Socialist Worker

An acute problem to the right of Labour

Issue No. 1923

The Tories

IT’S HELL being a Tory. And not for the ordinary reason that it makes you a right wing bigot worshipping at the altar of profit. The big problem is how you are ever going to win an election.

Blair has adopted what the media call a policy of “triangulation”. In plain English, that means out-Torying the Tories.

Faced with a problem, Labour’s leaders think of a policy and work out how the Tories might criticise them. Then they do essentially what the Tories would have suggested. One result is that, although the Tories have never been weaker, we have never suffered from so many Tory policies.

On Wednesday last week the Tory shadow home secretary, David Davis, said at the Conservative conference that immigration was “endangering the values we in Britain rightly treasure”. It was a disgusting revamp of Margaret Thatcher’s speech about immigrants “swamping” Britain. But of course David Blunkett had already disinterred that remark when he said asylum seekers’ children were “swamping” schools.

The second result is that, by being so right wing, New Labour alienates many of its own supporters. That gives the Tories a glimmer of hope that they could win if Labour supporters stay at home.

But another implication of Blair’s policy is much more hopeful. Although the space on the right is squeezed tighter than ever, the space to the left of Labour has never been so open.

It’s hell being a Tory. It’s a great time to build Respect.

Pensions

Work till you die, or die in poverty

The Pensions Commission delivered a chilling message to 13 million British workers this week. Even the Sun summed it up as “Save £4,385 More Every Year Or Die In Poverty”.

Labour appointed the former CBI head Adair Turner as chair of the commission. The CBI has called for the retirement age to be increased to 70, something the government is openly considering.

In the short term, working people will be asked to pay even more towards their pension provision. Employers in Britain are under no legal obligation to pay into their workers’ pension schemes.

Pensions are in the firing line of the neo-liberal onslaught. In any previous society the fact that people were living longer would have been cause for celebration. Today it is seen as regrettable.

Abortion rights

An attack on women’s right to choose

Anti-abortionists are demanding that funding for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service be withdrawn. They are up in arms over claims that the service arranged late abortions for British women in Spain and the US.

Late abortions happen because women are unaware, or too scared to admit, they are pregnant. The way to reduce the number of late abortions is to make access easier and to remove the stigma.

Anti-abortion organisations have a clear agenda—to remove the right to safe, legal abortions, and return to a time when thousands of women died in backstreet abortions.

Abortion cannot be reduced to a technical issue about the viability of a foetus outside the womb. It is a political issue about the right of women to control their own bodies.


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News
Wed 13 Oct 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1923
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