For 12 years Tony Blair and his coterie have driven New Labour towards its slavish worship of the free market. Its decision to back George Bush and his wars flowed from a shared commitment to serve the interests of the wealthy and powerful. At each stage the Blairites have treated Labour’s traditional working class supporters with contempt.
John Prescott’s real crime is that he has faithfully used his working class credentials in support of Blair. With Prescott in the doghouse Ian McCartney has been brought out of cold storage to send a message to Labour members asking them to get active in the local election campaign.
But getting the vote out is a struggle for Labour. Its historic strength was built on the fact that it was seen to provide something, however limited, for its supporters – council homes, comprehensive schools, the NHS and decent pensions.
Now its support is falling away. The smear from Blair’s spin doctors is that Respect is a “communalist” Muslim party. Of course, Labour took Muslim votes for granted until the Iraq war.
The war was the decisive break for them, and tens of thousands of others, but the process is continuing, if less dramatically, as former Labour voters find they can’t stomach the sell off of council homes, schools and hospitals and the demand we work till we are 69.
The task facing Respect is to gather up those people into campaigning networks stretching across each and every community.
Losing their heads
When Even the head teachers’ NAHT union threatens civil disobedience, together with boycotts of the government’s regime of tests and league tables, the anger over education policy must be absolutely clear.
Blair’s government is driving the market into education – and league tables are part of that. First, because they force competition between schools. Second, they decide the fate of children as young as 11. Third, because “failing” schools are promptly sold off to second hand car salesmen and property developers to become “academies”.
Head teachers have asked parents to bring children into school late on exam days so that they are unable to take part, and have said that they may take strike action.
Such action deserves support, especially if it is linked nationally with teachers’ campaigns over the education and inspections bill. Now is the time to act if we are to protect comprehensive education.
Drums of war beating
The unthinkable can happen. US military planners are busily plotting a military strike against Iran, egged on by Israel and relying on British backing.
The clock is counting down to a US attack on Iran’s nuclear installations. In Washington’s fantasy world the Iranian people are patiently waiting for US-style regime change. The reality is that, whatever Iranians think of their rulers, there is powerful hatred of what the US and Britain has inflicted on Iran in the past.
Over the coming weeks and months the anti?war movement needs to step up its campaign against any further wars and against any military adventure in Iran.