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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 November 2012

Them & Us

Who wants to be a PCC?

On 15 November around 200 hopefuls will be 'battling' it out to become one of the 41 newly elected police commissioners around the country. So who are the candidates?

Well around four fifths are men. Most are members of the main three parties - several former or sitting councillors, MEPs and MPs. A quarter are former police or military. Each candidate has paid a 5,000 deposit to stand - not to worry though, if elected they stand to get salaries in the region of 80,000 a year.

It certainly appears that the candidates have a lot more interest in the elections than anyone else with turnout expected to be embarrassingly low.

B&Bs

In the last year there has been a 60% jump in the number of homeless children and pregnant women living in bed and breakfasts. And more than a third of families with children living in B&Bs are staying longer than the government's six-week limit - a 200% increase in two years.

The government's plan to tackle the problem includes giving councils powers to move homeless families straight into the private rented sector - but this is simply unaffordable for many, particularly as the cuts to housing and council tax benefit continue to bite.

Tax avoidance

While senior executives of Amazon, Google and Starbucks were quizzed by a committee of MPs about their tax avoidance, new companies to add to the list were still emerging. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer, one of the largest suppliers of drugs to the NHS, paid no corporation tax at all in the UK last year. This is despite a 1.8 billion turnover on UK sales.

The company, just like Starbucks, claims that it makes an operating loss in the UK. And, just like Starbucks, this is through a complex, and scandalously completely legal, web that allows these companies to declare their profits in tax havens.

Wage inequality

The government would like to have us believe that the top-hatted capitalist and workhouse orphan are a thing of the past. Aren't we all middle class now?

But new data from the Office for National Statistics has shown that the gap between the highest and lowest earners in the UK has widened over the past 25 years. The top 1% of earners have seen a real terms wage increase of 117% while the lowest paid 10% have had an increase of less than half that - 47%.

Life and death

5,600. That's how many people's cancers could be diagnosed earlier if they were richer. A report by Annals of Oncology showed that there is a persistent gap between rich and poor in the number of cancers diagnosed at a late stage.

Closing the gap could, each year, save the lives of 2,000 men with prostate cancer, 1,300 people with lung cancer, 1,000 women with breast cancer, 700 people with skin cancer, and 600 people with other types of cancer.

In the jungle

Anti-choice Tory MP Nadine Dorries has caused a furore by deciding to appear in ITVs I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here. She's even been suspended from the Tories. Some were concerned about the fact that the programme might mean being away from her Mid-Bedfordshire constituency. But we think it's best for her constituents to have her as far away as possible.

Dorries is most well known for her '20 reasons for 20 weeks' campaign to limit abortion rights. No doubt many women will have had this in mind when voting for her to take part in the first 'Bushtucker Trial' in which crates of cockroaches, maggots and crickets were poured on top of her. Maybe it is worth tuning in after all.

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In The Socialist 14 November 2012:


 

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