Blair's final days in the Bunker are drawing to a close, not
with a bang, but more with a whimper. However, the way he is clinging on like
grim death to public office, suggests he cannot believe he is actually leaving.
In a recent interview he suddenly blurted out, "why am I leaving? I have so
much more to do."
But, as far as most people are concerned, he has already
done too much, at least for his rich friends. His New Labour government is
mired in sleaze and corruption in much the same way as John Major's, only
Millions have been angered by Blair's destructive war in Iraq. Some
troops are being withdrawn only to be redeployed in crisis-ridden Afghanistan.
Imperialism is hell-bent on subjugating the region using its iron heel, no
matter what the cost in blood.
After ten years of Blairism, the gulf between rich and poor
has never been greater. While fortunes are being made in City bonuses and
company take-overs, millions of working people, whose labour produces the real
wealth of society, are being forced to get by on minimum wages. Some 20% of the
population now lives in poverty. Meanwhile, Barclays
Bank reports record profits of £7.1 billion, a 35%
rise. Lloyds have also announced record profits, this time £4.2 billion. These
super-profits, in turn, are only a reflection of the fact that millions are
forced to live in constant debt.
The social picture of Britain today
is far from the pretty picture painted by the Blairite spin-doctors.
to the United Nations, British children suffer greater deprivation,
relationships with their parents and are exposed to more risks from
drugs and unsafe sex than those in any other developed country in the
world. 3.4 million children, or more than one in four, live
in poverty in the UK
today. The number of children admitted to hospital with alcohol-related
conditions has risen by 20% in the past five years. Twenty youngsters
diagnosed each day with conditions such as alcohol poisoning and
disorders due to excessive drinking, according to NHS figures.
from infections contracted in dirty hospitals, resulting from
Life has got worse, not better, after 10 years of Blairism.
The growth in many inner cities of
a "gun culture", street gangs, drugs and violence reflects a break down of
society. This affects a layer of youth, especially black and immigrant youth,
who are doomed to poor education, exclusion from school, no proper jobs and no
real future. They become ghettoized and alienated from society. No
amount of "tough" measures and "law and order" will eradicate the feelings of
isolation, deprivation and alienation now to be found on poor working class
In this get-rich-quick,
dog-eat-dog, casino society – that puts material success above all else – this
dehumanising situation will always be an inevitable consequence. It is a social
blight caused by a sharply divided class society. It represents, as Marx
explained, accumulation of colossal wealth at the top, while, at the same time,
an accumulation of "misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality,
mental degradation" at the lower end of society.
And what is the rest of Blair's legacy? As a direct
consequence of Blairism, the Tory lead in the opinion polls is now in double
figures. We are faced with the horrendous prospect of another Tory government
at the next election. This clearly exposes the bankruptcy of New Labour, which
has created a mood of profound disillusionment in the working class, and even
amongst the middle class which once supported Blair.
The Brownites are in a frightful panic. Their dreams are
evaporating like droplets of water on a hot stove. According to the polls, even
with Gordon Brown as leader, the Tories are far ahead and would form a
government with a working majority. Last month's Guardian/ICM poll gave the
Conservatives 42% of the vote against Labour on 29%, similar to its performance
under Michael Foot in 1983. The Liberal Democrats drop to 17%. The result is
the highest that the Conservatives have scored in any ICM poll since July 1992,
just after their last general election victory. The result is the 11th month in
a row that the Conservatives have led in that poll.
Of course, there are still two years to go before an
election and the Tories are not home and dry by any means. But the dangers are
real. Only the immediate departure of Tony Blair and a dramatic change of
course could guarantee the defeat of the Tories. This would mean a new
leadership committed to socialist policies. The challenge of John McDonnell
opens up such a possibility. It is down to the trade unions and the rank and
file to make this happen.
The idea that Brown can offer a way forward is patently false.
Brown is in favour of keeping troops in Iraq
privatisation, wage restraint, PFI, anti-union laws, and all the other
capitalist policies of the last 10 years. There is no difference between him
There must be no "coronation" imposed on the party. The rank
and file must be given a choice and not excluded. As Tony Benn said, if we get
a coronation, "then we might as well have a hereditary leader." This is
something the right-wing reformist mafia at the top of the Labour Party would
like if they could get away with it!
The decision of Michael Meacher to
stand as a "centre-left" candidate is a complete diversion. His intention is
simply to cut across the campaign of John McDonnell. This cannot be allowed to
happen. Greater pressure must be exerted to secure the 44 nominations from the
PLP to allow John to stand.
The end of Blair is near. But we
also need to put an end to the Blair dynasty. The recovery of the Tories is a
dire warning to the Labour movement. No amount of cosmetic changes will hold
them at bay. Labour's reliance on capitalism has proved a disaster for the
working class. The last ten years has proved this single fact beyond doubt.
Only a decisive break from
capitalist policies and the adoption of a clear socialist programme can offer a
real way forward. Only by taking over the commanding heights of the economy can
society be organized in the interests of working people rather than the wealthy
We say good riddance to Blair and
Blairism! It is time to reclaim the Labour Party and fight for socialism in the
21st century. This is the only real alternative to Toryism and the
ills of its system.