Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/717/14491
Them & Us
iPads for MPs
Up to £660. That's how much the gadget of the moment, the iPad, will set you back. Months of hard saving for most of us - but not if you're an MP. 70 MPs have already claimed expenses for an iPad and now they're all going to be given one free of charge! Any MP sitting on a select committee will get one immediately, and the rest will be asked to trade in an old laptop or PC in exchange for one. Good to know the exposure of the expenses scandal had such an effect on them!
What would you get for £30,000? A university education? A deposit on a house? Replacing lost wages for a year you can't work? Or one year's rent for 12 fig trees? Portcullis House, the Westminster building used by MPs for meetings with constituents and other visitors, has been doing just that for the last eleven years - that's £330,000 of our money... on fig trees.
Build your own
Finally, a select committee of MPs has agreed with the Socialist. We are in the midst of a housing crisis, demand has outstripped supply of new-build houses for decades, 230,000 new households are forming each year but only 110,000 new houses were built in 2011. But did they come to the conclusion we have - that we need a mass house building programme of affordable publicly owned homes? No. Apparently the problem is that it is too difficult for people to build their own homes. Because of all those people currently struggling to find a house who have the time, money and skills to build their own. Obviously.
The number of pensioners in debt has more than doubled in the last year. There are 427,000 households where people over 70 are in financial difficulty. Combined with the number of tragedies every year where elderly people die because they can't afford to heat their homes, you would hope that the government would act. But instead they are insisting on attacks on public sector pensions which will force even more pensioners into poverty by reducing the pension public sector workers receive.
Up, up and away
In light of the local election results, politicians are scrambling to assure the public of their capabilities and continuing commitment to 'dealing with the deficit'. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they want us to believe that their policies will lead to economic growth and jobs. But the Centre for Economic and Business Research has said that unemployment will continue to rise in most areas of the country for at least the next five years. We can expect unemployment levels not seen for more than a decade. The coalition would probably claim a success even if growth didn't return for another 50 years!
Wet, wet, wet
Britain's wettest April since records began led to a 5,000% rise in umbrella sales. But that was about all we were spending our money on in April - there was a 1.9% fall in household spending compared to the previous month and a 6.9% reduction on high street spending compared to April 2011.
In The Socialist 9 May 2012:
Socialist Party election analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
Reviews and comments