Archive article from The Socialist Issue 313
Blair's head still spinning
ALASTAIR CAMPBELL has finally quit as New Labour's spinmaster general. His decision to go, in the middle of the Hutton inquiry, was big news - recognition of just how powerful this unelected politician had become. This is the man whose spinning helped turn New Labour into the number one party of big business.
Although Campbell had been preparing to leave for some time, the timing of his departure was not accidental. He hopes he has done Blair one last good turn.
Blair has tried to ensure that the Hutton inquiry avoids any proper investigation into his and Bush's real reasons for going to war with Iraq.
We can be sure that there'll be no inquiry into why weapons of mass destruction have never been found or into the link between the second biggest oil reserves in the world and the decision to attack Iraq.
Nevertheless, even within its narrow parameters, the inquiry has slightly lifted the lid on the murky world of the capitalist state forces; politicians, civil servants, the BBC and spooks all come out smelling badly.
All will probably end up getting a rap on the knuckles from Hutton. By leaving now, Campbell probably hopes to lessen the harm to Blair that any criticism of him could bring. His exit is also expected to make it easier for Blair to make a 'fresh start' at the Labour Party conference in a few weeks time.
But in the eyes of many people the damage has already been done. The latest opinion polls show nearly 30% of people trust Blair less than they did before. 43% think him unfit to be prime minister.
Blair will probably survive the Hutton inquiry, having thrown Campbell and most likely Hoon to the wolves, but he has been seriously wounded. The running sore of Iraq will not go away (see article below). The national demonstration on 27 September will be an opportunity for thousands of people to voice their opposition to the US/British occupation and the chaos and carnage that it has unleashed.
At the same time, the domestic front is littered with minefields for Blair which could explode at any time. The economy is in an uncertain state. Brown could see a budget deficit of £10 billion this year. He has already warned that the next public spending round could be the toughest since Labour came to power, with spending frozen or cut.
Fed up with low pay, job losses and exploitation, postal workers are likely to vote yes to strike action later this month.
A successful strike, entirely possible if the CWU pages 6 and 7), would give confidence to workers throughout the public sector to challenge New Labour's big business policies. It's workers' action of this kind that can defeat privatisation, not cosy forums with government ministers which some union leaders are proposing.
The huge anger that many people feel against foundation hospitals, PFI, tuition fees etc will find a voice, however feeble, at the Labour Party conference as union leaders come under pressure from ordinary workers.
The Labour Party leaders may even be defeated on one or more issues. But, as usual, they will seek to ignore conference decisions which threaten their pro-business agenda. The union leaders' plans to reclaim the Labour Party are likely to end in failure. This will pose starkly the need for the unions to participate in building a new mass workers' party as an alternative to the spin, lies and anti-working-class policies of New Labour and all the establishment parties.