PRESS REPORTS this week claimed that Tony Blair was waiting for one crucial endorsement before he could think about launching a general election campaign. It wasn't from a union leader or a pensioner or a student, or any of the people New Labour promised to help in 1997.
Not a bit of it. New Labour is worried that it has not yet appointed a businessman to play a high profile role in Labour's election campaign. 'The prime minister and the chancellor, Gordon Brown, regard an endorsement from a well known industrialist or financier as crucial,' reported the Guardian. It is not a single parent or a nurse but a business tycoon who sums up what New Labour stands for.
Blair is not only selling off public services-he is even prepared to sell the Labour Party itself to the highest bidder.
Labour was forced this week to reveal that businessman Lord Hamlyn had donated £2 million to the party. The gift underlines how Labour is becoming more and more dependent on cash from the rich. We also know that Blair has stuffed his government with businessmen on an unprecedented scale. And we know he is prepared to accept donations from even the worst scumbag capitalists. Labour's accounts reveal that Vauxhall Motors gave '£5,000 or more' to the party and is a 'sponsor' of New Labour.
Vauxhall is owned by General Motors, the world's biggest industrial corporation. Before Christmas it announced the closure of its Luton plant, throwing the jobs and futures of 2,000 workers to the wall. Yet education secretary David Blunkett had given Vauxhall boss and GM executive Nick Reilly a number of jobs in charge of adult education. In 1998 he made Reilly chair of the Training Standards Council. In December 1999 Blunkett announced Reilly would 'lead a group of business leaders who would advise him how to take the skills message out to businesses throughout the country'.
And last July Blunkett made Reilly chairman of the new Adult Learning Inspectorate-a kind of Ofsted for further education colleges. In return for two days work a month Reilly grabs up to £10,400 a year. Reilly also has a seat on Labour's Commission for Integrated Transport to advise the government on transport policy. And, to top it all, Blair gave Reilly a CBE in last year's new year's honours list.
We desperately need a left wing alternative. That is why in the coming weeks we urge every reader of Socialist Worker to throw themselves into building the electoral challenge of the Socialist Alliances and the Scottish Socialist Party. We need a genuine alternative for working class people in the coming general election.
Korean bank workers revolt
SOME 15,000 striking bank workers in South Korea fought pitched battles with 6,000 police two weeks ago. The workers occupied the banking training centre near the capital, Seoul, in protest at a merger between two major banks, which will lead to mass sackings
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