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From The Socialist newspaper, 1 May 2013

Them & Us

Time for plan S

Changes to the benefit system and recent welfare reforms are forcing a growing number of people to use food banks.

Nationally, the Trussell Trust gave three days of emergency food to 346,992 people in 2012-13 (up from 128,697 in 2011-12) and are opening three new food banks each week.

Coventry had the busiest food bank, with 12,513 people receiving emergency food parcels over the past year.

In the West Midlands, 39.6% of recipients were children - many with parents who are trying to cope with the rising cost of living, underemployment or unemployment.

The UK now has 345 food banks and lays testament to the failure of capitalism. Austerity and cuts continue to hurt the very people who are crying out for help, while at the same time the richest in our society increase their wealth.

George Osborne continues to wreck lives with his failed Plan A, it is time for Plan S - socialism!

Rob McArdle
Coventry East branch


Students at Somerville College, Oxford University, have been left disappointed after outcry cut across plans for their May ball.

Pitched as 'one last night of decadence, debauchery and indulgence' the ball was set to include a live shark.

A normal fish tank just wouldn't cut it when the cheapest tickets for the event cost 110.

Worries about animal welfare led the college principal to step in to stop the plans. But the evening isn't completely ruined - there's still catering by Michelin star chef Raymond Blanc, among other extravagancies.


In a week of announcements of upsurges in profits for various banks and big businesses, another set of figures made clear that, for the majority, the crisis is far from over.

Unemployment across the eurozone has hit a record high of 12.1%, with nearly one in four young people out of work.

In the worst hit countries the situation is unbearable. The Spanish economy contracted for the seventh quarter in a row.

More than six million Spaniards are now unemployed. 80 families a day are having their homes repossessed and three million are living on less than 3,000 a year.

Hard times

Bank of England officials have said that their non-executive directors, who get 15,000 a year for three days a month (that's 417 a day), are not paid enough. The pay does not reflect the workload, apparently.

If they want, I'll be happy to do the job at the current rate.

Jeff Allen

Keeping it in the family

Boris Johnson's brother Jo has been given a post as head of Cameron's policy unit. Boris said he was pleased that there would finally be a Johnson in Number 10.

But the 'family' that really matters is probably revealed by the fact that Jo went to Eton and Oxford and got to know George Osborne when they were in the Bullingdon Club together.


Jobseekers are being forced to carry out a psychometric test by the Department for Work and Pensions which bloggers have found is completely useless.

The test, My Strengths, asks how much users agree with statements such as "I never go out of my way to visit museums".

It then generated five positive personality traits such as 'love of learning' and 'originality'. But the same result is generated by inputting completely different answers.

Some claimants have been threatened with losing their benefits if they don't complete the test. The test is run by Downing Street's 'behavioural insights' department, costing 500,000 a year.

What we heard

At the inaugural meeting of Ordsall Against the Bedroom Tax, chair George Tapp, former Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate for the ward, had invited all three Labour councillors to explain the Labour position on the tax.

None of them turned up, but George had thoughtfully provided a cabbage to stand in for them, which he placed on the table. Someone shouted out: "the cabbage has got more principles than they have!"

Paul Gerrard

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In The Socialist 1 May 2013:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Give us jobs not cuts

IDS' 'wealthy pensioners' smoke screen

Them & Us

Socialist Party feature

The 'precariat': fighting for real jobs

Socialist Party review

Review of 'South Africa: The Massacre that Changed a Nation', BBC2 April 24th

International socialist news and analysis

Cyprus economic meltdown: Build a socialist alternative to austerity

Bangladesh building collapse - casualties of a rotten profit system

Socialist Party workplace news

Local government: fight for decent pay, terms and conditions

Justice for 'the 33' sacked tube workers

Saying no to blacklisting in Southampton

Unison health conference

Land Registry: Fight Con-Dems' privatisation plans

Unison: Defend the Four

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Liverpool rally marks 30 years since election of socialist council

Scotland: Anti-bedroom tax federation launched

Council Tax: Con-Dems turn screw on poorest

Southampton Labour council leader quits as anti-cuts pressure grows

Doncaster: For a mayor that would really stop the bedroom tax!

Thatcher's funeral day in Newbridge


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