'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


[This post is by guest blogger Richard Estes. Richard lives in Northern California, and co-hosts a radio program, with an emphasis upon peace, civil rights, labor and environmental issues, on KDVS 90.3 FM in Davis, CA.]

With a continuing stream of damaging disclosures about Tony Blair’s deception concerning the United Kingdom’s participation in the war against Iraq, the outcome of the election remains uncertain, although a Labour victory with a reduced majority appears most probable. The Guardian’s disclosure on Wednesday that the Attorney General’s opinion about thewar was anything but "unequivocal", as asserted by Blair, has now been trumped by the Sunday Times’ disclosure that Blair, as suspected, indicated a willingness to go to war in the summer of 2002 after meeting with President Bush in Texas. Another year, 1970, and another war, the Vietnam war, haunts Labour in the final days of the campaign.

During the Presidential election here in the US readers of the Guardian tried to persuade people in Ohio to vote for John Kerry, with comically disasterous results. At the risk of engaging in a similarly misguided enterprise in reverse, I hope that UK voters will support competitive
antiwar candidates wherever they can be found
. Some will be Labour dissidents, some will be Liberal Democrats, and still others will represent smaller regional and fringe parties. It is urgently necessary that we strip away the participation of other countries in the "coalition of the willing" created by the US. Spain, and Aznar, have already fallen by the wayside, and momentum is building towards forcing Italy, and Berlusconi, to abandon it as well.

If UK voters rebel, and refuse to hold their nose, and vote for the party of a Prime Minister that they detest, they can make Peter Oborne’s prediction a reality. Oborne believes that Labour will win an unprecedented third term, but that the campaign has destroyed Blair’s credibility, and a leadership struggle will commence shortly after the election. According to Oborne, Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exechequer, will, after being rightly credited with responsibility for the victory, seize total control over domestic policy, leaving a humbled Blair with ceremonial authority in foreign policy. If Labour’s margin in the House of Commons is dramatically sliced, with the loss of many pro-war Blairites, Blair could be replaced by Brown as Prime Minister within less than a year.

The repudiation of Blair, and his support for the war and the occupation,would send a shockwave around the world. Few, if any, countries, havehistorically supported the US with the consistency of the UK, and thepsychological impact of such a repudiation, both within and without the US,
would be enormous. It would be felt most keenly in countries such as Japanand, as already mentioned, Italy, where their governments persist in supporting US policy despite widespread public revulsion. Voters should strive to set this process in motion, even if the consequence is the emergence of the Liberal Democrats as a legitimate alternative to Labour and the Conservatives, and even at the price of replacing New Labour with a weak Conservative government. Perhaps, it’s all wishful thinking. Even so, it’s long past time for Tony Blair to depart the world of electoral politics for something new, perhaps as a newly announced participant in the Carlyle Group.

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