Blair world?

Issue No. 1866

TONY BLAIR is the dead man walking of British politics. That much was clear even before he appeared before the Hutton inquiry this week. The problems for Blair are deeper than those caused by the death of scientist Dr David Kelly.

Two million people marched in February against the war. Every new revelation leaves them more confident to argue with others why it is right to oppose the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The pressure from that mass movement wedged open the cracks in the establishment that we now see in released official e-mails and documents. The People's Assembly called by the Stop the War Coalition for Saturday of this week is a focus for renewing that pressure to hold Blair to account.

So is the national stop the war demonstration in four weeks time, which is part of an international day of action. A majority of people, including most Labour voters, say they have lost all trust in the government. Millions of people are asking: should Blair go? And what will happen if he does? No one should be panicked into propping up Blair.

Most Labour MPs voted with the government over the war. Many of them, such as Clare Short, excused their cowardice by claiming they did not want Blair to fall. But the result was the appalling war on Iraq.

Sticking with Blair now means sticking with the threat of elitist fees for students, further NHS privatisation, support for George Bush and all the other Tory policies most people hate. Above all it means allowing him to fuel the demoralisation and cynicism among ordinary people that right wing forces hope to thrive on. Thankfully Iain Duncan Smith's Tories show no sign of capitalising. Though that doesn't stop Labour ministers, pushing Thatcherite policies, claiming the only alternative is Tory ministers pushing Thatcherite policies.

The Nazi British National Party, however, has been able to tap into disillusion in some areas, taking advantage of the disgusting anti-refugee bilge pumped out by the gutter press. Making excuses for Blair's government only feeds the despair the Nazis exploit. For that reason alone we need a mass socialist alternative to this government.

And most people over most issues are looking to the left. The Liberal Democrats have cottoned on to this and are desperately trying to pose as a left alternative. But in local councils they have pursued privatisation policies even harder than Labour.

They are for big business, attacked the firefighters and called for making strikes on the railway and tube illegal. Their 'opposition' to war on Iraq evaporated when the war started. Uniting for a left challenge The millions of people who are enraged with Blair need a socialist alternative, and need it now.

Whichever Labour politician replaces Blair will be under pressure initially to tread more carefully. But we know that Gordon Brown and the rest all back New Labour policies. Waiting for them means giving Blair time and then getting Blairism without the smile.

A powerful socialist alternative will not come through waiting and reluctantly sticking with Labour in the meantime. It needs to come from those who have come together over a range of issues in the unions, localities, schools and colleges uniting their forces in a left wing challenge to this government.

That's a discussion that should take place in every workplace and union, from top to bottom.

Assembly to indict war liars

UNLIKE THE Hutton inquiry, the People's Assembly this Saturday is not restricted to examining just the narrow circumstances surrounding the death of David Kelly. It will lay out an indictment of the government's whole case for war. Nor is it limited to a handful of barristers presided over by an establishment judge.

It will bring together people from stop the war groups, union branches, schools and community groups. There will be a range of expert speakers. Glen Rangwala exposed the January 'dodgy dossier' and has examined all the revelations since.

Hans Von Sponeck is a former head of the United Nation's humanitarian programme in Iraq. Mark Curtis will examine how the war fits into a sordid history of British foreign policy. Other speakers include award-winning journalist John Pilger.

The assembly will pull together the case against the government and be a springboard for the national demonstration on 27 September. It will discuss how to take the movement forward as the pressures on Blair grow. This week is not too late to ensure that people go from your workplace or anti-war group to the assembly.

Saturday 30 August, 10.30am, Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London.

For more information and a draft document of the People's Declaration which will be discussed on Saturday, phone 020 7053 2153/4/5/6 or go to

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Article information

What We Think
Sat 30 Aug 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1866
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