PETER HAIN – the former Young Liberal radical, and then leader, in the 1970s of the Anti-Apartheid campaign and then the Anti-Nazi League – resigned yesterday from his two government positions, as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and Secretary of State for Wales.
His is the classic story of the radical Liberal politician, who turned into a reactionary through the building of his political career in the Labour Party.
He was a minister in all of the Labour governments since 1997, and served both Blair and Brown loyally throughout their 10 years of privatising the Welfare State, selling off nationalised industries, slashing benefits, slashing the taxation of the rich – while increasing the indirect taxation of the poor, and bringing in the lightest of light touch regulation of big business, turning Britain into a low tax paradise for the rich, and the natural bolthole for Russian billionaires.
He served throughout Blair’s wars in Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Yugoslavia and Iraq, refusing to join Robin Cook who resigned as leader of the House of Commons in 2003, just days before the US-UK launched their assault on Iraq.
The murder of up to 600,000 Iraqis by the US-UK imperialist powers never shook the enthusiasm of the former anti-Nazi League leader Hain to remain a minister in the imperialist UK government.
This, once again, was in the sharpest contradiction with his role in the 1970s when he was hated by the South African government for his championship of the South African masses in the struggle against apartheid, to the extent that they sought to frame him up as a bank robber.
Currently, he was spearheading the government’s drive against the disabled, with his plans to shut down over 20 Remploy factories, and put a large number of disabled workers out of their jobs – all to cut the government’s costs.
A major struggle by the GMB and other trade unions could not shift his determination to put the disabled out of their Remploy jobs.
Hain’s career illustrates the peculiarly British path, trodden by many, under the tutelage of the very experienced British ruling class – from radical hero to case-hardened opportunist and convinced imperialist politician.
Hain’s ambition and contempt for parliamentary procedures, which his government had legislated, led to his resignation.
Hain came fifth out of six in Labour’s recent deputy leadership race.
Yet he managed to spend £185,000 in his campaign to further his political ambitions – much more than any other candidate.
£103,000 of that sum had not been declared as required, to the parliamentary regulatory body.
His failure has now been referred to the metropolitan police who have already begun their investigation into the affair. The police are already investigating two other cases of breaches of parliamentary spending regulations by Labour Party leaders.
One of these alleged breaches is by Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of the Labour Party. This involves a donation to her deputy leadership campaign that was given by businessman David Abrahams, using another party’s name.
These police investigations come after the long drawn out police investigation into the ‘cash for honours’ scandal, during which leading advisers to the Prime Minister of the day, Tony Blair, were arrested. Blair is alleged to have told the police that if he was interviewed under a police caution he would resign as Prime Minister.
What has emerged, during a period when the capitalist state is restless and attacking the government for its alleged ‘refusal to support the police and the army’ in the required way, is the ability of that state to destabilise a government and potentially bring it down, as was shown during the cash for honours crisis. The state has entered politics.
It stepped back during the cash for honours crisis, but the lesson has been learnt by the ruling class, as capitalist Britain enters a period of the most acute economic and political crisis.
The lesson for the working class is clear. There is only one way to prevent the Brown government being brought down from the right, leading to a return of the Tories. This is for the working class to bring it down from the left, and bring in a workers government to break the back of capitalism and bring in socialism.