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

E-mail to hear about site changes, placing 'update' in body of message



A state of crisis

The devastating Law Lords ruling against New Labour's anti-terror "laws", together with David Blunkett's resignation as Home Secretary, express a profound and growing crisis within the state. The self-evident divisions are not confined to the judiciary but include the military, police and intelligence services.

These tensions are the result of the streamlining and overt politicisation of the state by New Labour, a process that began with the previous Thatcher governments. For the Blairites, old-style bourgeois democratic processes are considered outmoded and not fit for the modern world. These processes most definitely include the rule of law, which has its origins in the Magna Carta of 1215.

New Labour's ideal "modern world" consists of a free-market economy, where the demands of the global corporations come first. These giant firms stand above national and even international law. They pay little in taxation and their operations ignore borders and local customs, as well as the impact on the environment. New Labour's role is to manage the state in a similar fashion, choosing expediency over tradition, history and democratic rights where it suits.

Blunkett and Blair saw no problem in declaring a permanent state of emergency and then opting out of the human rights laws to lock up foreign nationals indefinitely without charge or trial. All on the say-so of intelligence reports neither the detainees nor their lawyers are allowed to see. The same Blunkett also thought he could use the state to deliver favours to his lover - a high Tory as it turned out. A bad case of the "L'état, c'est moi" syndrome.

In the process of merging government with state machine, New Labour has inevitably come into conflict with institutions and civil servants with a different tradition and history. Many do not share Blair's disdain for process and transparency. This was clear over the illegal invasion of Iraq. Several lawyers quit the Foreign Office in protest while large sections of the intelligence service resisted the spin put on their reports to justify war. By all accounts, the majority of army officers continue to oppose being in Iraq because of the legal issues as well as the day-to-day conflict with Iraqi civilians. Many senior police officers are said to be unhappy at the political orders that emanate almost daily from the Home Office.

New Labour's dismissal of the rule of law - where individuals are guaranteed due process by being charged and brought to court - was summed up by Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney-General. His infamous legal advice - never published - gave a veneer of legality to the Iraq invasion. During the Lords hearing, Goldsmith devoted some time to trying to persuade the judges that they were unelected and undemocratic and had no right to interfere. This was a favourite "argument" - more like bullying - trotted out by Blunkett.

In other words, the executive in the form of the state can make whatever laws it wants and the judiciary, or anyone else for that matter, has no right to question their legitimacy. This is dictatorship by any other name. No wonder Lord Scott compared the detention of alleged terror suspects in Britain to Stalin's Russia, where the knock on the door led to disappearance and often death. Sixteen Muslims have been detained under the anti-terror legislation, with 10 still held in Belmarsh, south-east London, and Woodhill, Bucks, and one in Broadmoor mental hospital. They are certified as "suspected international terrorists".

Lord Hoffmann said the case was one of the most important decided by the House of Lords in recent years. "It calls into question the very existence of an ancient liberty of which this country has until now been very proud: freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention," he wrote, and went on to say that the detentions posed a greater threat to the nation than terrorism. "The real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these," Lord Hoffmann wrote. "That is the true measure of what terrorism may achieve. It is for Parliament to decide whether to give the terrorists such a victory."

The seven other judges who ruled against the government said the decision on whether a public emergency existed was for the state to take. But they ruled that indefinite detention without trial was unlawful because it was a disproportionate interference with liberty and with equality. Lady Hale said: "It is not for the executive to decide who should be locked up for any length of time, let alone indefinitely. Only the courts can do that and, except as a preliminary step before trial, only after the grounds for detaining someone have been proved. Executive detention is the antithesis of the right to liberty and security of person. Yet that is what the 2001 act allows."

Lord Bingham, the senior law lord, said in his judgement: "The function of independent judges charged to interpret and apply the law is universally recognised as a cardinal feature of the modern democratic state, a cornerstone of the rule of law itself. "The attorney general is fully entitled to insist on the proper limits of judicial authority, but he is wrong to stigmatise judicial decision-making as in some way undemocratic."

New Labour's arrogant response is characteristic. Charles Clarke, the new Home Secretary, has declared that the suspects will continue to be locked up, despite the judgement. He is to bring forward new legislation that will no doubt add to the state's powers of surveillance and monitoring.

No judge, however senior, nor dissident civil servant by themselves can halt this process or guarantee our rights. The capitalist state is being transformed before our very eyes into a dictatorial machine. Democratic rights and liberties are secondary to the agenda of the market state. The defence of the rule of law and the extension of our democratic rights into areas of work, for example, require a new state, one that is not beholden to corporate and financial power. The Movement for a Socialist Future has set out proposals for an alternative, truly democratic state in A World to Win, published recently. Read about these proposals and use them as a basis for building a movement that can sweep the Blair regime and the market state aside.

Movement for a Socialist Future
17 December 2005