Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/731/15110
Them & Us
One person's tragedy...
In issue 730 of the Socialist, Iain Dalton reported on the world food crisis. But evidently, crops failing and the resulting unaffordable food prices and potential starvation isn't such a tragedy for everyone. The director of agriculture at commodity trading company Glencore, Chris Mahoney, said: "The environment is a good one. High prices, lots of volatility, a lot of dislocation, tightness, a lot of arbitrage opportunities [taking advantage of differences in prices in different markets]. We will be able to provide the world with solutions... and that should also be good for Glencore." As Iain said in his article "While the food industry is controlled by private companies for profit and speculators control prices, millions will continue to starve or suffer malnutrition."
£65,738 a year just isn't enough for some MPs - dozens are subsidising their parliamentary salary with money from consultancy, legal work, public speaking or company directorships. For some this means they end up with 13 times their official pay packet! 68 MPs get more than £100,000 a year from outside earnings. The top earners in the last year were Gordon Brown (£900,286 from speeches, academia and charity) and David Miliband (£410,171 from consultancy and public speaking). Not so hard to see why they seem so disconnected from the 99% and the problems we're facing!
The Labour Party attacked the Tories recently for their plans (or lack thereof) for building social housing for the poorest. Disgracefully Tory councils only plan to build an average of 20 each over the next three years! But Labour shouldn't criticise too much - their councils are only planning to build an average of 100 - less than 34 a year. Considering there are millions of people waiting on council house waiting lists and millions of others desperately struggling to survive in the private rented sector, all three parties' plans are vastly insufficient. We need investment in a mass building programme of good quality, publicly owned, affordable homes in every area of the country.
A Laws unto himself
David Laws has been welcomed back into the fold of the Liberal Democrat front benchers. You may have been surprised to see him back after only a little over two years. Laws infamously held his post as chief secretary to the treasury for only 17 days in 2010 when it was revealed that he had over-claimed £40,000 in parliamentary expenses for second home costs when he was renting from his partner. But all that is forgotten now. Not like the benefit claimants caught living with a partner without declaring it who face huge fines or even jail.
You can tell a lot about a person by who their friends are. And the same is true of parties. The Tories received £440,000 from business interests of crook Asil Nadir between 1985 and 1990. Nadir then left Britain in 1993 to avoid being charged with theft but has now been jailed for ten years for stealing nearly £29 million from his company Polly Peck. Even Lord McAlpine, former Tory treasurer, recognised that the money should be returned. In fact he correctly said it should have been given back in 1993! As yet nobody seems to have acted on his suggestions...
In The Socialist 29 August 2012:
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