The Brown - Blair Duel


After Andrew Rawnsley of the Observer, Phillip Stephens of the Financial Times is my favourite right-wing political commentator and I read both with great interest. They reveal the thinking, in my opinion, of capitalism with a human face.

In the FT of October 14th, Stephens wrote on the burgeoning alliance between Straw and Brown at the expense of Blair: he compared it with the Lawson and Howe duo that eventually did for Thatcher.

The expected fall of Blair did not take place because the Brown speech at the Labour Party conference was countered by an orchestrated reception for Blair, taking even him by surprise. The leadership-approved constituency delegates were advised, among other blandishments, by a leaflet bearing no imprint, to provide what became a standing ovation, well beyond expectations. However, that charade merely delays his eventual eclipse.

Optimists like me will share the view that it will happen sooner or later. I see the fate of the murderous and lying pair Blair and Bush (A new book out, The Lies of George Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception by David Corn, Washington Editor for The Nation, lists how Bush has advanced his war agenda) as inseparable (although they do have differences, mainly over Europe, which Bush prefers fractured) dependent as they both are on events in Iraq. Furthermore the American left take the view that the US punters will see the exit of Blair as the beginning of the end for Bush.

There are many and growing problems confronting Bush as he approaches the Presidential election next year.

 First, the US troop illnesses caused by vaccines and DU, and deaths, continue to reduce the Bush poll ratings.

 Second, Pentagon’s Rumsfeld has been sidelined by State Department’s Rice in an effort to rescue the Iraq debacle.

Third, the outing of a CIA agent is being investigated and continues to implicate Bush.

Fourth, the increasing difficulty of obtaining more cash from Congress for Iraq, even Republican Senators refusing to co-operate. People close to the President say his conversion to evangelical Methodism, after a life of aimless carousing, markedly informs his politics. He told one of his spiritual mentors, Texas preacher James Robison "I feel like God wants me to run for president, I can't explain it, but I sense my country is going to need me.... I know it won't be easy on me or my family, but God wants me to do it". Aides have found him face down on the floor in prayer in the Oval Office and in a partial fast, refusing to eat sweets while US troops are in Iraq.

 Fifth, it must have been something of a shock to see the Chinese launched into space, and only the third country to produce their own home grown space travel. Its a far cry from the time "Chinese coolies" were the butt of westerners, fit only for opium addiction, Chinese laundries and restaurant keeping. Illegal Chinese immigrants were thrown overboard as a matter of course when US coastguards approached a smuggler going about his lucrative business. Now they are as a lion awakening from slumber, with 1.2 billion of the world's population and giving the US hegemony big headaches. "China is the only great power preparing to fight the US in a military sense" says the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, who argue that the Chinese are not necessarily America's enemies but should not be portrayed as "our friends".  As a result, US strategy thinkers are sending confused signals to the Bush administration. Weighed down by security issues in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and the Middle East, Bush was said to have told his top White House staff that he did not want to have "a China in-box" - in other words, no more running rhetorical battles with Beijing. The China hawks in the Bush national security team have dutifully muted their warnings of the Chinese threat. "The reality of the crisis in south-east Asia has forced Bush to moderate his rhetoric, but this administration as a whole has yet to come to grips with a new, clear policy on China," says a former top Pentagon official. The administration, however has not wholly ignored China as a potential security threat. In its annual evaluation of China's military strength, sent to Congress in July, the Pentagon was clear in its assessment that it sees China's stepped-up defence spending - which it estimated at as much as $65 billion, or almost twice as much as the UK, as threatening. "China is developing advanced information technology and long-range precision strike capabilities." And they are doing it guided by Marxism, something that Will Hutton of the Observer - in a recent editorial - showed he hasn't understood yet. Significantly, they are embracing the market economy, which Lenin addressed eighty years ago, but died before he could develop it further. They recently brought a millionaire entrepreneur into the Party leadership to emphasise the point.

 Sixth, and most important for Bush's future, according to Joseph Stiglitz, a US Nobel Prize winner for economics, the US economy is in decline. He said, "more jobs have been lost under Bush than since Hoover and the Great Depression. In the private sector more money has been wasted through misallocation of capital in the stock market bubble than the government could ever manage.”

The huge tax cuts in the US were very badly designed to stimulate the economy. And there has been a huge increase in mainly military spending. Yet what is remarkable is how little stimulus has been given. The US economy is still in a precarious state." In his new book Roaring Nineties, Stiglitz sets out what he sees as the multiple policy errors that sowed the seeds of destruction in the American economy.

Finally, back to "Blair the banal". His recent heart attack and abrupt return to Downing St shows a determination to retain the reins of power to the point of obsession. Unfortunately for him, as Clemenceau put it, "The graveyards are full of indispensable men". Like a mediaeval monarch, he must keep power in his hands to ensure his strategy of alliance with Bush is kept intact. The expulsion of George Galloway from the Labour Party is a further indication of his obsessive intolerance.

UK organisations of protest continue to play a supportive role to their American counterparts in ditching the dreadful duo.

Apart from the cabinet revolt on ID cards, his future dependent on the Hutton enquiry, the scandal of school under funding - the strategy of keeping knowledge out of working class reach begins to unfold – these issues will force Blair to resign, unless the grim reaper or Gordon Brown gets him first.

The Tory musical chairs led by "something of the night" Howard is a side show;  politically the only game in town is the Brown/Blair duel. In the meantime Bush`s visit is an opportunity for the British anti-war forces to give him hell.

 George Anthony is editor of the Islip Unity Group Political Newsletter, where this article first appeared. Write to for more information about the Newsletter, which was set up after the dissolution of the Communist Party of Great Britain and is committed to Communist and Left unity.