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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 March 2010

Dickens is back: Implications of poverty revealed in London

"You don't expect this in modern-day London." These were the words of a police spokesperson when confirming that a baby's body had been dragged from a paupers' grave by a fox in the London Borough of Wandsworth. The baby's body had been sent there by a hospital and was buried in a mass grave with 13 other children.

Keith Dickinson

Apparently it is common practice for these mass paupers' graves to be temporarily covered with planks, and as the child was buried in a cardboard box, which had decomposed due to the weather, it was easy for the fox to drag away the body which has not been found.

Such unbelievably traumatic experiences have been revealed in the London Evening Standard series entitled The Dispossessed. This series has publicised the desperate poverty which is normally hidden by the greedy and corrupt politicians and the mass media generally. Approximately one person a day is buried in a paupers' mass grave, and the numbers in each children's grave varies, with a maximum in Southwark of 30. Typifying their meanness the richest borough, Kensington and Chelsea, has the second highest rate with 20 per grave.

It is not only the Tory councils who are presiding over horror stories like these. The Labour and LibDem sets in Islington and Camden also hide these practices from the Charles Dickens era. These two councils have buried 318 people between them in paupers' graves in the last three years.

Yet the Islington chief executive, on a salary of 210,000 per year, had no idea. "Have we got communal graves? I don't believe we do". Of course you have to go to the workers to find out the truth and one of their gravediggers said: "The rule is four babies per grave; with adults we stack them six deep".

This tragic scene illustrates the consequences at the sharp end of the cuts in services which all the main parties propose and implement. Their attitude is summed up by a Southwark LibDem councillor: "In an ideal world we'd cover the cost of a full burial for these adults and children, but unfortunately with tighter constraints on council budgets, it's one of countless difficult decisions we have to make". It would cost an average of 7,900 per council per year based on the 337 paupers' burials over London on average per year. This is a pittance compared to the lack of constraints the councillors, chief executives and MPs put on their own expenses and salaries, and the billions handed out to the fat cats in the banks and to private contractors to destroy public services.

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