Georgia the result was the resignation of Eduard Shevardnadze after 11
years in office in a 'bloodless revolution'. Once again the power of
the masses was demonstrated for the whole world to see. Shevardnadze
would have liked to have used the army to keep his position, however,
as we have seen time and again in recent years, once the masses are on
the streets in these numbers, the troops tend to go with them. The
opposition preparing to grasp the reins let slip by the former Soviet
foreign secretary will be no improvement. A struggle between US
imperialism and Russia for control of the region and its oil supplies
augur dark days ahead for the Georgian masses. Nevertheless they have
demonstrated their power to topple Presidents and Parliaments. This is
a lesson which will be learned and remembered for the future.
London meanwhile, it may only have been an effigy of George Bush that
was toppled but in the biggest weekday demonstration in British history
200,000 people here demanded that their voices be heard, and that the
President should get out.
Blair and Bush prattled on about the right to demonstrate in a
democracy, the raised voices of the people were studiously ignored by
the leader of the free world and his sidekick while they enjoyed the
pomp and ceremony of a state visit. It is nauseating indeed to see the
leader of British Labour fawn so desperately over the leader of the
most reactionary force on the planet. It is a day of shame for the
labour movement. We can take pride in the demonstration, but cannot
allow this humiliation of Labour to continue one day longer.
demonstrator after another made the same point. If this is a democracy,
how come when a majority are against war, Britain sends in the troops;
when the majority do not want Bush here, he receives the most lavish
welcome since Woodrow Wilson's visit after world war one; and if this
is a democracy how come no-one listens to the voices of two hundred
thousand ordinary people raised in protest?
democracy Bush and Blair promote is the democratic right to pump oil,
to exploit the masses of the world, the democratic right of bosses to
hire and fire, and the democratic right of governments to trample over
civil liberties. To these people our democratic rights mean that we
have the right to annoy them with demonstrations before they carry on
It is not
just Presidents and Prime Ministers who make history, though. With six
anti-war demos in one year, the biggest in history and the biggest
weekday march in history within months of each other; strikes by postal
workers, railway workers and firefighters; shifts to the left in the
unions; and now the beginnings of new developments inside Labour
itself, history is being made here too.
we have always explained events in society must inevitably find an
expression inside the Labour Party at a certain stage. In the last few
months we have reported the decision of several key union leaders to
form a new Labour Representation Committee, to organise reclaiming
Labour from the Blairite hijackers. This month we can report the
creation of a new 'moderate' left within the Parliamentary Labour
Party. The New Wave, as the 15 'mainstream' MPs call themselves, are
demanding an end to "neo-colonial adventures", curbs on the
Government's plans to impose market forces on public services, and
closer links between Labour and the trade unions.
formation of this trend, following Blair's narrow victory on foundation
hospitals – the government's 161 majority was cut to just 17 in the
vote in the Commons – a policy democratically defeated at Labour's
conference just a couple of months ago, is another nail in Blair's
coffin. This may not yet represent a challenge to Blair's leadership.
However, anyone who dismisses this development is blind to the process
taking place within society and within the workers' organisations,
including – albeit at an early stage – inside the Labour Party.
Tories, meanwhile, have a 'new' leader. Michael Howard is the man who
brought us the Poll Tax, and Section 28. He is a leftover from the dark
days of Thatcher and Major. Surely the Tories cannot win the next
election, no matter who leads them? Labour however, and Blair in
particular, can lose it. Their first response to the 'new Tory threat'
has been to move even further to the right, announcing the withdrawal
of legal aid from asylum seekers.
is not the Tories' saviour, but they may yet be saved from humiliation
by mounting disillusionment with Blair. The house price bubble cannot
float on forever. The first interest rate rise, announced last month,
could be the beginning of its end. Blair faces problems wherever he
turns – the economy, further militancy from workers who can take no
more, and even inside the Labour Party where his apparently vice like
grip is weakening.
emergence of new left groupings inside Labour are a taste of things to
come. They reflect on the one hand the fear of a number of MPs that
they might lose their seats at the next election if disillusionment
continues to rise and, inversely, turnout falls. They are also a
reflection of the changes taking place in the outlook of the working
class and society as a whole. All of these indicators add up to one
thing. We may not yet be on the verge of revolution, but another new
stage has opened up. In this period Blair and Blairism will be
defeated. The unions must step up their campaign to take the party
back. The tragedy of the mighty events in Georgia is that the mass of
workers do not have their own independent organisations. Through
struggle they will create them. Back home we lost control of our mass
organisations years ago. It is time now to take them back.