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From The Socialist newspaper, 2 February 2001

When flunkies fall out

All these parliamentary capitalist parties are seen as hypocrites. At the general election it's likely that more voters will refuse to vote, being turned off by the whole issue of Mandelson, sleaze etc and say a 'plague on all your houses'.

Nonetheless Mandelson's fall from grace was generally greeted with enthusiasm because he personified New Labour's arrogance and subservience to big business. He was seen as the arch-Blairite. Mandelson was the ultimate New Labour big business flunky, and in effect, the lightning conductor for all the anger building up against the government.

That's why even his erstwhile colleagues in the Parliamentary Labour Party greeted his resignation with cheering.

Some of the worst press coverage concentrated on Mandelson being gay and some commentaries compared him to a latter-day political Oscar Wilde. But, to adapt the immortal lines of one of Wilde's plays, "to lose a cabinet position once is unfortunate, to lose it twice is downright carelessness".

However, the way New Labour handled Mandelson's second resignation is more than carelessness. They're now obliged to hang together rather than separately, for fear of the damage it can cause in the run-up to the election.

Even if New Labour manages to limit the damage for now, the fall-out from Mandelson's resignation will resurface after the election. Clare Short's briefing that "Mandelson went... because he has got problems telling the truth", will no doubt come back to haunt many other Labour cabinet members in future.

Mandelson's departure leaves Blair more vulnerable, not just over his character judgement, but over wider political issues. He will face increasing tensions and splits at the top of New Labour over other aspects of the Blairite 'project' - proportional representation, Labour's relationships with the Liberals and the Euro amongst others.

Indeed, a major reason why the Murdoch papers went for Mandelson and Keith Vaz with such venom has been their advocacy of Europe and joining the Euro.

Since Mandelson's resignation, new revelations about other political figures shows what a rotten web of influence these billionaire businessmen were weaving.

The Hammond Inquiry will focus mainly on Mandelson misleading others. But this official inquiry will completely miss the point.

Government ministers have continually lied to the working class about their policies and the literal corruption they have been embroiled in. This whole affair stinks, like the Ecclestone affair and others since, because of New Labour's sleazy relationship with big business.

The main factor in the Dome debacle and the Ecclestone fiasco etc, is that when you ask big business for donations they expect bigger favours in return.

The Hinduja brothers wanted passports, not mainly to avoid deportation or more easily travel the world; they had few worries on either count. Getting a passport was to help remove barriers in taking over British-based businesses.

New Labour stepped in where even Tories feared to tread and gave the passports against government agency advice, so desperate were they to appease big business.

At the election there will be socialist candidates untainted by big business links, who will oppose the hypocritical establishment parties. Socialist Party members will be standing on the slogan of a workers' MP on a worker's wage.

But after the election, as a recession or slump strikes Britain in the wake of a US economic meltdown, all the cracks in the New Labour edifice will widen dramatically. Then, more and more workers will look for a Left alternative to New Labour, where the principled stand on finance and the socialist ideas of our party will gain widespread support.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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In The Socialist 2 February 2001:

Corus Steel Closures Strike to Stop Job Cuts

Back the Tube Workers

When flunkies fall out

Bribery, Bofors and the Hinduja brothers

Hackney Solid strike against cuts threat

"It's our livelihoods at stake"

Servants of big business

"You were the weakest link -goodbye!"

World Economic Forum: The heights of capitalism

The Philippines after Estrada


 

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