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From The Socialist newspaper, 23 October 2013

Them & Us

Fuelling anger

OK, you may be freezing cold this winter, unable to pay the soaring fuel bills, but spare a thought for Sam Laidlow.

The Old Etonian millionaire head of energy giant British Gas will have to shell out £3,000 a year to heat a 52 foot swimming pool at his modest £5 million Cotswold mansion.

But in this age of austerity Sam, too, has made cutbacks by shelving plans for a second 46 foot pool.

So think about that financial sacrifice when you're confronted with a 9.2% price hike on your gas bill this November.

Deserving rich

Shame on you naysayers for talking down British capitalism. UK companies listed on the stock exchange will pay over £100 billion in dividends to shareholders next year, a new record.

The pay-outs exceed the £67 billion pre-recession peak and nearly cover the government's £113 billion net cash requirement in 2014.

Thanks to Clive Walder

Rocketing rents

Housing minister Grant Shapps and Prime Minister David Cameron have both claimed that housing benefit caps (a maximum £250 a week for a one bedroom property, £400 a week for a four bedroom property) will drive down rents.

Only in Scotland and the north east of England have rents edged down. Everywhere else in the UK rents have rocketed; in Wales by an average 7.2%, and by 4.5% in London (September 2012-September 2013).

Social cleansing

According to a new report, soaring private sector rents and the government's benefit caps have pushed thousands of families out of London's wealthier boroughs and into poorer boroughs - a phenomenon termed 'social cleansing'.

In the richer boroughs of Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea, the number of households claiming Local Housing Allowance (LHA) has fallen by as much as 30% (between May 2011 and May 2013).

At the same time there has been an 86% growth in the number of LHA recipients in outer London.

The London Councils report also shows the number of working households claiming LHA has doubled over four years, while the number of non-working households claiming LHA has increased by 10% over the same period

Tough love

Telling an unemployed disabled drug addict to stop begging and "get a job" may sound to some as lacking in compassion, but not if you're £66,396 a year (plus consultancy fees) Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski.

Mr McGuigan, who received the MP's advice, told reporters: "I can't get a job. I can barely read or write. Look at me I'm missing a leg."

The MP, who thinks nothing of claiming all his first class rail fares between his Shrewsbury and Atcham constituency and Westminster, and who advertised in 2009 for an unpaid intern, presumably thinks that humiliating the poor is simply 'tough love'.

MPs' jackpot

Kawczynski and his fellow establishment MPs are expected to be quids in when Parliament's pay body recommends an inflation-busting 11% salary increase. MPs will now 'earn' triple the national average wage of £26,000.

Expect the three main capitalist party leaders (£142,500 annual salary) to tut-tut about this outrageous pay hike but then lament that their 'hands are tied' by the independent pay review.

Public sector workers suffering years of pay freezes, pension cuts, job losses, etc, should greet the news with a call for a 24-hour general strike.

Racist texting

Not content with deploying a bigoted and divisive anti-immigration advertising van in multiracial areas of the country, the Home Office has now sent out around 40,000 'go home' text messages, supposedly targeting illegal immigrants.

This latest government 'initiative' has enraged hundreds of people legitimately residing in the UK, who have complained after receiving these offensive texts. These include an anti-racism campaigner living in Britain since 1966 and an immigration caseworker at a law firm!

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In The Socialist 23 October 2013:

Socialist Party news and analysis

It's a robbery not a 'recovery'

Build a no-cuts political alternative

Hypocritical Hunt blames families for care scandal

Government policies - 'deeply divisive'

Big business lines its pockets from nuclear power

Them & Us

Socialist Party feature

Energy for the millions ...not the millionaires

International socialist news and analysis

France: Deep malaise marks 'la rentrée'

Tunisia: Left-wing rapper, Klay BBJ, acquitted on appeal

Socialist Party workplace news

Overwhelming support for teachers' strike in the south and north

Postal workers go into battle

Grangemouth: a fight we can't afford to lose

PCS strike in DWP and DEFRA Shared Services

Probation officers vote for strike action

What role can trade unions play in fighting welfare attacks?

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Campaign victory for rebel councillors as local pool to be re-opened

We need action against zero-hour contracts

TUSC candidates stand up against austerity

200 say 'Tequila's got to go!'

Swansea socialists oppose National Front

Turn anger into action: join the socialists


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