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From The Socialist newspaper, 31 March 2009

Fast News

Another fine mess

THE TAKEOVER of failed Dunfermline building society by Nationwide has landed the public with a whacking 1.6 billion bill.

The Dunfermline - Scotland's largest building society - went belly-up after investing in 648 million of commercial property loans and 274 million of buy-to-let and self-certified mortgages from collapsed US bank Lehman Brothers and GMAC.

Under a government enforced deal the Treasury made a cash payment to Nationwide which now owns the Dunfermline's retail and wholesale deposits, branches, head office and most of its residential mortgage book. The remainder of the business - risky assets worth more than 1 billion - is left with the public.

This brings to six the number of UK deposit takers rescued by government bailout. The others are Northern Rock, Bradford & Bingley, Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS and Lloyds TSB, now merged into Lloyds Banking Group.

Keep our NHS public

LAST WEEK Unison members protested outside Grantham hospital about the threat of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust becoming 'Foundation' status. There was a constant tooting of car horns as passers-by showed their support for the protest. The union believes that it would lead to cuts in services. Maternity services at Grantham, for example, are already under review.

Foundation status would increase the domination of business methods in the NHS which put money before patients. According to a recent report by the Healthcare Commission for example, the obsession with finance-driven targets led to 400 more deaths at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2008 than would be expected.

Just over two years ago thousands marched in Grantham against threats to the hospital.

Helen Black, Regional Secretary, Unison East Midlands said: "There has been no meaningful consultation with the community let alone the staff. People care about their hospital a great deal; it is a very popular well loved local hospital."

Steve Score

Need not profit

THE ENVIRONMENT Agency is calling for "near universal" water metering, starting in areas that are the most prone to water shortages.

If successful, this will yet again victimise the poorest the most, while the agency suggests that water companies should be rewarded for supplying less water. Ofwat has already predicted a 4.1% rise in water bills over the next year - while around three billion litres of water are currently lost though leakage every day.

Perhaps it might be more environmentally sustainable for the water industry to be renationalised under democratic control and management, with compensation to small shareholders only on proven need? Then, the billions of pounds of profits made since industry privatisation could be put into a crash programme to drastically improve water pipes, collection, storage and desalination with water distributed for free on a basis of need, not wealth.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
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In The Socialist 31 March 2009:

The G20 leaders have no solution to the crisis...

Fight for a future!

Youth Fight for Jobs conference

Why I'm marching

The grim reality of job-hunting

G20 protests

G20 Summit: Capitalism facing 'make or break'

Free market system killing our planet

UEL clampdown

Bail out workers, not Wall Street!

Socialist Party workplace news

Visteon workers occupy Belfast factory

Construction workers' protests continue

Socialist stands in Aslef leadership elections

College teachers strike in Eastbourne

Unison needs a fighting leadership: Leeds City Council

Whipps Cross Hospital

Unison elections

Socialist Party Marxist analysis

Economic crisis turning into political action

Socialist Party election campaign

No2EU - Yes to Democracy

Dave Nellist on the Politics Show

Socialist Party campaigns

Poor hit by price rises

No to privatised polyclinics

Gordon Brown meets the bankers

Sack the bankers not the workers!

Fast News

International socialist news and analysis

Now that the profits are drying up in the Indian software industry

Sweden: Socialist councillor viciously assaulted by Nazis


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