December 5th, 2022 Global issues,May 2010,World
Greece is the first train on the EU railway to have derailed. The EU has frantically assembled a hasty 700 Billion Euro rescue package for the country partly underwritten by the IMF. The problem is that before the Greek wreckage can be cleared and sorted out, a number of trains are rambling along those same rickety rails without breaks. The Iberian Local carrying the dual carriages of Spain and Portugal is speeding along on the same rail line of the Greek wreck. Spain and Portugal have had their bond ratings reduced to Junk status by Moody’s as well as Standard and Poor’s.
But it gets worst. The EU is like the Lexington Avenue subway line in New York during rush hour. Trains run on the same track with high frequency. When the Iberian local slams into the derailed Greek train, the Roman Express is due right behind it. The Italian train should not be in operation in the first place. Unlike the Iberians whose brakes have failed, the Italians have removed them completely. According to the rail schedule, the London Special with it’s 125 MPH locomotive follows the Roman Express. The EU is about to have the largest rail pile up disaster in history.
Meanwhile, due to do a management quarrel over how to deal with the Greek derailment, the EU’s high speed flagship train which connects Champs D’Elysses via Brussels to Unter den Linden has decoupled. This has led to a head on collision between the German ICE and French TGV . The EU is having train wrecks galore.
The damage from the Greek derailment and the German-French head on collision cannot be estimated or assessed because of the simultaneous nature of events. Financial speculators on Wall Street are following through with their pledge to crash the Euro currency by the end of the year. The European Central Bank is helpless. The Maastricht and Lisbon treaties aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Unlike the rapid fall of the Twin Towers in New York, the crash of the EU is occurring in slow motion. Each individual crash erupts in a quick bang but the overall destruction of the EU occurs piecemeal.
The passengers on those trains are fit to be tied. The survivors are banged up quite severely yet no help or rescue is forthcoming. The emergency units are coming to the scenes not to check on the health of the passengers but rather to see if they can repair the destroyed rolling stock of the trains and attempt to straighten out the rails . Wounded passengers are told that they should be happy that they’re still alive as well as being informed that lost limbs and open untreated wounds will just have to do. Moreover, those who have uninjured limbs are told by medical teams that they must have all their limbs amputated in order to keep the EU railway working . The results have been insurrections in Greece and increasingly violent protests in Ireland .
The most significant mash up remains the French-German rupture. For more than 50 years, the Franco-German axis was the linchpin of Western European peace and economic prosperity. After 3 bloody wars within a span of 70 years (Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 and the two world wars) the key to enduring peace on the continent was the economic integration of France and Germany following the Second World War. French President Sarkozy’s outburst against German Chancellor Merkel marks the most ominous sign that European peace has started moving down the rails of history. In an interview with the German news magazine Der Spiegel, European Central Bank President, Jean-Claude Trichet was unusually candid in his remarks. He stated that Europe was in its worst crisis since the start of the Second World War . Trichet was unable to make up his mind whether Europe was re-living 1939 or 1914, the year in which the First World War erupted. In March,Germany threatened to pull out of the EU . Last week, France threatened to dump the Euro. The threats and counter-threats between France and Germany are the opening bars of the beating of the war drums. Rumours abound about Merkel’s decision for the German Central Bank to start re-printing Deutschmarks.
The European Union and the Euro currency are mortally wounded. They aren’t dead quite yet. The EU lies in an Intensive Care Unit hospital bed. The Euro is on an operating table in the Emergency Room as doctors send charge after charge of electric shocks using a defibrillator. However, once the pile up on the rails mount and those surviving passengers begin to attack the “rescue” teams, the EU project will be pronounced dead.
December 2nd, 2022 Global issues,May 2010,UK
After 13 years in government the British Labour Party has been ousted by British voters. The defeat of Gordon Brown comes 3 years after the resignation of Tony Blair. The defeat ends 16 years of a curious project called New Labour. New Labour was the shape and image of Blair with its structure maintained by Gordon Brown. Its meteoric rise in the 1990s concluded with an equally rapid fall at the end of the 2000s.
Tony Blair was little known outside of the internal Labour Party in 1994. He entered the party during the 1980s under the leadership of Neil Kinnock. Starting in 1983, Kinnock initiated a purge of the party of Marxists and old line Social Democrats in order to defeat the Conservative Party of Margaret Thatcher from the right. Blair was a product of Kinnock’s purge of left wingers within the party. Kinnock’s efforts to defeat Thatcher ended disastrously during the 1980s. Kinnock’s third and final effort proved equally futile in the 1992 general election against Thatcher’s successor John Major.
The Labour Party seemed to wake up to the fact that moving to the right was a key reason for its repeated defeats. The party appointed the Scottish left winger John Smith as its new leader. Smith was the most popular politician within Labour. Moreover, he commanded the love and respect within his native Scotland which despised the Tories. Smith was in the process of remodelling the party by re-orientating along the Social Democratic lines of Clement Atlee. Under Smith, the party wanted to highlight inequality inherent within capitalism. He came up with an agenda not only to defeat Thatcherism but to politically recreate Britain by creating more participatory democracy. Smith was the most popular politician in the UK and polls showed him consistently with a huge lead over John Major. It was a certainty that Smith would become the next Prime Minister.
During the month of May 1994, Smith died suddenly of a heart attack. A shocked nation grieved for him. The grief was most pronounced in Scotland. Many progressives fell into depression as they believed that Smith was the final chance to oust the hated Tories. The Labour Party found itself suddenly in a leadership vacuum. Tony Blair filled it quickly.
The selection of Tony Blair as new leader took both the British and world public by surprise. Unlike Smith who was in his mid 50s, Tony Blair was young at 41 years old. He was obviously brilliant and dynamic. His gift for language was outstanding even for the exceedingly high standards of British parliamentary politics. Never before in British political history had such a young and dynamic leader ever emerged as a contender for high office. He was born after the Second World War making him the first political leader not to remember the war. Born in 1953, he was shaped and influenced by The Beatles and Rolling Stones. He spent his teenage and young adult during the tumultuous years between 1968 and 1974. Not only could he relate with his fellow baby boomers but he could speak the language of the youth. The British youth were a scarred generation. For most of them, their entire living memory was dominated politically by Margaret Thatcher. They despised Thatcher. The youth, particularly in the North of England were especially embittered. They grew up in dire poverty. They saw their fathers, grandfathers and uncles get brutalised by the police during the bitter Miner’s Strike of 1984-85. They saw the pain and humiliation of the fathers as they got sacked by the masses. The youth grew up with few if any prospects for employment. The mine pits where their fathers and grandfathers had worked were shuttered. Once vibrant industrial cities in Yorkshire where work was plentiful and well paying turned into dead end zones of desolation and despair. Everyday thousands of youth took the train south to London in search of jobs and a better life only to find a high cost of living and the few jobs available scarce. For every two thousand Northerners who arrived at Euston and King’s Cross in London daily, there were one thousand who departed on those same trains back to their home towns in the North. Depressing return journeys made all the more bitter by the humiliation of having been unable to “make it” in London.
In Manchester, unemployed youth took their dole money and invested it in sound systems. To alleviate their boredom and rage, they raved. They danced away their misery drowning themselves in generous heaps of LSD and Ecstasy. Hundreds of underground raves took place in old shuttered factories and out in the surrounding moors. They were not, however, to be left in peace by the Tory government. Police raids accompanied by violence ended many happy gatherings. In 1989, the peak year of riots of a decade chock full of riots (not a year passed between 1981 and 1990 without at least one serious outbreak of rioting in England and Wales culminating in the Poll Tax riot which forced Thatcher out of power.) young people of Manchester held a street party protest for the “Right to Rave.” That protest was attacked by the police but the youth fought back. It became known as the Right to Rave Riot. The biggest cultural expression of the “Madchester” rave scene was a psychedelic band by the name of The Stone Roses. By 1990, they were the biggest band in the UK. Their success had carried over to the United States. In summer of 1990, The Stone Roses were the headliners at the largest concert ever held in the UK at Spike Island. It was the largest rave ever held in the UK. The music media competed to outdo each other heaping praise on The Stone Roses. They were “the next Beatles”. They were going to be even bigger than The Beatles. On their self titled album is a short track, “Elizabeth My Dear.” It was a thinly veiled message to Queen Elizabeth II. “My aim is true/My message is clear/It’s curtains for you Elizabeth my dear” As the guitar chords fade out there is the unmistakable sound of a gun with a silencer being fired. The revolutionary and treasonous implication of the song was enough for the police to go after The Stone Roses. On the eve of their American Tour, Manchester Police arrested all the members of the band along with their manager charging them for drug dealing. It was more than that. The police accused the band of providing and selling all the Ecstasy in Greater Manchester. They were charged with organised crime and conspiracy. The charges were ludicrous but the desired effect was produced. The Stones Roses were sidelined. They became quickly forgotten. It took another 4 years before they were to be cleared of all charges and to release a second album but it was too late.
After winning a 4th consecutive mandate in 1992, the Tories under Major were not through humiliating and oppressing the youth. As techno music exploded by 1993 and raves springing up all over the countryside, the government decided to outlaw not only raves and rave culture but to even make techno music itself illegal. The justification had many roots. The first one obviously was drugs. According to the right wing tabloid press, raves were drug culture and all ravers were either drug addicts, drug dealers or both. The second was based on private property. Many owners, who happened to be members of the House of Lords, were angered to find hundreds and thousands of young revellers, oftentimes nude, occupying their land. The Tories are first and foremost the party of moneyed property owners. The third reason for the attack was that many ravers didn’t have a fixed address. Many of them owned and lived in trucks and vans. They travelled from rave to rave often being part of the underground economy. They became known as travellers. When they weren’t attending raves, many of them parked on country land and lived there. The final reason was economic. Raves did not take place in clubs or other entertainment venues. Clubs and music halls had to be licensed. At raves, much alcohol was consumed. Many enterprising young people would go to the supermarket and buy cases of beer and then re-sell them at raves. The government saw that it was missing out on lots of taxes and other revenue. Moreover, the London nightclub owners wanted a piece of the techno action.
The Tories introduced and passed the Criminal Justice Act of 1994 to deal with these issues. Perhaps the most absurd clause ever written into any law in any liberal democracy stated that it was illegal to play “music with successive repetitive beats.” That was an obvious reference to techno music. The Criminal Justice Act of 1994 had provisions that not only ravers and DJs hated. It vastly expanded police powers to stop and search people on reasonable suspicion. It was a return of the hated “Sus Act” of 1976 which had the effect of criminalising all Black youth. Blacks who had been engaged in a long trench war against the police and white racists for nearly 20 years were particularly afraid of the Act. The previous year, 1993, was one of the deadliest years for race relations in the UK. That year alone, more than 15 Blacks were killed by white racists just within London. Moreover, it had long been known within London’s Black community that the police worked with Nazi skinheads and even covered up their racist violence. This fact was among one of the primary causes of the 1981 Brixton Riots. This awareness was painfully reminded in 1993 with the Stephen Lawrence case. Lawrence was a young Black youth who was brutally killed by a group of 5 white racists. The police in the area were on a personal friendly basis with the suspects. Therefore, the Criminal Justice Act of 1994 for Blacks seemed to be racism encoded by law. Moreover, Thatcher and the Tories openly used racism for political gain and succeeded doing so. Incidentally, the Tories were the first party to use racism in modern British history during a 1964 by-election campaign when the Tory candidate unseated his Labour rival in an inner city working class district of London using the campaign slogan: “If you want a nigger for a neighbour vote Labour.” In 1968, Tory MP Enoch Powell made racism politically acceptable during his inflammatory address against Black immigrants warning that unless Black immigration was reduced, a race war would erupt in the UK resulting in “rivers of blood.” There hass also much documentation revealing a secret alliance between Thatcher and the Neo-Nazi National Front during the 1979 and 1983 general elections.
In 1994, there was a large national protest organised against the Act in Hyde Park, London. Several sound systems were set up and the biggest and most famous techno DJs from all around the UK played. At sundown exactly, the police gave notice to leave. When the people refused, the police attacked. They attacked with horses and helicopters. Suddenly, the usual bobby in uniform wielding a truncheon was replaced by Robo-Cops carrying plastic shields with plastic helmets and face visors. The old short truncheons now replaced with American made aluminium batons. The Home Secretary Michael Howard and the Metropolitan police had learnt from the debacle of the Poll Tax Riot 5 years prior. Hyde Park and Oxford Street became a militarised blood bath. By the end of 1994, the Tories were beyond despised. They had lost legitimacy in the eyes of most young Britons.
It was in this environment which Tony Blair emerged. Two early characteristics quickly became evident within Blair. The first was his arrogance. No one could be blind to his enormous ego. In fact, his ego was blinding. This was explained by the media as simply “youthful arrogance” and also by the fact he was clearly intellectually superior to John Major. The second notable characteristic was his penchant for doublespeak. His words were too clever and too smooth. He spoke well but early listeners couldn’t quite discern what Blair was really saying. The words were clear but their meanings elusive. Combined with the quickness of his speech, he was early on dubbed Tony Blur.
It is a factual matter of history that Blair changed the nature of British politics for generations to come if not longer. Before Blair, candidates for Prime Minister were earnest and sober believing that dignity was an image necessary for high office. Blair was brash and bold. He dressed to kill but with fashion. His personality dominated and truthfully concealed his politics. He was both photogenic and telegenic. He became the first opposition leader to make headlines and the editorial pages of the foreign media. A New York Times lead editorial in 1994 swooned as it gushed with praise for him. Blair was the first British politician to hire a full time public relations company. He was not the contemplative politician who attempted to woo voters with policy matters. No, Blair was all about image and PR.
Blair was Britain’s first American politician. In fact, the use of public relations he borrowed from George HW Bush. Blair even hired a Madison Avenue advertising agency to see himself and the party. Moreover, he was the first British politician to bring in foreign politicians and advisors, American politicians and advisors, to organise his political campaign. Blair received generous assistance from the Bill Clinton White House. Clinton’s entire campaign staff from his 1992 election against George HW Bush was sent to London to advise Blair. Indeed, Blair’s 1997 election campaign was copied and pasted from Bill Clinton’s.
It’s impossible to speak of New Labour without mentioning Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Tony Blair was their star pupil. Clinton and Gore were the founders of the Democratic Leadership Council. The DLC was formed in the mid 1980s to move the Democratic Party to the right politically. Ronald Reagan was elected one year after Thatcher and they were politically ideological twins. Clinton and Gore convinced the Democrats to abandon their social liberalism of social welfare, social justice and social equality in favour of more neo-liberal and right wing politics. Clinton and Gore were convinced that Reagan’s and Bush’s political success was the abandonment of New Deal and Great Society policies of the past by the electorate. To win the White House, the DLC argued, the Democrats must outflank the Republicans on the right. Clinton and Gore called themselves New Democrats.
Blair followed lockstep behind them. While Kinnock had managed to purge the Labour party of Marxists and left wingers, the party still positioned itself to the Left of the Tories. Blair announced that he was New Labour. He whipped enough members of the party to transform it into New Labour. However, that was not enough. The biggest obstacle of transforming “Old” Labour from a Social Democratic party to a capitalist Neo-liberal New Labour was the party constitution. Most of the constitution was drawn up at the conclusion of the First World War with new amendments added immediately during the post-war years. The Labour party was still formerly Marxist as it had references to the political ideas of Marx though in practice it had long abandoned Marxism by the 1920s under the first Labour government of Ramsey MacDonald. The main problem for Blair was Clause 4 of the Labour Party constitution. Clause 4 committed the Labour Party to the nationalisation of industry. As a neo-liberal party, New Labour had to remove that clause. That move revealed that Blair was not simply adapting the party to the current political realities for the short term. Rather, it was a move to permanently remove Nationalisation and Social Democracy as the political policy and ideology of the party. New Labour was forever to be the party of neo-liberalism and multi-national corporations. In other words, New Labour was not to be the party of the working class but the party of the capitalist class.
By 1996, a year before the next scheduled general election, Blair constantly reminded his party and the media that New Labour wasn’t quite ready to take power yet. Though Blair had managed to remove Clause 4 from the party constitution and to approve a policy manifesto, he had to convince Rupert Murdoch, the Confederation of British Industry and the City of London that he was going to be their servant. It’s important to reiterate that Blair had no reason to do so as a matter of political expediency. By 1996, the Conservative Party was imploding. The party was suffering from a debilitating and embarrassing internal war. The government benches in the House of Commons had been transformed into war trenches. The front lines of the trench war had extended outside Parliament to Downing Street and Whitehall. Conservative MPs were resigning by the dozens. Each by-election to fill rapidly empty seats produced a Labour MP. The most die hard Conservative consistencies were falling to Labour. By mid 1996, John Major lost his majority in the House of Commons and was forced to rule by government decree. Blair was all but assured of victory in the next general election. In fact, he wouldn’t have had to campaign at all. He was going to receive a crushing majority.
No, Blair wanted to make sure that he had the support of every right wing, reactionary and neo-liberal institution in the UK. Blair robbed the Conservatives of their historical pillars of support. New Labour was to be the New Conservative party. Those whose support he had sought gladly gave it to him. The deal was cinched after a meeting with Rupert Murdoch, the media emperor. All of his papers, including the tabloid Sun combined had an absolute majority share of newspaper readers in the UK, supported New Labour. Only The Spectator, the Tories house newspaper remained loyal to the party.
With the support of the British elites in pocket, Blair went to Washington to meet Bill Clinton at the White House for a meeting. It was the first time that any British Opposition leader was invited to the White House to meet the President. More than the support of Murdoch, the CBI and the City of London, Blair wanted the support of the Empire and he got it. After the White House, Blair returned to London and announced that, at last, New Labour was ready to govern.
One almost felt sorry for John Major. His chances for re-election were slim from the start but by the time he called the election at the latest possible date allowed by the constitution he was doomed. He couldn’t compete with Blair on any level. Blair wiped the floor of the House of Commons with Major each day. The Conservatives running a 20th century election campaign without PR firms couldn’t withstand New Labour’s “shock and awe” propaganda blitz. Moreover, neither he nor his party could get their message out. With the exception of one newspaper, all others had endorsed Blair. The media simply wasn’t interested in what he or his party had to say. Even the “impartial” BBC put him through the ringer. To complete the contrast between the two candidates were the physical appearances. John Major looked grey, old and tired. His appearance became symbolic for the party as a whole after 18 (18!) long years in power. Tony Blair looked fresh and dynamic. He had that American razzmatazz. He was surrounded by youth. All his campaign appearances were more rock concerts than political pandering. Blair’s popularity with the youth had excelled that of Morrissey’s and The Stone Roses. Indeed, The Rolling Stones even held a concert for him. His popularity was on par with The Beatles during their heyday.
Meanwhile, John Major was cast as Gramps who belonged at home with the Bridge club or if he was outdoors, looked as he belonged with the old men on the bowling green on a Sunday afternoon. The few people who actually attended his campaign appearances only reinforced the image. The veterans of the first two world wars and folks who could still recall Dunkirk were typical of the faces of his audience. Not a single journalist in the country besides the staff of The Spectator wanted to be assigned to Major’s campaign. The only ones assigned were either on the S-list of their editors or free lancers desperate for a Quid. Major had only two points to make during the campaign. Knowing how hated both he and his party were he couldn’t defend its record. So he tried to scare voters into believing that Blair’s proposal of more autonomy for Scotland and Wales presented the danger of the United Kingdom breaking apart. Of course no one believed him, mostly because neither the majority of Welsh nor Scots wanted to break up the Union. Indeed, if he got re-elected it was most certainly possible that after 5 years, the Scots would make a serious attempt to leave the Union.
Major’s campaign slogan was basic and simple: “You can always be sure with the Conservatives.” He turned out to be precisely correct on that score. However, it was over. Labour not only routed the Conservatives but obtained the largest parliamentary majority in party history. The Conservatives had the lowest share of the vote since 1832. The close of 20th Century closed 20th Century politics in Britain. Tony Blair was the new Prime Minister. He along with the new Century would change both Britain and the world forever.
December 2nd, 2022 Global issues,May 2010,UK
Tony Blair enjoyed a very sweet honeymoon during his first mandate as British Prime Minister. The prevalent song sung in the UK was “Happy Days Are Here Again”, with a techno beat one might add. In retrospect, the first 4 years of New Labour were indeed a breath of fresh air after 18 years of Tory rule. Blair calculated that he needed to make enough reforms at first in order to conceal his very right wing agenda which he had long planned to implement.
The significant reforms included ratifying the European Convention of Human Rights into British Law. For the first time in the history of Britain, very clear safeguards and standards of human rights were part of the legal fabric of the land. The Tories had opposed the European Convention of Human Rights as “Marxist” because, the Tories said, it elevated human rights over property rights. The second most significant reform was the repeal of Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act which had banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools and local government. The repeal of that section also reduced the age of homosexual consent to 16 in line with that for heterosexuals. Finally, Blair delivered on electoral reform giving Wales and Scotland their own legislative assemblies with power of finance, taxes, culture and limited powers of enacting laws. He also returned democracy to London. Blair pointed out how London was the only capital city of an industrialized country which didn’t have its own mayor or autonomous legislative body. Margaret Thatcher abolished the Greater London Council in 1986 in a naked power grab to inflict the greatest political injury to the Labour Party which had enjoyed an exclusive monopoly over the GLC since 1945.
However, many progressives felt that Blair had not done enough to reverse the worst damage of the Tories, namely the repeal of anti-union laws and a host of other repressive laws designed to crush the working class. Also, many progressives were dismayed when Blair refused to renationalized key industries and sectors such as British Rail. Many had hoped that if Blair would not re-nationalize, that he would at least halt any further privatizations. Not only were their hopes dashed, they were to be horrified when Blair and his Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown announced further privatizations including the London Underground.
Blair’s greatest success was the political settlement in Northern Ireland. The Good Friday Accords ended sectarian violence between Protestant Loyalists and Catholic Republicans. All the rival factions decided on a power sharing arrangement within the Northern Ireland legislative assembly. Both the Irish Republican Army and Unionist paramilitaries agreed on an armistice. The notorious Royal Ulster Constabulary, long feared and loathed by Catholics was revamped with more civilian oversight and rule, along with an affirmative action mandate requiring a greater number of Catholics into the police force. The British Army was returned to the barracks and taken off foot patrols and their heavy fortifications were removed.
Of course, many of the underlying issues were not fully resolved. Nevertheless, the achievement of peace and the guarantee of human and civil rights for Catholics living in Northern Ireland was a breathtaking achievement. After, the attacks of 9/11, the IRA decided to abandon terrorism once and for all and agreed to decommission their weapons. This remains the greatest success and legacy of New Labour. It went downhill from there.
Disillusions, Disappointments and Early Setbacks
Tony Blair was perhaps the most calculating politician that one gets to witness usually once during a lifetime. Blair had decided that he would call an election in 2001 after four years of his first mandate. Having made a deal with Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and with the City of London, he had to swing to the far right. Blair wanted to make sure that he would prevent the Tories from red baiting him or accusing him of being a left winger.
The first repressive and reactionary law passed by New Labour was the Terrorism Act of 2000. What aroused opposition was the definition of terrorism and what constituted an act of terror. In essence the Act branded acts of civil disobedience as terrorism. The act explicitly stated that an act or protest designed to change the law or effect political change outside parliamentary or legal means would be considered an act of terror. Moreover, any economic pressure such as boycotts or pickets of business to effect political change would be regarded as an act of terror. In other words, more than a century of activism and political protest would be criminalized outright. Many feminists were alarmed because the Terrorism Act of 2000 would have made the woman’s suffrage movement branded as terrorism. The anti-apartheid actions during the 1980s directed against the racist government of South Africa such as boycotts, calls for economic divestment, protests and pickets outside the South African Embassy would have been defined as acts of terror. Moreover, the Terrorism Act extended the length of detention in police custody up to 12 days without charges being laid, access to lawyers or even an appearance before a court of law or magistrate.
As far as the upcoming election for London mayor, Blair knew that Labour would win. But he wanted a right wing New Labour candidate to win. Ken Livingston, known as “Red Ken” because he came from the left of the party, was the front runner. Livingston was the head of the Greater London Council from the 1970s until it was dismantled in 1986. Blair explicitly told Livingston not to run. Livingston refused to stand down. Blair expelled him out of the Labour Party. Livingston ran as an independent and won a landslide victory humiliating Blair and New Labour. Blair suffered a hit to to knee caps in London and it was his first bitter political lesson.
There were early signs that New Labour had an agenda to increase inequality and poverty to levels never imagined even in the most pornographic fantasies of Margret Thatcher. The European Commission released a report for a study about poverty within capital cities of the European Union in 1998 when there were only 15 countries. London was ranked as the poverty capital of the EU. Since the study was commissioned before the election of New Labour, it presented a damning indictment of Thatcherism. New Labour escaped being brushed for responsibility. However, in response the the EU report on urban poverty, New Labour commissioned it’s own study on British cities. The World Socialist Website published its own studies. In a two part series, it revealed first the findings of the report and then it examined the policy agenda of New Labour. The report concluded that by the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, social and economic inequality would widen to unprecedented levels. The report has since been vindicated. More in the next part of this series.
Tony Blair fought the 2001 general election with a non-stop barrage of right wing attacks. Blair was impressive in that regard. Before the Tories could utter one, Blair beat them to the punch. Blair was adamant that he would not be attacked from the right. From immigration to asylum seekers, Blair uttered statements that one would expect from the far right ring tabloids such as Murdoch’s Sun. Robin Cook, who was New Labour’s first Foreign Secretary, wrote an op-ed piece in 2004 describing the political tactics of Blair. Blair was “able to spot a right wing attack” before the Tories or Tory press could.
Blair need not have worried about losing his second election as he had no fear to lose his first. The Tories were still divided and engaged in internal civil war. In the first 4 years after their election defeat, they went through 2 leaders. Moreover, the Tories were still the hated party and there was no chance they were returning to power so quickly. However, Blair wanted to let the British establishment know, that New Labour were the New Conservatives. The population should have taken note but as always, the masses are the last to be aware
The War On Terror: From Clinton Protege to Bush Poodle
The General Election of 2001 was indeed the high point for Tony Blair and New Labour. Many people, Europeans in particular have always regarded Bill Clinton as some type of leftist or progressive at least. The exception, of course, are Serbians who discovered what “humanitarian war” was really about at the hands of Clinton. There wasn’t anything progressive about Bill Clinton. He in fact, single-handedly destroyed American liberalism. Clinton was more right wing than Reagan and the elder Bush combined. It was Clinton who ended social welfare. It was Clinton who implemented the most repressive and anti-civil rights laws of the 20th Century. It was Clinton who repealed Glass-Stegal and completely deregulated the financial sector which led us to the economic calamity we face today. Clinton simply glossed over his reactionary policies through political correct language. Clinton was the first PC President. By extension, Blair was Britain’s first PC Prime Minister. Many astute Austrian political scientists and academics have pointed out, quite correctly, that the Black-Blue or far-right wing coalition government of Austria from 2000-2006 was to the left of the Clinton Administration. Moreover, Joerg Haider described himself on a visit to the UK in 2000 by declaring: “I’m Tony Blair from Austria!” The only difference between Blair and Clinton on one hand from Haider on the other is that the former engaged in Political Correctness as the latter spoke his mind freely. In substance, there was no political or policy differences between Blair, Clinton and Haider! With that said, it wasn’t such a leap for Blair to go from being Clinton’s protege to George W. Bush’s poodle.
There is something else which needs to be elaborated upon. There has been since 1945, a de-facto subordination of the UK to the US. The Yalta meeting between American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin was the final nail in the coffin for the British Empire. From that moment on, the UK was no longer a world power. If the UK was to retain any vestige of world influence, it would have to play second fiddle to the United States. This was rather neatly concealed by the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher. British subordination was packaged as “the special relationship” between the UK and US. It was special insofar as that both countries were the first two to promote and implement neo-liberalism. Many Brits despised Thatcher because they could see clearly that Britain was transforming into an American society. The punk band New Model Army famously declared that Britain was the 51st State. Nevertheless, the UK in all areas of foreign and economic policy subordinated itself to the whims of the United States. Regardless of the sitting President or Prime Minister, the UK does whatever the US tells it to do.
In this regard, Blair had no choice but to follow Bush’s reckless wars of aggression and plunder. What made Blair’s role so revolting was the manner in which he did so. Bush was keen on invading Iraq and for regime change. His administration knew that Iraq had nothing to do with Al- Qaeda or with the terror attacks of 9/11. Moreover, his administration knew that it was against international law to invade another country which was not threatening. The American intelligence agencies were ordered to find anything to link Saddam Hussein with terrorism. They were unable to find any link because there wasn’t any.
Enter Tony Blair. It is now a matter of the public record following the leak of the infamous Downing Street Memo, that Tony Blair invented the lies that Hussein not only had weapons of mass destruction with the capability is hitting Europe within 45 minutes but also that Hussein had acquired Yellow Cake clandestinely from Nigeria. The entire British intelligence apparatus knew this was a lie. The entire civil service apparatus at Whitehall knew this was a lie. Blair ordered that his joint intelligence staff concoct a “report” which would have made for great fiction but had nothing to do with reality. The British intelligence agencies were put in a very awkward position. For all of the intrigues of British spying, they always got their facts straight. In their first drafts, they reported that Iraq might have some concealed weapons but all the evidence from both the UN and international intelligence agencies could not find anything conclusive. Moreover, the first drafts stated that an agent of Iraq did travel to Nigeria but there was nothing to substantiate that the agent on Hussein’s orders actually tried to procure Yellow Cake. The initial drafts stated that these were rumors and nothing else.
Tony Blair was reported to have been furious with the intelligence reports. He had the chairman of the Joint Intelligence staff rewrite the reports by removing the caveats and adding nothing but fiction to the report. Once the suspense novel was finished, it was immediately cabled to Washington, DC. A few days later, Blair went before the House of Commons and gave the greatest acting performance in history. (Colin Powell lacked the acting skills of Blair and his performance at the United Nations was roundly panned.) The global media picked up the story and the propaganda engine for war was launched.
On the eve to the launch of the Iraq War, the British intelligence scientist Dr. David Kelly knew that he had started the end of civilisation as we know it. He had resisted and fought Tony Blair on the “sexed up” intelligence report. Dr. Kelly was found dead in the woods soon after. It was initially reported to be suicide but there is mounting evidence that he was murdered. More on Dr. Kelly’s death in the next part of this series.
The defiance of public opinion against the invasion of Iraq revealed the contempt Blair had for democracy. Even though more than one million people demonstrated against the war, Blair insulted the public. When several of his cabinet resigned, Blair was unrepentant. On the basis of bald faced lies and fabrications, Tony Blair not only destroyed the international framework following the Second World War, in particular the Nuremberg Principles and the Geneva Conventions on war and torture but he sent the world back 500 years to the Middle Ages. Tony Blair charted a course straight to the coming Global War.
Racism, Islamophobia, Neo-Colonialism, 1984
Despite Britain being one of the most conservative countries in Europe, as well as having one of the most racially polarised societies in the Western World, Britain historically had been one of the most tolerant countries for Muslims. France’s mistreatment of its Muslim citizens has long been known worldwide. Germany’s marginalization and exclusion of it’s Turkish residents has been duly noted and analyzed. In contrast, Britain historically never meted out any particular mistreatment of its Muslim subjects both colonial and domestic. This has more to do with the particular characteristics of British imperialism than any particular goodwill for Muslims. For example, Britain promoted Arab nationalism to destabilize the Ottoman Empire prior to the first world war. All of Britain’s colonial subjects were treated equally bad. Britain used sectarian divisions in South Asia to divide and conquer British India.
After decolonization many former colonial subjects migrated to the UK. The British state nor its police never drew up special discriminatory policies to impede Muslim’s right to their religion. The rabid British media rarely ever mentioned the Muslim menace. To the contrary, Britain’s racist policies were primarily directed against Blacks from the West Indies and Africa. Not a day passed without one of the Fleet Street rags engaging in overt anti-Black racism. By the 1970s, the London Metropolitan Police had drawn up dozens of directives against “Black criminality”. Both Labour and the Tories used Blacks as scapegoats for cheap political gain. One can trace the policy guides of the Met back to 1976 and find hundreds of references dealing with Black muggers. However, before 2001, there is nary a reference to the threat posed by Muslims to public safety and order. South Asian Muslims were never racially profiled by the police as Blacks were. During the heyday of the the notorious Sus days of the 1970s, whites and South Asians were rarely if ever stopped or arrested by the police on Sus charges.
This is not to say that Muslims were spared from racism. Many South Asians, Pakistanis in particular, were targets of individual racist attacks. “Paki bashing” was a daily occurrence on the streets of Britain. Sadly, there were many incidents in which gangs of Black and white together would beat up South Asians. The racism against South Asians had little to do with their religion. Some extreme right wing elements such as the National Front and British National Party would deface mosques but generally Muslims enjoyed the freedom to practice their religion openly and without harassment.
This changed radically in 2002. Suddenly, the Home Office and Scotland Yard were no longer worried about Black muggers. Suddenly, peaceful Muslims were the focus of policy directives. All of Britain’s Muslims were now viewed as suspect terrorists. On cue, the Fleet Street rags raged with Islamophobia. New Labour added fuel to the fire by making public statements which created fear of Muslims in the country.
Racist assaults including murders against Muslim Britons increased astronomically in England and Wales. The climate became so poisonous that Muslims, women in particular were afraid to leave their homes. Numerous police raids against “suspected Islamic extremist terrorists” became standard practice. In one debacle, a resident was shot by the police during a raid. He and other suspects were never charged and had to be released for lack of evidence. The police never apologised or admitted they caused any harm. Muslims became terrified of the police. The East London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham became cauldrons boiling with racial tension and distrust.
In 2002, Robert Cooper, an aide of Blair openly called for a return to classical colonialism. He said that the West needed to seriously consider returning Africa and the Middle East under Western tutelage for two reasons. The first reason was that Africans showed their inability to govern themselves properly and that under European rule, the rule of law reigned supreme. He cited Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe as his prime example. Robert Cooper went even further claiming that the genocide of Rwanda in 1994 would have been prevented if they were still under colonial domination. The second reason Blair justified a return to colonialism was to protect the West from terrorism.
New Labour introduced more curbs on civil liberties under the guise of fighting terrorism. CCTV cameras mushroomed across the UK. Anti-Social laws were implemented in which people charged for anti-social behavior would be forced to wear electronic ankle bracelets and be subject to curfews and further restrictions on their movements. Youth wearing hoodies, would be subject to police harassment and not allowed into public spaces.
Tony Blair with his use of doublespeak confirmed the prophesy of George Orwell in his novel 1984 . Blair’s justification for war without end and new colonialism were couched in extraordinary twists of language. The installations of CCTV on every street, highway, bus, rail and underground carriage was the manifestation of Orwell’s surveillance state.
In 2004, Tony Blair spoke out against civil rights. He argued that though the civil rights movement of the 1960s had “removed ugly prejudices” from society, it led to the “breakdown of law and order and respect for authority.” Within 4 short years, Blair rejected and abolished every shred of Enlightenment thinking and political as well as social libertarian movements. Blair wanted to return to the time before women had the same rights as men. A time when non-whites were legally held to be inferior to whites. Blair wanted a world where human and civil rights were abolished. A world where social and economic justice was banished.
By 2005, Blair was widely despised in Britain. He became widely renamed Tony Bliar. But what was the alternative? The Tories? In an attempt to attack Blair from the right, Tory leader John Howard came out against human rights as opposed to Blair who came out against civil rights. Howard said that human rights impedes police work and hindered the pursuit of justice. Blair had monopolized the entire spectrum of right wing reactionary ideas giving the Tories space to the margins of the lunatic right.
Blair handed the Conservatives a third consecutive defeat in the 2005 general election. Being the master politician, he knew that most Britons still loathed the Tories. Blair warned that should Howard win, cuts to social services would be on the order. “Vote Labour or wake up with John Howard” was the campaign slogan. The fact of the matter is that Labour were the biggest losers in the number of seats which fell out of their grasp. Were it not for their 1997 landslide, they would have been defeated. Tony Blair manged to hang on for another two years. The damage was done. New Labour was mortally wounded.
December 2nd, 2022 Israel,May 2010,Non-Violence,Palestine,Video
The blood of innocent peace activist that died in this tragic war crime is on the hand of the countries and governments that support this ethnic and religious nepotism by the Zionist regime. When will the leaders responsible for the largest open air prison in the world be held accountable for years of genocide and apartheid in the occupied territories?