what we think

Tony Blair's new fan club




our verdict on two years of a labour government

THIS WEEKEND the press will be celebrating the New Labour government's second birthday. Labour's leaders believe the government has done splendidly. But the hopes for change that ordinary people had on 1 May 1997 have been shattered. Tony Blair has not simply been drawn behind NATO's war. He is leading the charge. Blair made a five day visit to the US as part of NATO's fiftieth anniversary celebrations last week. He established himself as NATO's most hawkish leader. He campaigned for the use of ground troops in Yugoslavia and to step up the bombing.

Blair's call was backed by some of the world's most notorious right wing leaders including Henry Kissinger. Kissinger was the architect of the US invasion of Cambodia during the Vietnam War, which left one million Cambodians dead. He also helped to arrange the coup against Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973.

Another vile right winger, Republican senator Jesse Helms, described Tony Blair as "the most eloquent leader in the Western world". Helms is known as the "Great Beast" of the US right wing. He made his career as a racist and supporter of segregation of black and white people. According to a British foreign office spokesman, "Blair is bathing in the glory of being the 'strong man of Europe'."

Blair's enthusiasm for war is reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher at her worst. Just as Thatcher did during the Falklands War, Blair arrogantly brushes aside any negotiation attempts that might lead to peace in Yugoslavia. Before the 1991 Gulf War Thatcher went to the US to make sure President Bush did not reach a deal with the Iraqis to avoid a conflict. Last weekend Blair made sure that President Clinton was going to accept nothing but a total NATO victory.

But Blair is not just copying Thatcher's foreign policies. He is enthusiastically embracing her domestic policies as well. The election for the Scottish Parliament has seen Labour running a campaign that sounds just like a Tory British general election campaign from the 1980s and early 1990s. It is not just in Scotland that New Labour has deserted working class people. Over the last two years New Labour has refused to tax the rich, scrapped student grants, failed to deliver a decent minimum wage and continued with the Tories' privatisation policies. Labour's leaders have betrayed the working class people who voted for them two years ago. The job of socialists is both to build opposition to New Labour's dirty war in Yugoslavia and to fight to bring about real change here in Britain.