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From The Socialist newspaper, 2 May 2012

Them & Us

How the other half lives

Chancellor George Gideon Osborne assured us recently that he's not quite wealthy enough to be eligible for the 50p top rate of tax which he just scrapped, so wouldn't personally benefit.

But he's not quite one of us either. Osborne's father, Peter, made his fortune co-founding a posh textile and wallpaper company (about 100 a roll if you're interested).

In a recent interview with the Financial Times magazine, Superior Interiors, Peter gave us a glimpse of life for the Osbornes - he was recently lent a villa in Mustique (a private island in the West Indies); the most common staples in his fridge are Manchego cheese and sweet-cured bacon; he gave two 200 bottles of wine as a thank you gift and enjoys 35-a-bottle bath oils.

How our half eats

The number of people in the UK needing to use food bank services has more than doubled in the last year. 128,697 families were given emergency food supplies by the charity organisations last year.

There are now more than 200 food banks across the country, with more opening every week. With food prices soaring, jobs being cut and wages and benefits attacked, more and more people find themselves having to choose between eating and heating or between feeding themselves and feeding their children. And that's with 90% of the cuts still to come.

Poor & Overworked

Many people were rightly disgusted recently when it was announced that the minimum wage will be increased by a pitiful 11p this October and remain frozen at less than 5 for under-21s.

But it seems even the current rates are too much for some companies - P&O Ferries pays some of its staff a basic salary of only 75p an hour! Even working the eleven hours a day, seven days a week that they do, it only amounts to 250 a month.

To add insult to injury the company is now threatening to withhold customer tips that staff rely on, unless performance targets are hit. Carnival Corporation, P&O's parent company made 1.9 billion profit in 2011.

Military games

Six lucky areas of London are getting their very to air missile. The chosen sites include two residential buildings.

Apparently this is necessary to protect us all from the threat of airborne terrorist attacks during the Olympics this summer.

Perhaps that has something to do with the spiralling cost of security for the Games. The main security contractor, G4S's costs for 'programme management' has risen from 7 million to 60 million and 'operating expenses' from 3 million to 65 million.

'Beds in sheds' taskforce

The government is setting up a special taskforce to deal with the rapidly rising numbers of people sleeping in sheds - many being charged outrageous rents by greedy landlords, despite slum conditions.

But the very fact that the government has been forced to take action shows that it's a different type of taskforce that's really needed - one of construction workers to embark on a mass building programme of good quality, affordable housing.

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In The Socialist 2 May 2012:

Fighting the government attacks

Kick out the Con-Dems and end austerity

A strategy to stop austerity and bring down the government of the super-rich

Fight privatisation: Save our libraries

National Shop Stewards Network 6th annual conference

Socialist Party news and analysis

Rich list: The good times roll for the 0.00001%

Leveson exposes links between Tories and Murdoch

Them & Us

Socialist Students

NUS conference Support for left and for action

Housing crisis

Social dumping won't solve the housing crisis

Socialist Party feature

Don't accept the misery of austerity

Socialist Party workplace news

Unison leadership 'woefully inadequate' in face of cuts

Rotherham teachers stand up to bullying

Bilborough College Nottingham strike Action over five-term years

UCU joins 10 May strike - student solidarity needed

Workplace news in brief

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition feature

TUSC: the electoral alternative to the parties of the rich

Socialist Party campaigns

Thug attack won't stop anti-racist work

Socialist MEP discusses way forward for Tamils struggle

Sheffield marches against sexism and cuts

International socialist news and analysis

Capitalist crisis: 'Up to half of all Icelandic families are bankrupt'

Kazakhstan: Socialists jailed by regime

Environment and socialism

The government's fractured energy policy

Planning for the Planet


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