THE SOUNDBITE that launched Blair’s election campaign last week—“ an unremittingly New Labour third term”—is one that should send a chill down the spine of anyone who wants a just and fair society.
Blair’s speech was full of self-congratulation for his policies of the last seven years and praise for the centrality of Brown’s economic policies. We are promised more of the same—under the guise of creating “the opportunity to fulfil your aspiration and ambition”.
A new report from the Sutton Trust education charity shows that more of the same will create a bigger gap between rich and poor. Britain is more class-ridden than 50 years ago, with people born in the 1970s having less equality of opportunity than their parents’ generation. The end to education as a right, not a privilege is seen as a major factor in this by the report’s authors. New Labour’s scrapping of the student grant has been a disaster for working class people.
Nearly half the children of the richest quarter of the population go to university—up from 20 percent in the 1980s—whilst only nine percent of children from the poorest quarter get the chance of higher education.
“Unremittingly New Labour” means more warmongering and attacks on health, education and pensions. Creating real opportunities means we have to be unremittingly resistant.
Sell-off plan is no solution to the crisis
BLAIRITE MINISTERS are becoming more Thatcherite than Margaret Thatcher. Cabinet minister Alan Milburn, Tony Blair’s closest ally, was this week proposing a huge sell-off of affordable housing. He wants to extend the “right to buy” scheme, introduced by the Tories for council tenants, to those living in housing association homes.
Under “right to buy”, more than two million council homes were privatised, leading to a massive shortage of council housing. Many council homes bought by tenants were later snapped up by property speculators. For many, the only way to find an affordable flat has been through a housing association. Milburn’s scheme will close this route. It won’t build a single extra home to tackle the housing shortage.
It isn’t clear whether Milburn’s plan will become official policy. But the government is sitting on more than £500 million profit from the existing right to buy scheme. We should demand this money be used to build new publicly-owned, affordable council homes.
Legacy of colonialism alive and kicking today
“Colonials and natives” was the theme of the fancy dress party where Prince Harry donned his swastika armband. Britain’s bloody colonial record might be a matter of nostalgia for such upper class twits but the US are busy rifling through it to aid their Iraq war.
A US professor of defence studies and a consultant to the Rand corporation has advised setting up “pseudo gangs” similar to those the British used to counter Kenyan freedom fighters in the 1950s. They befriended insurgents to kill them. Colonials and natives is more than a fancy dress party in today’s Iraq.