Today marks the 10th anniversary of New Labour in government. To mark the occasion, here are ten good reasons for rejecting the Blair/Brown regime and denying New Labour your vote in this Thursday’s elections.
- Long before taking office, Blair and Brown began the process of transforming Labour, a party founded by the trade unions to reform capitalism, into an organisation that openly endorsed big business. Since winning the 1997 election, New Labour has completed this historic transformation. The government rejected reforms in favour of promoting the interests of the global corporations and financial institutions. New Labour has led the march from the welfare state to the market state and made the party indistinguishable in its outlook from capitalist parties.
- Inequality has grown sharply. In 2004, over 20% of the UK population were officially income poor compared with 13% when New Labour came to office. These figures include 3.5 million children and 3 million pensioners. Twice as many people are homeless compared to 1997. In 1996, the wealthiest 5% of the population owned 49% of wealth; by 2003 this had risen to 58%.
- The invasion of Iraq was carried out on the basis of systematic deception by New Labour. Intended to impose a market economy on Iraq, the occupation has instead provoked a bloody civil war and immense poverty and suffering. This government as a whole is responsible for major crimes against humanity.
- New Labour has built the edifice of an authoritarian state. Measures taken against basic rights include detention without trial, interception of emails, merging civil and criminal law through the notorious ASBO system, ID cards, integrated national databases, banning protests outside Parliament and the building of a surveillance state. New Labour has enthusiastically endorsed a European-wide policy that gives police unprecedented powers of arrest, detention and expulsion.
- The government has shown scant regard for the rule of law. An overwhelming majority of lawyers consider the 2003 invasion of Iraq to be illegal under international law. Ministers have repeatedly attacked judges and defied court decisions on matters such as immigration and pensions. Discretion in many matters of criminal law have been removed from judges.
- Opening up services such as health and education to market forces has benefited corporations at the expense of the public. Taxpayers’ money has been transferred to the private sector in a series of guaranteed contracts under the so-called private finance initiative. The value of the contracts endorsed by Brown’s Treasury is estimated at £90 billion. Victims include the nurses sacked so that hospitals can meet their financial obligations and patients shunted around so that arbitrary targets are met.
- By building more roads, allowing the rail companies to raise fares and encouraging conspicuous consumption, New Labour has ensured that carbon emissions in Britain are higher than when they came to office, thus adding to global climate chaos.
- By merging corporate, state and government activities, New Labour has wrecked what remained of parliamentary democracy. The presidential-type regime introduced by Blair has rendered the House of Commons even more powerless. Britain is effectively a corporate state where the government is the executive management team for the global corporations and the significance of right to vote has been undermined.
- New Labour has demonised minority communities and thereby provided ammunition for the racist BNP. Ministers have tailored their policies to the right-wing tabloid press and failed to provide local authorities with adequate funds to help migrant workers. The spurious "war on terror" has isolated communities and proved totally counter-productive.
- As a result of all of the above, New Labour has rescued the Tories from oblivion. The 1997 landslide was intended by many voters to put an end to Toryism for good. Instead, Blair and Brown have made the Tories electable again. What an achievement!
Paul Feldman, communications editor