Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Up the Iron!



Some good news for the working people of Scunthorpe at last, that's if your a football fanatic, which I'm not. But Scunthorpe United beat would you believe it Millwall and made an immediate return to the English Championship 3-2 in the playoff final on Sunday just gone at Wembley.

Scunthorpe one season in League 1 after being relegated a year ago, but are now back up!

Glanford Park is United's home ground and was opened in 1988 and by imagine who? Non-other than Margret Thatcher, even at that time, shortly after the steel strike, when workers where still being laid off. I remember at the time thinking what a bloody cheek that the management of the club had the bear obnoxious shamelessness to invite her of all people to open what was the first purpose-built stadium in 33 years, since Southend United moved in 1955, at a construction cost of £2.5 million, housing a total of 9,088 supporters, and the 83rd largest in English football. One other thing about the club is that it's nickname the Iron', reflects it's association with the steel industry as dose the club's logo.

As I say, this win constitutes some good news for the town and by all accounts brings at least for the football obsessed some release from the gloomy news of rescission, job losses and short time working with pay cuts for steel workers. Well from someone who admit-ably is not a ardent supporter I wish Scunthorpe United all the best for next session, as the say - up the Iron!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Leader of the Resistance


Former Vie President of the US Dick Cheney has not retired gracefully then, last week he dominated much of the news with what has been depicted as a barnstorming defence in the American press of the previous administration's counter terrorism strategy, and apparently overshadowed the speech of President Obama at the National Archives. And just to prove that you can't keep a bad dog down he's even had a boost in the polls even though he's not running for office. According to CNN, Cheney's up eight points since he left government, not at all bad for a figure that some see as the Antichrist!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Adieu and buy: Ted Appleyard


Votes rise for main parties in council by-election



FEARS that the MPs' expenses scandal would drive voters away from the main political parties have not been realised in the constituency of Scunthorpe MP Eliot Morley.
Both Labour and the Tories actually saw their votes rise in the Barton by-election, which was triggered by the death of Conservative Party stalwart Ted Appleyard in March.

Tory candidate Paul Vickers took the North Lincolnshire Council seat held for 48 years by Coun Appleyard, who was the longest serving member of the authority and the town council.

Turnout also held up at more than 30 per cent.

The ward comes under the same local authority as the constituency of Morley, the former Labour minister who claimed £16,000 for interest on a mortgage he had already paid off.

He has been suspended from the parliamentary party pending sleaze watchdog investigations into the claims.

Coun Vickers said: "David Cameron is right when he calls for a general election.

"The public feel very disappointed and let down by the expenses scandal and other issues. What I have picked up from door-knocking and campaigning in Barton is that people know the only way they can change things is by voting.

"I think people are ready for a change and I'm very proud of them for coming out and voting.

"They realise their vote is important."

Conservative Alan Searle took Coun Appleyard's former seat on Barton Town Council.

The main parties did take hits in other council by-elections, however.

There were clear signs of disillusionment at Irwell Riverside in the Salford constituency of Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, who apologised last week for the handling of the sale of her London flat and handed £13,000 to the taxman to cover capital gains tax.

Labour was relieved to hold on to the seat comfortably – but its share of the vote tumbled from more than half in May last year to just over a third this time.

Tories and Liberal Democrats also saw a votes drop. The BNP was the only party to advance, by less than four per cent.

In a further sign of electors' disgust, barely one in six bothered to vote.

The Tories easily held off a Lib Dem challenge at Cottesmore, Rutland County, in the constituency of shadow Commons leader Alan Duncan, who claimed thousands of pounds for his garden before agreeing with the fees office that the spending "could be considered excessive".

Turnout there was lower at 26.4 per cent.

source: Yorkshire Post

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Elliot Morley MP - Benefit Cheat!


It's not every day that I wake up to good news, but this morning was such a day! I turned on my computer hit on Google news and there it was in all it's glory, another pig had been caught with his snout well and truly in the trough. The former Environment Minister and enthusiastic supporter of Tony Blair, my own former member of Parliament, representing my home town 'Scunthorpe' was the latest in what seems to be a long line of benefit cheats, members resident in what is known as the village of Westminster.

Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph

POLICE officers are guarding Elliot Morley's Winterton home today, after revelations about the Scunthorpe MP's expense claims.

Two Humberside Police officers are stopping anyone approaching the 10ft-high wooden gates at the end of his drive.

The house, which is in the centre of the village, is not visible from the road as it is surrounded by a high stone wall.

Mr Morley has admitted he took £16,800 of taxpayers' cash to fund a mortgage which no longer existed over a 20-month period.


Elliot Morley and myself are old adversary's, from my misunderstood, misguided day's in the Labour Party and as a community activist from way back and what seems now to be years ago. The strange thing about writing this for my blog is that last night whilst in attendance at my branch meeting (Central London Branch of the Socialist Party) we discussed this whole stinking most offensively malodorous business of MP's expenses. I intend to write more about my encounters with Elliot Morley and my time fighting hopelessly for Socialism in the Labour Party later in the meantime I've posted the following comment on the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph's web-page.

"Whys the old bill guarding his home, he's a benefit cheat and should be locked away for his trickery and deceit!"
Jim Lawrie, Canning Town

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Head On!


In an acquisitive society like ours, the need of material things seems to never satisfy, it could be the a craving or just the way we are conditioned to want the goods that make life in the 21st centenary, mobile telephone, computer, wide screen TV and so on. This probably explains why we have so much personal debt in Britain, we racked up so much debt on loans and credit cards that the total borrowed now exceeds the entire value of the economy, new research has shown. 60 million people owe more to the banks than the value of everything made by every office and factory in the country. It prompted a warning that personal borrowing was so out of control that many more people would be pushed over the "financial edge". The runaway housing market was the biggest reason why consumer debt has spiralled, totalling £1.131trn. Debt on personal loans and credit cards totals £214bn. Overall, individuals owe the staggering sum of £1,344,721,000,000.

So doubtlessly it doesn't take a rocket scientist or an Albert Einstein to tell us that in a recession people are going to feel the pinch, add to that what may seem to some a shear desperation just to survive to provide for you family's needs, and then you can imagine that some of us may turn to other ways of bringing home the bacon.

The way this recession impacts and the response of the powers that be, hold no surprises. A cabinet minister has already said she was fearful of another wave of riots like those in Brixton, Birmingham and Liverpool nearly 30 years ago. Miss Blears, the Communities Secretary, said that more money was needed (she'll know all about that) to be ploughed into local projects to ensure the flashpoints that symbolised a part of the early 1980s were not repeated. Miss Blears said: "Economic recession has the power to do one of two things to a society. It can either drive people apart, with an increase in distrust between individuals, more naked competition for jobs, a fracturing of community spirit.

"We witnessed this in the Eighties and early Nineties, and at its most extreme, it culminated in cars and buildings burning on the streets of Brixton, Birmingham and Liverpool. In some wards in my own city of Salford, we had 50 per cent male unemployment, and it has taken a decade to repair the damage." And then just a few day's ago; speaking at the Morning Star Investment Conference in London Richard Buxton – head of UK equities at Schroders - stated he expected stock markets to hold up through 2010 if economic growth held at zero per cent as fears of a multi-year contraction have now passed to "just a very unpleasant" recession.

However, the real economy could face difficulties.

"There could be more social tension and even riots with the grim economic environment," he said. "But that is not stopping me saying the stock market will go up.

"Good companies will generate profits but many will struggle."

What to expect is anybody's guess, but the Police Federation of England and Wales say an extra 2,000 police officers are required over the next three years if police chiefs want to maintain the current frontline service. Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation, said research found the number of police officers per 100,000 people is falling. He said police officer numbers increased or were maintained during previous recessions in the 1980s and 1990s.

Mr McKeever said: "With crime rates set to increase as the recession deepens, politicians of all parties need to sit up and take notice of this Police Federation research which clearly shows that the resilience of the service will be damaged unless police officer strength is increased over the next three years.

"We must not lose sight that we will also be policing the biggest sporting event this country has handled in 2012, when the Olympics comes to the UK.

"How we are expected to deal with the demands this will place upon the service, in addition to the increasing property crime rates with fewer officers per head of the population, is beyond me. My real fear is that the level of service and protection we will be able to afford the public will be severely affected unless action to address this is taken now."

He was speaking on the opening day of the Police Federation's annual conference in Bournemouth.Policing Minister Vernon Coaker said the Government is determined to tackle the issues raised by the Police Federation "head on".

Sunday, 10 May 2009

When the abstentions are the winners!


Very soon election literature will start to fall through our letterboxes, or should I say shoved through by the contending political parties and there candidates standing in the European elections to that said Parliament. Many people in Britain and I think I can say with a confident amount of certainty will in all probability not even bother to vote, and who can blame them, after all that's been in the news regarding MP's and their gravely train of expenses. As the recession begins to bite working people see their living standard fall, job's lost, home repossessed, whilst our political elite are the next most heated and despised of human mammals next to bankers and the not so clever financiers, who have been generating colossal profits and with the help of Gordon Brown first as Chancellor and then as Prime Minister, he has done all he can to make them comfortable with generous tax breaks on the biggest part of their remuneration and then, when that became politically unsustainable, with a tax reform designed not to upset them. Contrast this to the other side of the coin, were working people up and down the country are struggling to make ends meet or worry whether it's tomorrow or the next day they are told ' you no longer have a job'. Then there's the unemployed and the old who have had to make ends meet and cope with rising food and rip of utility bills.

The newspapers are full of story's how Labour is in meltdown and the results expected will be their worst, who knows, but it's beginning to look as if the the abstentions will be the winners!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Great Expectations



Mr Cameron hailed her leadership as a time when the United Kingdom returned to living within its means and said, if the Tories won the next election, Baroness Thatcher would be "an example of real courage to follow" in dealing with the current economic crisis.

On May 4, 1979, after winning the General Election with a comfortable majority of 40, the then Mrs Thatcher stood in Downing Street as she became the first female Prime Minister and famously said: "Where there is discord, may we bring harmony... where there is despair, may we bring hope.

What a grotesque portrait; reminds me of the novel by Charles Dickens Great Expectations, she Miss Havisham and he Pip.

Purnell on the fiddle


Mentally ill people being thrown off sickness benefit and told they are fit for work under Purnell's new ESA. The competences Mr Purnell has invented are all CAN DO competences of skills they may have so they pass the test. There are no CAN'T DO questions and some people who can't go out alone and can't go in a room with people they don't know are being passed as fit because the questionnaire is designed this way. People with mental illness are just breaking down under this insensitive cruelty.So well done Mr Purnell. You have taken £3000 a year benefit from these mentally ill people and caused them to get really ill again.


MP CLAIMED £10,000 MORE ON EXPENSES THAN HE PAID


JAMES PURNELL, the work and pensions secretary, was last night embroiled in a new expenses row as it was revealed he claimed £10,000 more from the parliamentary authorities than he paid in rent to the landlord of his London flat.

Purnell submitted claims of up to £2,020 a month to cover the cost of rent for his “second home”, but bank records show he paid his landlord a monthly sum of only £910.

The claims were made for the apartment in Covent Garden he shared with his former fiancĂ©e Lucy Walker, a documentary film maker. The disclosure follows the publication last week of photographs showing that at the end of his tenancy he left the flat “like a pigsty”.

The couple jointly rented the two-storey flat for £1,820 a month between December 2004 and June 2007. Although they paid equal sums of £910 a month, Purnell claimed far more than this on expenses.

For three months, the minister, who is now in charge of stopping benefits cheats, claimed the full amount of the rent of £1,820 and three times he claimed more than £1,900.

A spokesman for Purnell said he had done nothing wrong as Commons rules entitle MPs to claim a partner’s portion of the rent. “Notwithstanding his entitlement to claim the full rent, James claimed less than the amount he himself spent,” he said.

A friend of Purnell said the reason for the apparent disparity in the figures was that there was an arrangement under which he reimbursed Walker for some or all of her rent. “James earned more than Lucy and often as a film maker she would be abroad for months at a time. During those periods James would pay all of the rent. The claims for more than £1,820 are not suspicious. He would have been catching up on previous months.”


Sunday Times 3 May

Saturday, 2 May 2009

'The Un- blessed Margaret Thatcher'


The media I see, have been making a big thing about the thirtieth anniversary of Margaret Thatcher assuming power, as if we need reminding of the nightmare that was Thatcherism: My own memory is eclipsed by the caricature of her and the entire cabinet along with opposition members of the House of Commons; Neal Kinnock, the two David's, Steel and Owen, and of course not forgetting the Royal Family as portrayed by that superb television programme 'Spitting Images'. But joking aside, the election of Thatcher in 1979 and her Conservative Party was no weird, temporary aberration, a blip, an anomaly. It was the starting point for were the gap between rich and poor started to widen and would as it seems never narrow again. Increasing inequality was to define the Thatcher years from 1979 to 1990. but more than that, her way of seeing the world become the establishment view, continues today under New Labour. What was at first a right-wing minority view captured the centre ground of politics. In Thatcher's world, equality was antithetical and therefor must die - and it did.

During her decade in power, the real incomes of the poorest fifth of the population grew by less than 0.5 per cent a year, while those of the richest 20 per cent rose by almost 4 per cent. In the words of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the magnitude of the rise in inequality under her Conservative Government was 'unparalleled both historically and compared with the changes taking place at the same time in most other developed countries'.

Margaret Thatcher administered a poisonous medicine on behalf of Capitalism that created a less fair UK, her surgery was a systematic reduction in Trade Unionism, reducing the bargaining power of employers; cuts in income tax to provide increasing rewards for incremental effort; reductions in benefits to create stronger incentives to force workers to take any kind of job; privatization of the public sector and significant pay rises for those who run them. A lot of people were seriously hurt along the way and are still paying the price as it led to this present economic crisis!

Friday, 1 May 2009



WORLD POVERTY

Most people are aware of the awful poverty that exists in parts of Asia and India but capitalism is a world system with world-wide social problems. "Volunteers from one of the world's most impoverished countries are to travel to Scotland to help people in communities blighted by drink and violence. The aid workers from Pakistan have been warned that they will see shocking poverty when they arrive next month in the east end of Glasgow to work in some of Britain's most run-down housing schemes.... In Pakistan, a third of the 170m population lives below the poverty line - defined as earning less than $2 (£1.36) a day. However, the average life expectancy for men is 62, compared with 54 in parts of Glasgow" (Sunday Times, 12 April). No doubt many of these doomed men will be singing on a Saturday night "Glasgow Belongs To Me". In reality though, Glasgow – like ever city on Earth – belongs to the capitalist.

From The Socialist Standard, Voice from the Back May 2009

If only money grew on trees!


Disgraced banking boss Sir Fred Goodwin, hired an assistant at the Royal bank of Scotland who's job it was to ensure that the case machines at the firm's head office only issued bank notes signed by him. Goodwin on £703,000 a year pension, specifically hired this person to check that all the note's had his name on them - can you Adam and Eve it!

Meanwhile, coin forgery is booming it's an (illegal) business, worth £44 million. It costs a pittance to forge a £1 coin, and the mark-up is substantial. Former Assay Master to the Queen (responsible for checking hall-marks) and now a coin authenticator, Robert Matthews says: "It costs around ten or 20 pence to make a coin." The coins are very much made the same way as the Royal Mint makes their coins; punching out blank coins from a strip of brass, then striking them with the impression copied from a bona fide coin. The other method is casting, the coins are usually made of lead obtained from the nearest church roof. The process involves coating or electroplated. They don't last long in circulation because they're soft and get spotted quickly, but whatever the drawbacks it is, a boom industry and one that could undermine our entire currency at a time when so-called conifdence in the pound is already low.

History tells us in what we call primitive societies, they had no need for money, since they did not trade. In a primitive communist society, all able bodied persons would have engaged in obtaining food, and everyone would share in what was produced by hunting and gathering. There would be almost no private property, other than articles of clothing and similar personal items, because primitive society produced no surplus; what was produced was quickly consumed. The few things that existed for any length of time (tools, housing) were held communally. There would have been no state. Sounds good hey! - How primitive was that?

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