Socialist Worker

An unrepentant Blair says the party’s not for turning

Issue No. 2020

In his final conference speech as Labour Party leader, Tony Blair passed a poisoned chalice to Gordon Brown - pledging that Britain will remain “America’s strongest ally”.

There was not a word of remorse over the war on Iraq nor any hint of apology for the lies Blair told to justify that war.

He even denied claims that the invasion of Iraq had been planned prior to the 9/11 attacks.

In fact within hours of those attacks, US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld had handed George Bush the invasion plans, which had been prepared well in advance.

Blair’s speech promised us a continuing “war against terrorism” that would be “a struggle that would last a generation or more” - with no retreat from the occupations of Afghanistan or Iraq.

Criticising those demanding the withdrawal of British troops, he claimed, “We would not be safer. We would be putting our security in desperate peril.”

In truth Blair’s policies have made this country a prime target - and placed the security of millions of Iraqis and Afghanis in “desperate peril”.

Between now and the day he quits Downing Street, Blair pledged that he would be “dedicating himself to advancing peace between Israel and Palestine”.

This comes from a prime minister who refused to ­condemn Israel when it rained down bombs on Lebanon, and who refused to call for an end to its murderous assault on that country.

Blair’s sign-off message was that Labour needs to go even further down the modernisers’ road.

On a day when delegates had voted to defend and extend council housing, he expressed his regret that Labour had not taken the lead in selling off council homes in the 1980s.

Looking further back he argued that Harold Wilson’s Labour government of the late 1960s should have done more to face down the trade unions.

Along with defending introducing identity cards he promised a “radical” energy policy that would include building a new generation of nuclear power stations

In the week that workers struck against the privatisation of NHS Logistics, which supplies hospitals across England, we were assured that the NHS was being “rebuilt, not privatised”.

He went on to promise “radical” welfare reform. That included forcing single parents and those on invalidity and disability benefit back to work.

The fact that he was applauded so loudly and for so long by all his cabinet colleagues shows how we will need to continue the fight against his legacy.

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