Socialist Worker

Iraq is the issue that defines this election

Issue No. 1949

The general election campaign has only caught fire when the issue of Iraq has been raised. On the doorstep and on the streets, people are angry about being lied to, angry at Tony Blair’s arrogance and angry at the soaring cost of the war — both in terms of lives and money.

New Labour propagandists like to pretend that Iraq is only an issue among Muslims, or around “middle class dinner tables”. The truth is that young or old, black or white, Iraq is the key issue that motivates people. It has become a symbol for everything wrong with this government.

While Labour wants to bury the issue, the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives pulled their punches until last week’s disclosure that the attorney general had advised the prime minister that the war could be illegal.

On Thursday 5 May, we must remember the children dying of hunger in occupied Iraq and all the ordinary working people who make up the overwhelming bulk of those dying daily there.

Vote Respect and for those clearly opposed to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Let’s punish Blair and all those New Labour MPs who meekly trailed after him into the lobby to vote for war and imperialism.

Council housing

Labour told lies over privatising our homes

New Labour already looks set to break one of its pledges — and the election isn’t even over yet. Once again, it’s over an issue that is scarcely mentioned by the big three parties, but touches a real nerve on the campaign trail — housing.

Council houses in 49 areas across the country are currently managed by arms length management organisations (ALMOs). Labour promised that ALMO housing would return to council management once the government’s “decent homes standard” had been met.

But now the government is in talks to transfer ownership of ALMO council housing to the private sector. Defenders of council housing have always maintained that ALMOs were part of a two step privatisation plan. Ministers denied this. Once more New Labour puts profit before people and lies to its electorate.

Deaths at work

It’s time to crack down on corporate killing

During the 1997 general election campaign, Tony Blair promised to introduce a law holding bosses to account for deaths at work. Eight years on that stands as yet another broken promise.

According to Health and Safety Executive reports, the number of workers killed at work between April 1997 and December of last year stands at 1,936. By the time Workers’ Memorial Day is marked on Thursday of this week, that figure will have risen to around 2,000 deaths.

Yet New Labour tabled a bill on the issue right at the end of the last parliament, knowing it could not possibly be debated. It has dropped any mention of a law on corporate killing from its manifesto — which also omits any move to hold company directors personally responsible for deaths at work. Bosses face stiffer penalties for tax evasion than for killing their workers.

In contrast, Respect backs calls by trade unions and independent safety bodies for a strict new law on workplace safety. It also opposes New Labour’s cuts to the safety inspectorate.

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What We Think
Sat 30 Apr 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1949
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