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

UPDATES
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Parliament seals its own fate

By backing the government's so-called anti-terror Bill, which abolishes at a stroke democratic rights that go back many centuries, New Labour MPs achieved two things: they not only endorsed the framework of a police state but also signalled parliament's own demise as a meaningful body.

MPs were given only six hours to debate a Bill - and its more than 100 amendments - which, according to a briefing by human rights organisation Liberty, in particular introduces:

  • unending restrictions on liberty, up to and including detention, based on suspicion rather than proof
  • reliance on secret intelligence, including that gathered by torture
  • the inability of the accused to test the case against him/her in any meaningful way.

Yet the majority of New Labour MPs endorsed the Bill, which allows ministers to curtail the movements of suspected individuals through "control orders", although a sizeable number to their credit either abstained or voted against. Last week, the veteran MP Brian Sedgemore, who is leaving parliament, blasted his fellow parliamentarians for their craven behaviour when the Bill first came to the Commons.

He warned: "Liberty, without which democracy has no meaning, and the rule of law, without which state power cannot be contained, look to parliament for their protection, but this parliament, sad to say, is failing the nation badly. It is not just the government but back-bench members who are to blame. It seems that in situations such as this, politics become incompatible with conscience, principle, decency and self-respect. Regrettably, in such situations, the desire for power and position predominates."

He said that "the unthinkable, the unimaginable, is happening here" and that the government was preaching "the politics of fear and ask us to support political incarceration on demand and punishment without trial". Sedgemore said many MPs had gone to sleep when it came to civil liberties: "They voted: first, to abolish trial by jury in less serious cases; secondly, to abolish trial by jury in more serious cases; thirdly, to approve an unlawful war; fourthly, to create a gulag at Belmarsh; and fifthly, to lock up innocent people in their homes. It is truly terrifying to imagine what those Members of Parliament will vote for next. I can describe all that only as new Labour's descent into hell, which is not a place where I want to be."

Sedgemore pointed out that New Labour was overthrowing historic rights, including those established by the 1701 Act of Settlement which gave judges powers independent of the executive. It goes back further, however. In 1215, the barons forced King John to sign the Magna Carta or face a civil war. Arbitrary rule and punitive taxes imposed to finance the Crusades led the barons to draw up a charter of rights. Article 39 stated: "No freeman shall be seized, or imprisoned, or dispossessed, or outlawed, or in any way destroyed; nor will we condemn him, nor will we commit him to prison, excepting by the legal judgement of his peers, or by the laws of the land."

By throwing out almost 800 years of the right for an accused to come before an open court and be charged, MPs have sealed their own fate. Parliament will not and cannot protect or guarantee basic democratic liberties. It therefore carries no claims to be a democratic body and is simply a rubber stamp for a ruthless regime that itself is tied to corporate interests.

Defending democracy today cannot be achieved without going beyond the existing authoritarian, capitalist state. As our book, A World to Win demonstrates, we need to replace, not plead with, a state that has declared war on its own citizens. That is the only conclusion we can draw from the infamous events of 28 February 2005, when the House of Commons showed it was not fit for purpose.

Movement for a Socialist Future
1 March 2005


 

 

 

 

Paul Feldman, Ted Knight, and John McDonnell MP will discuss issues arising from this book under the title

Democracy, the state and the future for socialism

in a public meeting in the Wilson Room, Portcullis House, Westminster, on Wednesday 9th March, at 6.30pm