[Marxism] Ditch Blair Project

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Nov 11 20:43:37 MST 2005


http://www.thenation.com/blogs/thebeat?pid=2370
BLOG | Posted 05/04/2005 @ 5:37pm
The Ditch Blair Project

In Britain, the leader of the government is not elected by a national vote. 
Rather, the prime minister is the head of the dominant party caucus in the 
parliament.

It is probably a good thing that the United States decided against going 
with a parliamentary system, as the boss of the largest partisan caucus in 
the U.S. House of Representatives is a fellow named Tom DeLay.

But the parliamentary system does force British leaders to campaign on a 
more human scale -- and to face more poignant and powerful questions.

To retain his post as prime minister, Tony Blair must lead his Labour Party 
to a national win Thursday. But he also must be reelected by the voters of 
his parliamentary riding -- the equivalent of a congressional district -- 
in the north of England.

In all likelihood, Blair will prevail. His riding, Sedgefield, has for 
generations sent Labour Party members to parliament.

But he faces a tougher fight than ever before because of his decision to 
march British troops into George Bush's "coalition of the willing" for the 
invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Blair's most aggressive challenger in Sedgefield is a man whose passionate 
opposition to the Iraq war is rooted in personal experience.

Reg Keys, a retired ambulance driver who is running as an independent 
candidate against Blair, is distributing a simple letter to voters in the 
Sedgefield riding. It reads:

"Dear Friends. You may ask why I have decided to stand against the Prime 
Minister. I am not a politician. I am an ordinary family man.

"The last time I saw my son, Tom, was at a railway station when he marched 
off down the platform with his head held high, proud to do his duty for his 
country. He believed what he was told. But the Prime Minister misled the 
country, and Tom and eighty four other soldiers who had their oath of 
allegiance betrayed came home in coffins - having died for a lie.

"It is time to bring the accountability back in to politics. People in this 
constituency need an MP they can trust to speak and act honestly on their 
behalf.

"If you would like a poster, are willing to deliver leaflets or help the 
campaign in any other way or just want to tell me what you think, please do 
contact me at the address below

"Yours sincerely, Reg Keys"

The campaign that Keys has waged to hold Blair accountable has drawn 
national attention and support. The Sedgefield vote has become a referendum 
on the war, and on the question of whether those who lie in order to launch 
an invasion ought to be rewarded with another term in office. That is the 
choice that Americans should have been presented in 2004, but they were 
denied it by the miserably inept campaign of John Kerry and by a media that 
has generally shies away from applying standards of "truth" and 
"accountability" to our politicians.

Britain is seeing a more honorable campaign, particularly in Sedgefield.

Among those who traveled to Sedgefield to campaign for Reg Keys was the 
novelist Frederick Forsyth, the author of The Odessa File and The Dogs of War.

"So why again did we invade Iraq?" asked Forsyth, in a speech delivered 
before the memorial to local men who dies in World War I and World War II. 
"The answer was because one man -- and it was at the time one man, the 
sitting MP for this constituency -- decided, in secret conclave with the 
American President, that the American president intended to invade and 
would not be persuaded from that ambition, and that he, the British 
premier, would send British troops in to assist the Americans, come what may."

Unfortunately, explained Forsyth, there was no justification for war. So, 
the author said of Blair, "He made it up... And that is why Tom Keys had to 
die. He did not -- I'm sorry, I'm sorry for his father -- he did not die 
because his country was genuinely under threat. He died so that a man could 
have a standing ovation in Washington..."

Then, with a passion rarely seen or heard in American politics, Forsyth 
declared, "I ask you: think of Tom Keys in his grave. I ask you to think 
what he would say. What he would say I think is clear: 'Give your votes to 
my Dad. Send my Dad down to the palace by the Thames.' I concur with that. 
If you send him there he will represent you well, and more, he will give 
you your honour back."

Words such as "honor" are rarely heard in America politics these days. 
Perhaps that is why it is so refreshing to catch their echo from across the 
sea. 





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