One million Iraqi men, women and children have been slaughtered since "shock and awe" was inflicted on their country in March 2003. This is the horrendous "blood price" which Blair said he was willing to pay for the "liberation" of Iraq.
This chilling figure, compiled by the Australian scientist Dr Gideon Polya, is a measure of the imperialist barbarism unleashed on Iraq. It has been the bloodiest conflict any British government has been engaged in since the Second World War.
As a consequence Iraq has descended into a hell-hole. Military occupation, sectarian strife, murder, violence, rape, widespread crime, as well as desperate fuel and water shortages, are now part of everyday life. The puppet government, faithfully carrying out the bidding of the US and their allies, is busy privatising the country's huge oil reserves, ready to hand them over to greedy western oil corporations.
Disgracefully, the British Foreign Office, under the guise of acting in the "best interests" of the Iraqi people, has been secretly assisting this privatisation programme by "facilitating" contracts between the oil companies and the occupation-approved "government" in Baghdad. Kim Howells, an ex-member of the "Communist" Party, but now Foreign Office minister in Blair's government, denounced those who condemned his government's involvement in helping to shape the privatisation law as "paranoia gone completely loopy." Howell's defence of the indefensible will fool nobody. One of the key reasons for the invasion of Iraq was not to find mythical weapons of mass destruction or bring "democracy", but to get their hands on the loot – the oil.
A recent survey carried out in Iraq revealed a horrendous picture of pessimism and desperation amongst the "liberated" population. Those who felt life under occupation was improving fell from 71% in 2005 to 38% today. Some 50% stated that their lives were worse than before the US-led invasion. Only 26% of people said they felt safe in their own neighbourhoods. Almost nine in 10 of those surveyed said they feared they or a family member could become a victim of violence, while only 5% said they worried "hardly at all" about this possibility.
Significantly, the man who led the crowd which toppled the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad four years ago now states he regrets his actions. Kadhim al-Jubouri had been imprisoned in Abu Ghraib jail under Saddam and hated the Ba'athist regime. Now, on the fourth anniversary of the US-led invasion, he says: "The Americans are worse than the dictatorship. Every day is worse than the previous day." This has become the overwhelming feeling after four years of imperialist occupation.
Despite the despatch of some 30,000 extra troops by the Americans, the popular insurgency has become more than a match for the increasingly demoralised Coalition forces. The British are loosing the war in Basra. Despite announcing troop reductions, Blair is now deploying heavy artillery in Basra, for the first time since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, in a desperate move to contain the situation.
Recently, Eddie Hancock, the father of a British soldier killed in Iraq, branded Blair a liar who had betrayed the armed forces. He described his son Jamie, who was shot dead in Basra, as "fearless" and "patriotic". "I have been utterly sickened by this government's treatment of our armed forces," said Mr Hancock. "Our soldiers should be brought home now. They are dying for nothing."
The financial cost of the Iraq campaign to British taxpayers now exceeds £5 billion and will be an additional £1 billion over the coming year. At the same time in Blair's Britain hospital wards are being closed, nurses' wages are cut and health workers sacked.
Despite all the government's deceit and lies (called "diplomacy") in the run up to the invasion of Iraq, Blair was clearly preparing well in advance for all-out war. The US and its puppet Britain simply used UN Security Council resolutions as cover for a premeditated war to invade and carve up Iraq. Prior to the invasion, £847 million was spent by the Blair government on manpower, supplies and equipment in the "Iraq Operation" in 2002-3.
Millions of people opposed the Iraq war, as was seen in the anti-war demonstration of two million in London in March 2003. Today, four years on, this opposition has increased dramatically. A BBC poll published on the anniversary of the invasion, found that nearly 60% believed the US and UK were wrong to invade Iraq. It showed that only 29% thought the conflict was justified.
More interestingly, it revealed that more than half the British population would not trust the government again if it said war was needed to protect national security. The Iraq war has also left Britons feeling less secure – only 5% said they felt the country was a safer place, with 55% saying they felt less safe.
Significantly, the poll revealed that the war is creating a massive political backlash. This issue could even decide the outcome of the next general election. Half of all respondents believed the war and its aftermath would be very or fairly important in making their mind up at the next general election. Of course, by this time Blair will have departed for rich pickings elsewhere. He hopes to have handed the poisoned chalice to his "appointed" successor Gordon Brown, who is also closely associated with the war.
If this is the case, Brown will be, as with the rest of the Blairites, an electoral liability. This was revealed in a new Guardian/ICM poll which shows that Brown would hand the Tories a 15-point lead if he was leading the party at the next election. Such a scenario would put Cameron into Downing Street with a sizable majority. This is where the legacy of Blairism is leading us.
The alarming prospect of a new Tory government would not be due to increasing popularity for Toryism. Everything they stand for: privatization, tax cuts for the rich, tax breaks for big business, private education, private health care, etc. is opposed by the vast majority in one opinion poll after another. Such a victory could only arise from the disappointment and disillusionment of millions of ordinary working class voters, demoralized by New Labour, and who simply refused to vote. And who can blame them? They have been let down repeatedly by Blair and Brown. The Blairites have already lost four million votes since 1997. 39% abstained at the 2005 general election. Only 35% voted Labour, the lowest vote in modern history for a governing party. In other words, the Blair government is the most unpopular governing party since the Reform Act of 1832! New Labour's continuation with neo-capitalist policies – including war in Iraq and Afghanistan – has led to deep widespread disillusionment. If Labour succeeds in loosing the next election, it will be the fault of Blair, Brown and the New Labour gang, who have betrayed every socialist principle on which the Labour movement was founded. They have crawled up to big business and become indistinguishable from the Tories.
The only way to turn things around, after an early departure of Blair, would be to clear out the Blairites from the Labour Party entirely. They are inextricably linked to the interests of big business, which they have faithfully served over the past decade. They are the ones responsible for this mess. No doubt these creatures will attempt to blame to the working class if the Tories are returned to power.
Only with a clean sweep and a complete renovation of the Labour Party can a real socialist alternative be offered to the working class. Only if the party bases itself upon a genuine socialist programme can we be sure to defeat the Tories. This means demanding that John McDonnell be allowed to stand in the election for Labour leader. Any attempt to impose Gordon Brown from above will be seen for the blatant manoeuvre that it is. It will create a storm of protest throughout the Labour movement. The New Labour apparatchiks are attempting to avoid an election at all costs, as this would expose the pro-capitalist direction of the current bankrupt leadership. Such a manoeuvre must be defeated by the trade unions and the rank and file. The party must be transformed from a vehicle of Blairite careerism into a weapon that can fight for the socialist transformation of society. Only in this way can the millions of working people, let down and betrayed by New Labour, be re-enthused and involved not only in defeating the Tories but in fighting for a real socialist future.
- Blair must leave immediately!
- Allow John McDonnell to stand!
- Clear out the Blairites!
- No to imperialist war. Bring the troops home now!
- For a bold socialist programme to defeat the Tories!