Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/659/11259
Return to greed
As youth unemployment neared the one million mark and as the official inflation rate hit 4% (while many workers are effectively suffering pay cuts), champagne corks were popping in the City bars as investment bankers celebrated their share of Barclays Group's £3.4 billion bonus pot.
Recently the financial world, after its greed-driven speculative bubbles burst, was teetering on the brink of collapse with huge debts. Only because UK governments pumped in over one trillion pounds of public money were the banks and other capitalist financial institutions saved. But without a scintilla of embarrassment the greedy bankers were toasting the return to mega-profits.
Barclays announced a £6 billion profit from over the last 12 months - or £190 every second. However, some bankers were reported as complaining that their bonuses were too low as they enquired about buying £70,000 sports cars!
Barclays bank came under further criticism after admitting that it only paid £113 million in corporation tax in 2009, despite making billions in profits. UK corporation tax is levied at a paltry 28% but it appears that Barclays only paid the equivalent of a miserly 1% in 2009.
Barclays has for years been accused of constructing a complex international web of financial schemes to avoid paying taxes in the UK and abroad.
Dealers in death
Hundreds of people have been killed in countries throughout North Africa and the Middle East in fighting to overthrow repressive regimes. It's no secret that western governments have long supported these dictatorships diplomatically, economically and with weapons.
In 2008 Labour government ministers agreed to send vehicles armed with water cannon to Libya. Subsequently, the Con-Dem government agreed export licences for the sale of tear gas, ammunition and 'door-breaching projectile launchers' to Gaddafi's regime in Libya and similar equipment, including machine guns, to Bahrain.
UK foreign secretary William Hague has now revoked licences for arms exports to Bahrain and Libya despite having stated that there was "no evidence" that Bahrain state forces had used tear gas sent by British companies.
Less well publicised is the involvement of UK governments in training these regimes' police and armed forces.
According to the Independent: "At present there are three full time [British police] advisers working with the Bahraini police, which was heavily implicated in the violent crackdown on protests in [the capital] Manama..."
Stop union busting
Over 70,000 public sector trade unionists and supporters rallied outside the state house in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, on 20 February to stop the Republican governor, Scott Walker, destroying collective bargaining rights in the state. This was the sixth consecutive day of mass protests over plans to slash wages and effectively ban unions.
See www.socialistworld.net for reports.
In The Socialist 23 February 2011:
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party workplace news