Socialist Worker

Just one Respect MP will make a difference

Issue No. 1948

If the polls are accurate, Tony Blair is on course to form another New Labour government after the general election. So what difference can electing one or two Respect MPs make?

Well, quite a lot. Even one radical voice in the House of Commons would be a mouthpiece for the millions currently denied a voice in British society — not just those who marched against war, but all the ordinary people written off by New Labour’s neo-liberalism.

Blair’s whole strategy has been to pitch for Tory territory while ignoring Labour’s traditional voters in the knowledge that they have nowhere else to go. That strategy is thrown overboard if New Labour faces an effective challenge from the left.

We have a historic opportunity on 5 May to stop Britain drifting towards the US model, where the “choice” is between parties all thoroughly committed to free market values. Breaking that mould has to start somewhere. Even a single victory for Respect opens the road to further victories in next year’s council elections.

If the left does not seize this crucial chance, New Labour will breathe a mighty sigh of relief at all levels. In the final fortnight of the campaign, every single one of us has to move hell and high water to secure a breakthrough for Respect.

Health and education

Plundering privateers will wreck our services

A year from now — whoever forms the next government — private companies are set to run nearly a fifth of all our public services, some £60 billion worth. Private firms are chomping their way through the health service, through our schools and through local services.

Henry Pitman boasts that his firm, Tribal Group, has grown under the loving gaze of New Labour. Tribal Group didn’t exist five years ago — now it has a £230 million annual turnover.

These fat cat firms are driven by profit. And that means they will go for broke, regardless of the consequences for our services. When the PFI giant Jarvis hit the buffers last year it left a trail of half built schools and hospitals in its wake.

Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats all stand full square behind the private sector

rip-off of our public services. The real challenge to this consensus comes from Respect—which stands proudly against the plundering privateers.

Pinochet’s bomber

The terrorist that Bush is happy to harbour

“If you harbour terrorists, you are a terrorist,” declared George Bush in 2001. Luis Posada Carriles is a self confessed terrorist. He was sentenced to 25 years for organising the 1976 bombing of a Cuban civilian airliner—all 73 people on board were killed.

Posada Carriles was trained by the CIA. He has also been implicated in the assassination of Orlando Letelier, the former Chilean ambassador to Washington and minister in Salvador Allende’s left wing government. Letelier was killed in a car bomb attack ordered by General Pinochet, who took power in Chile during the 1973 coup.

Posada Carriles is a wanted man, having escaped prison in Venezuela. Today he is sitting pretty in Jeb Bush’s Florida, sheltered by the Republican right and busy negotiating asylum with US authorities.

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Article information

What We Think
Sat 23 Apr 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1948
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