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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 June 2011

News in brief

Power profits

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.


Drink responsibly

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.

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In The Socialist 15 June 2011:


Fighting the cuts

Strike 30 June

Workers turn up the heat in Southampton

Customs & Revenue staff strike against attendance management policy

No cuts to English language classes!

Hands off our pensions!

Carmarthenshire council day club closure lobby


NHS news & campaigning

Tories make token changes - save the NHS

Con-Dem health plans ignore patients and staff

NHS "listening events" - Flip chart 'democracy'


National Shop Stewards Network

NSSN conference - serious and inspiring preparation for battles to come


Socialist Party news and analysis

Fighting anti-cuts meeting in Scotland hears socialist alternative

Child poverty increasing under the Con-Dems

Say no to government's slave labour programme

Winterbourne View - fight privatisation, end abuses

London 'Slutwalk' protest: Fight sexism, discrimination and cuts

News in brief

Dewsbury rejects racist EDL

To hell with for-profit education


Socialist Party feature

The growing housing scandal


Socialist Party workplace news

Tube drivers prepare to strike

Sheffield university strikers more determined

Unison conference - No to pension attacks

Unison NEC elections - left retakes lost ground


International socialist news and analysis

Austerity and anger in Greece


 

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