Socialist Worker

The only real alternative to Brown and Blair

Issue No. 1910

TWO FACES of New Labour were laid bare this week—and both are utterly repellent.

On one side there’s Tony Blair—a discredited liar and war criminal, still raving on about non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

And on the other there’s Gordon Brown—the man who helps pay for the carnage in Iraq by axing thousands of jobs in Britain.

Brown could have passed for one of Thatcher’s minions on Monday as he casually abolished 104,000 public sector posts.

He displayed the same arrogance and contempt for working people’s lives as the Tories did with their pit closure programme in 1992. Except this time, three times as many livelihoods are at stake.

Brown’s assault on workers won’t be confined to the civil service. He is already accusing millions more in our schools, hospitals and benefits centres of skiving.

This clampdown on public sector workers is supposed to fund investment in our services. But nobody should fall for these New Labour lies.

Blair and Brown are obsessed with free markets. For them, “investment” means handing over billions to the private sector parasites they have foisted onto our schools and hospitals.

The general secretaries of the big four unions—Amicus, Unison, TGWU and GMB—were privately despondent this week. For years they have clung to the illusion that Brown would make a kinder, gentler Blair.

That illusion now lies shattered. Gordon Brown has shown once and for all that he is just as contemptuous of “Old Labour” as Blair, his supposed rival.

The big four unions represent more than three million trade union members. These four general secretaries followed the TUC’s Brendan Barber in welcoming Brown’s statement.

They mumbled muted “concern” that “progress could be undermined” by 104,000 fellow trade unionists being shown the door.

But there was no outrage, no pledge of solidarity with civil servants, not even a joint press conference to condemn Brown’s plan.

These union leaders were elected because people want an end to Blairism. Yet every time they are put on the spot, they refuse to call for Blair to go or call effective action.

Union leaders have stood back as official politics in Britain has been turned into an irrelevant farce.

Most people want an end to the occupation of Iraq. Yet New Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats all agree on maintaining the occupation.

Most people are against privatisation. Yet New Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats are all hell-bent on driving through more sell offs and PFIs.

And all three parties agree that we—not big business—must work harder and longer under worsening conditions for smaller pensions.

A chasm has opened up between the mainstream parties and the mass of ordinary people. None of the bitterness felt by millions of workers is being represented on the political stage.

This has to change. Otherwise those same politicians—or forces to the right of them—will gain from cynicism and take it as a licence to squeeze us further.

That is why Respect has been fighting the by-elections in Birmingham and Leicester this week. That is why Respect will carry on campaigning against the warmongers, privatisers and scapegoaters.

By bringing together the anger that so many feel, Respect can punch through the cosy consensus between the mainstream parties. That’s the only real alternative to Brown’s cuts and Blair’s lies.

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What We Think
Sat 17 Jul 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1910
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