Reports and Campaigns
Reports and campaigns:
Hard as rock
Faced with escalating house repossessions, the government is now urging banks to be lenient on people falling behind with their mortgage payments. The Council of Mortgage Lenders predicts that 45,000 homes will be repossessed this year, up from 26,200 last year.
But the government owned Northern Rock bank is at the forefront of repossessions - being twice as likely to carry them out as other lenders according the charity Credit Action. Of the 19,000 homes repossessed in the first half of this year, about 4,000 were instigated by Northern Rock.
The Rock's directors must have taken the government at its word when it made it clear that there should be no socialist element to the nationalisation of the bank - except for the rich of course.
Peter Mandelson, recently restored to New Labour's governing cabinet, has said that he wants to continue with the privatisation of Royal Mail that he began ten years ago when he was trade and industry secretary. According to media commentators, the present Hooper review is conveniently likely to question the viability of the universal 'one price goes anywhere' postal service, so Mandelson could then seize on this to further dismantle our postal service. This must be vigorously fought against by anti-cuts campaigns and by the Communication Workers' Union.
As we go to press it appears that the government has done a rotten deal with the Ulster Unionists (allegedly in return for supporting 42-day detention) to stop a debate in parliament on amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill concerning abortion on 22 October. These amendments include further attempts to restrict women's access to abortion, as well as calls for an extension of abortion law, especially extending the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland and the end of the 'two-doctor' law. Abortion is the only procedure which requires the consent of a second doctor.
If these amendments are not debated, abortion rights could still be threatened at a later stage if a committee is set up by parliament to look into them. Most worryingly, if the Tories are elected, the pro- and anti-choice balance in parliament will change and abortion rights could come under attack. The Abortion Rights campaign must warn about what could happen in the future and build a campaign which goes into working-class communities, the trade unions and workplaces.
Deeper in debt
The National Debt Clock in Times Square, New York City, has run out of digits to record the US government's rocketing debt.
Erected in 1989 to highlight the then $2.7 trillion of debt, the latest debt figure has exceeded $10 trillion. And, as a result of the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street, is expected to reach a staggering $11 trillion. The clock's owners say two more zeros will be added, allowing the clock to record a quadrillion dollar debt.