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Seize this chance to redraw the political map

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In two weeks time activists will come together to create the biggest left wing electoral challenge for generations
Issue 1883

THE NATIONAL convention to found an alternative to New Labour on 25 January will see the launch of a new force in British politics. Every trade unionist, anti-war campaigner and activist should be there.

It is an unparalleled opportunity to unite all those who marched against the war and all those furious with New Labour’s betrayals of working people in a new electoral coalition for the 10 June elections.

Millions of people are looking for a political force that can give them a real voice. They want an end to war-and privatisation, low pay, long hours and all the humiliations they have endured at the hands of New Labour.

That’s why last year saw some 35,000 postal workers stage wildcat strikes to defend their union. And this week 114,000 civil servants began balloting for strike action over low pay (see page 16). The same feeling of deep bitterness exists in every workplace across Britain.

January will see more evidence, if any were needed, of why creating an alternative to New Labour is so vital to our movement. MPs are due to vote on plans for £3,000 a year university top-up fees towards the end of the month. There is opposition in parliament but experience has shown that we can’t rely on Labour MPs to stop Blair.

We need to demand active campaigns that show that depth of anger against fees.

The Hutton inquiry into the death of scientist David Kelly is set to publish its report soon. Whatever the report concludes, it will once more focus attention on the occupation of Iraq-in particular Blair’s lies about weapons of mass destruction.

With the occupation and the resistance by Iraqis continuing, the Stop the War Coalition will continue to be a major force in British politics.

The war is just one issue that has sparked a raging debate among trade unionists about whether unions should continue to fund Labour while it attacks their members. At the Convention of the Trade Union Left on 7 February key figures in the Labour movement will discuss where the political funds should go and who they should vote for.

But other forces also hope to gain from the growing dissatisfaction with Blair. The Nazi BNP have managed to win several council seats by building on the racist scapegoating of refugees by politicians and the media.

For the first time ever, all Britain’s major anti-racist organisations have come together to form Unite Against Fascism to meet this threat. Unite Against Fascism has already attracted unprecedented levels of support from the trade union movement. It is planning a campaign of mass leafleting and rallies against the Nazis in 2004.

This year could see the left in Britain unite on a scale never seen before.


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