LAST month, Prime Minister Blair announced that John Prescott would not be resigning as Deputy Prime Minister, and that, in fact, he would go at the same time as he, Blair, left 10 Downing Street.
This seemed to give Prescott an extra year of office.
But this was before the Anschutz affair emerged. This saw Prescott visiting the Texan billionaire at his ranch, one of seven meetings, receiving gifts from the super-capitalist while at the ranch, and then arranging to meet him in London last week, to jointly monitor the Dome project.
This meeting had to be cancelled amid a furore that featured several provincial British corporations claiming that they had been lent on by officials of the Deputy Prime Minister’s office to accept that the Casino project was going to the Dome, and that Anschutz’s gifts to Prescott had not been registered.
Anschutz cancelled the meeting, and has said that unless he gets the Dome for his supercasino his investment will be cut right back.
Giving the Dome to the Texan under these conditions, with the stench from nine years of Blairite sleaze rising rapidly, would bring the government down, notwithstanding the protestations of Tessa Jowell, the Minister for Culture, that nothing ‘untoward’ has happened.
She is not seen as a good judge of the ‘untoward’ since her husband is shortly to stand trial, alongside the ex-Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, on charges of fraud, tax evasion and money laundering.
The mass of sleaze alone is choking the government. This is outside the massive, growing opposition to its privatisation policies, over whose adoption Prescott played a vital role in enlisting the support of the trade union leaders.
When this opposition is taken into account, along with the fact that the government’s chief trade union fixer, Prescott is no longer fit for purpose, it can be seen clearly that the government is breaking apart.
Up till now it has only been maintained by the support of the Tory leader Cameron, and the Tory shadow cabinet, who are none too certain that they could win an election.
They have refused to call for Prescott to be sacked, and have voted for government legislation, because to oppose it, as is their parliamentary duty, would lead to the defeat of the government.
This situation is now untenable.
Blair’s allies are therefore bringing forward a plan to force Prescott out as Deputy Prime Minister before Blair has his next set of summer holidays, next month.
They want to leave him as Labour Party deputy leader, thus preventing a vote by all Labour party members for candidates for that office, and therefore protecting Blair from being undermined by the members of the party voting massively for a ‘socialist’ candidate, who would be his deputy in the government, a vote that would force him out of office.
This is a risky tactic indeed. It is one that the trade unions and the MPs who support them must see backfires with as great a force as possible.
The trade unions must come out into the open and demand that Prescott resigns at once, and that there be an election for the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, the victor of which will become the Deputy Prime Minister.
The trade unions’ chosen candidate must campaign for socialist policies and the immediate resignation of the Prime Minister and for a new socialist course for the Labour Party, throwing the privatisation programme into the dustbin.
After Blair is forced out, the new Deputy Prime Minister must take over the leadership of the party and the premiership of the government.
The trade union leaders have spent a long time – years – complaining about Blair and his support for anti union laws and privatisation. Union members must demand that the union leaders now take action to defeat Blair and the Blairites without delay.