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Week of revolt against Blair

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Issue 1757

What we think

Week of revolt against Blair

TONY BLAIR got a shock last week. Labour MPs gave him a roasting over key planks of his programme. Left winger Dennis Skinner led the attack, but usually grovelling backbenchers joined in.

The Guardian’s Simon Hoggart said, “In Vietnam they called it ‘fragging’ unpopular officers. Mr Blair left the chamber looking well and truly fragged.” It was not just in parliament.

John Edmonds of the GMB union says the government’s privatisation plans “threaten our jobs and the future of public services”. He slammed the government’s Incapacity Benefit plans, saying they would “frighten and alienate already vulnerable people” and “undermine the security of disabled people”.

Widespread opposition

The GMB is now to reduce its funding to Labour and use the money saved to fund campaigns against the government’s privatisation plans. Former Labour deputy leader Roy Hattersley talks of widespread “despair” at the “widening gap between rich and poor”, and at New Labour’s “assumption that an injection of private management always improves the performance of public services”.

The pro New Labour Observer newspaper slams the government privatisation mania as “dogma that fails the people” and a “disgrace”. It warns that “the government’s ideological commitment to ceding control and financing of large parts of public sector delivery to the private sector is blowing up in its face.

“Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are not only in danger of losing control of their party. They risk being reviled and mocked by the country.”

Don’t trust trade union leaders

There is widespread opposition to New Labour’s plans. But we cannot trust the union leaders to lead a fightback. We need to act ourselves.

A mass lobby of the Labour Party conference in September is now planned in opposition to privatisation. It has the potential to be huge. Trade unionists should get their union branches to back this lobby now. So too should community and campaign groups. Activists should raise it on every housing estate.

Blair’s drive to privatise, his attacks on the poor, his cosying up to business, will make ordinary people’s lives worse. The signs are also growing stronger that, for all New Labour’s talk of “no more boom and bust”, the economy is heading for a sharp recession.

Fight against racism

Job losses, like those announced by giant manufacturing company Marconi last week, will increase people’s bitterness. That bitterness is mostly fuelling a mood to the left of New Labour, a mood against privatisation, a mood to defend public services. But it can go in another direction too.

Recent events in Bradford, Burnley and Oldham are a warning. Nazis like the BNP want to exploit people’s misery and frustration, turn people against each other, and fuel the poison of racism. The Nazis must be confronted and exposed wherever they raise their heads. That means activists must also build the widest national support and mobilisation for the Anti Nazi League demonstration and carnival in Burnley in seven weeks time on Saturday 1 September.

We need to fight privatisation and poverty, and to unite black, white and Asian together behind the fight.

Thousands at Marxism 2001

SOCIALISTS FROM Britain and across the world crammed into the week long Marxism 2001 event in central London this week. Meetings sparkled with lively debates on topics from anti-capitalism, the Socialist Alliance, the fight against racism and many other ideas

Anti Nazi League

March & carnival against the Nazis

Burnley, 1 September
Black and white unite

Book transport now, invite a speaker into your workplace or organisation

Contact ANL 020 7924 0333 ; e-mail: [email protected] ; website:

Stop privatisation

protest @ new labour’ s conference

Demonstrate Sunday 30 September Brighton

Initial sponsors: Globalise Resistance; Green Party; Socialist Alliance; John Leech; Dave Toomer; Mark Serwotka; George Monbiot; Greg Tucker, RMT train crew secretary (pc); John Owen, UNISON executive (pc); Helen Salmon, NUS executive (pc); Neil Thompson; Nigel Flanagan, branch convenor Sefton LG UNISON; Doreen Smith, branch secretary Sefton LG UNISON; Plymouth LG UNISON. 

To add your name or organisation, phone 020 8980 3005

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