The plan is that Tony Blair will slip out of Downing Street some time next spring, leaving the New Labour project intact and on the road. Loyal Blairite cabinet ministers will guarantee the continuation of Tony’s work, while the presence of David Cameron’s “New Tories” on the right flank will check any tendency for Gordon Brown to lurch left.
This Blairite amalgam of triumphalism and paranoia flies in the face of reality. The chancellor is a key architect of New Labour’s economic policies. Nor has he ever uttered a word of dissent over the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.
We are not passive observers in all this. Not only can we eject Blair from Downing Street much earlier than next May, we can also make sure he that is sent on his way by huge protests over the war and the dismantling of the NHS.
Such a wave of anger will also set the terms for a future government. We need to enforce a sharp break with New Labour’s record, as opposed to any “continuity” or “renewal”.
A growing rebellion on the streets can impose that on a Brown administration - or on any future melange of New Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats. The latter, under Menzies Campbell, are attempting to shed any veneer of radicalism and join the neo-liberal consensus shared by Blair, Brown and Cameron.
We need to upset that cosy relationship with resistance from below. We need more rebel voices to join Respect MP George Galloway. That is why we should reject those who urge us to wait on Brown to offer a mite better than Blair. From Manchester this Saturday, the fire of rebellion needs to spread across the country.
When Tony Blair became Labour leader in 1994, party membership was 265,000. He announced he wanted to produce a mass membership party with up to a million members.
In the recent elections for Labour’s national executive committee, in which all members get a vote, just 178,889 ballot papers were sent out.That is the true membership figure - the lowest level since the 1920s.
Far from galvanising support for Labour, Blair has pushed people out the door. So 2006 will go down as the tenth successive year that membership has fallen. Labour is engulfed in a growing crisis. We desperately need an alternative that pulls together all those revolted by Blairism, and the policies of privatisation and war.
Time to link struggles
Thousands will march at the Labour conference this weekend, rightly repulsed by the warmongering of Tony Blair and George Bush. Up and down the country people are also resisting the onslaught of Labour’s privatisation and cuts in the NHS and other public services.
While fighting on every front, we should remember that all our battles are linked. War and privatisation are two sides of the same ruthless system of profit, privilege and power.
This means we need to be tough on Blair, but also tough on the causes of Blair - the capitalist system that breeds war, racism and poverty. We need a vision of a different system - socialism - that puts the needs of the majority of the people of the world before the profits of the elite few.