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From The Socialist newspaper, 10 July 2013

Them & Us

Child benefit

Before MPs collect an anticipated 10,000 a year pay rise, our hard pressed politicians have been forced to claim expenses on their children.

It seems that there is no benefit cap or cut for those who park their bums on Westminster's green leather benches.

After lobbying the expenses regulator, MPs can now claim travel and accommodation expenses for their offspring.

Media reports reckon that some of the 150 MPs involved have made up to 10,000 from these welfare arrangements.

More repeats

Ageing rockers the Rolling Stones returned to play Hyde Park for the first time since their 1969 concert attended by 500,000 people.

However, while fans back then enjoyed the show for free, this time punters had to shell out between 134 and 2,000 a ticket; (particularly galling given that guitarist Keith Richard fluffed the chords to the opening song, Start Me Up).

As the FT quipped: "As Karl Marx almost said, history is tragedy repeated as commerce."

Runaway train

The deadly freight train derailment which flattened Lac-Megantic in Canada was an accident waiting to happen.

A surge in environmentally unfriendly Candian oil production, combined with a deficient pipeline infrastructure, has led to oil companies transporting more crude oil by rail.

One estimate reckons that 140,000 carloads of crude oil will be shipped on Canada's tracks this year - up from 500 carloads in 2009.

The Lac-Megantic disaster is the fourth freight train accident in Canada under investigation involving crude oil shipments since the beginning of the year.

Universally damned

Government minister Iain - 'I can live on 53 a week' - Duncan Smith, the architect of the hated bedroom tax, is intent on further bashing welfare claimants with his unworkable universal credit later this year.

According to the Citizens Advice Bureau, 90% of benefit claimants are unprepared for the government's welfare counter-reform changes and are expected to lose out when it is introduced nationally in October.

All claims are supposed to be made online yet many claimants, typically being the poorest, have not got computer access to the internet.

Housing slump

Nearly one million new affordable homes are required, according to the homelessness charity Centrepoint.

A survey commissioned by the charity says that 934,388 more properties at below market rents, in England alone, are immediately needed.

The biggest shortfalls will be in London, with 186,333 affordable homes needed, the East Midlands with 132,587 and Yorkshire and Humber with 128,478.

Despite this pressing social need the government is set to preside over the worst housing slump since the 1930s and instead continues to subsidise high rent private landlords and the sell-off of more council housing.

Paying the piper

The Conservative Party have always had a dislike of the trade unionists interfering in the concerns of their betters.

This dislike has now been taken up with enthusiasm by Miliband. It is not permitted for trade unionists to have a view on political matters.

Politics is a rather dirty game for gentlemen and the working classes should know their place and keep out of it.

Of course the payments of large sums of money by private companies - ie companies which make a lot of money out of the public - that is quite OK.

Can I assume that next time I reach the checkout at Sainsbury's I will be asked to opt in or opt out of the hundreds of thousands they give to the Conservative Party? Mmm thought not.

However if the Labour Party wants to distance itself from the trade unions, the unions could do worse than stand anti-cuts candidates against New Labour in the next election. Labour offers us nothing, it deserves nothing.

Derek McMillan

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In The Socialist 10 July 2013:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Miliband dances to Tory tune

Unite meets roadblock in New Labour

Stop Gove's school profits plans

Them & Us

Socialist Party workplace news

Strong support for fighting socialist alternative in CWU

Lobby the TUC for 24-hour strike!

PCS Young Members Network forum

Werrington Royal Mail dispute

The costs of privatisation - to the workforce

Workplace news in brief

International socialist news and analysis

Egypt: Morsi removed - polarisation grows

Portugal's government on the ropes again

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Are you sick of... Low pay?... Zero hour contracts?... Job insecurity?... bullying bosses?...

Lifting the lid on the bedroom tax horror

Birmingham Labour councillors' promises

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Rebel councillor faces further suspension

Fund the fight for a socialist alternative to capitalist austerity

Readers' comments

Privileged perks for Kate and Wills... Maternity cuts for us!

Unite and Labour - it's time for a rethink!

Inside the banking system

Socialist Party feature

Piper Alpha: The price of profit -167 workers' lives

Socialist Party review

Review - The Pitmen Painters


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