Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 48 Number 8, March 24, 2018 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

15th Anniversary of the Anglo-US invasion of Iraq

Blair's Legacy of Britain's Further Militarised Economy

Millions of people marching in London, Not in My Name!

March 20 marked the 15th anniversary of the Anglo-US criminal invasion of Iraq by Bush and Blair when millions of people declared that such a war was "not in our name". Much has been said about the legacy of Margaret Thatcher, whose warmongering activities include the invasion of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) in 1981 and whose "radical" anti-social offensive coincided with the destruction of the manufacturing base in Britain and marked the crisis of post-war state monopoly capitalism and its welfare state with her infamous statement that "there is no such thing as society", with its implication that everyone must fend for themselves. However, since then little is said of the legacy of Tony Blair, who took up the mantle of Thatcher, not from the "right", but from the "left of centre". He championed the direction to "Make Britain Great Again", organising an electoral coup in the Westminster elections of 1997 to try and get the working class and people behind this programme of privatisation and war, claiming this was a "third way". Today, whilst his legacy is one of a hated warmonger in the eyes of most people, the consequences and direction championed by Blair and his government are not as well-known. One of the major consequences of his legacy is that Britain and its economy have been transformed in a further militarised direction.

During this period, the manufacturing and energy industries that were destroyed under Margaret Thatcher have largely not been replaced and have been further closed down, as with coal mining and a large section of heavy industry. This has left Britain dependent on costly imports of coal, gas and heavy manufacturing goods. Instead, the constant wars, invasions and occupations of the "war on terror" that Britain and the US have waged under Blair and since, have also transformed the economy so that Britain's war and security industries are now central. This has accelerated especially over the last ten years. Also over this period, successive governments have "deregulated" the city of London to place it at the centre of financial services throughout the world. The Anglo-US and EU values and interests that finance capital champions creates exploitation and misery around the world.

Today, Britain has become the world's primary designer and exporter of the machines of war and has been named as "war's workshop"[1], second only to the United States as an exporter of armament systems. BAE Systems plc is the flagship of Britain's militarised economy and exporter of weapons. It is a multinational defence, cyber-security, and aerospace company that employs 83,000 people in 40 countries with approximately 34,800 employees based at around 50 sites in the UK. It is the biggest manufacturer in Britain with a turnover of £18 billion and latest profits of over £1 billion. It is also the reason that the North West of England is the region with the highest manufacturing output, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). For example, it is where BAE Systems employs 7,000 in manufacturing the Astute nuclear attack submarines and successor at Barrow-in-Furness. BAE Systems at its Preston, Samlesbury and Warton sites also employs some 10,000 who are involved in making parts for and the final assembly of the Typhoon fighter. Besides serving the Ministry of Defence, it exports weapons to principal markets in the US, Saudi Arabia and Australia, and by itself is the third largest weapons contractor in the world.

When BAE Systems was formed in 1999 out of buy-outs and mergers [2], it inherited the British-government-owned "golden" share that was established when the former British Aerospace was privatised from a "public corporation" to a "public company" in 1980. While the government no longer receives dividends, this unique share prevents amendments of certain parts of the company's Articles of Association without the permission of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. These Articles require that no foreign person or persons acting together may hold more than 15% of the company's shares. In other words, while public services are continuing to be wrecked and privatised at a rapid rate and sold even to foreign corporations, the state demands control of its war industries for which it is shareholder and salesperson, as well as prime user in its wars of occupation and intervention.

It is this further militarisation of economy that characterises the whole warmongering direction of the state and the ruling elite in Britain from Blair to this time. According to AOAV's research [1], "in that same period, this island nation established itself as the global hub for companies involved in manufacturing cyber weaponry, surveillance gear, and other spyware sold to governments and corporations around the world. Such equipment was often for use for internal repression. Finally, in this decade, the UK became the global centre for private military and security companies (PMSCs); there are more surveillance companies and PMSCs headquartered in the UK than any other country in the world."

Britain is not only involved in supplying fighter planes and armaments and continuing to wage covert and open wars as part of the Anglo-US and NATO alliance. It is transforming itself into the most parasitic state that represents the interests of the Anglo-US cartels and oligopolies regardless of the consequences to the people's right to life and welfare at home and abroad. This represents the ending of any public responsibility and the imposing of militarisation and police powers on society. Over recent days the government, whilst blaming Russia and heightening dangerous tensions between Britain and Russia, it is seeking to use the Salisbury poisoning to justify increased investment in the further criminal development of chemical and biological weapons research at Porton Down [3].

Settling scores with Blair's legacy means that what has to be grasped is that this legacy cannot be challenged just by a change of the party in power in Parliament, or even of a change of leadership in the party system of "representative democracy" at Westminster. The Iraq war showed clearly that this system no longer represented the people. The fight for an anti-war government is a fight for a renewal of the political process to empower the working class and people to make the decisions. The economic base cannot be based on militarisation of the economy at the hands of the war industries, but on identifying the needs of all the collectives of the people to realise a modern society that provides for the needs and welfare of the people and their defence. It is the organised working class and people who will become the guarantors of peace and resolving the conflicts in favour of a future without war. We call on everyone to join in this movement, and to settle scores with the legacy of Blair and all the warmongers, to avert the danger of war, and put an end to the militarisation of the economy.


[1] "War's Workshop: Exposing Britain's War Industries", Action on Armed Violence,

[2] British Aerospace was formed as a statutory corporation on 29th April 1977 as a result of the Aircraft and Shipbuilders Industries Act of the same year. The company brought together the British Aircraft Corporation, Hawker Siddeley Aviation, Hawker Siddeley Dynamics and Scottish Aviation. In February 1981, the Government sold 51.57% of the shares in British Aerospace in order to return the company to private ownership. The remaining shares were finally sold in April 1985 but the Government retained a single £1 'Golden share' that would allow it to veto any possibility of foreign ownership. In, 1999 it purchased Marconi Electronic Systems, the defence electronics and naval shipbuilding subsidiary of the General Electric Company plc, to form BAE Systems.

[3] "UK to invest 48 million pounds in new chemical weapons defence centre as result of the Salisbury attack", Reuters,


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