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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 November 2012

Them & Us

PCC elections

The average turnout in the police commissioner elections was 15%. The previous record low was 24% in the 1999 European elections. Let's not forget that next time the politicians try to say a strike ballot is unsound because of a turnout of under 50%!

Even those who did go to the polling station didn't all vote. Many took the opportunity to spell out what they thought of the elections. One of our favourites from a Socialist Party member in Lincoln:

"Reasons why I'm spoiling my ballot paper

1) the 5,000 deposit needed to stand

2) none of the candidates will reverse cuts and privatisation

3) none of the candidates will reveal the full costs of the G4S contract, let alone cancel it

GENERAL STRIKE NOW!"

Nutrition recession

As part of its Breadline Britain series, the Guardian has analysed the grocery buying habits of people across the UK. Since 2010 consumption of fat, sugar and saturates has soared, particularly among the poorest households. This is undoubtedly because of food poverty - prices in the UK increased by 26% from June 2007 to 2011 while incomes have fallen in real terms.

Low income households are choosing things they think are cheaper and more filling - meaning high-fat, processed foods like instant noodles and tinned pies. In contrast, the number of people who regularly achieve "five-a-day" fruit and vegetables has declined by 900,000 over the two years to May 2012.

Budget cuts

A study by Newcastle city council showed that that the poorest areas are facing the biggest cuts.

The most deprived borough in the country, Hackney, east London, is seeing council cuts of 266.17 per person from 2010 to 2013. Liverpool (deprivation ranking five) council's budget is being cut by 252 per head.

Forty three of the 50 highest cuts budgets belong to Labour councils - so why don't they refuse to administer these cuts and set needs budgets, based on the needs of the people in the area and appeal to the trade unions and community to back up their campaign for government funding?

Bob Severn

Market madness

Even before the Health and Social Care Act was made law, private companies were making a killing from our NHS. For example, hospitals have to buy in all their equipment. Research by Ernst and Young has shown that a huge amount of money is wasted in this procurement process and many trusts are being hugely ripped off. Out of ten trusts examined, the prices paid for the same box of medical forceps varied from 13 to 23. An identical box of blankets was bought for between 47 and 120! So much for the private sector increasing efficiency and giving us the best price.

Ed Thatcher?

Ed Miliband, desperate to convince anyone who may still be clinging to the idea of 'Red Ed' that it's unjustified, has told us all who his real idol is - Margaret Thatcher. He thinks he has as much right to claim the mantle of Thatcher as Berlusconi has to that of Julius Caesar.

He particularly admires her "conviction". Yes, conviction to privatise public services like transport and council housing and attack workers' trade union rights. We can see the similarities.

Maude's gravy train

Tory cabinet minister and chief union basher Francis Maude is once again on the expenses gravy train. In the face of widespread outrage at Maude's previous inflated expenses claims, David Cameron promised that Maude would "no longer claim any money for his second home".

As soon as the glare of publicity faded, however, Maude shoved his head back into the trough; claiming almost 20,000 in expenses for his second home since the new, supposedly strict, MP's expenses regime was introduced. Almost half of workers in Britain earn less per year than Maude has claimed!

Shelly Hand

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In The Socialist 21 November 2012:


 

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