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Year 2001 No. 99, June 11, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

How Will Tony Blair Fulfil the "Instruction to Deliver"?

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

How Will Tony Blair Fulfil the "Instruction to Deliver"?

Post Office May Hand Over Deliveries

College Geography Departments to Merge

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How Will Tony Blair Fulfil the "Instruction to Deliver"?

Tony Blair is setting about the task of New Labour’s second term in which he describes his mandate as "for reform and for investment in the future". While claiming such a mandate, Tony Blair also pointed out, sensitive to the hollow nature of his "historic victory", that the results were "also very clearly an instruction to deliver".

But how will New Labour deliver on the "investment in and reform of our public services, most particularly our National Health Service, our education system and our transport system"? And what in particular will it deliver?

First and foremost, Tony Blair sets out that the context will be one of making Britain compete in the context of the "forces of global competition and technological change". This will put "an even greater obligation" on the government "to tell people very clearly what are the difficult choices and challenges we face and how we work our way through them".

Already the pledge to deliver on investment in and reform of public services is beginning to look not so rosy.

The working class and people are demanding a system where education and health care, as well as other public services such as transport, are designed and available for all the people as of right. They desire increasing investment in these public services so not only is their decline halted, but the standards are continually increased, as people would expect from a modern society. Furthermore, their aspiration is that there should be a form of government which controls these public services and social programmes as a genuine representative of the people, of society as a whole, which should own these services collectively.

To this background, New Labour is being made to promise that it will deliver. However, while making this pledge, it is implicitly changing and manipulating it. For what New Labour has in mind is to provide "investment and reform" in a so-called radical manner. The difficult choices and challenges which it has an obligation to inform the people of will include that more private finance, more private sector control and direction, of these "public" services are necessary. The argument goes, what does it matter that the investment, buildings, services, all are provided by private capital if at the end of the day the people receive these services? All well and good, but the experience is that the increasing involvement and handing over of these services to private capital is severely curtailing the exercise of the people’s right to these services. This is why candidates who stood on the basis of safeguarding the future of these services in the election received such support, despite the fact that the whole system is designed to bring parties and not representatives of the people to power.

Therefore, it can be predicted that New Labour’s difficult choices and challenges will involve an intensification of the anti-social offensive under the banner of its "Third Way" programme. The content of this programme is to step up paying the rich and further dismantle society so that people and their communities are forced to further fend for themselves. At the same time, the point of a "third way" is to try and convince the people of the progressive and pro-people intentions of the government and so conciliate them to this programme.

But what will happen when the Labour government delivers something different from what the working class and people are demanding? Tony Blair also has in mind the "reform of our Criminal Justice System". Under this reform, the criminal will be punished but also offered a chance to rehabilitate and get their way out of the life of crime. In other words, the vulnerable with no way to turn, the youth who are stepping up their political protests and their movement for an alternative, the national minority communities who are finding themselves politically and physically ghettoised – all are to be criminalised and punished. But then offered a chance to do service to the community, to fit in with the new meritocratic society which is Tony Blair’s vision.

According to Tony Blair, "Britain is a very special country and its people are a very special people". The main quality, according to him, is the need to face up to and overcome the challenge of change.

The scenario is clear. The nation must get behind the programme of the Labour government. If they do not, they will not be facing up to the challenges of change. So, far from being a declaration that the government will deliver to the working class and people the programme of investment in social programmes that they demand, the Prime Minister’s speech outside Number 10 after the General Election victory is in fact a warning to the working class and people that they must accept New Labour’s definition of "deliver" or face the consequences.

It remains to be seen whether the working class and people will accept such a definition as Tony Blair hopes. But in stepping up the struggles against the anti-social offensive, they must be vigilant too about the diversions and stepped up exploitation and attacks on the people that the rich have in store for the people to try and rescue their system. To intensify the work to build the alternative is the way forward in these coming years of Labour’s second term.

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Post Office May Hand Over Deliveries

The Post Office is considering contracting out deliveries to a commercial company. The German IT company Siemens is considered the front runner to take over.

The move is one of a range of options included in a review of Royal Mail operations by the accountants KPMG. It is one of the moves towards privatisation of public services which unions have warned the incoming Labour government they will fiercely resist, and which the electorate have shown their opposition to prior to and during the election.

The choice of Siemens is in any case a very controversial one, since it was involved in the huge delays in passport applications of two years ago. It was said by a senior executive of Consignia that postmen would also end up bearing the logo of Siemens on their uniform.

Consignia said at the end of May that it was looking at a "range of options" to improve performance. Siemens alrady has a deal with Consignia to supply sorting machines to Royal Mail. In 1999, it took over National Savings, a Consignia business partner.

The Chief Executive of Consignia, Martin Stanley, in this connection has threatened the workers that unless they changed their working practices they could find their numbers drastically cut. Discontent among the workers has been growing which erupted in a series of actions by the postal workers.

Chris Proctor, a CWU spokesman, said that the union would not comment on Siemens involvement unless it was a concrete proposal. Consignia itself said, "Consignia operates in a highly commercial world and is facing increasing competition in the mail business. We are constantly looking at ways to improve our performance."

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College Geography Departments to Merge

Following on from the announcement that London Guildhall University and the University of North London are to merge in their entirety, it has been announced that the geography departments at the Schools of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and King’s College London are to merge.

The institutions are preparing to sign the final documents. Subject to funding council approval, the agreement could be completed by August 1.

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