Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Scottish Poverty

More on Government poverty figures , further to our previous blog on poverty .

Almost one million people in Scotland are living in relative poverty, according to latest figures.
The statistics showed that 980,000 Scots were living in relative poverty (after housing costs) in 2005/06 - an increase of 20,000 on the year before.

The statistics showed that the number of working age adults in relative poverty was up by 30,000 to 620,000.

The figures showed a standstill in the number of children in relative poverty (250,000) and absolute poverty (150,000). 12% of all youngsters live in absolute poverty.

The figures for the number of pensioners affected by relative poverty remained at 150,000.

And according to another report from Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes . More than 1.7 million households have become "fuel poor" since 2003 as a result of rising bills . Overall three million households spend more than 10% of their income on electricity and gas - the definition of fuel poverty, the group said. In 2001 the government said it wanted to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016 - another political spin yarn from Labour .
"For thousands of people, the prospect of a warm and comfortable home is now a luxury that they cannot afford," Nicholas Doyle, a spokesman for the Partnership said. "The stark reality is that many people from low-income backgrounds are now faced with the unenviable choice of deciding whether to heat their homes or provide for their family ."

Capitalism Cannot be Reformed

New figures showed the first rise in the number of children living in relative poverty in nearly 10 years.

Despite New Labour's key promise to halve the problem by 2010, today statistics revealed a 100,000 jump in the number of children living in relative poverty last year.
Official figures showed that 2.8 million children were living below the relative poverty line in 2005/06, with the figure rising to 3.8 million after housing costs were factored in. This represents an increase from 2.7 million and 3.6 million respectively on the previous year.

The chief executive of Barnados, Martin Narey, called it a "moral disgrace"

Colette Marshall, the UK director of Save the Children, added: "The child poverty target, supposedly one of the government's chief priorities, is now in serious jeopardy. If the government is genuinely committed to the target of halving child poverty by 2010 then urgent action and investment is needed, not just the piecemeal measures that have been announced so far."

What we said in June 1999 :- "Poverty is an inescapable part of capitalist society. It can be abolished, but only when there is a fundamental change in how we organise society. That is way beyond any policies or even concepts of the Labour Party."

What we said in April 2002 :- " Because it relies on the uncertainties of the market system and the use of money, the hope of any Labour government ending child poverty is impossible. Labour and Tory governments having been making the same promise for many years and they have all failed. "

To fight the same old welfare reform battles over several decades is demoralising enough, but when previous reforms are put into reverse the case against the system which puts profits before needs is stronger than ever.

A longer life, who benefits the most?

Altering atoms in food, it is claimed, could increase our life span.
The Metro, march 26th 2007.
Worms fed nutrients containing natural isotopes reportedly lengthened their life by a tenth. Scientists believe they may have found a way to slow the ageing process and say that, if further tests are successful, the implications are profound.
The article names some of the scientists and gives more details concluding that, preliminary findings indicate that ‘this approach can potentially increase lifespan without adverse side effects’.
Living longer is a problem in capitalism; the recent debate re increasing the retirement age and pensions still goes on. So who benefits the most if this all proves a reality?The answer is not difficult to find, members of the capitalist class will continue to live a life of wealth and luxury while making sure we retire at further distant retirement ages, that is unless we the working class refuse to abolish the capitalist system and the adverse side effects.

Another Banker

Further to the previous post , according to the BBC

A Barclays Bank executive earned £22million in salary, shares and bonuses last year, becoming the highest earner among firms in the FTSE 100 index . The total pay for Bob Diamond, head of Barclays investment banking service, dwarfed chief executive John Varley's salary and bonus package. Mr Diamond's basic salary was just £250,000 - with the rest made up of bonuses and cashed-in share options.

So are you struggling to pay your bank account over-draft off ?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Another Bunch of Bankers

Just exactly where are some of those bank charges that you are paying going to ? :-

Andy Hornby, chief executive of HBOS, banked a pay and benefits package worth £1.75m last year for 5 months work , the bank's annual report revealed . Hornby's 2006 remuneration included a cash performance bonus of £606,000

Peter Cummings, chief executive of Bank of Scotland Corporate , had a salary of £547,000 swollen by a performance bonus of £825,000, which took his total package including other benefits to £1.5m.

Jo Dawson, formerly group risk director and now chief executive of the insurance and investment division from March 1 pocketed £514,000 for the year, including a bonus of £211,000.

Benny Higgins, spirited away from Royal Bank of Scotland by HBOS to head the retail banking division, was recruited on a basic salary of £625,000 but with the potential to earn £2.75m in a full year. He received £1.1m in 2006 after joining HBOS on May 1, including a bonus of £435,000.

Sir James Crosby , the ex-chief executive of HBOS banked £1.2m in his final year.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Who owns the North Pole ?

An article about one of the lesser discussed effects of the global warming .

It could open the North Pole region to easy navigation for five months a year, according to the latest Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, an intergovernmental group. That could cut sailing time from Germany to Alaska by 60 percent, going through Russia's Arctic instead of the Panama Canal.

Or the Northwest Passage could open through the channels of Canada's Arctic islands and shorten the voyage from Europe to the Far East.

And provide easier routes to Arctic areas that the U.S.Geological Survey estimates holds as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas and Russia reportedly claims its slice of the Arctic sector possesses a potential in minerals approaching $2 trillion.

And the geo-political effect - a scramble for sovereignty over these suddenly priceless seas.

" We all realize that because of global warming it will suddenly be an area that will become more accessible" said Peter Taksoe-Jensen, head of the Danish Foreign Ministry's legal department.
Norway and Russia have issues in the Barents Sea; the U.S. and Russia in Beaufort Sea; the U.S. and Canada over rights to the Northwest Passage; and even Alaska and Canada's Yukon province over their offshore boundary. Canada, Russia and Denmark are seeking to claim waters all the way up to the North Pole, saying the seabed is part of their continental shelf under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Norway wants to extend its claims on the same basis, although not all the way to the pole.

Canada and Denmark have both staked their claim to Hans Island , half-square-mile of barren uninhabited rock, just one-seventh the size of New York's Central Park, wedged between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Danish-ruled Greenland , at the entrance to the Northwest Passage , with flags and warships.

Canada says the Northwest Passage is its territory, a claim the United States hotly disputes, insisting the waters are neutral. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has pledged to put military icebreakers in the frigid waters "to assert our sovereignty and take action to protect our territorial integrity."

Russia contests Norway's claims to fish-rich waters around the Arctic Svalbard Islands, and has even sent warships there to underscore its discontent with the Norwegian Coast Guard boarding Russian trawlers there. "Even though they say it is about fish, it is really about oil,"

In 2004, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the sovereignty issue "a serious, competitive battle" that "will unfold more and more fiercely."
Capitalism - cut-throat competition

Friday, March 23, 2007

“ This is pocket money for me.”

(Subscribe to the revolutionary press)

According to the press , Japanese property mogul Genshiro Kawamoto , one of Japan’s richest men , has handed over three of his many multi-million-dollar homes in Oahu’s most expensive neighbourhood to homeless and low-income native Hawaiian families.Dorie-Ann Kahele’s accepted the key to a white-columned house worth nearly €3.8m. Her family will live in the mansion rent-free.Kawamoto plans to open eight of his 22 Kahala neighbourhood homes to needy Hawaiian families, who will be able to stay in the homes for up to 10 years.

Kawamoto laughed when asked if he was concerned about losing money on the effort, saying: “This is pocket money for me.”

Kawamoto owns dozens of office buildings in Tokyo and his been buying and selling property in Hawaii and California since the 1980s.He has been criticised for evicting tenants of his rental homes on short notice so he could sell the properties, as in 2002, when he gave hundreds of California tenants 30 days to leave. Two years later, he served eviction notices to tenants in 27 Oahu rental homes, saying they had to leave within a month. He said he wanted to sell the houses to take advantage of rising prices.

I believe readers of this blog will tend to agree with the comments of the neighbour who stated:-

“Everyone’s paying homage to him, but in reality, he’s the problem,” said Mark Blackburn, who lives down the street from Kahale’s new home.“Houses are homes. They’re made to live in; they aren’t investment vehicles.”

And it is also suspected that Kawamoto's real motive is to drive down local property values so he can buy even more houses .

Sunday, March 18, 2007


The Lanarkshire World: East Kilbride, Friday 16th March 2007 was dropped through my letterbox with a leading article headed OAP POVERTY ANGERS MSP.
My first thoughts were it must be election time; poverty among OAPs has been with them to varying degrees, forever it seems, it certainly will remain while we continue with capitalism.

Central Scotland SNP MSP Alex Neil, reported his concerns after uncovering figures that show 145 cases of malnutrition were reported in Lanarkshire hospitals during the past year.
“I am particularly concerned that this is a problem among the older generation”.
“Pensioner poverty is all too consistent an issue in Scotland and in Lanarkshire. All too often, older people must choose between adequately heating their homes or feeding themselves. That is an absolutely gross state of affairs in the 21st century”.

Nothing new in this, inadequate heating, maybe the malnourishment is a new problem? I don’t think so, do you?

Mr Neil added: “The Scottish Executive admit the figures may represent an “undercount of the true number of cases” because malnutrition as an underlying reason for admissions to hospital may not always be recorded”.
“We need to see improvements in the state pension to ensure that pensioners can afford to feed themselves. That will go some way to bring down the number of malnourished cases”.
Concern has been raised after Lanarkshire had the third-highest level of malnutrition of all the health board areas in Scotland in 2006, after Lothian (514) cases and Greater Glasgow (503) cases.
So malnourishment is not a new problem and I’m expecting it will be uncovered again, possibly undercounts among other than OAPs.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


In the second instalment the cause of the struggle between Harry and Tony was revealed and the stage set for their BIG showdown.

So there had to be a showdown between Harry and Tony at Paul Foot’s flat in posh Hyndland and, as a pal of Paul’s, I was invited.
When I arrived Harry and Tony had already locked horns: each was trying to out shout the other and the air was thick with angry accusations and denunciations.
This was not my scene and after a short stay I made my excused and left. Out on the street Harry and Tony could still be heard bawling at one another.
Cliff must have triumphed because several of the Govan and Gorbals lot followed him down to London and were active in his organisation.
Was this the end of Harry? Well, no, he went on to become Labour MP for Govan for a few years.

Tony triumphed over Harry in their battle for the hearts and minds of the Govan and Gorbals Young Socialists.
In 1962 I was still in the Labour Party and visited Cliff’s house near Arsenal’s Highbury Stadium. Gus McDonald, by then editor of Cliff’s youth paper “Young Guard”, was pounding a typewriter in the back room while Cliff was pontificating in the parlour. He was sat like a king on a throne with a semi-circle of young people literally sitting at his feet. Among them was John Palmer, later European editor of the “Guardian”, and Cliff was telling them, “When the workers are armed then you have the embryo of the workers’ state”.
Just the usual Leninist nonsense.

What became of those Govan and Gorbals firebrands? Some have died and others seem to have sunk without trace excepting, of course, Lord Gus McDonald who has done very well for himself.
An old comrade of mine told me that the political progress of leftists resembles reading the words on a page – start on the left and work to the right. McDonald is the perfect example of this. V.V.


One group of the populace who wouldn't get past the doorman at Aspinalls have recently had news from the government that must cheer them up no end.
"The minimum wage will increase by 17p an hour to £5.52, the government announced today. The rate will come into force in October and will mean an increase in pay for more than one million workers, of which two-thirds are low-paid women. Separate rates for young employees will continue, but hourly pay for 18 to 21-year-olds will rise 15p to £4.60, while 16 and 17-year-olds will receive 10p more per hour at £3.40." (Guardian, 7 March)
No chance of Rolls Royces or Boeing747s from that windfall we imagine. R.D.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


The first instalment introduced the rival would be Lenins, Harry Selby and Tony Cliff, and their epic struggle in Glasgow in the early 1960s.
What was this struggle all about?
It was over a bunch of youngsters who were part of Labour’s Govan and Gorbals Young Socialists who included Gus (now Lord) McDonald.
Harry got to work on them and they were soon ardent Trots. Paul Foot, who was working as a journalist in Glasgow, had teamed-up with the Govan and Gorbals bunch. However, he met Cliff in London and was so impressed that he invited him to come to Glasgow and meet the rest of the gang. V.V.
The big showdown tomorrow.


Newspapers and television are alarmed by what they portray as a growing crime wave and are anxious to put forward solutions to the problem.
These range from the "hang 'em, flog 'em" brigade to the " hug a hoodie" squad.
Sir Alan Sugar, the millionaire has entered the lists with his answer.
"People with guns are beyond saving," he tells Q Magazine. "Flatten an island off Scotland, build some huts and leave 'em there." (Times, 6 March)
We can assume "people with guns" refers to a few poor, ill-educated youths living in ghettoes: or does the great man mean the British Army? They have a lot more guns than the gangs of South London! R.D.

Monday, March 12, 2007


This is a tale of a struggle that took place in Glasgow in the early sixties between two would-be Lenins.
They were Tony Cliff, ex-Trotskyist and leading light of the “International Socialists” which later became the SWP. His opponent was Harry Selby who was attached to one of the four rival Forth Internationals – I forget which one but the joke at the time was that there were more Forth Internationals than there had been Internationals!
Harry didn’t have his own party but he and his tiny group controlled the Govan Labour Party.

Intrigued, enraged? Well there is more to come so don’t miss the next instalment tomorrow. V.V.


"When an image of the Virgin Mary appeared on one of their pizza pans on Ash Wednesday the dinner ladies at Pugh Elementary School in Houston knew that it had to be more than just the cheese and pepperoni talking.
This had to be a message from God. ... Within hours the apparition had become the talk of Houston and the focus for pilgrims. ... This is not the first time that the Virgin Mary's face has appeared in unlikely places. Previous examples of simulacra - religious images appearing on inanimate objects - include a grilled cheese sandwich bearing the outline of the Madonna, which fetched $28,000 (£14,250) on the internet for its Florida owner in 2004. In 2005 hundreds of visitors left flowers, candles and rosaries in a Chicago underpass after salt residue created a stain resembling the Virgin Mary. " (Times, 26 February).
Oh, ye of little faith - to think that the last sannie that you munched without checking for simulacra might have been worth £14,250. Just your luck! R.D.

Friday, March 09, 2007


The Glasgow Left in the sixties, Right! Up to the moment.
Harry Selby and Tony Cliff. The rivalry between them,
the views of Victor Vanni,
member of the
Glasgow branch of the Socialist Party.
First instalment this Monday 12th march,
Not to be missed.
Read it here.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The New Landed Gentry

This Land is Your Land as the song goes - But only if you have the odd million or two spare .

For the first time in Scotland , plots of development land for single houses have been sold for £1million. Property experts estimate that the buyers will spend at least another £1million building a house on it .

It's , of course , Location , Location , Location - Two people have already paid more than £1million each for their separate plots of land in the 850-acre Gleneagles Hotel and golf resort , three other properties are currently under offer and wealthy people from all over the world are said to be lining up to make offers for the nine remaining plots, which are on sale from £850,000 and vary in size from 0.55 to 0.86 of an acre.

When completed, the 14 properties and land within the private gated development, to be known as The Queen's Crescent, will be worth in excess of £30million . Buyers of the plots also receive two years' free golf membership for two at Gleneagles, which would cost a total of £7800 and a free two-year membership for four people to the hotel's health spa which costs £4000.

"Uniquely for a development of this type, we will be providing a concierge who will live in the gate lodge " George Graham, development director at Gleneagles said , whose job-description no doubt will include tipping his hat to these new lairds as they pass by .

Last year it was estimated that the average cost of an acre of building land to developers in Edinburgh was around £6million and in Glasgow, around £4million.
A one-acre site can usually hold up to 60 homes of various sizes and with some penthouse suites in the centre of Edinburgh selling for up to £1.5million there are still big profits to be made.

And now you know why your kids can't get a foot-hold on the bottom rung of the property ladder .

Monday, March 05, 2007

More of the same Michael Meacher

From the Independent :-

Q. Are you a socialist? What does that mean today?

A. Michael Meacher ex-Labour Party minister and presently a contender for the leadership :-

" Yes, I am. A socialist believes that while the market has its proper place, the fundamental principles underpinning society should be equity, social justice, equality of opportunity, and democratic accountability. Even where the market is a dominant force, socialists believe it should be regulated to ensure high environmental, social and labour standards."...

..." I own four flats. I have saved throughout my life, and put my savings into property. I don't think that is contrary to socialism."

In other words , landlord Meacher is actually an advocate of Capitalism - but "nice , friendly " Capitalism - as if there was such a thing .

A Shocking Reward

The Herald reports that Philip Bowman, who has been chief executive of ScottishPower for 13 months, is in line to receive £4million in cash and shares when it is taken over by Iberdola .

Unlike us mere mortals Bowman's contract with ScottishPower included detailed provisions to protect his financial position in the event of a takeover. The Herald estimates Bowman is entitled to receive a year's salary of £700,000, a bonus of £1,050,000 and £300,000 in lieu of pension contributions. He owns shares worth £1.9million based on the Iberdrola offer.

Bowman previously received £17. 6 million when Allied Domecq was sold to Pernod Ricard .

The Observer newspaper reported that ScottishPower finance director Simon Lowth would also receive a year's salary (£460,000) and a bonus of the same amount if he left following the takeover by Iberdrola. Lowth has shares worth around £2.7million .

Not bad for some , eh , when many are struggling to pay heating and lighting bills ?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Capitalism Makes you Depressed

Nearly a quarter of residents in some of Scotland's most deprived communities turned to their GP with depression in a year, according to a survey. These are among the first disturbing findings of a survey of more than 6000 people in Glasgow, the largest project of its kind in Europe.

Across the study, 22% of those interviewed had seen their doctor about such mental health issues in the previous year.This rose to one-third and above in Shawbridge, Drumchapel and St Andrews Drive, on the south side.

Scotland-wide, the number of antidepressants prescribed trebling to 3.5m a year over the past 10 years .

Dr Michael Smith, consultant psychiatrist, said "It does look as if there is something about inner city deprived, urban environments that does actually make you ill."

This along with data about the influence people feel they have over decisions which affect their community, suggests residents lack a sense of control over their lives.

Dr Carol Tannahill, director of the Glasgow Centre for Population Health said: "Our emerging understanding of how good health is created would suggest that the issue of having control and influence is very important."

Only confirms what the Socialist Party has been saying since its inception - Captalism is bad for you .

Thursday, March 01, 2007


The inequalities of modern capitalism are well summed up by the following news item.

"With annual economic growth averaging more than 8 per cent since 2003, India is already one of the biggest emerging markets for luxury goods like clothing, cars and cosmetics. Although about 250 million Indians earn less than a dollar a day, the country is now home to at least 27 dollar billionaires and an estimated 83,000 millionaires." (Times, 26 February)

Karl Marx once explained this process as the primitive accumulation of capital in a little known volume called Capital. Every worker should read it; it explains our position of wage slavery beautifully. R.D.