Socialist Worker

Desperate claims from a drowning man

Issue No. 1891

'THE ENEMY within.' That chilling phrase sums up how top establishment figures see people who dare to reveal the truth about the war. They dragged GCHQ worker Katharine Gun through the courts for 12 months to terrify others out of speaking out. The government was forced to drop the case against her only because it would have had to reveal the legal basis for attacking Iraq in court.

Clare Short claimed last week that Britain was bugging UN secretary general Kofi Annan. New Labour couldn't deny it. Instead they heaped abuse and ridicule on her. 'The enemy within' is how Blair now sees his own MPs. A New Labour minister used the phrase to describe the handful of Labour MPs who consistently opposed the war.

New Labour chief whip Hilary Armstrong wants to force six Labour MPs to pledge their loyalty to Tony Blair at grotesque 'show trials' or face deselection. The six are Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Bob Marshall-Andrews, Lynne Jones, Diane Abbott and Mike Wood. Blair desperately hopes that the furore over the war will go away. But it keeps coming back to rock his government and shatter his credibility.

As Observer columnist Andrew Rawnsley says, 'For a Tony Blair tormented by the unquiet ghosts of the conflict, this threatens to be a war without end.' Blair's response is to tell the Scottish Labour Party last week that there was an 'auld alliance' between left wingers and the Tory party against New Labour.

Derek Simpson, a not so 'awkward squad' trade union leader, rushed to back him. Simpson said of Clare Short's revelations, 'I can't understand what it has added to the discussion except to create anger about a subject that is, at the moment, probably the least relevant. We really need to ensure that a Labour government is kept in power.'

This is the last desperate argument that supporters of a bankrupt government reach for-that opposing Blair means letting the Tories back in. But it was Blair who was counting on Tory MPs to get the decision to go to war on Iraq through parliament.

More importantly, it is Blair's policies that have left millions feeling too gutted and betrayed to vote Labour. Far from being a block to a Tory revival, it is the continuation of New Labour that creates the danger of the Tories getting back in on a very low turnout. We can do so much better than this tawdry ragbag of liars, thieves and war criminals. Respect: The Unity Coalition is standing in the June elections to pose an alternative to all the major political parties.

Blair wants to get away with murder. We can't afford to let him. The Stop the War Coalition's national demonstration is our opportunity to bring Blair to account. The protest is part of an international day of action to commemorate the beginning of the war last year.

Activists have two weeks to ensure that the 20 March protest reflects the mood in every school, college, workplace and community. This can make it another step in intensifying Blair's crisis and bringing about his political end.

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What We Think
Sat 6 Mar 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1891
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