Socialist Worker

Slaves to the desires of big business

Issue No. 1929

WHETHER IT’S the future of your neighbourhood, local school or hospital, the person wheeled out by the government or your local council to tell you what to think will be some business figure or a jumped-up college kid from a free market think-tank.

This is a government whose domestic agenda is driven by free market economics and the desires of big business.

Great Britain plc is the least regulated of the major European economies. The result is that Britain endures the highest gap between rich and poor in Western Europe. On housing, health and education Britain is a disgrace.

Earlier this week health secretary John Reid took a tube from Westminster to Canning Town in east London. As his train travelled eastwards from London SW1 he noted that life expectancy for the average male fell in each area he passed through. By the time he reached London E16 it had fallen by seven years.

Who speaks for the real victims of Blair’s Britain—the parents who never see their kids because of the hours they work, or the people who cannot afford to buy or rent a home and are denied council housing?

That is the gaping democratic deficit in Britain today. The success of Respect in the general election will depend on combining its vital anti-war message with voicing the concerns of those whose lives are being mortgaged to big business.

Sexual Health Crisis

No sex education please—we’re Blairites

CASES OF sexually transmitted infection in Britain have nearly doubled since New Labour was elected seven years ago. We are used to hearing from this government that you can’t solve problems simply by “throwing money at them” (except when it comes to war, of course).

But there is scarcely another social problem that shows more clearly than sexual health how a refusal to invest in public services is literally deadly.

The workload at sexual health clinics has gone up 70 percent since 1997. Funding has risen only 30 percent. The result is waiting lists as long as eight weeks—compounding the risk of infections spreading.

To be fair, funding is not the only issue. At key points over the last seven years New Labour has caved in to the moral Puritanism that regards sex as dirty and teaching children openly about it as “political correctness gone mad”.

A Thatcher-era funding crisis, its right wing moralism and a worse record on this issue than she managed—that takes some doing.

Cabinet revelations

Why is Jack Straw devoted to Lenin?

THE GROWING influence of the radical left is reaching far and wide, as avid readers of the Independent’s letters page can confirm.

For there, over the last two weeks, has emerged the stunning revelation that foreign secretary Jack Straw claims to be a devoted reader of Lenin’s collected works.

It must make for interesting cabinet meetings—Blair outlining support for Bush’s war, Straw dropping in choice references to “imperialist banditry”, “renegade Labour leaders” and “Bread, peace and land!”

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Sat 27 Nov 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1929
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