Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 24 July 2004

What We Think

Clinging On To The Wreckage

BLAIR 'CELEBRATED' ten years at the top of New Labour a bruised and battered man. The Butler report into intelligence surrounding WMD and the war in Iraq let him off the hook yet again - blaming "collective responsibility".

But confidence in Blair has plumbed new depths - 55% of people trust him less than before Butler!

Two by-election disasters in Leicester South and Birmingham Hodge Hill revealed just how deep this mistrust goes. In Birmingham, a Labour majority of 11,000 evaporated to just 460 - a swing of 27%. And in Leicester South the Liberals defeated Labour on a swing of 20%.

Coming hot on the heels of Labour's terrible showing in the local and European elections last month, it seems a miracle that Blair has survived such a mauling. But, while a couple of MPs with narrow majorities have called for his resignation, most accept that he will stay for now.

So, how has he managed to cling on through all this wreckage? Although there has been a massive shift away from New Labour, the Tories are not seen as a credible alternative. Despite pouring massive resources into both seats, with Michael Howard visiting both constituencies five times, the Tories were pushed into a humiliating third place.

They cannot benefit from the anti-war mood because they wholeheartedly supported war with Iraq. Howard's interview with the Sunday Times, when he said that he would not have voted for war in the wake of the Butler report, is rightly seen as ridiculous opportunism.

Neither have the Tories been able to shake off their past, they are mistrusted even more than Blair amongst most voters.

Although changed circumstances, such as a major worsening in the economy, could alter the situation, as things stand at present a Tory government seems extremely unlikely.

Nor can the Liberals translate recent election victories into a general election win. They have tapped into much of the anger and mistrust of Labour and Blair, especially over the war, but their target seats are mainly held by Tories. As the Financial Times put it, they are "as likely to gain power as Saddam Hussein is to regain Iraq".

So a third Labour government seems likely, albeit with a narrower majority.

Public services

IT WILL not make any difference, however, to the lives of working-class people whether it is a Blair or a Brown led government. Whoever is Prime Minister, they will push ahead with trying to destroy over 100,000 jobs in the civil service and with opening up public services, including health and education, to the profits of big business. This is what is really meant by 'choice'.

But these attacks will not go unanswered by public sector workers. Plans are already being laid in PCS for a strike of all civil service workers, which the Socialist Party believes should be the prelude to a one-day strike of the whole of the public sector in defence of jobs and services.

Those trade union leaders who desperately cling to New Labour in the vain hope of 'reclaiming' the party are deluding themselves and, more importantly, condemning workers to further attacks and delaying the development of a real political voice for working-class people.

The by-elections showed once again the burning need for an authoritative political alternative to the left of New Labour. Respect claim to be building that alternative. However, while they have achieved creditable votes in areas with a large Muslim population on the basis of an anti-war platform, outside of these areas their votes are no greater than those achieved by previous left/socialist candidates.

Even their by-election results, on favourable terrain, were mixed. In Leicester South, where their candidate was Yvonne Ridley, the former Express journalist who converted to Islam after her capture by the Taliban in Afghanistan, they polled a good 12.6%. But in Birmingham Hodge Hill, with a similar population make-up, they finished just 200 votes ahead of the score of two fringe far-right candidates (the National Front and the English Democrats).

Their limited, opportunist programme prevents them from appealing to all sections of the working-class. This, together with lack of democracy and mistrust of the Socialist Workers Party (who constitute the overwhelming majority of Respect members) because of their arrogant and undemocratic track record in previous alliances, also means that Respect has little support amongst the trade unions.

And it is primarily via trade unionists that the road to a new party of the working class will come. Trade union leaders who want to maintain the link with New Labour are finding it harder and harder to hold the line in the face of a wave of anger from ordinary members. Both the GMB and CWU have responded to this pressure by cutting the money they give to New Labour.

The FBU and RMT unions are now outside Labour's ranks and a key task for socialists and left activists in these unions is to campaign for the convening of a conference to discuss how to build a genuine, mass political alternative for working-class people in England and Wales.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 24 July 2004:

United Action To End Low Pay, Stop Job Cuts and Defend Public Services

Stop The Civil Service Jobs Cull

Fight For Your Rights

Save Our Special Schools campaign

Socialist Party news and analysis

Blair: Clinging On To The Wreckage

Labour's Crime Policies Won't Work

Iraq: The Brutal Truth About Occupation

Take Back The Railways!

'Off-Shoring': The Bosses' Global Attack On Workers


Home   |   The Socialist 24 July 2004   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleSalford Socialist Party: The history of the Labour movement in Ireland

triangleRussia, spies and nerve agents

triangleLeicester: Blairites block Labour Party democracy

triangleSwansea Labour council votes for cuts

triangleSocialist Party congress 2018

Tony Blair:

triangleLeft comic's take on politics will have you in tears

triangleFilm - Dennis Skinner: Nature of the Beast

triangleFrom Militant to the Socialist Party

triangle'From Militant to the Socialist Party' - new book now available


triangleGripping spy thriller exposes hypocrisy of Falklands/Malvinas war

triangle15 years since the invasion of Iraq: what we said

triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: Is Trump up a new trade war?


triangleBristol South Socialist Party: How can socialists take the fight against the Tories to the people of Bristol?

triangleProfits up Wages down


triangleItalian elections create huge political shake-up

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



Russia, spies and nerve agents



Zero new homes 'affordable' in Blairite Manchester



Spring Statement 2018: Tory austerity staggers on despite economic and political weakness


What we saw

What we saw



Sainsbury's raise really a cut: fight for 10 with no strings!



Profits up Wages down



Determined UCU strikers: We're out to win!



Capitalism oppresses women - fight for socialism!


Them & Us

Them & Us



Women's oppression: the struggle goes on



Snow chaos showed the bosses' coldness - but also workers' grit



May's EU speech kicks the can down the road



Toys R Us, Maplin: worsening retail crisis claims more jobs



Corbyn's customs union dividing line: now stand firm for pro-worker Brexit



Corbynism shows 'Clause IV' still relevant a hundred years on

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018