Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Where are They And What Do They Believe In Now?

Days Like These No4

Guest blogger Gerry Fitzpatrick

‘Policies not Personalities’ is still one of Tony Benn’s most memorable sayings which I would like to suspend for the duration of this and the next few columns. For it is time to take stock and provide a who’s who of the crisis in socialist ideas and ask who is operating in reverse gear?

For although thinks are moving slowly and some change is taking place I want to suggest why it isn’t happening faster.

The Labour Party

First an epiphany – not mine but watching someone have one. This was Frank Field MP on The Daily Politics programme talk about China and the Olympics. British athletes, he said, should not boycott the Beijing Olympics. They should go and protest at the opening ceremony by carrying Tibetan flags. When he was reminded by Andrew Neil that this would not be allowed, he got quite angry and said that it should done anyway and that Britain should encourage as many other countries to follow suit as doing nothing would give the Chinese Communist Party a propaganda triumph, similar to Hitler’s Olympics of 1936.

He is right of course; the international protests against the brutality in Tibet will be a focus for all the radical (anti-Stalinist) forces and may help rekindle the pro-democracy campaigners within the country. This time the Tibetan and pro-democracy campaigners will not receive official support from America or Britain as China now controls most of their debt.

The next I heard of F. Field was on Channel Four protesting at the abolition of the 10 pence tax rate for those on low incomes. He made a contribution as his former self – the Child Poverty Action campaigner and not as the ideological prisoner of neo‑liberal gurus who insisted that Social Security systems should be cut back to help employment and the economy grow.

Either he has been listening to others or has just told himself that he should never have believed Brown on helping ‘children out of poverty’ while his government bails out more failing banks. Say what you like, but if old FF has now a problem with Brown and his policies, how many will also ditch the gurus and oppose those policies? That depends on how badly New Labour losses are in the May elections. Then Mr Field will hold another meeting with his back bench colleagues about Mr Brown’s polices and decide if they will or will not move from a position of neutrality or into first gear. One to watch!

Brendan Barber and The Invisible TUC

How could you know that Brendan Barber is still the General Secretary of the TUC, other than by calling the TUC or wiking it? You wouldn’t know form the British media. I have never seen him interviewed in the way his predecessors were in the 1970s. In fact he and the TUC may just as well not exist. This is actually unfair as he is happy to work behind the scenes. After the hard work he put into betraying the Gateway and BAA unions he has earned the nickname ‘Brendan‑ Johnny‑Go‑Backwards -Barber’

Next Time: The BBC and the SWP

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