Socialist Worker

The election is a chance to change the political landscape

Issue No. 1946

Vote Labour or wake up with Michael Howard in office on 6 May — that’s the cry from New Labour. Accordingly, a poll on the morning the election was called showed a Tory lead.

But this was only among those who said they were definitely voting. Every other poll suggests a significant win for Blair. The polls also show that 40 percent of voters are still undecided—an incredible number so close to an election.

After meeting constituents, one Labour MP told the Financial Times, “There could be some very strange results. There’s a mix of apathy and hostility. It’s a very odd situation.”

The real issue in this election is how those opposed to the war in Iraq and the established parties’ free market agenda will vote.

The left has a simple choice. It is one that faced West Ham voters in 1892 when they elected Keir Hardie, defying the siren voices telling them to stick with the Liberals or the Tories would get in.

What will give Tony Blair a massive headache is a real challenge from the left.

Imagine the impact if Respect wins a seat—it will be a signal of hope in an election dominated by fear.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the political landscape of this country.


Jobs at risk while the bosses make millions

The agonising insecurity hitting thousands of Rover workers in Birmingham this week says everything about New Labour.

It was New Labour minister Stephen Byers who brokered the deal handing the Longbridge car plant to four businessmen — for just £10 — five years ago. The so called Phoenix Four have since raked in £40 million each and have put £13 million into the bosses’ pension fund.

New Labour’s answer was to offer another round of tax breaks, loans and handouts to businessmen, this time from China. Ministers refused even to consider taking Longbridge into public ownership and squeezing every last penny from the businessmen who fleeced it.

But the Chinese investors were pulling back from a bail-out at the start of this week, leaving 6,000 workers uncertain of whether they will have a job or the pension they have paid into.

In 2000 Longbridge unions organised a 100,000-strong demonstration to fight threatened closure. They should march again.

Over the next five weeks the leaders of the Longbridge unions, which all fund the Labour Party, must use their potential power.

school meals

Don’t swallow Kelly’s lies on new money

Education secretary Ruth Kelly promised an extra £280 million to improve school meals on Thursday of last week. The announcement won wide approval and good press. But now we can see how little new money there is.

Some £45 million of lottery money will go to the government’s Schools Food Trust, breaking the principle that National Lottery spending should be independent from government.

As for the rest, it looks like this is another case of the same money being promised time and time again — so schools will be expected to find the cash themselves.

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What We Think
Sat 9 Apr 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1946
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