How many times must Tony Blair have daydreamed about how much easier life would be if Iraq and the anti-war movement went away? The draconian policies he announced last week are measures to cow and silence his critics. Britain already has a raft of policies to deal with terrorist offences.
The best response is for the whole anti-war movement to rise up in one voice and say we will not be cowed and we will not be silenced.
Some 1,000 people came together at a Stop the War rally in central London on Thursday of last week. This magnificent display of unity was called at short notice during peak holiday time.
We need to repeat it in every town and city, at street and estate level, and in our workplaces, schools and colleges.
Above all we need to strive mightily over the next six weeks to build the biggest possible turn out on the 24 September national demonstration the Stop the War Coalition has called in London. Now is the time for us to stand up together.
The worth of values
Perhaps the most sinister aspect of the authoritarian backlash in the wake of the London bombings is the hue and cry over multiculturalism. From the Tories and the right the racism is barely veiled. But the calls from New Labour and their supporters for Muslims to “do more to integrate” are just as insidious.
First, the assumption is that working class Muslims — who suffer greater poverty than their white counterparts — are primarily responsible for the segregation they have been pushed into.
Second, behind the waffle about the need for “shared values” is a racist undercurrent. The “good” values we are supposed to all buy into are taken to be British — the “bad” ones, foreign.
But ignoring the views of the electorate and launching wars are long standing British values, or rather those of its rulers.
Mass democratic protest is a value of generations of working people, immigrants and those born here, which over the last four years Muslims have contributed to out of all proportion to their numbers. The “culture” New Labour is telling us to accept is, in fact, foreign to the majority of people in Britain.
There is a clash of cultures in Britain. It is between working people and those who take us into imperialist wars and who impose neo-liberalism at home and abroad.
A one-sided truce
In each and every war our rulers call for national unity against the common enemy. This unity is a one-sided process. We are asked to forswear the right to strike and protest, and accept restrictions on our everyday lives while the government proceeds with business as usual.
Tony Blair’s “war on terror” is no exception. Free from the spotlight of attention New Labour continues to push through the privatisation of essential services.
This week we reveal plans that 70 percent of nurses in the NHS will be employed by the private sector. Plans are proceeding to push through the imposition of private pensions.
New Labour will push ahead relentlessly with its neo-liberal policies. It will not observe a truce. That calls for continued and intensified resistance on all fronts from the movement.