The feud between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown supposedly symbolises a historic clash of principles. Some union leaders and charities are pinning their hopes on the outcome. The feud is symptomatic of the crises that have beset New Labour’s inner core since it took us into the disastrous war on Iraq. But as for principled differences, there are none.
Blair joined Bush’s war drive: Brown made
us cough up the cash for it. Blair’s cabinet favourites proposed university top-up fees: Brown and his faction boasted how they delivered the vote in parliament.
It was Brown who decided to sack 104,000 government workers. And it is Brown who is fronting the biggest attack on the welfare state since it was founded—stealing a third of the pensions of millions of workers and driving them into an early grave.
He and Blair are the joint architects of New Labour and its free market policies.
There can be few more nauseating images than the sight of each of them trying to bolster their own image by shrouding themselves in the suffering those policies have brought to Africa. The feud is set to continue. Rows may surface over how to present an election campaign that both agree will continue the move away from the values traditional Labour voters hold dear.
That’s a reason to be confident in resisting the government over the war, pensions and at the election. It’s no cause to be drawn into someone else’s punch-up.
Strategy for surrender
GEORGE BUSH invited Mahmoud Abbas, the new president of the Palestinian Authority, to the White House as soon as his election victory was announced this week.
Bush never invited Abbas’s predecessor Yasser Arafat. Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, also welcomed Abbas’s victory. Abbas was the only presidential candidate who the Israeli state allowed to campaign freely during the election.
Israel’s leaders believe he can be pressured to accept all their conditions in return for a weak, divided Palestinian state. Bush and Sharon now want Abbas to push through an offensive against the Palestinian groups who are continuing to resist Israel’s occupation of their lands.
Abbas’s strategy holds no real hope of peace and justice for the Palestinian people. It is only their actions that have kept the struggle alive. Their resistance can ruin Bush and Sharon’s plans for the Middle East.
Free them all now
As Socialist Worker went to press, news broke that the four Britons being held in Guantanamo Bay may finally be released. They have been held in the US prison camp for up to three years without charge or trial. Multiple reports from former Guantanamo inmates confirm a brutal regime at the camp.
Yet our government has its own Guantanamo to deal with. At the end of last year, law lords ruled that the indefinite detention without trial of terror suspects in Belmarsh and Woodhill was illegal. Charles Clarke, the new home secretary, has shamefully failed to release the prisoners. He is also pressing ahead with extraditing Babar Ahmad to face Guantanamo-style justice in the US. All of the prisoners should be freed now.