The Socialist 11 January 2012 |
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Them & Us
Feast like an MP
When was the last time you had seared breast of pigeon with aubergine purée and spiced couscous? How about risotto of pea and broad bean with Golden Cross goat's cheese? Well that's the kind of cuisine our MPs are enjoying in Parliament's many restaurants and bars.
And no surprise that they're not willing to pay for their extravagance. In fact we're subsidising their decadent tastes by £5.2 million every year! That means they can get an artichoke and tomato salad with a truffle dressing for £2.05 and a glass of Merlot for £2.35.
Meanwhile the rest of us have seen the cost of food go up by more than 5%. 40% of everything bought from supermarkets is now on promotion as working class people try desperately to keep the price of their weekly shop down. We haven't seen three-for-two on pigeon at Tesco recently - have you?
No sense of irony
Billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch is never in our good books but sometimes he really seems to love to be hated.
After joining Twitter over Christmas he sparked outrage by tweeting "maybe Brits have too many holidays for broke country" - from his seasonal getaway on the Caribbean Island of Saint Barts.
From our tents in Devon, we'll bear that in mind. And besides, considering Murdoch's don't-know-nuffin defence at the Media Scrutiny Committee after the News of the World scandal, we can only assume that every day is a holiday for him.
The revolving door
You might remember the secret recording of Tim Collins, managing director of Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, offering to sell access to Cameron and Clegg.
But it seems there's no problem with doing the same thing as long as you're open about it. James O'Shaughnessy has just got himself a job with lobbying company Portland Communications.
O'Shaughnessy used to be David Cameron's director of policy and was involved in drafting the Tory manifesto for the last election as well as the Con-Dem agreement.
His new company says he will "advise clients [including Apple, McDonalds and BAE Systems] on the priorities of the coalition and in particular the Conservatives." We have a feeling it will likely work the other way around too.
Saddam's Iron Lady
The release of The Iron Lady has brought about a lot of soul-searching about Thatcher's time in office.
One recent revelation is that the Thatcher government was supplying military equipment to Iraq for use in its war with Iran, despite being officially neutral in the conflict.
Newly released documents state: "Contracts worth over £150 million have been concluded [with Iraq] in the last six months including one for £34 million (for armoured recovery vehicles through Jordan)," and that meetings with Saddam Hussein "represent a significant step forward in establishing a working relationship with Iraq which...should produce both political and major commercial benefits".
Families of the young people injured and killed on both sides of oil wars in Iraq in the years since will disagree.
Treating the symptoms
Former Labour member of the Dáil (Irish Parliament) and psychiatrist Dr Moosajee Bhamjee recently suggested that trace amounts of lithium should be added to the water supply in Ireland.
He claims that this would reduce depression and suicide rates. The suicide rate in Ireland is higher than ever and is now the biggest cause of death among young men.
But to suggest that the solution is to drug the entire population really shows the short-term thinking of politicians.
A better place to start would be addressing the 30% youth unemployment and stopping the IMF-instructed cuts and privatisation of services, including slashing mental health services.