Socialist Worker

Is Europe turning towards the right?

Issue No. 1804

IS THE tide of history flowing to the right? The claim is put forward by politicians like Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, and echoed by a growing number of commentators. Four years ago Labour-type parties were in government in 13 of the 15 European Union (EU) countries.

Today Tory or right wing parties are in office in Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Portugal, Austria and Holland, and it looks like they'll win France's election on Sunday. Yet the reality is that there is little real difference between the old and new governments.

No one shows this more clearly than Britain's Tony Blair. There is an EU summit in Seville next week. Blair's agenda differs not a jot from the right wing leaders like Spain's prime minister Jose Maria Aznar or Italy's Silvio Berlusconi. All are pushing more scapegoating of asylum seekers and immigrants. All demand the sweeping away of workers' rights.

All want harsh measures against the unemployed and attacks on welfare benefits. No wonder there is growing disillusionment with all mainstream parties and politicians across Europe. Labour-type parties have presided over attacks that leave most people feeling they are working ever harder, and that life is more and more difficult. No wonder people become bitter, disillusioned and angry, and refuse to vote for those parties.

There is no great enthusiasm for the right, despite the wishful thinking of politicians like Iain Duncan Smith. Rising disenchantment with all mainstream parties has created soaring levels of abstention in elections across Europe. In Britain's general election last year 41 percent didn't vote, while 36 percent didn't vote in France's election on Sunday.

Politicians seek to direct people's feelings elsewhere-away from themselves and the system they run, and onto scapegoats. That's why they all target asylum seekers or pick on the unemployed. It is a filthy game and no one should fall for it. There is an alternative to this charade.

In Spain millions of workers will strike next week against attacks on their rights and the unemployed. Hundreds of thousands will also march behind the banner 'Another world is possible'.

On the same day in London thousands will march in defence of asylum seekers. These protests are part of the global movement challenging scapegoating, war, assaults on public services and pensions, and the capitalist system that lies behind all these attacks. Hope lies in this movement from below, for a different future to the dismal one on offer from Blair and his soulmates at the Seville summit.

Washington's 'dirty' tricks

WHAT'S GEORGE W Bush got to hide? He's locking up his own citizens without trial now. Abdullah al-Muhajir is a US citizen. He was arrested a month ago. Now he has been declared an 'enemy combatant' and can be detained indefinitely.

Newspapers in the US and Britain, including the Guardian and Independent, repeat claims by the US government that he was involved in a plot to bomb the US. Where is the evidence? No one has seen it, and they won't get to see it, as the US is refusing to put al-Muhajir on trial.

Where is even the pretence of a fair trial or 'due legal process' we are told is one of the pillars of 'Western democracy'? Even the US government doesn't claim al-Muhajir actually did anything, merely that he talked of doing it.

Not one of the people held by the US in its 'war on terror' has yet been convicted after a trial. Many still rot without charge in cages in the US Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Meanwhile those who are a real threat to the world roam free. George W Bush plots to bomb Iraq. And Tony Blair backs up bomber Bush and himself sells arms to bloody regimes across the globe.

Our team won't be at the World Cup

THE PLAYERS in this team will not be getting a mention in the coverage of the World Cup being held in South Korea. Trade unions have produced this photomontage to highlight the repression of their members in South Korea.

Twelve of the trade unionists pictured are now in prison and four are wanted for arrest. They are just 16 of around 30 trade unionists targeted by the Korean government's violence and repression. These people are being treated like criminals for trying to form trade unions in their workplaces and seeking to protect workers' rights.

Some campaigners have been targeted for taking part in peaceful demonstrations. Korean trade unionists have been criminalised for trying to organise in well known multinational companies like the car maker Daewoo. For more information visit

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What We Think
Sat 15 Jun 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1804
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