Socialist Worker

Tony Blair: go now

Issue No. 2017

Tony Blair’s crisis is the result of a revolt that has been gathering for five years. At the heart of it is opposition to imperialist wars and New Labour’s murderous alliance with George Bush.

The resistance to imperialism, the global anti-war movement and in particular the British Stop the War Coalition have brought Blair to his present humiliating position.

He is no longer in control of when he leaves, no longer able to control the succession, no longer in control of his ministers and no longer able to make the barest claim to represent a majority in Britain.

The Lebanon war, which saw Blair’s utterly single-minded devotion to Bush and to Israel, was the final straw for many Labour MPs.

Some were politically revolted by the refusal to call for a ceasefire. Others were bitterly aware that this sharp reminder of Blair’s warmongering would prove disastrous at next May’s council, Scottish and Welsh elections - and perhaps at the general election to follow.

Blair will be remembered for the bloody disaster of Iraq above all else. He and Bush are responsible for 150,000 or more Iraqi civilians dead, for the bestial events at Abu Ghraib, for the creation of a global network of torture and imprisonment without trial, for Guantanamo Bay and for the announcement of a future of war without end.

But it is not just the war that marks Blair’s regime. The last few weeks summed it up.

In August Blair abased himself before Rupert Murdoch and his chief executives in California just as the Middle East was burning.

He returned to launch new broadsides against Muslims, blame the poor for their own poverty and to preside over a £22 billion NHS privatisation scheme.

Blair has created a Britain where the gulf between the rich and the rest of us have increased at turbo speed.

The most recent figures suggest that City of London bonuses were expected to rise by £21 billion this year.

Soon after the 1997 election victory, Peter Mandelson, now the EU's Trade Commissioner, said New Labour was “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich.”

Blair has followed that to the letter. The limit of any policy change has always been what the rich will accept.

The revolt by Labour MPs reflects a much broader revolt. In 1997 13.5 million people voted Labour. Last year that figure had fallen to 9.5 million.

The lost four million are Blair’s “achievement”.

Blair has torn apart his own party, trampled on what people believed it stood for and alienated vast swathes of Labour members and supporters.

Clare Short was right this week when she said that Blair’s rule had caused “long term damage”.

The task now is not just to celebrate Blair’s demise. It is to force him out now. For how many other disasters will he push through in the days left to him?

And, because his likely successors are just as committed to war, neo-liberalism and updating Trident nuclear weapons, we have to redouble our efforts against the war policy, against the favours to the rich and the assault on civil liberties.

The demonstration in Manchester on 23 September is now more vital than ever. It will signal we want Blair out now but that we also want a fundamentally different set of policies and a political alternative to Blair and those who went along with him.

It will be a crucial staging post in rallying those who want to fight for a better world.


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