Socialist Worker

How many must die before Blair goes?

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2017

Tony Blair’s grip on political power is lurching deeper into crisis this week as the deaths of British soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq increase.

The sheer scale of the military deaths - 14 killed in the Nimrod plane crash on Saturday of last week, followed by another soldier killed in the Afghan capital Kabul on Monday - has brought home the price being paid as Blair clings to his post.

Two British soldiers were killed in Iraq this week.

Tens of thousands of ordinary people in both countries have lost their lives due to the US and British invasion and occupations.

British soldiers are caught up in a full-scale war in Afghanistan as resistance intensifies. The Nimrod plane in which the British soldiers died was supporting the Operation Medusa offensive against Afghans.

Some 30 British military personnel have been killed in Afghanistan since June this year, when Blair sent troops into Helmand province in the south of the country to put down an uprising against the Nato occupation.

That figure compares to seven British military deaths in the period from the original US-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 up to the end of May this year. Of these seven, only two were killed in combat.

Hundreds of Afghan fighters and

civilians have also lost their lives in the carnage over the past few months. Occupation forces rained down bombs on the Panjwayi district near the city of Kandahar last weekend, killing over 200 “suspected Taliban”, according to Nato.

It is now five years since the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the US that led to George Bush declaring his “war on terror” with Blair’s fervent backing.

Today the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq are sinking in blood - and the clamour for Blair to go is getting more intense than ever.

Labour MPs are circulating three letters calling on Blair to spell out his exit plans.

One is signed by MPs elected for the first time last year - it says Blair should step down now. Even previously ultra-loyal New Labour hacks are now turning against the prime minister.

Blair’s reaction has been to dig his heels in and fire out a series of right wing policy measures, including a bizarre and sinister scheme to brand children as potentially “anti-social” before they are even born.

His close aides are fantasising about the prime minister stepping down in glory some time next year, with a planned “triumph of Blairism” tour involving appearances on Blue Peter, Songs of Praise and Chris Evan’s radio show.

These crazed plans show how divorced from reality Blair and his inner circle are.

Blair’s problems are deeply embedded in the whole New Labour project. Getting rid of him is an urgent priority - but the rot goes far deeper than one man.

Gordon Brown, the man most likely to replace Blair, is complicit in Blair’s wars, neo-liberal policies and the New Labour project.

The task is to mobilise a grassroots movement to challenge this.

It has taken a mass movement of ordinary people up and down the country to reveal Blair’s lies over Iraq.

And it will take that mass movement to bring home the scale of fury against Blair.

In two weeks’ time the Labour Party gathers for its annual conference in Manchester.

The Stop the War Coalition’s demonstration on 23 September in Manchester will drive home the reasons why Blair should finally pay the price for his crimes.

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Article information

Sat 9 Sep 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2017
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