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Showing posts from April, 2007

Edinburgh and Glasgow May Day Rallies

The 2007 Edinburgh May Day march and rally will be on Saturday May 5th . Assemble East Market Street 11.30 am . Rally in Princes Street Gardens (West End) 1 pm .

On Sunday May 6th , in Glasgow , the traditional May Day Rally will take place . Participants should assemble in George Square at 11am. The rally will leave for the City Halls and Old Fruitmarket at 11.30am for speeches at 1.15pm .

The Socialist Party will be in attendance at both events , busily handing out leaflets and distributing free copies of the May issue Socialist Standard and we will also have a literature stall , stocked with books and pamphlets .

Seek us out . We are always happy to discuss the Party's case for Socialism .

May Day

The First of May is the day when the workers’ movement celebrates its internationalism, and affirms the unity of their class across all borders .

In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions passed a resolution stating that eight hours would constitute a legal day's work from and after May 1, 1886. The resolution called for a general strike to achieve the goal, since legislative methods had already failed. With workers being forced to work ten, twelve, and fourteen hours a day, rank-and-file support for the eight-hour movement grew rapidly, despite the indifference and hostility of many union leaders. By April 1886, 250,000 workers were involved in the May Day movement.
By May 1st, the movement had already won gains for many Chicago clothing cutters, shoemakers, and packing-house workers. But on May 3, 1886, police fired into a crowd of strikers at the McCormick Reaper Works Factory, killing four and wounding many. Anarchists called for a mass meeting the next day in…

Our first Billionaire, doesn’t that make you feel good?

Here in Scotland just before the election there is a lot of effort being spent on telling us “we” should be better off if “we” were Independent , the opponents say no “we” should be better off remaining within the union i.e. Britain.
It’s a businessman’s war and you are expected to pick a side in a battle that would leave you where you are now, at the mercies of a capitalist society. However, you must rejoice that Sir Tom Hunter has become a billionaire because he is a philanthropist. Are they not the kind people who give away money? and he’s Scottish.

A comrade has already posted an article on this blog re the rich list , the figures irrefutably confirm that the capitalist class are becoming increasingly richer and the working class are growing poorer and poorer.

SIR Tom Hunter has joined the league of the super-rich by becoming Scotland's first home-grown billionaire, according to an article in Scotland on Sunday.

The 45-year-old entrepreneur from Ayrshire made his first serious mon…

Many minorities 'live in poverty'

The BBC is carrying a report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that found Some 40% of people from ethnic minority backgrounds are living in poverty. Almost half of all children from minority ethnic groups are in poverty.

For all ages, family types and family work statuses, people from minority ethnic groups are, on average, much more likely to be in income poverty than white British people.

The rate varies substantially between ethnic groups: Bangladeshis (65%), Pakistanis (55%) and black Africans (45%) have the highest rates; black Caribbeans (30%), Indians (25%), white Other (25%) and white British (20%) have the lowest rates.

The differences are particularly great for families where at least one adult is in paid work: in these families, around 60% of Bangladeshis, 40% of Pakistanis and 30% of black Africans are in income poverty. This is much higher than the 10-15% for white British, white Other, Indians and black Caribbeans.
Up to half of Bangladeshi workers, a third of Pakistani…

Blue-blooded Door-to-Door Salesman

The Royal Family - Capitalism personified .

The Independent on Sunday interviewed Prince Andrew , second son of the Queen or "Air Miles Andy" as he is sometimes known as . He is presently employed as a "roving ambassador" for UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), the government quango that lobbies on behalf of British business overseas and tries to attract foreign investment to the UK. In November, the former CBI director-general Sir Digby Jones was appointed business adviser to the Duke.

Lord Levene, chairman of Lloyd's of London, wrote personally to the Duke to thank him for helping the reinsurance market in obtaining a licence to operate in China. The Duke had met the vice-mayor of Shanghai and raised the issue.

The Doncaster-based furniture maker BLP also credits him with having helped in the lifting of unexpected tax duties on the new £35m factory it had built in China.

He can be relied on to deliver the official line. Asked whether it was right for the Government…

Rich List and P*ssed

With the imminent publication of The Times 2007 Rich List , there will be many commentaries on it . The first i have read is from the BBC .

The fortunes of Britain's wealthiest 1,000 people grew 20% in a year .

The UK Office for National Statistics reported that average UK earnings including bonuses rose by 4.6 % in the year to February 2007 . Average earnings excluding bonuses on regular pay, rose by 3.6 % . The retail price index measure of inflation stands presently at 4.8%.

The £19 billion fortune of Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal ensured he kept his title as Britain's richest person. Mr Mittal's fortune grew more than £4 billion from from £14.8 billion in 2006 . The Duke of Westminster fortune grew from £6.6 billion to £7 billion.

Once again , the figures irrefutably confirm that the capitalist class are becoming increasingly richer and the working class are growing poorer and poorer .

Buddy , can you spare a dime

From the Independent :-

To count as genuinely wealthy, according to a new survey, you need at least £6 million in the bank, as well as a £4 million London mansion and a holiday home worth at least £1 million. You'll also be wanting a retinue of staff costing £38,4000 a year, at least two cars worth upwards of £140,000, two luxury holidays a year and plenty of cash left over to send your children to private school.

That, at any rate, is the verdict of 200 British multimillionaires, who were interviewed .

Being poor adds years to you

A lifetime on a low wage physically ages a person eight years earlier than high earners, researchers found.

They followed more than 10,000 British civil servants aged 35 to 55, over a period of 20 years. The employees, working in 20 different departments and from all occupational grades, were surveyed five times between 1985 and 2004.

Physical health declined with age in all groups but most rapidly among those in the lowest occupational grades . For example, the average physical health of a 70-year-old high earner was similar to the physical health of a low earner around eight years younger. In mid-life, this gap was only 4.5 years. Among high earners, retirement appeared to improve their mental health and well-being. But no similar improvement was seen in the lower occupational groups.
A higher income might enable a pensioner to lead a more active social life and eat a healthier diet.

Kate Jopling of Help the Aged said: "This shows very clearly that health inequalities are not some…

Nats Whae Hae?

Nationalism is anathema to socialists. Wage and salary workers have no country. We have more in common with people like ourselves in other countries than with the privileged owning class of the country where we happen to live and work. The world-wide working class has a common interest, to end its exploitation and solve its problems, to join together to establish a world without frontiers in which the resources of the planet will have become the heritage of all, so that there can be production to meet needs and not for profit. One world, one people,where cultural differences will still be celebrated, but where we'll all be citizens of the world.

It is clear, then, why socialists don't take sides in the debate, aired in this month's elections to the Scottish Parliament, about whether it is better for workers there to be ruled from Edinburgh (as the SNP says) or from London with a little help from Edinburgh (as say the British Nationalists of the Labour, Liberal and Tory part…

Short Anti-miltarism Video

Follow this link and click on an imaginative 2 minute video , speculating on who are behind the current American war -fever . We would question if there is a distinct military-industry complex that operates independently and solely in its own interests .
We would counterpose that wars for raw materials and for control of trade routes is the natural state for the enormous economies of the USA ( and of the EU and all the other other capitalist countries ) . But arms traders certainly fan the flames of conflict .

Government adds another 100,000 to poverty figures

From the BBC :-

The government has admitted that there were an extra 100,000 adults of working age living in both absolute and relative poverty in 2005/06. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has revised its statistics on poverty, first published in March.
It now estimates there were 7.2 million such adults in relative poverty that year, and 5 million working age adults in absolute poverty.

Relative poverty is calculated as the proportion and number of people living on less than 60% of the current median income. Absolute poverty describes those who are living below 60% of the median income from 1998-99.

Oh No...!!

OH NO, NOT ANOTHER ELECTION LEAFLET!
Yes, but hang on - this one's different.

THAT'S WHAT THEY ALL SAY! They don't all mean it, though. And they don't all know what they're talking about!

HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT? We're not promising you anything.

SO WHAT ARE YOU DOING THEN? Asking you to think. Then vote for yourself. For a change Read On

THEY'RE ALL THIEVES.

Extracts from this article by Rupert Wingfield-Hayes BBC News, Moscow
Reinforce what the socialist party were saying when the so-called communist party was denying it all those years ago.
State Capitalism like any other form of Capitalism creates rich and poor, millionaires and paupers. If we are to believe this BBC correspondent he was invited to the home of a billionaire’s daughter.

“This week we learned that Mr Abramovich is one of a growing list of hyper-rich Russians.
According to Forbes magazine Russia now has 60 billionaires.
Unlike Mr Abramovich, most of them live in Moscow, which, if I'm not much mistaken, makes the Russian capital home to more billionaires than any other city in the world.” “It is quite a change for a place that 15 years ago had no millionaires, let alone billionaires." How exactly these people have got hold of such vast wealth in such a short time is a very good question, and one many ordinary Russians would like answered. It is one reason why Russia…

The great bird flu swindle...

From a contributor to the WSM Forum :-

Bernard Matthews Ltd is to receive over £500,000 in compensation as a result of the culling of 160,000 of his turkeys during the recent H5N1breakout at one of their farms in Norfolk.

The reason (given in the BBC online news report) is that the 1981Animal Health Act provides for compensation to encourage the "early reporting of bird flu to minimise the spread of the disease".

So if I get this right, we are paying Bernard Matthews for NOT covering up a bird flu outbreak which could pose a risk to the millions of people?

Phew!! That's OK then…….

It's just that I thought for a minute we were handing out half a million pounds of taxpayers money to a £400 million a year, privately owned company for doing nothing more than we should reasonably expect any supplier of food products to consider a fundamental part of their of their moral obligation in the protection of the very people who have lined their pockets (despite the sometimes question…

Election Fever

With the elections approaching , the media are hyping it all up as if some sort of real change is about to be in the offing , and the political party apparatchiks are out and about trying to convince the cynical and sceptical public to vote for their same old tried and tired solutions and policies . We in the Socialist Party offer something a lot different .

Extracts from previous election statements .

Capitalism is past its sell-by date .
The world can now easily produce wealth sufficient to adequately house , feed , care for and educate the global population . Instead we see hunger, disease and homelessness around the world despite the concerns of governments, charities and popstars. Closer to home, in a "developed" nation like the UK , we see child poverty and an increasing gulf between rich and poor . Rates of depression and anxiety are becoming epidemic .Capitalism is failing : it now acts as a barrier , preventing production being geared to human need . Rather than keep …

Oh Lord

Acoording to the BBC:-

Lord Laidlaw of Rothiemay , a leading Conservative Party donor , is still a tax exile three years after agreeing to become a UK resident to gain a peerage . When Lord Laidlaw was proposed for a working peerage in 2004 he agreed to a Lords' Appointments Commission request to renounce his tax exile status.

Last year, he was named as Scotland's second richest person, with a fortune of £730 million from conference and media enterprises. Laidlaw loaned the Tory party £3.5 million.

The Lords' Appointments Commission will "name and shame" him in a forthcoming review, but has no formal power to revoke his peerage.

Socialist Courier happily adds his name to our list of social parasites .

More Oily Profits

Continuing the Socialist Courier saga of the riches to riches story of the fortunate few .

Executive directors at Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy reaped the rewards of the oil and gas industry and shared in a £25 million cash-and-shares boardroom bonanza .

The company's directors' pay bill more than doubled, with chief executive Sir Bill Gammell netting £5.5 million in pay, benefits and shares. In 2006, Gammell's basic pay and benefits increased 37% to £986,716, including a bonus equivalent to 100% of his £480,000 salary, plus further benefits worth £26,716. His short-term earnings were dwarfed, however, by a gain of £4,496,549 from the vesting of shares awarded under along-term incentive plan (LTIP).

Exploration director Mike Watts pocketed £4.3 million. Watts also had reason to celebrate Cairn's share-price success in a year when his basic pay package climbed 31% to £581,844. This included a £350,000 salary and £210,000 bonus. Watts chalked up a gain of £3,724,869 on vesti…

Vote Socialist Party

Laying it on the line , with no weasel words , no kissing of babies , no false promises , no political platitudes .

And here once again , a clear , concise challenge for the voters to think before they choose .
Where no SPGB candidate is standing , declare for "World Socialism" by writing it across your ballot paper .

Tesco check-out

Going shopping ?? Getting the groceries ??

The UK's biggest supermarket chain, Tesco, will smash its own national record this week when it unveils annual profits totalling more than £2.5bn, or close to £5,000 profit every minute.

Tesco business sales up from £39.4bn a year ago to an expected £42.7bn - more than the GDP of Peru.

Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy has been named the most influential unelected person in the UK by a Guardian Unlimited panel .
One of the panel, Isobel Larkin of the TUC , said, "His future influence and actions on the effects of climate change, globalisation of the UK workforce, ethical trading and suppliers who employ vulnerable workers will be critical in determining whether his nomination is as a force for good or ill."

A reminder that it is Capitalism and the capitalists need to accumulate and accumulate that is the driving force in to-day's society and the striving for profits that determine the nature and future of the world ... unless , of co…

ESCAPE 2

The previous item brings to mind the story that an old Glasgow speaker was fond of telling from the outdoor platform.
An Eastern potentate was visiting a Glasgow factory when the lunch-time hooter sounded and all the workers made a bee-line for the canteen. "Look out, sir. Your slaves are escaping." "Don't worry, Omar. Wait 40 minutes." Sure enough 40 minutes later the hooter sounded and the wage slaves streamed back into the factory. "Amazing", cried the eastern visitor. "I must buy some of these magic hooters." R.D.

ESCAPE 1

The Observer has a supplement each week called "Escape", containing articles about various holiday destinations, and, of course, many advertisements for holidays. Why do they call it "Escape"? It is targeted at all the people whose jobs are so boring or so stressful that they feel they can stand it only if they can get away for a short break in the summer. And the enormous size of the holiday industry shows that there are very many such people.

But how can such a holiday be called an "escape" when it is of strictly limited duration, and all the holidaymakers know they will have to go back afterwards to the very same conditions which made them long to "escape" in the first place? "Escape" is clearly the wrong word. Whoever heard of a daring escape from prison or a prisoner-of-war camp, when the successful escapee celebrated his release by going back in two weeks' time to the main gate and asking to be re-admitted? R.D.

Well Oiled

Next time you fill up your car at the petrol station think about B.P. retiring boss , Lord Browne .

Due to retire this coming July , it is estimated that his parting reward will be £5.3 million and a pension pot of £21.7 million which will provide him with a million a year . Add to that shares worth £14 million and performance-related shares that could be worth up to £30 milllion over the coming years. His accumulated wealth could potentially add up to £72 million .


LORD BROWNE'S PAYOFF
Leaving present
£5.3m
Pension pot
£21.7m
Accumulated shares
£14m
Share options
£1.4m
Performance shares
Up to £30m
Total
£72.5m

This , of course , when the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board criticised B.P. for cost-cutting orders from senior executives in BP's London headquarters that impaired safety at the Texas City refinery resulting in an explosion which killed 15 people and injured hundreds more and that those executives failed to provide effective safety leadership and failed to provide …

MOON PLOTS AND MOON PLOTTERS

Sir Patrick Moore, presenter of the Sky at Night programme, celebrated the programme’s 50th year by a skit involving him using a time machine to go back to his first programme on the BBC. It was all good fun, the moon and what it was made up with was guessed at in those days and some things he got correct.
Patrick then forwarded himself 50 years into the future and guesses were made at what could happen then, he spoke with Brian May who used to be the leading guitarist with the Queen and congratulated him on his Live Aid concert on the moon.

Live Aid on the moon? Fifty years from now! Now there is progress!

In a capitalist world the race to exploit resources can lead to war. The common ownership of planet earth remains the most important task the working class must achieve, this article demonstrates the futility of leaving the planet in the hands of people who believe the moon and the rest of the solar system is there for their benefit.

Who owns the moon? Some think it is an American, bec…

Wall St Wealth

Normally, Socialist Courier exposes the wealth of our local Scottish capitalists but on this occasion the Independent has revealed just how financially rewarding it is to be an American stock-market speculator and parasite .

Chief executive of Morgan Stanley bank , John Mack , took home $41.4m (£21m) last year but Trader Monthly , the journal of investment hedge fund managers , showed that even he would not have made their Top 100 List . The average take home pay of the 100 on the list was $241million and the total earnings for the list was $24.1billion.It is not a list of net worth and does not take into account stocks, options or anything other than cash made in the year .

T. BOONE PICKENS , oil trader , $1bn-$1.5bn

JOHN ARNOLD $1.5bn-$2bn , Mr Arnold's fund ended the year with a 317 per cent profit on its estimated $1bn of assets. About half of the fund is believed to be Mr Arnold's own money, cash he made at Enron

JAMES SIMONS , $1.5bn-$2bn , controls $24bn in assets and char…

Who owns the Moon

In a previous blog we reported on the possible future exploitation of the Arctic regions . Here we pass on a BBC report on how The Moon is now up for grabs .

Nevada, entrepreneur Dennis Hope has taken advantage of a loophole in the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty and he has been claiming ownership of the Earth's Moon - and seven planets and their moons - for more than 20 years. Hope says he has so far sold more than 400 million acres (1.6m sq km) , that has already made him $9 million (£4.5 million).

But the real development that is about to take place is that, within a matter of decades, the Moon will be much more than a scientific outpost; it could become a vital commercial frontier.

President George Bush in January 2004 committed the US to returning to the Moon by as early as 2017. He said the US aimed to establish a long term lunar base by around 2020.

China - which has already successfully launched two manned space missions - has announced a similar timetable.

Russia, for nearly 50 …

Rich Ba**ards

450 skilled staff at engineering company Weir Group at Cathcart were recently given notice of impending redundancy , whereas , the Herald reports that the company's chief executive Mark Selway banked £999,737 in 2006, £94,000 more than in the previous year and more than twice the £484,000 he was paid in 2004. In addition to a basic wage of £531,940, Selway received a bonus of £448,800 and other benefits worth £18,997. Selway's maximum bonus has been increased from 85% of salary to 125%, putting him on course to pocket nearly £700,000 in annual bonus alone from 2007.

Weir's company secretary Alan Mitchelson, 57, was paid just under £500,000 - £60,000 more than in 2005 and almost double his total remuneration two years previously. Mitchelson's package comprised basic pay of £283,350, a bonus of £200,250 and other benefits worth £14,615. For Mitchelson, the maximum potential bonus has risen from 75% of salary last year to 100%.

Weir's non-executive directors shared £36…

Fat Cat Capitalism

Continuing our exposure of those over-paid lackeys of capitalism as reported by The Herald.

Scottish Widows chief Archie Kane's pay package has soared by nearly 50% in just two years - Lloyds' annual report shows that Kane earned £1,252,000 last year, a 36% increase on the £919,000 he banked in the previous 12 months and 46% more than in 2004. Last year's package included a basic salary of £500,000 and a performance bonus of £715,000, together with other benefits worth £37,000.


Kane also saw his pension boosted by £715,000 in 2006. This gives him a personal retirement pot of £4.4million and entitles him to an annual pension of £265,000, up from £240,000 in 2005.


Lloyds TSB's annual report also reveals that basic pay rates and potential bonuses for the bank's executive directors were greatly increased from January 1 this year. Kane got a 10% rise in his basic salary, to £550,000, and his potential bonus was increased from 150% of salary to 200%. Kane could earn £1.1m i…