Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/675/12227
News in brief
Scottish Power has dealt a body blow to its 2.4 million customers with a whopping 19% rise in gas prices and a 10% increase in electricity prices from August. This price hike coincides with rising inflation and pay freezes for millions of workers.
This rise will undoubtedly set the price trend for the other UK gas utilities to follow.
Customers can expect the usual excuse from these mega-profitable companies that they're the victims of rising wholesale prices. True, the futures market for winter contracts will increase but this is due to speculation, not 'supply and demand'. In fact there is a global glut of gas supplies according to the International Energy Agency.
Moreover, many gas companies have substantial stakes in gas fields making them handsome profits both as wholesale and domestic suppliers.
The sooner the private energy utilities are renationalised, the better.
Multinational drinks giant Diageo - whose brands include Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness - has enjoyed much media publicity following its announcement to fund training for 10,000 midwives to offer advice on the dangers of alcohol during pregnancy.
Despite the apparent conflict of interest in this sponsorship, the government has been keen to involve big business in public health provision as part of its "responsibility deal".
Many health practitioners would question just how responsible drinks manufacturers are given the levels of alcohol abuse in the population. In May it was reported that alcohol-related hospital admissions in England exceeded one million in 2009-10, a 12% increase on the previous year. And alcohol dependency cost the NHS £2.41 million in prescription items last year.
Ed the grafter
Instead of fighting the government's swingeing cuts in public services Labour's leader Ed Miliband simply wants to redistribute the few resources left according to his meritocratic beliefs.
Despite 4.5 million on housing waiting lists and house building being at its lowest peacetime level for 85 years, Ed doesn't call for a massive building programme. Instead, he intends to set those in work against the unemployed by changing the priorities on current waiting lists, rewarding people who 'make a contribution to society'.
Labour's message is clear - if you lose your job through government cuts or a company layoff don't bother applying for public housing.
All at sea
Speaking of out-of-touch Labour politicians, what does her majesty's opposition say about the scandal of Southern Cross's run-for-profit care homes which has left 31,000 residents and their families fearing if they will continue to receive care and put 3,000 workers on the dole?
Instead of demanding these homes are brought back under public control, adequately staffed and properly funded, Labour's junior shadow health spokesperson, Emily Thornberry, Islington South, insisted that government intervention to takeover Southern Cross was a no-no. The "ship of state provision" has "sailed" said the free enterprise friendly MP.
In The Socialist 15 June 2011:
Fighting the cuts
NHS news & campaigning
National Shop Stewards Network
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis