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An unhappy anniversary for Blair

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Issue 1695

What we think

An unhappy anniversary for Blair

THREE YEARS in government and Labour is deep in crisis. Tony Blair was set to wake up on Friday morning to the news that his handpicked candidate for London mayor received a humiliating vote. Frank Dobson is regarded with derision across London. Many Labour Party members refused to campaign for him. Those who did were half-hearted and shamefaced.

Dobson was left this week scrabbling pathetically for votes. The issues turning people against New Labour are clear- the jobs crisis, the state of the health service, education, student tuition fees, rights at work, racism in the police and transport chaos. People want more change. They want things to get better, as Blair and New Labour promised.

Newspapers like the Sun know New Labour is in trouble. Its front page headline on Monday was “Mayday, Mayday”. It said Blair is “heading for disaster” because he has “not fulfilled expectations” and “people feel let down”. But the Sun wants to turn that feeling towards the Tories.

It says Labour is not hard enough on crime or on refugees, and that William Hague is “maturing into a credible threat to Blair”. Hague was hoping to gain seats in Thursday’s local elections in England by scapegoating asylum seekers to get out his core vote. Labour’s core voters, by contrast, felt they had nothing to turn out for. The prospect of a revival of the Tories should be a warning to us all. The mood against the government is from the left, but it needs focusing. It needs organising around a fight for jobs, the defence of asylum seekers, and a push for policies to benefit the millions instead of the millionaires.

Keep pressure on Ken

EVERY PERSON voting for Ken Livingstone was making a positive choice against New Labour. Ordinary people across the capital see Livingstone as an alternative to Blair’s business loving government. They see him as a voice of opposition to crazy free market priorities. But everyone who supports Ken Livingstone must keep the pressure on.

Livingstone swung one way and then the other during the election campaign. At times he inspired audiences by talking of the need for ordinary people to fight back or by saying the capitalist system kills. At other times he courted and won the praise of big business audiences in the City.

He also promised to offer all the other main candidates for mayor-including Tory Stephen Norris-jobs in his new administration. This is not good enough. Working people want Ken Livingstone to deliver some of the change they are not getting from Blair. That is why Socialist Worker was urging all its readers to vote for Livingstone for mayor on Thursday, but also to vote for the London Socialist Alliance so that the new Greater London Assembly is not just stuffed full of Blairite clones.

We must keep the pressure on Ken Livingstone in the weeks and months to come. We must organise to make sure that the demands of ordinary people drown out the baying voices of the City, the Tories and the press.

Rantings led to this racist attack

WILLIAM HAGUE’S playing of the race card over asylum seekers is giving racists the green light to go on the attack. On Monday racist thugs attacked a 24 year old black man in Northfield, Birmingham. They abused him, sprayed an inflammable liquid in his face and set fire to him. We urge Socialist Worker readers to take the petition defending asylum seekers launched by the National Union of Journalists around their workplace and community.

  • NEW SIGNATORIES include: Bob Crow, general secretary RMT; Mick Cash, deputy general secretary RMT and deputy leader Watford council; John Milligan, RMT executive member; Mel Hepworth, president Waltham Forest Trades Council (personal capacity); Greg Tucker, branch secretary Waterloo RMT; Sarah Friday, branch chair Waterloo RMT; Steve Silver, co-editor Searchlight magazine; Harpal Brar, Indian Workers Association GB; Helen Rogers, National Union of Students executive; Ian Robinson, TGWU shop steward Rover Longbridge; Ken Savage, general secretary Greater London Pensioners Association; Tina Downes, vice-president elect NATFHE; Mohammed Amran, CRE commissioner; Felicia Daniel, Bradford Against Injustice; Frances Jones and Malcolm Hardy, Leeds Labour councillors; Garth Franklyn, Leeds independent socialist councillor; Ian Macdonald, secretary Leeds TUC; Simon Rothstein, finance officer Leeds University Student Union; Jules Horsler, equality officer Leeds Local Government UNISON; Mark Brown, theatre critic Scotland on Sunday; Shanaz Ganjeifar; Andreas Russ; Simon Strickland-Scott; Carol-Lynn Strickland-Scott
  • For a copy of the statement, contact Asylum Statement, NUJ Magazine Branch, c/o Acorn House, 314-320 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP. E-mail: [email protected]. Donations are needed-make cheques payable to “London Magazine Branch”.

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