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Year 2001 No. 122, July 13, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

117th Durham Miners Gala and Big Meeting

Make the Durham Miners Gala a Force for the Alternative!

Build the Opposition to the Third Way of New Labour!

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Make the Durham Miners Gala a Force for the Alternative!
Build the Opposition to the Third Way of New Labour!

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117th Durham Miners Gala and Big Meeting

Make the Durham Miners Gala a Force for the Alternative!

Build the Opposition to the Third Way of New Labour!

Statement of the Northern Regional Committee of RCPB(ML)

This year’s Durham Miners Gala comes at a time when the Labour government is losing no time in intensifying the "Third Way" programme of a broad attack on society, making monopolies successful in the global market and further placing the NHS, education and all the public services in the hands of these monopolies. The programme of privatisation, which is arousing such resentment and opposition from public sector workers and the people as a whole, is to go full steam ahead. This is why health workers, local government workers and UNISON activists will be attending the gala in their thousands alongside miners and other workers to demonstrate for a "Positively Public" campaign.

A "devolution" is taking place within the NHS. It is downgrading District General Hospitals and removing district health authorities as a move by government to give up its responsibility to provide a comprehensive health service in each health district. This policy, along with its privatisation plans, is having serious consequences in shortage of beds and loss of casualty units. For example, the first of Tony Blair's new PFI funded hospitals, the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, is now known as the "Rail Track of the wards". It was constructed with 90 beds less than the hospital it replaced, with small rooms and every corner has been cut with no air conditioning and inadequate plumbing. Yet it cost £87 million and the health Authority is paying £11 million a year to the owners, AMEC consortium, to rent the hospital.

In education the government is concentrating its efforts on "higher standards" tailored to directly serve the needs of the economic system of globalisation with measures that are contrary to the need of children to receive an all round education as of right. It is once again announcing its clear intentions to attack the benefits of the sick and the disabled and has confirmed once again its intention to press on with its policy of criminalising any protest and is aiming its attack against the youth.

The "Third Way" programme of New Labour is a programme to tell the workers that on no account should they organise for a socialist Britain. Under the conditions of the destruction of the manufacturing base and of agriculture it is a programme to line workers up behind their employers in the global market and to get people to accept the anti-social direction of society. The movement amongst workers to reject the government's programme of delivering public services over to private capital is developing and it cannot be ignored by the trade union leaders. But how far will they go in building a partnership with government or taking a stand against the anti-social offensive?

The most important project for the working class and people is to build the workers’ opposition to this "Third Way" programme of Tony Blair. This is not a project to maintain the Labour government in power and give "critical" support to it. It is a trial of strength to prevent the neo-liberal agenda of the rich being carried through to completion, which would be so disastrous to the working class and people. It is the necessary step at this time along the line of march to bring the workers to power and open the path to a socialist Britain.

At this time, the challenge is for workers themselves to become politicians and to tackle the great problems of how the rights of all to health care, education and a livelihood are to be recognised and guaranteed, how to renew the system where parties are brought to power with one where the people become the decision makers in society. At the same time, there is the crucial responsibility of the workers to themselves and to workers everywhere to sweep away all the backwardness and chauvinism that comes from British imperialism which is a cornerstone of Tony Blair's "Third Way". The global ambitions and military adventures of the British government, such as the continued criminal bombing of Iraq, threaten the sovereignty and resources of developing countries, are a block to peace and stability in the world and are contributing to the danger of world war.

As we continue into the new Millennium the workers taking part in the Durham Miners Gala, like workers everywhere, should set their agenda and go all out to build the opposition to the "Third Way" programme of the Labour government. This spirit is one that wants to make the Durham Miners Gala a force for the alternative that will bring about the transformation of society to socialism.

(Reprinted from North East Workers & Politics, July 12 issue)

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