Socialist Worker

Fight on both fronts to beat Tony Blair

Issue No. 1820

TONY BLAIR is fighting on two fronts. His speech at Labour's conference shows he is determined to press ahead with backing George Bush's war plans and pushing through PFI. To add insult to injury, he is openly abandoning the principle of comprehensive education by talking about 'post-comprehensive education'.

But there have been signs that he could lose in these battles. Last Saturday's amazing 400,000-strong anti-war demonstration in London showed the huge weight of feeling against war on Iraq. The Labour conference had voted against Blair's key policy of PFI privatisation for schools and hospitals on Monday, despite applauding him on Tuesday. There are a rising number of strikes taking place in the public sector, as workers revolt against low pay and privatisation.

The problems that Blair is facing are not the result of meetings in smoke-filled rooms but the result of the revulsion many people feel at his policies. Opinion polls show that opposition to war is growing. In one poll taken last weekend some 37 percent believed that Bush is a greater threat to world peace than Saddam Hussein.

And 21 percent believed Bush only wants a war with Iraq to protect oil supplies. A survey for the Guardian this week found that 44 percent of people oppose any war on Iraq. Support for the war dropped to 33 percent, down 4 percent. There are millions of people who oppose war and Bush and Blair's imperialist agenda.

Blair's supporters claim that opposition to PFI only comes from union leaders. But an opinion poll for the Guardian last week showed that 63 percent of people back a review of PFI. Just as Blair and Brown were shoving more pro-market policies down the throats of Labour Party delegates, stockmarkets around the world were plunging. The worst hit were the big insurance companies like Standard Life, the country's biggest mutual insurer.

Last week Standard Life announced it was cutting payouts to pensioners. It has imposed a 10 percent penalty on anyone trying to cash their policy in early. Yet Blair and Brown carry on insisting we must rely on companies like these for our pensions and savings.

We need to build the movement that has erupted against Blair. Socialist Worker urges its readers to go all out to make the 'Stop Your City, Stop The War' protest called by the Stop the War Coalition for Thursday 31 October a mass show of opposition to Blair and Bush.

Everybody needs to throw their full weight into the campaigns against privatisation and in support of workers taking action, like the firefighters. People are making the links between all the struggles. We need to strengthen them.

We can unite the movements in a way that can sink Blair's plans along with those of his friend the warmonger Bush.


London council workers strike

TENS OF thousands of council workers struck across London on Tuesday. It was their fifth day of striking this year in a fight to win an increase in the London weighting allowance they get for the extra costs of living and working in the capital. The strike was backed by all three main council workers' unions - Unison, the TGWU and the GMB.

It was to be followed by pulling selected groups of workers out for a week at a time in each of the 32 London boroughs over the next month. Many workers feel that more hard-hitting action will be needed to win their £4,000 a year claim.

Many also feel that their fight should be united with other groups of workers. Unison member Salman Cerin was one of dozens of council workers on strike at the Millfields Road dust depot in Hackney, east London. 'I'm glad we're out on strike today,' he told Socialist Worker. 'But I think one-day strikes are not enough.'

TGWU member Lorna Wright was another striker at the Millfield Road depot: 'We have to go further. We should all be together. It's the government we have to force to pay up.'


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What We Think
Sat 5 Oct 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1820
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