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Year 2001 No. 87, May 23, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

The Option of a "Centre-Left" Coalition

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

The Option of a "Centre-Left" Coalition

Workers’ Jobs Unlikely to Be Saved at Leeds Group

The British-American Proposals Are Not the Solution to the Suffering of the Iraqi People

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The Option of a "Centre-Left" Coalition

Commentators have drawn attention to the fact that "lurking on page 35 of the Labour manifesto was a promise to review the case for electoral reform".

The issue here is the goal of Tony Blair to have a 21st century dominated by "centre-left politics". The "electoral reform" in this connection is the possibility of a deal or an alliance with the Lib Dems in exchange for the introduction of a system of proportional representation.

The Labour Party does not suggest proportional representation as a reform in order to bring about a fairer representation of the will of the electorate in parliament. The issue for them is how to continue the domination of the "centre-left" in political life. This "centre-left" is meant to suggest a unity of all the forces who are opposed to the forces of conservatism, or the "extreme right". In this scenario, the Tories are supposed to have moved to the "extreme right", and everything should be done to keep them from being elected. At the same time, the hidden agenda is to label everyone who does not agree with this reasonable plan to keep the "extreme right" from power as "ultra left". This "ultra left" represent, according to Tony Blair, the "forces of conservatism of the left", those who cling to the allegedly outdated ideology of socialism, and particularly communism. Those who cling to this ideology are, according to this logic, not to be taken seriously, they are fantasists who do not live in the real world. In this way, they are to be kept at the margins, but if they do become a serious force, then they represent the main danger because of being a threat to the "forces of progress", namely the "centre-left" politics.

So the option of a "centre-left" coalition, in the sense of an alliance with the Lib Dems, is also kept open because after Labour’s second term in office, after illusions have been shattered in the first term, the opposition of the working class and people to the "Third Way" programme will have been redoubled.

What stand then will the "left" take to this strategy of New Labour? The only way the unity of the left forces can be built is to, on the one hand, build the workers’ opposition to the "Third Way" programme and, on the other, to elaborate and fight for an independent programme of the working class. It is this unity which is being built in this election campaign by the call to plant the alternative on the soil of Britain.

The possibility of a coalition government after 2005 with proportional representation is a very real one. Such a coalition or government of national unity is, as is confirmed by history, very dangerous to the working class. In the 21st century in Britain, it would represent one form of consolidating arrangements to entrench the neo-liberal, privatisation agenda. It is therefore a trap set by the bourgeoisie to suggest that the "left" unite with the centre in a centre-left call on the grounds that this is the only realistic option for working class, and that the Conservatives are unfit to govern or by far the worse of two evils. Not only that, but the communists will fare the worst if they fall into this trap. And the whole working class will suffer.

It is important not to mix up ideological and political questions in this equation. The unity of the working class around its independent programme is a political question, and a very urgent one to ensure that Tony Blair’s "Third Way" does not get carried through. Unity in action is the watchword here. But if this unity is not addressed, is not begun to be built, if it is suggested that it already exists in the "labour movement", then not only the political unity of the workers and other sections of the people against the "Third Way" programme will be jeopardised, but also the working class will be ideologically disarmed, and the crucial task of building a mass communist party on the new historical basis will not even be considered as an issue.

The work to ensure that the alternative is built on the soil of Britain is the key work to counter the work of the bourgeoisie to dismantle society, keep the working class on the margins and the people away from political power, and put in place all the arrangements for a corporate-fascist state. The work to plant the alternative is historic work, and work that all communists, workers and democratic and progressive forces can and must take up.

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Workers’ Jobs Unlikely to Be Saved at Leeds Group

The textile company the Leeds Group has said that a meeting with workers’ representatives on Friday is unlikely to come up with an agreement that would save 161 jobs at its Walsden Printing operation in Todmorden, West Yorkshire.

Although chief executive Chris Marsden said he would enter the meeting with officials from the TGWU with an open mind, he also said that he would not "raise hopes" that the meeting would lead to the closure decision of the printing works being reversed.

The plan to close the Walsden Printing operation was announced last Friday, when the Leeds Group recorded a drop in profits for the first half of its financial year. The group also announced the sale of Strines Textiles to Walker Greenbank.

This situation once again underlines that the criterion of making business successful in the global market is a direction which is against the interests of the working class and people.

Article Index

The British-American Proposals Are Not the Solution to the Suffering of the Iraqi People

Britain, backed by the US, is putting forward a resolution to the UN Security Council that would, according to reports, lift controls on civilian imports to Iraq but keep restrictions on military-related materials.

However, of the permanent Security Council members, China and Russia have indicated that they could not vote for its adoption by the end of May as Britain and the US wish. A French representative said only that France was "ready to work quickly" if others would.

The aim is to get a vote by May 31, before the next phase of the UN-Iraq "oil-for-food" programme begins on June 4. Under the proposal, military supplies will still be banned outright, and so-called "dual-use" items that allegedly can apply to civilian and military goods will require specific authorisation from the council members. But the UN would still control the bulk of Iraq’s oil revenue. Suppliers of goods that Iraq orders are paid through an account that the UN controls.

Asked what he thought of the resolution, the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Sergei Lavrov, said: "How can there be agreement when we just got the proposal today, just five minutes ago?" One problem is that Britain and the US are the ones which have drafted the list of items that are "dual-use", and according to them can be used for military as well as civilian purposes.

The proposed British-US resolution comes as a counter to the suspension of the genocidal sanctions against Iraq, as has been advocated by Russia and China, along with France. The "oil-for-food" programme, though carried out under a "humanitarian" signboard, is in fact a measure for perpetuating the sanctions rather than lifting them.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has said that the government of Iraq rejects the so-called "smart sanctions", which, he said, "are more stupid than the current sanctions".

Iraq’s Ambassador to the UN, Mohammed Aldouri, has stressed that the British-American proposals will still prevent Iraq from using its oil revenues to rejuvenate its economy. He called for the US and Britain to unblock contracts worth £2.6 billion if they are serious about improving the flow of consumer supplies to the Iraq people.

The British-American proposals are nothing but a further scheme to try and sidestep democratic world opinion that the genocidal sanctions against Iraq, which have been in place for over a decade, must be ended.

WDIE condemns the British government and US imperialism for these further attempts to refuse to lift the sanctions, which are continuing to claim the lives of thousands of Iraqi people, particularly children. Britain and the US must end this situation and immediately end their veto on lifting the sanctions.

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