Socialist Worker

What's left of Labour's Warwick agreement with the unions after the pensions betrayal?

Issue No. 1940

The government’s assault on public sector pensions should shatter any illusion that it will deliver for workers if it wins a third term. Trade union leaders made great play of a deal they struck with Labour’s leaders at the national policy forum in Warwick last July.

They claimed this would produce a radical programme for the next election and real change afterwards. In his annual conference speech in September, Blair mentioned Warwick ten times and said, “I come to praise Warwick, not bury it.”

But look at the reality. A central element of the Warwick deal was an “agreement to engage in effective dialogue over the future of public sector pensions”. In fact there has been a series of diktats from government which, in the case of local government, would have been rammed through regardless on 1 April if it had not been for the threat of a strike by over one million workers.

Labour is still trying to destroy the present local government scheme and to make millions of other public sector workers work for longer. The “dialogue” will be about exactly how much extra workers have to pay in contributions, and the precise date when the present scheme is hurled on to the scrapheap.

Blair will always be associated with the great lies that launched war against Iraq. But there are many other areas where this government is betraying those who voted for it — and the Warwick deal will not stop that.

Sinn Fein

Cynical attacks from Dublin and London

The IRA has been found guilty without trial of the £26.5 million Northern Bank raid in Belfast.

Sinn Fein is now the second biggest party in Northern Ireland, attracting the biggest share of nationalist voters. In the Irish Republic it has risen to 11 percent in the polls.

There is a real possibility that it could enter government in both Irish states. That’s why the British and Irish governments are turning up the heat, demanding Sinn Fein breaks its links with the IRA. As one senior Irish politician said this week, Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness have to prove they do not lead a “revolutionary organisation” which is out to “overthrow” the northern and southern Irish states.

In other words, it is not enough that IRA guns have been silent since 1997, or that its arsenal is being left to rust. The leaders of the republican movement have to jump through an extra hoop and accept that republican resistance in Northern Ireland was a “criminal conspiracy”.

Adams and McGuinness should say the Irish people had a right to resist, and won’t be lectured by a government that enthusiastically signed up to the Iraq war.

Wise words

Who would say a thing like that?

“War and violence never give fruitful results.” Now who would make a statement like that?

An anti-war protester? Or a pro-war foreign minister. Suprisingly, this quote is from Jack Straw, the Labour Party’s foreign secretary, who oversaw the war on Iraq.

Of course Straw was not talking about Iraq, but about India and Pakistan.

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What We Think
Sat 26 Feb 2005, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1940
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