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From The Socialist newspaper, 3 March 2011

News in brief

Energy rip-off

British Gas, the privatised energy giant, recently announced a 24% surge in profits in 2010. This was largely achieved on the back of screwing its customers with higher bills. Its parent company Centrica boasted a 39% rise in operating profits to 2.4 billion.

Eight million British Gas customers were hit with a 7% price hike on 10 December, resulting in an average customer's dual fuel bill rising from 1,157 to 1,239. The price increase coincided with the UK recording the coldest December temperature in 100 years.

The usual lame excuse from British Gas was to blame the price rise on rising wholesale prices. However, Centrica has a major stake in gas fields in Norway and elsewhere, meaning that they also benefit from rising wholesale prices.

Back in 2008 Centrica's managing director, Jake Ulrich, said consumers struggling with record-high gas prices should keep warm by putting on two jumpers.

A better idea would be to renationalise all the privatised energy utilities to provide cheap and reliable fuel for everyone.

Failure pays

It appears to be an 'iron law' of capitalist finance that irrespective of how badly a bank performs it is obliged to handsomely reward its top dogs. The latest bank to apply this law is the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which has just given 1 million each to 100 of its bankers and 2.04 million to its boss Stephen Hester.

This bonus bonanza makes a mockery of the government's 'Project Merlin' deal with the banks, which was meant to deliver restraint on bonuses and top salaries in return for not introducing financial regulations on the City.

In case anyone has forgotten, RBS holds the record for the biggest bank loss in UK history. In 2008 it recorded a 24 billion loss, 3.6 billion in 2009 and 1.1 billion last year.

And while hundreds of thousands of public sector workers face redundancy and millions of people are being subjected to government cuts in services and benefits, RBS has been saved from collapse by the last Labour government and the present Con-Dem coalition with a bailout of billions of pounds from public funds.

Sterling advice

As desperate British workers flee Libya to avoid Gaddafi's violence, it is worth reflecting on the British government's UK Trade and Industry document 'Investing in Libya' of last year:

"Change is in the air... Not political change, but clear business opportunit[ies] for those patient, persistent and determined enough to take it. Personal relationships really matter a lot in Libya... you will not do business here long-distance, but by being here, often."

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

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In The Socialist 3 March 2011:


Anti-cuts campaign

Stop the cuts

Marching on the Con-Dem conferences in Wales

Fighting the cuts: Thousands protest, lobby and occupy

Lewisham election: There is an alternative!

Determination to beat the cuts


International socialist news

Fantastic results in Irish election: Socialists and lefts gain five seats

Elections see collapse of Fianna Fail, the traditional establishment party


Socialist Party news and analysis

Coalition steps up assault on NHS

Westminster: Save our children's services

Who 'agrees with Nick' now?

News in brief


Socialist Party workplace news

Largest protest yet against Wisconsin Governor's anti-union bill

Unison witch-hunt: Reinstate the Four!

End the blacklist

Workplace news in brief


Youth fight for jobs

Jarrow to London: March for jobs

CWU youth conference 'ready and willing to take action'


Socialist Party women

International Women's Day 2011: Women and the fightback


Socialist Party congress 2011

Socialist Party 2011 congress - a party growing in strength


International socialist news and analysis

Libya: A fight to the finish

Tunisia: Revolution and counter-revolution on the streets


Marxist analysis: history

Liverpool 1983-87: the council that fought Thatcher


 

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Related links:

Energy:

triangleNottingham City Council: The (mis)adventures of Robin Hood Energy

triangleLondon protest on Phulbari Day demands delisting of GMC from the London Stock Exchange

triangleEnergy firm plans to make 2,600 redundant

triangleEDF Energy workers furloughed on 100% pay

triangleBristol North Socialist Party: Renewable Energy - a just transition

Gas:

triangleNewham gas workers' strike threat

triangleNewham gas workers to strike

triangleBritish Gas workers need rank-and-file leadership

RBS:

triangleThem & us

triangleRBS to sack 1,000: nationalise the banks

triangleFinancial hardship facing millions of cancer sufferers

Libya:

triangleLibya: Civil war and chaos follow interventions by world and regional powers

triangleUnited working class movements can defeat Trump

Royal Bank of Scotland:

triangle10 years since the financial crash - the socialist answer to capitalist crisis

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