Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/473/2035
Sold to big business
AS THE 'cash for honours' inquiry rumbles on, panic is growing at the top of New Labour out of fear that one or more members of Blair's closest entourage will be charged by the police. Such an event would be an unprecedented scandal for a serving prime minister and could lead to Blair's immediate resignation.
Nothing sums up the transformation of New Labour into a party wholly-dominated by big business more than the sleaze it is now drowning in. Financial sleaze was once the hallmark of the Tories - now New Labour is leading the way. The Labour leadership have not only put up 'honours' for sale to billionaires, but having first 'sold off' the Labour Party, have gone on to sell public assets - schools and hospitals - to the highest bidder.
Blair in particular - already a 'lame duck' - has been further tarnished by the latest scandal. But he is so removed from reality that he seems oblivious to the fact he is now as hated as Thatcher once was, summed up by his refusal to say more on the date of his departure than "you will have to put up with me for a bit longer yet".
He is spending his time buying up his fifth home - giving the Blairs an average mortgage of £20,000 a month, more than millions of workers earn in a year! No wonder that 56% of the public think that Blair should resign immediately.
Even if no charges are brought in the inquiry, New Labour is facing major further electoral damage in the May elections. Probably the main reasons why Blair is not being forced out early by other New Labour leaders is their hope for a smooth transition to Gordon Brown in the summer, and the fact that they and particularly Brown, have no desire to share responsibility for May's election results.
Faced with the threat of a spread of Avian flu, British authorities rushed to get rid of 160,000 turkeys, but so supine are the Labour leaders that even when the present peerages scandal is doing themselves damage, they are not prepared to act in a like manner!
Nonetheless, the pressure on Blair from many sources to resign sooner rather than later is growing. In addition to the financial sleaze surrounding him he is also under increasing pressure to distance himself from US president Bush, particularly over the question of Iran.
The very fact that a section of the state are considering bringing charges against individuals close to Blair is an indication of how discredited Blair has become, the general atmosphere of hostility towards him and the particularly brazen character of the financial sleaze. However, for him to go by this means, which would have an element of a British 'Watergate', would further undermine not just Blair but the whole political establishment.
While New Labour is the focus of the peerages scandal, all the mainstream capitalist parties are implicated. The selling of peerages is nothing new. On the contrary, as the Financial Times casually stated: "This implicit trade, whatever its morality, is centuries old". It is the inevitable consequence of an unelected second chamber.
The House of Lords is a relic of feudalism, and should be abolished. The ruling class, when faced in the past with the prospect of a left Labour government coming under huge pressure from below to carry out pro-working class measures, viewed the House of Lords as an important safeguard for its own interests, and would prefer to keep it as a safeguard for the future.
It is ironic, however, that in the recent past the House of Lords has acted to ameliorate some of the most reactionary policies of New Labour. This does not alter its fundamental nature, but is an indication of how the voice of the working class is almost totally absent from the House of Commons, leaving it to some of the lords to give an indication of the likely backlash on some issues.
The sooner Blair goes the better. But Brown will continue with neo-liberal policies and all the politicians of the three main parties compete for who can propose the most anti-working class, pro-big business policies.
Never has the gap between the population - only 11% of whom support any further privatisation, for example - and the House of Commons been so large. As the front page article states, the need for a new mass party that actually fights for the interests of working class people - rather than for the interests of the billionaires - is increasingly urgent.
In The Socialist 7 February 2007:
Civil servants' strike
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party Marxist analysis