Socialist Worker

Life after Blair - it’s time to debate a fresh, radical start

Issue No. 2020

No mention of health service privatisation, Trident or council housing, but a firm pledge to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That was Gordon Brown’s speech at Labour’s conference this week. The media focused on the Blair-Brown spat but all New Labour ministers united in continuing the pro-business agenda.

There is a debate raging among the millions who oppose war and privatisation. On page 4 we carry the views of protesters on last Saturday’s anti-war march. It offers a snapshot showing few trust Brown, a few believe Labour can be reclaimed, a few back Respect and the majority are at different points between these positions.

The strength of the Stop the War Coalition is that it groups all these round what remains the burning political issue. It can provide a home for those who would have once looked to Labour.

But as we campaign together we need to debate how we can get some real change.

The first opportunity is at the Organising for Fighting Unions conference initiated by Respect on 11 November. As well as discussing the way forward for the unions it will fraternally debate whether we should stick with supporting New Labour or branch out on a new path. We are confident this debate can be won by those supporting a fresh, radical start.


US threatens friend

Pakistan’s dictator General Pervez Musharraf caused a stir last week. He revealed that in 2001, Richard Armitage, then US deputy secretary of state, told Pakistan’s intelligence director to “be prepared to be bombed... back to the Stone Age” if Pakistan did not fall in line behind the US’s war on terror.

This phrase has a history in US far right circles. In 1965 General Curtis LeMay wrote that the Vietnamese people should “stop their aggression, or we’re going to bomb them back into the Stone Age”.

The phrase “nuke them back into the Stone Age” was a rallying cry for anti-Communist fanatics in the late 1940s.

Armitage has denied using the phrase, but admits telling the intelligence chief, “Pakistan was either with us our against us.” Musharraf has been one of the US’s staunchest allies for years. This is how the US treats its friends - and its bombing campaign against Afghanistan shows it is willing to carry out its threats.

United Nations

The whiff of sulphur

In the 1960s, countries facing imperialist threats frequently turned to the United Nations (UN) for protection.

They were always disappointed. But this did not stop appeals to the UN the next time round.

Last week underlined how widely the UN is now regarded as a plaything of the big powers.

Referring to George Bush, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez told the UN, “The devil came here yesterday. It still smells of sulphur.” He added, “The UN system... is worthless.”

President Ahmadinejad of Iran, facing threats from the US, said, “If the governments of the US or Britain... commit aggression, occupation and violation of international law, which of the UN organs can take them into account?”

The UN is a den of thieves and beggars. The real power to confront imperialism has been seen in the global anti-war movement.

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What We Think
Sat 30 Sep 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2020
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