Saturday 20 January 2007

Gandhi would only smile.

I have just returned from a day campaigning in Brighton and Lewes with a series of meetings with 6th Form Students, University students at Sussex University, council trade unions representatives, FBU members at Brighton Fire Station, POA members at Lewes and the local branch of MIND. The day culminated in a public meeting with Tony Benn in the evening in support of my campaign with 400 people in attendance.

In contrast Gordon Brown has flown to India for a soundbite associating himself with Gandhi. There is a sense of mischevous absurdity in that the Big Brother saga meant that he spent more time having to talk about Jade Goody than Gandhi.

However most will understand the irony of the sight of a New Labour Chancellor, who has supported and poured billions of pounds into a war in Iraq, quoting and hailing as his hero the world reknowned advocate of non violence, Gandhi.

I sure that Mahatma Gandhi would only smile, just as most of us have smiled at the parade of ministers and deputy leadership candidates now coming forward to attack the Iraq war policy they voted for.

Largely buried in the media reports of the Chancellor's trip is a reference to one of the reasons he has undertaken the visit. The Chancellor has gone to demand that India removes one of the restrictions it introduced in the past to protect its developing economy. In the insurance sector the Indian Government has restricted foreign companies operating to 25% of the market. Gordon Brown has insisted that India opens up its insurance market to foreign competition.

This just serves as a reminder that the same old neo-colonialism and the same old ruthless free market exploitation of the Developing World continues apace.