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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 December 2011

Them & Us

'Tis the season

Everyone's struggling to keep the show on the road this Christmas, aren't they? Well children of the 1% don't have to worry at all about what Father Christmas is bringing. Parents who frequent Selfridges are apparently busy picking up 550 cashmere Dior baby grows and 209 Ralph Lauren polar bear jumpers. And Harrods' Toy Kingdom seems unaffected by Austerity Britain as mums and dads scramble for toy cars costing nearly 10,000 and dolls houses at 899.

Meanwhile a recent report by charity Family Action showed that families on a low income are doing their best to spend under 200 on Christmas this year with most saying that they will buy their children essential clothes that they're short on as presents. And one third of families expect to run up debt over the Christmas period. But we're all in this together don't forget.

Money down the drain

Do you remember when we had to bail out the banks because of how important they are for the economy? And how we can't ask too many questions about bankers' bonuses because we have to attract the best people to the job? Well the New Economic Foundation think tank has found that for every 1 produced by bankers, they cost us 8.40. In fact the average banker destroys 42 million a year! Sounds like we might be better off without them after all.

Hospital cleaners, on the other hand, save the economy 10 for every 1 they cost by preventing the spread of infectious diseases. And yet 50,000 NHS jobs are at risk because of cuts which we supposedly have to make because of the debt the government got us into by bailing out the banks in the first place! We know who we'd rather give a bonus to this Christmas.

X(ploitation) Factor

The X Factor finished on 11 December with the final viewed by more than 15 million fans. During the final show runner up Marcus Collins thanked the behind-the-scenes team for helping to make the show a success. But it seems not everyone working on the show has been receiving the 'thanks' they should. The X Factor is under investigation by HM Revenue and Customs for using unpaid interns. At the same time Syco Entertainment, the company co-owned by Simon Cowell and Sony which makes the X Factor, is making huge profits - Cowell is estimated to make 128,000 every day! No doubt the X Factor's young fans, many struggling to find decent work themselves, are hoping Simon remembers those doing the hard graft.

Paying for your money

Barclays bank customers on low incomes will face a whopping increase in bank charges from March as the rules on their Cash Card account are changed. These accounts are used by about one million of Barclay's poorest customers and have no overdraft facilities.

The charge for direct debits taking the accounts into an unplanned overdraft will go up by 200% from 8 a day to 24 a day. So going overdrawn by 2 a week before payday could cost you 170! Don't worry though, Barclays are at the same time ending a 2 charge for sending customers text messages when funds are low. Thanks Barclays - not charging us for receiving a text message! Back to cash in the sock drawer then.

Kick out Tory scum!

If we weren't disgusted enough by Tory MP Aidan Burley being filmed on a friend's Nazi-themed stag night, it seems his attitude to the trade unions reflects the same ideas! Burley and his cronies are under investigation in France for the incident where they rampaged around a ski resort chanting things like "Mein Fuhrer! Mein Fuhrer! Mein Fuhrer!" with some dressed in replica SS uniforms.

Burley heads up the Trade Union Reform Campaign which calls for attacking workers' democratic rights by escalating the anti-trade union laws. We're uncomfortably reminded of the thousands of trade unionists imprisoned in concentration camps during the holocaust.

NB: It has emerged that the EDL, far from being the grass-roots organisation it claims, has been funded by millionaire Ann Marchini and former investment fund director Alan Ayling.

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In The Socialist 14 December 2011:

Socialist Party feature

Tories speak for the rich - not for us

Socialist Party news and analysis

Hands off our NHS!

Unacceptable! Draconian sentences for Dundee 'Facebook riot' teenagers

Striking to defend pensions

No progress at climate conference

Them & Us

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Socialist Party editorial

Stand up to the Con-Dem government

Socialist Party reviews

Inside Job: Capitalism is a failed system: support the socialist fightback

TV review: Britain's great housing scandal exposed

Socialist Party workplace news

All out now to stop the sites!

Pensioners and workers - united fight needed

Occupy London tours Canary Wharf

Action after N30

Langdon school strike

Public sector pensions - where now?

Tax workers on strike

Workplace news in brief

International socialist news and analysis

"Putin is a thief", "Putin is a thief"

Kazakhstan - 20 years of authoritarianism!

Readers' Comments

Cameron's drugs problems

Attacks on Tupe rights hit hard

Building bosses and their blacklist


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