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Gordon Brown was architect of New Labour project

This article is over 14 years, 6 months old
The news that child poverty is once more on the rise is a tribute to Gordon Brown’s decade at the treasury.
Issue 2056

The news that child poverty is once more on the rise is a tribute to Gordon Brown’s decade at the treasury.

Save the Children reports 1.3 million British children live in “severe poverty” affecting their diet and education. In London the situation is even worse, with one in six families living in poverty.

When Gordon Brown took office New Labour pledged to halve child poverty by 2010 and to eradicate it by 2020. It is nowhere near meeting those targets.

Meanwhile, as London has become the key global finance centre, the global ruling class has moved in, driving up house prices beyond the pockets of most.

As Gordon Brown is shoehorned in as the next prime minister the reality of growing child poverty is a reminder that he was not a reluctant bystander but an architect of the New Labour project – and outdid even Tony Blair in his enthusiasm for neoliberalism.

EU constitution

European alternatives

European governments are attempting to ram through an EU treaty to replace the proposed European Constitution, roundly voted out by French and Dutch voters two years ago.

Here in Britain this has created a furore either centring on manoeuvres between the outgoing Tony Blair and the incoming Gordon Brown, or presenting it as another devilish continental plot to create a European super state controlling Britain by subterfuge.

The German chancellor Angela Merkel and new French president Nicolas Sarkozy champion a treaty because it can be agreed without the small matter of a referendum.

That is profoundly undemocratic. It is worth recalling that French and Dutch voters kicked out the constitution because it paved the way for an even more free market Europe.

The creation of Die Linke, a united left party, in Germany last weekend is a boost to those fighting for another Europe – one of peace, justice and equality. The Financial Times predicted that the 72,000-strong new party “could shake up the country’s political architecture”.

It strengthens the radical challenge to the neoliberal consensus championed by Brown, Sarkozy and Merkel.

Workers’ rights

Weak law weakened

Employment tribunals are weak defence mechanisms that enable workers to try and hold bosses to account when they break the law. Gordon Brown is “reforming” them to make them even weaker. The response of the TUC is to cautiously back the changes.

Even with their current powers, the employment tribunal system is stacked against workers. The bosses have expensive lawyers to fight their case. For instance, corporate lawyers Peninsula Business Services recently boasted, “We have saved very many clients large sums of money by our expertise in reducing claims by claimants even in situations where the employer has an extremely weak case.”

Peninsula gave Blairite deputy leader candidate Hazel Blears £10,000 for her campaign. Peninsula hasn’t given money to the TUC – but then again there was probably no occasion to.

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