London mayor Ken Livingstone chose a dinner at the Mansion House in the City of London last week to launch an attack on the rail union, the RMT. An audience of financiers gave him an ovation when he told them he “had not the slightest intention” of conceding to the union in the staffing dispute on London Underground as this would be “rewarding bad behaviour”.
We now have a leading light on the left of New Labour boasting that he will confront the rail unions over the next few years, while the right shows no shame over its decision to go to war in Iraq. For years Labour critics of Tony Blair have urged us to retain faith in the party reverting back to the left. We were told this would happen when Gordon Brown eventually replaced Blair.
But neither Blair nor Brown will be budged from their free market agenda or their devil’s pact with Bush. Neither pays the slightest attention to Labour’s annual conference. With David Cameron rushing to take the Tories to the centre ground, the pressure on New Labour is to move in the same direction to retain wavering voters.
Socialist Worker readers need to work with all those opposed to attacks on pensions and education, who support the RMT’s stand over safety on the tube and who oppose the occupation of Iraq. The need for an alternative to Labour has never been more pressing. We need to redouble our efforts to ensure Respect makes the biggest possible advance in the May local elections.
The war brought the house into disrepute
New Labour claim George Galloway has brought the House of Commons into disrepute. Nothing did more to bring parliament into disrepute than the sight of Labour MPs queuing up to vote for an illegal war in Iraq. Appearing on a reality TV programme pales into insignificance compared with that.
We don’t believe Big Brother is an effective way for George to get his message across but his appearance is hardly a crime on the scale of bombing a country or even denouncing tube workers striking over safety at work.
George genuinely believes that young people are disengaged from politics and this is a way to reach them. Yet the anti-war movement has done more to engage young people than any number of TV shows.
No one in parliament has done more to mobilise against the war than George and no other MP paid the price of being expelled from the Labour Party. We have no hesitation in saying that we need George out campaigning as he does best, rather than being locked away on a TV set in Elstree.
Working class kept out of university
Tony Blair thinks that charging £3,000 a year will entice 50 percent of people aged 18-30 into university — and David Cameron agrees saying the Tories will keep top-up fees. Gordon Brown wants poor students to do “volunteer” work in exchange for help with their fees.
Meanwhile, Labour minister Bill Rammell has admitted that the number of students applying to enter universities in 2006 could drop by an estimated 10,400. The only way to get more working class students into university is to scrap fees and reintroduce grants.