Socialist Worker

Get ready to finish off the Blair premiership

by John Rees
Issue No. 1993

Tony Blair is in the final days of his premiership. The crises that are now swirling around him are multiple – and that’s always a sign of the end of a parliamentary regime.

The immediate crisis is the “cash for coronets” scandal. Several of those who loaned money to New Labour found themselves nominated for knighthoods. This scandal has now put Blair in a similar position to former Tory prime minister John Major.

In fact a recent poll found that seven out of ten voters thought the government Blair heads is at least as sleazy as the last Tory government.

Before that, you had the scandal surrounding culture secretary Tessa Jowell over her family’s association with Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi – the most right wing European leader.

This connection tells you everything you need to know about New Labour’s love of right wing politicians and wealthy businessmen.

Behind these scandals there is the scandal of a Labour government relying on Tory votes to push through a Tory policy – Blair’s flagship education bill.

But behind all of these lies the Iraq war. This is the Pandora’s box from which all these other evils have flown.

The decision Blair made to go to war against Iraq demonstrated that his relationship with the US’s right wing Republican administration is more important to him than his party’s relationship with trade unions and working people.

It is upon that fundamental fact that the crisis engulfing Blair is built.

We have now reached a point where the disaster of Iraq displaces itself into other issues.

The parliamentary rebellion over the education bill happened because many Labour MPs oppose the end of comprehensive education.

But the strength of feeling against the government stems from the moment Blair decided to go to war.

The corruption this government is involved in is a result of its links with big business and its right wing policies that serve the rich and powerful.

But the breach between the government and the mass of people was most clearly demonstrated over the Iraq war.

So the issue is still Iraq.

In just over a week’s time, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice will be the guest of foreign secretary Jack Straw in his Blackburn constituency. She will visit Liverpool the following day.

These visits are a huge focus for the anti-war movement. The enormously successful demonstration in London last Saturday can be replicated on a local level on both these occasions.

Beyond these mobilisations lie the 4 May local elections. They will be a referendum on the Blair government. A bad set of results for New Labour will see Blair hurried from office, a good set of results will slow his exit, and mean we have more of his pro-war policies.

This sequence of events – the demonstration last Saturday, the demonstration against Condoleezza Rice, the huge strike over pensions set for 28 March – these are the last days of Blair.

Mobilisations around these issues and the 4 May local elections are the best possible way that the anti-war movement and Respect can rid the country of Tony Blair’s premiership.

And they are the best way to take forward the movement to build an even larger, even better, even more widely supported alternative to New Labour.

John Rees is national secretary of Respect. Go to

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Sat 25 Mar 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1993
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