Last week’s, failed car bombs in London and Glasgow, targeting a packed nightclub and busy airport, marked the end of Tony Blair’s premiership and the beginning of Gordon Brown’s. The socialist condemns these attempted terrorist acts as we condemned the attacks on 7/7, 9/11 and other similar incidents.
The use of car bombs is a change in tactics from targeting high-profile buildings or transport systems. They make people feel particularly vulnerable as they can be planted almost anywhere. In this sense we are seeing elements of Iraq brought to Britain as similar bombs kill and maim ordinary Iraqis every day.
The first 72 hours of Brown’s government witnessed three more British soldiers killed and the deaths of around 149 Iraqi people in the continuing brutal occupation of Iraq. Brown, like Blair, refuses to acknowledge the link between the attempted bombings and the occupation of Iraq, in contrast to the majority of people.
He believes that terrorism is "a long term threat... one that is unrelated in detail to one specific point of conflict in the world" (the guardian 2/7/07).
Since the 7/7 bombs two years ago the government has backed the bombing of Lebanon by the Israeli regime while the situation in Iraq has grown worse.
Last year there were 14,910 reported civilian deaths in Iraq - up 32% from 2004 - and the United Nations estimates that about 600 Afghan civilians have been killed in ’insurgency-linked’ violence this year. British, US and other imperialist troops should be withdrawn from both countries immediately.
The recent bombs in Britain were intended to kill or injure ordinary people, young people clubbing in London and passengers at Glasgow airport including many families travelling abroad on the first day of the Scottish school holidays.
The perpetrators of these attempted attacks would probably argue that they are fighting for justice for Muslims worldwide and for the Islamic religion. However, Al-Qa’ida, who certainly inspired, and probably directed, these attacks, is repellent to most Muslims.
The vast majority of Muslims in Britain oppose terror attacks, which are wholly counter-productive in combating the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The attempted bombings can lead to an increase in racism, initial support for increased government anti-democratic legislation, and a blurring of the class differences between ordinary working people and the neo-liberal government.
Racist incidents against Muslim and Asian people have already been reported following the car bombs and unfortunately these are likely to increase.
Horrendous acts by a few secretive operators will not change government policies. Only democratically organised mass action with a determined leadership has the potential to do this. As socialists we acknowledge that the mass mobilisation of the working class is necessary for fundamental change and to bring about a socialist society.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s initial response differs in tone from Blair’s after the 7/7 attacks in that he says it is impossible to stop all attacks and is not blatantly using these incidents to demand more anti-terror laws.
Under Blair, New Labour introduced some of the most anti-democratic ’anti-terror’ legislation in the western world. This has not been effective in fighting terrorism, but has increased the anger and alienation of many young people, especially those from a Muslim background. Asians face a 30% higher chance of being stopped by the police than white people and of the 1,666 arrests of mostly-Muslim suspects under anti-terror laws since 9/11 there have been only 40 convictions.
Suspected terrorists can be given control orders which consist of 12-14 hour curfews and restricted visitors, which are being legally challenged as being in violation of the European convention on Human Rights.
Brown is nonetheless planning to further extend the legislation. He wants to extend the time that terrorist suspects can be held without questioning from 28 to 90 days, lift the ban on questioning suspects after charges have been brought and allow phone-tap evidence in court.
Erosion of democratic rights can be used against those campaigning against any government policy, whether through demonstrations, protests or industrial action by trade unionists. This is why our democratic and civil rights must be defended and improved, and not undermined.
As well as on all the issues mentioned above, many young Muslims also feel alienated through unemployment and poverty. The majority of Muslims in Britain face the same and often worse conditions as the working class as a whole, such as low pay, attacks on workplace conditions and cuts in public services.
A new mass party of the working class will have to be forged to build common action across all communities to struggle for civil liberties and against poverty, cuts, racism, war and terror.
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