PRIME Minister Blair, despite all his vows about listening to the people – made outside 10 Downing Street on the day after the general election – has immediately resumed normal business. He has slapped the Labour Party in the face and used the House of Lords to bring key right wing advisers directly into his government, while at the same time bringing back former discredited ministers.
Blair is listening all right, but it is to the bosses and the bankers, not to the Labour Party or to the working class and its trade unions.
First, he brought back Blunkett, the ex-Home Secretary who was forced to resign after his lover’s nanny’s visa was ‘facilitated’ by the Home Office. He is to spearhead the government’s drive against the public sector trade unions to destroy the final salary pensions of their members.
Then he brought back one of Blunkett’s ex-Home Office Ministers, Beverley Hughes. She was forced to resign as immigration minister, before Blunkett went, after misleading people over visa checks on Romanian and Bulgarian applicants. She has now returned as children’s minister.
Now, Andrew Adonis has been rushed into the government as an education minister. He is not an MP, but he is the leading adviser on education to the Prime Minister. He has been made a peer so that he can sit as a minister in the House of Lords.
His appointment is seen throughout the Labour Party as a conscious provocation by the Prime Minister.
Adonis is credited as the driving force behind the breaking of Labour’s 2001 general election manifesto pledge not to abolish students’ grants.
He is further credited with driving forward the introduction of big business dominated City Academies and Foundation Schools.
Labour MPs and Labour Party members consider Adonis to be the man who handed over millions of votes to the Tories because of the hostility throughout the country to his ‘education reforms’.
Now he has been promoted, and fast-tracked into the government to speed up the privatisation of education.
There has also been promotion for ex-Tory Shaun Woodward, who defected to Labour before the 2001 general election, while Lord Drayson, who made a fortune in the pharmaceuticals industry and has given millions in donations to Labour, has been made a junior minister in the Ministry of Defence.
He was nominated to be a peer by Blair in 2004. How’s that for rapid advancement!
There is however more to come, namely the speeding up, and extension of, the privatisation programme, particularly the breaching of the Labour government’s assurances that the Royal Mail will not be privatised.
Labour Party leaders, such as the Minister for Productivity, Energy, and Industry, the ex-postal workers’ leader Alan Johnson, are being urged by big business to let Royal Mail borrow £2 billion from the banks to buy out the government.
The workers would then be given shares in the privatised industry and it would be up to them to cut their own wages, and rationalise and sack themselves to repay the banks and keep the industry afloat – the height of Blairite cynicism!
Johnson is soon to appoint a business leader to review ‘the impact on the Royal Mail of market liberalisation’, to set the scene for the adoption of the buy-out plan.
This is despite the 2005 Labour election manifesto saying: ‘We have given Royal Mail greater commercial freedom and have no plans to privatise it.’
Having got away with breaking a manifesto pledge over students grants and tuition fees, the government feels free to do the same with the Royal Mail.
Faced with these prospects the trade unions must organise to defend their members’ jobs, wages, pensions and their basic rights.
The trade unions must take action to bring down the Blair government to go forward to a workers’ government that will carry out socialist policies.
This is the only way forward for the working class.