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4 January 2012

Them & Us

The real scroungers

Benefit scroungers are destroying our economy, right? All those greedy, lazy people living off the hard work of others? But as the website Political Scrapbook pointed out, the average benefit fraud amounts to 59 a head whereas the average amount MPs were forced to re-pay in the expenses scandal was 1,858 - that's 31 times as much. People on benefits are facing mass unemployment and having to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families. We suppose those poor MPs must have had it 31 times as bad. All those greedy, lazy people living off the hard work of others.

Mind the gap

A YouGov poll has proven that no one is falling for the government's 'we're all in this together' rhetoric. 70% of those polled thought that the gap between rich and poor is too wide and that it will affect ordinary people. Even many Tory voters agreed! And 80% thought that companies have to "forego some profit to recognise a wider responsibility to their employees, customers and communities and invest more for the long term." Somehow we doubt many will listen.

The American dream

According to a recent poll in the US, Americans are shaking off their Tea Party image and growing increasingly open to the ideas of socialism. 31% of those polled had a positive view of socialism. And results among young people were even more stark. 49% of 18-29 year olds had a positive reaction to socialism compared to 47% feeling the same about capitalism. Is it any wonder given that 18% of 16-24 year olds are unemployed, and millions of young Americans face attacks on state education and welfare? Capitalism has failed young people in America and beyond and they are starting to look for alternatives.

Cameron's big lie

A poll of NHS doctors by found that almost four out of five doctors (79%) have seen patient care suffer as a result of NHS cost-cutting measures. Clearly NHS workers are able to see through Cameron's 'promise' to "cut the deficit, not the NHS".

They say that hospital bed closures, pressure to give patients cheaper, slower acting drugs, cuts to occupational health and reduced community health services are big causes of concern.

Patients are waiting longer in pain due to cuts; because hospitals are cutting services under pressure of a 20 billion 'savings' drive; because cash-strapped primary care trusts are holding back money to carry out the government's own restructuring plans and from other measures.

Roger Shrives

New Year Honourless

Paul Ruddock has been given a knighthood in the New Year Honours, supposedly for his charity work. He founded Lansdowne Partners, a hedge fund that made 100 million betting on the collapse of Northern Rock. He's also given 500,000 to the Tories in the past few years.

Labour's shadow cabinet minister, Michael Dugher, correctly attacked the honour. "This tells you everything you need to know about the Tories' priorities," he said.

But has he forgotten that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown encouraged private companies to take over more and more of the NHS? One of these companies, Circle, ran Independent Sector Treatment Centres under the Labour government, as well as private hospitals and clinics. Circle was financed by Health Investment Holdings Group, in which Sir Paul's Lansdowne Partners had a large stake.

After Blair left office, he received some of Sir Paul's famous 'charity', reportedly being paid 200,000 to deliver four speeches to Lansdowne executives.

Jon Dale

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