Jettison Blair!

Labour needs to push Blair overboard soon to have any chance in the May elections. By Liam Bailey

Prime Minister Tony Blair has stated his intentions to stand down before the next election. It is a near certainty that he will be replaced by the Chancellor Gordon Brown. Gordon Brown has announced his intentions to distance himself from the white house, to “speak his mind” and put Britain’s National interests first.

The Prime Minister has refused to set a date for his departure, but has said the 2006 Trades Union Congress (TUC) would be his last, meaning he will leave sometime before September. Most people believe he will leave in May to have a decade in office but keep his promise to go before the TUC 2007. Others believe he will go sometime before May to give his successor time to assure the maximum Labour vote at the May elections for the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and local councils.

Pollsters are predicting a heavy defeat for Labour at the May elections. Under Blair they may well be right. I predict arrogant Blair will again put his legacy before the Party and Britain’s national interests by staying in office until at least May, assuring his decade as Prime Minister. Not only that but Labour is currently conducting an extensive policy review, which Blair hopes will secure his legacy by entrenching long-term plans for public service reforms. It is highly unlikely that he will leave before its conclusion.

Many people also believe he will hang on as long as possible in the hope the Northern Ireland’s devolution can be restarted while he is still in office. All these things make it unlikely that he will be stepping down any time soon and unlikely his successor will have anytime to influence the vote in May, if in fact Blair doesn’t stay on for the elections.

The Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said it best: “We have a constitutional novelty. A prime minister with responsibility and no authority and a chancellor with authority but no responsibility. How can this dysfunctional government conduct the affairs of the country?” The latest Labour party scandal proves he is right.

Former Education Secretary Ruth Kelly has caused a massive stir in the UK by taking her Dyslexic son out of state school and into a private school. Ms Kelly said she was doing “the right thing for my child”, in paying 15000 pounds per year fees to move her son from public schooling in Tower Hamlet’s borough to private schooling. A boarding school in Oxfordshire is Ms Kelly’s choice, despite there being 20 schools close to her home, six with either outstanding or excellent Special Education Needs (SEN) services according to a recent Ofsted report. Downing Street almost immediately released a statement supporting MS Kelly and David Cameron, who has a son with cerebal paulsey expressed his sympathy.

I doubt if the thousands of parents across the country, who have children with severe learning difficulties but can’t afford private school will feel the same, in fact it is likely that they will have lost faith in public sector SEN schooling. Either way the former Education Secretary, now Communities Minister Ruth Kelly has shown little faith in her community, little faith in the education system and therefore little faith in herself. Her decision has also caused a massive scandal for Labour, which could really do without it at the moment.

The debate has continued in the papers and Thursday’s British television news, since the Sunday Mirror expose. In 2005 David Blunkett became the ninth minister Blair had forced to resign, and five others have resigned in scandalous circumstances, four over the Iraq war. I have no doubt that Ruth Kelly would have been the tenth forced resignation under normal party conditions. An ITN news reporter echoed Menzies Campbell Wednesday, saying: Blair has the responsibility but no authority and Brown has the authority but no responsibility, so it looks likely she –Ruth Kelly– will stay in her job. So, not only is it yet another high-profile scandal and yet more bad publicity for the Labour Party, but it has yet again drawn attention to the “dysfunctional government” running the UK.

All the above combines to make it very unlikely the pollsters will be proved wrong about the May elections. Labour will indeed be in for a blood-bath.

So, what has never looked likely before begins to look likely now, a Scottish National Party (SNP) win in the Scottish Parliament elections and maybe even Scottish Independence. The Scottish National Party is slightly ahead of Scottish Labour, and miles ahead of all other parties in most opinion polls, you can’t blame them for thinking this could be their year.

The SNP will undoubtedly try to gain Scottish independence, which has a lot of support in Scotland but not from me. I am a proud Scot, but I am also proud to be British and believe we have far more clout in Europe and the world speaking with one unified voice. Devolution has meant Scotland can still act in its own right, with its own separate funding and separate policies, as the smoking ban in Scotland has proven. I am a smoker and to see people on T.V. smoking in English pubs, knowing we can no longer smoke in public places north of the border is one example I could do without.

New supporters are adding to the people who have always supported the SNP’s vision for an independent Scotland. They believe Scotland could be better off as an independent state because it would have sole control and reap the profits of Scotland’s oil reserves, which they believe would expand the Scottish economy.

The fact that the opposition party set to gain the most in the Scottish Parliament elections is not the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats but the SNP is evidence of what is making people angry, perhaps more so than any of the above. The Scottish people want to distance themselves from Blair’s foreign policy and they see the SNP’s vision for an independent Scotland as the best way to do that.

Therefore, perhaps the biggest disadvantage for having Blair onboard is his unrelenting support for Bush and the U.S. combined with anti-U.S. feeling in the U.K. running at an all time high. This is largely because of Bush’s foreign policy, which Blair has followed blindly. Despite support for the Iraq war and therefore Bush and therefore Blair being at an all time low, Blair refuses, whatever his reasoning to criticise Bush even slightly, no matter how stupid his foreign policies seem.

The latest U.S bombing in Somalia is yet another example, Blair was asked during Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s questions if he was concerned by the air strikes from the US air force carried out on Somali targets over the last few days. It was suggested by Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn that what was needed was not foreign intervention but a peace process. Blair agreed: “What is in the interests of everyone in Somalia is to have a peace process that works properly”.

Bearing in mind that for the last fifteen years Somalis have endured either all-out war or total violent chaos in the country, Blair should surely have stopped there, or perhaps added something like: and that is what everybody, including the U.S wants to see in the country. Instead he added: the extremists at work in Somalia pose a threat not just to those outside Somalia but those within it as well and that global terrorism around the world had “a clear ideology and strategy” and where lives were being affected by it, it was right that those responsible were targeted. Bush can do no wrong in Blair’s eyes.

People are worried that with Blair in power the government will be pressured by Bush’s troop surge in Iraq and won’t keep its promise of bringing thousands of our troops home this year. Home from what many believe is an un-winnable war.

Blair staying in power but not really in charge puts the Labour party at a definite disadvantage. For one thing it gives opposition MP’s an easy target to aim criticism and ridicule at. Everyday that passes without an announcement of Blair’s departure means less time for the new leader to turn things around, more time for people to get even angrier as the dysfunctional government is exposed time and again and more reason for opposition MP’s to rub their hands together.

There is a program scheduled on British T.V. channel More Four called the Trial of Tony Blair. In the program Blair is convicted and jailed by a war-crimes tribunal at The Hague. This is further evidence of the U.K’s feelings about the Iraq war and Blair’s part in it. The Labour Party needs to cast Blair from around their neck before it is too late.

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Nazism Gains a Foothold in Britain

Widespread demonization of Muslim’s in the British mainstream has opened the door to the far right.

By Liam Bailey

The demonisation of Muslims from the top of government down first Muslim peer Lord Ahmed spoke of is beginning to affect every aspect of British life. Not only is it leaving young Muslim’s open to fundamental and extremist propaganda but, as the verdict in last week’s trial of a far-right politician showed, it is slowly seeping through our whole society and beginning to affect our judicial and political systems.

Given the British National Party’s (BNP’s) main policy of removing all ethnic minorities from Britain, the trial of their leader Nick Griffin and his colleague Mark Collett for using words or behaviour intended to incite racial hatred didn’t surprise too many people.

The court watched Nick Griffin, who was filmed by an undercover reporter telling BNP supporters that Islam was a “wicked, vicious faith” and that Muslim’s were turning Britain into a “multi-racial hell hole” Collett was also filmed calling asylum seekers “cockroaches” and saying “lets show these ethnics the door in 2004”as well as slurring murder victim Stephen Lawrence as a drug dealer, in a pub in Keighley West Yorkshire. With such compelling and damming video evidence, and neither showing any remorse their acquittal came as a shock to many.

When compared to the previous day’s trial of 23 year old Muslim Mizanur Rahman, who was tried for much the same crime at the Old Bailey, for his attending a protest in response to the Danish cartoons carrying placards saying “annihilate those who insult Islam” and “behead those who insult Islam”. As well as calling for more Sep. 11th style attacks and soldiers to be brought home from Iraq in body bags. Despite his apology: “I didn’t think about what I was saying.” and his lawyer comparing his remarks to those made from soapboxes at Speaker’s Corner, Rahman was found guilty of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to stir racial hatred.

Given the similar crimes and the lack of remorse shown by the BNP defendants who were also faced with stronger evidence than the young Muslim defendant, the contrasting verdicts were an indication that Islamaphobia, caused largely by the government’s demonization of Muslim’s is affecting justice in Great Britain.

Islamaphobia first became a problem after 9/11, but it really started increasing after the terror attacks on the London underground July. 2005. Just how much of a problem it was becoming was first evident in the local elections in May this year, when the BNP gained 11 council seats. Given the party’s reputation of racism and using violence to achieve its main policy of removing all ethnic minorities from Britain; these gains were the first indicator that Labour’s tough stance on race issues and immigration was legitimising far-right views.

The Jack Straw induced veil debate, and the other prominent ministers drawn in supporting his view, Nov. 13, perhaps more than anything else accelerated the rate at which the demonization of Muslim’s and Islamaphobia was not only becoming acceptable behaviour but the norm in Britain. The debate, still making the news and drawing in yet more prominent people, like the Archbishop condemning the wearing of the veil in public, has the potential to do even more damage to race relations in Britain.

The not guilty verdict for two prominent BNP members was hailed by Jon Cruddas, a contender for the deputy leadership of Labour as a “wake up call” for his party. This has led to their considering tightening race laws even further. Calling the BNP leaders’ statements offensive, Chancellor Gordon Brown almost immediately pledged to raise the chances of convictions in similar cases by brining in tougher powers. As the trial of Mizanur Rahman showed the law is tough enough, further tightening legislation in the current climate of Islamaphobic double standards would only increase the persecution of Muslim’s for such crimes.

I believe it may already be too late but what the government should focus on is reversing its anti-Muslim rhetoric and putting a stop to the government’s treating of Muslim’s differently to other ethnic groups, by trying to impose restrictions on their religion and behaviour. Contrary to the governments belief that this would reduce terrorism and increase integration it is in fact having the opposite affect…

My last article dealt with the detrimental affect the government’s rhetoric demonizing our Muslim communities is having on our efforts in fighting “home–grown” terrorism. These latest developments show that since the 7/7 attacks, the governments actions and rhetoric, like that of Jack Straw’s veil views, in demonizing Muslims, have steadily created a substantial rift between “us” –non Muslims- and “them” –Muslims- which is causing increasing separatism in Muslims and Islamaphobia in non Muslim’s. This Islamaphobia is growing in Britain and slowly but surely threatening every aspect of British life.