Socialist Worker

Blair and Blunkett aren’t in Wonderland

Issue No. 1975

Downing Street more and more resembles a mad hatter’s tea party these days. Not content with lecturing European Union leaders on the joys of neo-liberalism Tony Blair let it be known that he regarded minister for work and pensions David Blunkett as being too soft in his proposals to force those on disability benefit back to work.

This was in the same week that Blunkett aired plans to force single mothers back to work when their youngest child is 11.

As Blair begins to fade from office he seems determined to secure his place in history as the most pro-free market prime minister in British history, outranking even Margaret Thatcher.

Yet these are dangerous days for Blair. Media attention focuses on the handover of office to Gordon Brown and who will be in and who will be out in the new cabinet.

But the possibility exists that the New Labour cabal can unravel and divisions at the top can create opportunities for those who have been on the receiving end of Blair’s “reforms”.

Climate change

A major threat to our campaign and planet

Tony Blair said in the Observer last Sunday that, “We know climate change is a major threat.” With Britain’s carbon emissions up again this year it’s hard to believe that he does know.

Predictably he is attempting to put an environmentally friendly spin on the issue of nuclear power as a solution to carbon emissions.

We need to be careful of these arguments. The way to make a real difference to the future of the planet is to curb carbon emissions and instead invest in renewable power.

Blair will attempt to use the climate change campaign in the same way he used Make Poverty History — to get a few positive headlines, before again doing nothing.

We have to join the protests against climate change on 3 December to show that we expect more than a few nice words.

Trade protests

Demand protection for world’s poorest

Thousands of people were expected in London on Wednesday of this week to lobby MPs with a call for trade justice, not free trade, when the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meets on 13-18 December in Hong Kong.

Make Poverty History and its partners are calling on the British government and the European Union to stop pushing poor countries to open their economies to multinationals.

They want the rich to respect poor countries’ rights to decide on trade policies to help end poverty and protect their environment.

Yet British ministers are preparing to play a key role at the WTO in pushing through measures such as Gats (General Agreement on Trade in Services) and Nama (Non Agricultural Market Access) which will deepen poverty and further skew trade in favour of the multinationals.

These measures would signal a further stage in the march of the neo-liberal agenda.

Protesters are preparing to confront the WTO and we should stand in solidarity with them. Our trade policy is subsidies and protection for the poor, not a penny for the rich.

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What We Think
Sat 5 Nov 2005, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1975
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