Our Say

After G8 and the London bombings - the way forward

London terror attacks condemned

After Live 8:
from pressure to action

The G8 summit and political power

Make the G8 leaders history

A sham election

10 good reasons to boycott May 5

Don't be blackmailed into voting

Reject ‘dependency’ politics

No votes for New Labour!

Parliament seals its own fate

A secret policeman's government

Vote for "none of the above"

How to remember the victims of the tsunami

A state of crisis

New Labour and the big lie

Yasser Arafat - a revolutionary life

After the US election

Blood on New Labour's hands

Butler and weapons of mass deception

With 'leaders' like these, who needs enemies?

How to meet the threat from the right

Barbarians at the gate

Torture, values and lies

The silence of the lambs

War crimes in Iraq

The slaughter in Madrid

The unfinished business of the miners’ strike 1984-85

L’état – c’est New Labour

The death of liberal democracy foretold

Hutton washes the state whiter than white

Top-up fees and the market economy

Our challenge for 2004

New Labour's march to a police state

Bush & Blair - partners in crime

London Region revolts against FBU leaders

Postal workers in the front line

No turning back

Where we go from here

Stop the War Coalition leaders and political fabrication

Regime change begins at home

Blood on New Labour's hands

There's more involved than just Blair

New Labour, lies and spies

Firefighters should reject deal and disown leaders

BECTU vote on New Labour link a step forward

Time runs out for FBU leaders

New Labour's one-party state

The blind alley of crude anti-Americanism

Occupation of Iraq - time to move beyond protest

War is a test for principles

Iraqi defiance shocks and awes

FBU leaders who backed capitulation should resign now

Down with New Labour's war - for regime change in Britain

FBU at war with New Labour

New Labour, not just Blair, is the target

50 years since the death of Stalin - an assessment

FBU finds itself in Precott's trap

War is Peace - Blair's fictitious 'push for peace'

15/2: Global marches put power on the agenda

Crisis of globalisation behind attack on Iraq

Tell it how it is

An injury to one is an injury to all

War plans expose fraudulent 'democracy'

A 'regime change' in Britain is the answer to war on Iraq

FBU needs a new strategy

Challenging New Labour

A moment of truth in the fight against New Labour

Gilchrist says it how it is

Time to defy the anti-union laws in support of the FBU

FBU must ask for solidarity strikes

FBU leaders must ask for support now

New Labour provokes confrontation

Italian police attack No-Global movement

New Labour declares war on FBU

Don't let the FBU fight alone

UN writes a blank cheque for war

Blood on Putin's hands

Unions must support firefighters with action not words

Support the firefighters - defeat New Labour

Bush-Blair war agenda revealed

Seeing through New Labour's weapons of mass deception

The US media and the new garrison state

The BEGINNING of Politics

How technology could
free humanity

'Terminator' engineering: A threat to humanity

The future is socialist

Asylum legislation fuels racist attacks

Road map to the future

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L’état – c’est New Labour

Absolutism is defined in the Encyclopaedia Britannica as “the political doctrine and practice of unlimited, centralised authority and absolute sovereignty”. It adds: “The essence of such a system is that the ruling power is not subject to regularised challenge or check by any other agency, be it judicial, legislative, religious, economic, or electoral. Louis XIV, who ruled France during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, furnished the most familiar assertion of absolutism when he said, ‘L'état, c'est moi’ (‘I am the state’).”

Although we don’t live under feudalism, and have the trappings of a parliamentary democracy, the tendency towards absolutist rule in Britain becomes clearer with each passing day. In place of Louis XIV we have the New Labour junta, whose chief absolutist is the Home Secretary, David Blunkett.

What New Labour is doing is - quietly but surely - drawing the machinery of state into its own being. In doing so, it is creating a kind of party-state bureaucracy of the type last seen in the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe. Only in Britain’s case, the New Labour regime is tied into promoting corporate and financial interests at the expense of ordinary lives in the most blatant way.

As usual in Britain, the real reasons behind changes in the state are not the ones officially given. Take the latest Blunkett move, to drop the word ‘Crown’ from both the prosecution authority (CPS) and the prison service. Blunkett says this will get the “people to feel greater confidence” in the prosecution process. Obviously, the monarchy is not involved in prosecutions. But use of the concept of ‘Crown’ has allowed the state to keep a distance from governments of the day.

That is what is disappearing. So it is hard to disagree with the Tory spokesman on constitutional affairs, Alan Duncan, who said: "The government thinks Downing Street is top of the pile and the world can follow suit. It is better that our courts, prosecution and prison service should remain distinct from the interference and arrogance of politicians."

Only last December Blunkett said he “couldn't give a toss” about complaints that he had jeopardised the trial of a terrorist suspect. Blunkett described him as “a very real threat to the life and liberty of our country”, even though no charges had been brought. He has repeatedly condemned judges for challenging his diktats. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, has remarked that the times were like the 17th century, when “a lot of judges lost their heads” for defying the state. He suggested that ministers wanted to stop the judiciary “protecting the public from governments exceeding their democratic powers”.

The government’s disdain for the finer points of bourgeois democratic rule is not confined to Blunkett, however. The crude manipulation of the state machine for political purposes was most evident in the dossiers produced on Iraq’s so-called weapons of mass destruction (WMD). These justified the invasion and swung the vote in the House of Commons in favour of war. Yet there is convincing evidence that the intelligence agencies embellished the September 2002 dossier to please Prime Minister Blair. Apparently, this has led to a new term in Whitehall – “a John Scarlett”. He was the head of the Joint Intelligence Committee that produced the final report.

Now state officials it seems do not even require prompting to do political bidding. Take the case of Sir Andrew Turnbull, the Cabinet Secretary and head of the civil service. He took it upon himself to send Clare Short a warning letter after the ex-minister had revealed what everyone knows – that British spies bug the United Nations. Turnbull said he was “extremely disappointed” with Short’s behaviour. One constitutional expert said he was surprised at Turnbull’s action because he was merely the adviser on the ministerial code of behaviour. He told The Guardian: “The point of the code is that it is for the Prime Minister to decide whether it has been broken. Does this letter now mean that the Cabinet Secretary has now become its enforcer?” Put more bluntly, Turnbull had done “a John Scarlett”.

This increasingly despised government rests more and more on the state. Short’s outburst has Labour MPs and ministers queuing up to defend MI5 and MI6 and confirm their loyalty. We get the message. Behind the cloak of the “war on terror”, New Labour is building an absolutist regime. Its victims are asylum seekers, petty offenders who fill the jails to bursting point, protesters, trade unionists – literally anyone with a dissident point of view about free-market global capitalism or who opposes dictatorial regimes supported by New Labour in other countries, such as Israel and Turkey. The parliamentary process is passing into history as New Labour “modernises” the state in its own image.

All these changes, however, have the merit of directing our attention to the issue of the state, its class character, and what state power is actually for. In France, Louis XIV’s successor was executed in the French Revolution that began in 1789. The feudal absolutist state was toppled. A similar process took place in Britain during the 17th century Cromwellian revolution against Charles I. When a state has outlived its purpose and oppresses the people, it demands to be overthrown. Donning the mantle of an absolutist capitalist state is a dangerous road for New Labour to have embarked on.

Movement for a Socialist Future
3 March 2004