Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/828/19461
Them & Us
Room to rent
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, Tory Mayor of London, has an interesting take on what is "affordable". He has approved 98 "affordable rent" flats in Camden with tenants paying up to £2,800 a month or £34,000 a year. It's estimated that a family sized flat in this scheme would require tenants having an annual household income of over £100,000.
The 'nasty party' continues to haemorrhage its unreconstructed Thatcherite MPs to the 'very nasty party', ie Ukip.
Ukip is also collecting some hefty donations from former Tory funding businessmen. Its latest sugar daddy is Arron Banks, who has pledged £1 million to help propagate Ukip's reactionary agenda.
It seems he will have little difficulty stumping up the cash. Banks is a director of Rock Services, which made a £19.7 million profit last year but only paid £12,000 in corporation tax - a tax rate of 0.06%!
Back in 2008, during the financial crash, Labour nationalised the ailing Northern Rock bank - pumping in some £37 billion of public funds to stop its collapse. In 2011 the Con-Dems sold off the bank's profitable part to Virgin Money at a bargain basement price of £747 million. Billionaire tax exile owner Richard Branson is now expected to make several hundred million pounds when Virgin Money is floated. All the Treasury will get is a £50 million fee.
Great train robbery
Talking of £50 million... that's the same figure which privately owned Train Operating Companies (TOC) handed over to passengers for delays after receiving more than three times as much - £167 million - in compensation from Network Rail, the publicly funded railway infrastructure company. One of the TOC's is, of course, Virgin Trains.
Scrap human rights
The Daily Mail has been wetting itself in recent headlines, trumpeting David Cameron's pledge to scrap the Human Rights Act if the Tory government is re-elected.
Instead of the HRA we can all sleep safely in our beds at night knowing that Home Secretary Teresa May is guarding our democratic rights by introducing a draconian 'snoopers charter' to allow British spooks even more powers to spy on us. After all, as big Dave points out, the HRA has: "Stop[ped] us deporting suspected terrorists."
Presumably he is referring to suspected terrorists such as Abu Qatada who, after a long and costly legal battle, was eventually deported to Jordan and found... "not guilty".
What we saw (cut!)
Lewisham council turns misery into a game with its "Big Budget Challenge"
Caring, sharing council cutters in the Labour-run south London borough of Lewisham have meekly accepted 'savings' ie cuts, of £85 million over the next three years.
But why keep all the fun for yourself? The council has launched a new online game, the "Big Budget Challenge", where residents are encouraged to 'balance the books'.
By moving sliders into the red, you can resolve the borough's funding crisis. Links detail exactly how many indispensable services will disappear as you swing your axe.
We weren't surprised to see that the sliders "reserves" and "prudential borrowing" were left off. As was the option to fight central government and win back essential funding.
Nice try Lewisham, but we prefer Super Mario Bros. At least there we get to fight the baddies instead of each other.
In The Socialist 8 October 2014:
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