Socialist Worker

A prize to keep the movement

Issue No. 1898

TONY BLAIR has faced another stark choice over the last few days. He could stick with his fellow war criminal George Bush and slide deeper into the blood and horror of Iraq. Or he could follow the Spanish government and withdraw troops as quickly as possible.

Disgracefully, but predictably, Blair stuck with Bush. On his trip to Washington the two clasped each other even more closely than before. Bush welcomed "Tony, a stand-up kind of guy with backbone and courage". Blair replied that they "were allies and friends". But they are like two dying men desperately leaning on one another for support.

Their fake smiles cannot hide the intensifying crisis in Iraq or that more and more people are turning against the occupation. When the Spanish government announced it was withdrawing its troops people rushed to the Puerta del Sol square in Madrid, where previous anti-war rallies have gathered.

Among the placards they made were "Peace, justice, liberate Iraq from the liberators." The Honduran government has also announced its troops are coming home as soon as possible. The Portuguese government is split over whether to withdraw its police from the coalition of the killing.

In Britain an ICM opinion poll published in the Guardian on Tuesday showed that support for the war has fallen 12 percent since January. The number of people saying the invasion was unjustified had risen by 7 percent. Some 42 percent of people wanted British troops to come home over the next six months. To force British troops out would be a blow to Bush on a colossal scale.

Veteran reporter Bob Woodward's new book confirms that when Bush was planning the war he saw Blair as "key, a partner, a driving force in all of it". Days before the war began, even Bush was so aware of the scale of opposition in Britain that he offered Blair the chance not to send troops as "I would rather go alone than have your government fall".

Blair replied, "That's good of you. I'm with you. I'm with you to the very end." Their alliance threatens the world. Three weeks after he was elected in 1997 Tony Blair summoned up his extra-special visionary look and declaimed, "Ours is the first generation able to contemplate the possibility that we may live our entire lives without going to war or sending our children to war. That is a prize without value."

After all that has followed, with the blood of thousands of Iraqi civilians on his hands, the prize we have to keep fighting for is to get rid of Tony Blair.

Referendum decision deepens problems

TONY BLAIR'S U-turn on a referendum on the European constitution is a sign of his weakness. As John Rees, Respect candidate for the West Midlands European elections, says, "Blair's alliance with George Bush has left him isolated from the European superpowers and opened the doors to the Eurosceptics. He now faces such an impasse that the only solution is to go for a referendum." At every crisis Blair's instinct has been to lean on right wing forces for support.

Over the referendum they demanded their pound of flesh. Irwin Stelzer, a top figure from Rupert Murdoch's News International, was invited to Downing Street in March for what a Blair official said was "a blow-through on global matters". It's highly likely that Blair was told that Murdoch was demanding a referendum as the price of his papers' continuing support.

At the same time Blair is hoping, by being in the yes camp, to win back people who opposed the war on Iraq but believe that support for the European constitution is the key issue.

This manoeuvre is something that nobody should accept. We should take encouragement from Blair's weakness and see it as a spur to further struggle.

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What We Think
Sat 24 Apr 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1898
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