Socialist Worker

Echoes of the Labour Party’s great betrayal

Issue No. 1992

Is this Tony Blair’s Ramsay MacDonald moment? Some 75 years ago Labour’s premier relied on Tory votes to push through cuts in unemployment benefit as the Great Depression gripped the country.

Blair is not about to enter formal coalition with David Cameron, but he was prepared to rely on Tory votes to push his education bill through parliament this week, overcoming the opposition of Labour backbenchers.

With peerages for sale and Labour ministers loving up to the rich and powerful, there is more than a whiff of the MacDonald government around Tony Blair’s administration.

Then it was Lady Londonderry who feted a Labour prime minister. Today that job is left to Silvio Berlusconi.

Ian Blair

Top cop deserves chop

The press was almost unanimous in its condemnation of Met police chief Sir Ian Blair this week, after his admission that he covertly taped a conversation with the attorney general.

The Sun attacked Ian Blair, calling him the “PM’s favourite policeman” and condemning him for wasting “millions on politically correct nonsense”.

But those who oppose the prime minister from the left have a different reason to hate the other Blair, and demand he should go.

Three of the conversations secretly taped by the Met chief were with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

This is the body investigating the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian gunned down by police last year. Ian Blair sought to block that IPCC investigation, delaying investigators’ access to the scene of the shooting by three days.

A second IPCC investigation is still taking place into statements made by Ian Blair and other Met spokespeople following the killing.

Ian Blair suggested the dead man was “directly linked” to police anti-terror operations and that he had “refused to obey police instructions”. These statements quickly turned out to be untrue.

The fact that he secretly taped conversations with the body charged with investigating his conduct shows his contempt for Jean Charles’s family and for any checks on his power.

Channel hopping

Obstacles to revolt

“We don’t want rubbish jobs with no security” was how one French student explained why she was occupying her university last week.

This is the biggest protest movement on French campuses since 1968. Trade unions were set to join students on the streets this week.

The same conditions fuelling the revolt in France exist here – but the dead hand of Labourism still grips trade union leaders.

Union leaders would love to strike a deal with New Labour over pensions. But the only thing on the table this week was an offer one Whitehall insider described to us as “rubbish”.

Hopefully there will be no deal which sells out our retirement rights. But one key step in ensuring that discontent with the free market consensus breaks through the logjam caused by loyalty to Labour is by building an alternative to this masochistic loyalty to Labour.

Ensuring the election of the maximum number of Respect councillors in the local elections scheduled for less than 50 days is key to that.

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Article information

What We Think
Sat 18 Mar 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1992
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