Thursday, May 31, 2007

Socialist Standard June 2007

Socialist Standard June 2007


You can get the full image version at the Socialist Party website.


6 The illusion of freedom
We are always been told that we live in a free society, but do we?

8 Camouflaging class rule
Our society is routinely described in terms that camouflague the reality of exploitation and class rule.

9 What free access means
Socialists often describe socialism as a society where there will be free access, but what could this mean in concrete terms?

10 Maoism as a class society - illusion and reality
Both supporters and opponents saw China under Mao as an egalitarian society without hierarchy but this was an illusion.

12 Unvarnished history of the Panama canal
The story of the building of the Panama Canal at the turn of the last century is an exposé of the operations of the capitalist system.

15 Philosopher, heal thyself
Marx said that philosophers only interpreted the world. To what extent has the philosopher Julian Baggini done this?

16 Charity versus equity
Commentary on a recent action aid letter citing a number of manifestations of the iniquities of global capitalism.

Bye-bye Blair

4 Pathfinders
Old Bones

5 Contact Details
14 Cooking the books 1
Economic cycling

16 Cooking the Books 2
Back to the seventies?

17 Reviews
Oil Wars; A Star Called Henry

18 Meetings
18 O.& D.O.P.
Our Object and
Declaration of Principles

18 50 Years Ago
Communist commotion.

19 Greasy Pole
Baldwin versus Blair

20 Voice from the Back
Prisoners of want;
Tough at the top?;
Down and out down under,
and more

20 Free Lunch by RIGG

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Our aim is to persuade others to become socialist and act for themselves, organising democratically and without leaders, to bring about the kind of society that we are advocating in this journal.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007


The Independent is reporting a crisis in the supply and demand of household man-servants.
The Guild of Professional Butlers is now reporting an explosion in the numbers of super-rich households who want to be waited on hand and foot.

There simply are not enough butlers .

Charles MacPherson, the vice-chairman of the International Guild of Professional Butlers explained . "If we doubled the number of butlers, they wouldn't be without work,"

Jane Urqhart, the principal of the Greycoat Academy which trains butlers, said that demand for "good butlers" was soaring.

"What's happened is that there has been a growth among those people with a lot of money who want to emulate the old traditions, such as having a butler. So they buy the manor house but they also want to hire someone from the days when the house was staffed by a butler..."

Ivor Spencer, 81, a butler with service in 14 of the grandest houses in England, runs a butler-training school and agency. He says that one can still expect certain standards from a butler .
Mr Spencer warns: "You must never do it just for the money. You must put the family before your own family."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tesco drivers' strike

Tesco drivers' strike continues
Up to 150 Tesco lorry drivers have begun a strike after refusing to sign up to new working terms and conditions.

The dispute came after the supermarket chain revealed plans to move its depot in Livingston, West Lothian, to a new site nearby.

Local MP Jim Devine has called for a one-day boycott of Tesco for threatening to sack drivers who refuse to sign the new contract.

A Tesco spokesman said the chain "strongly refuted" Mr Devine's claims.

The drivers, all members of the Transport and General Workers Union (T&G), are taking part in a strike which is due to last from Thursday until Saturday.

Tesco vehicles were having to turn around at the warehouse as workers formed a picket line, according to union members.

The T&G claims the new contracts, brought in with the move to the new site, mean losses to the drivers of between £3,000 and £6,000 and the de-recognition of the union.

Tesco strongly refuted claims that the drivers would lose any earnings under the new conditions.

The T&G, now part of the Unite union, said drivers voted by 126 to six to strike.

Ron Webb, the T&G's national transport secretary, said: "We said we'd fight back against the way our members were being treated and that fight has begun.

"We are determined to expose this company for the arrogant way it has treated its staff, our members, and the union itself."

He said Tesco had stepped up security in the area.

A strike involving almost 150 Tesco delivery drivers enters its second day on Friday, with no sign of a settlement between the workers and supermarket giant.

Drivers at the Livingston depot in West Lothian walked out after midnight on Thursday over proposed changes to their contracts.

Members of the Transport and General Workers' Union (T&G) formed a picket line at the site, claiming to have turned away several lorries.

Wealth Gap Widens

A previous blog revealed that under Tony Blair the gap between the richest and the poorest had widened . The Scotsman confirms that indeed this is the case .

The think-tank , Compass , has issued a report that finds that people living in the affluent London borough of Kensington and Chelsea now live, on average, 10.9 years longer than people from Glasgow. That inequalities in mortality rates for children born to working-class mothers compared with middle-class ones have also grown since 1998.

The publication said the share of national wealth owned by the richest 1 per cent in Britain had risen from 17 per cent in 1991 to 24 per cent in 2002, while the share of the country's riches held by the bottom 50 per cent of people had dropped from 8 percent to 6 per cent. It warned that massive house-price rises and huge pay hikes for executives in industry and commerce were fuelling the growing gap between rich and poor.

"The super-rich have, during Tony Blair's premiership, been accumulating wealth at close to four times the rate of the ordinary person." says the report

The poor , more probably than not , disillusioned by all the previous broken promises of the politicians are now deserting the democratic process. The difference between voter turnout between the highest and lowest social classes had reached 17 per cent - the gap in voting habits was "probably wider than at any point since the abolition of property requirements" in the early part of the 20th century .
Rather than political apathy , the Socialist Party entreats the working class to acknowledge the class war , to intensify the class struggle , but also to finally transcend Capitalism itself by building Socialism .

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Salesmen or Soldiers

The Socialist Party makes the point that capitalists struggle among themselves and other countries for markets, sometimes it can lead to open hostility, watch the use of the language in this article about beer.
Scotland on Sunday 27th May 2007
Carling takes on rivals with £7m new beer launch

CARLING, part of the US-based Coors group, is to wage a full-scale war on Scottish & Newcastle and Belhaven with the launch of a new beer and a multimillion-pound marketing push north of the Border.
It will spend £7m on launching a new dark beer, Maclachlan's, as it moves to outgun John Smith's and Belhaven Best.
Who will go down? Result of friendly fire!
enjoy your pint, if you can. even if it is launched at you.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Bitter Price for Better Life

The Independent carries this story -

Spotted by a Maltese armed forces reconnaissance plane on Monday morning 80 nautical miles south of Malta, roughly halfway between the coast of Libya and the southernmost point of the EU. At around the same time, some of the 53 people on the boat, all of them from Eritrea, were begging their friends and relatives in Europe by satellite phone to help them, saying the boat's engine had stalled, that the sea was rising and that the boat risked being swamped. Calls were placed to Malta, towns in northern Italy and to London.
"They called me to say water was coming on board, the engine was broken, they wanted me to get people to help them," An Eritrean woman called Lepetan, living in the Italian city of Bologna said. "Nobody had come to help, they told me."

Yet it took nine hours for a fast offshore patrol vessel of the Maltese armed forces to reach the zone where the 10-metre-long boat had been logged , 4 hours after the last final phone call. It drew a blank.
"We continued the search until dark," reported Malta's armed forces chief, General Carmel Varsallo, "extending the zone a further 10km in the hope of finding something, but found nothing."

Why , wasn't it an emergency ?

"Imagine if there had been 53 white Europeans on that boat, what would have been done to rescue them," said Laura Boldrini, in the Rome office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. "It is clear discrimination, as if their lives don't have the same value."

Nameless people, a nameless boat, a horrible death .

At least , 10,000 people are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean attempting to cross illegally into Europe. All fellow workers in search of a better life , trying to breach the barriers of Fortress Europe .

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Big Dream

The Herald carries the story of Glasgow in 2020 with seven possible future scenarios envisaged by Demos, the think-tank, after spending 18 months speaking to 5000 Glaswegians , at a cost of £200000 . If a true reflection of peoples thoughts of the the future , it is grim reading but perhaps also incorporating a glimmer of hope .

The seven speculated future scenarios are :-

The Two Speed City

By 2020 economic and social divisions have become so entrenched that Glasgow is virtually two cities living side by side in blissful ignorance of each other. One half believes that ‘everyone is middle class now’, that talent and skill automatically rises to the top and that anyone who does not believe this is choosing to leave themselves behind. They use special toll roads, air conditioned walkways and luxury water-taxis carrying people about quickly and cocooned from the rest of the city.
The other half thinks that living in social housing estates and existing in temporary jobs or on state benefits are the way of life of the majority. The excluded have by and large opted out of voting, politics and notions of citizenship and have plenty of time to do nothing or stay at home wasting away their lives.

The Lonely City

The modernist city lives on in an atomised, individualised, hi-tech future. People are free to create their own lives on their own terms. They work, play and socialise through their computers not needing to interact with anyone who isn’t just like themselves. This is a city where people seek meaning, satisfaction and freedom through technology and consumption . Interactions with neighbours, people on the street and in shops have become an optional extra.

The Hard City

Trust and any sense of community have long since disappeared from the city. Government intervention extends into citizen’s lives as never before, enforcing curfews on entire families, banning smoking in the home, outlawing the use of petrol driven cars. Children who break rules at schools are interned in boot-camps outside the city, known as Ned-Camps. Teenagers are temporarily sterilised to prevent teenage pregnancy and ASBO kids are named and shamed during prime-time TV ad-breaks. Neighbourhoods can take part in street-by-street competitions text-voting out their favourite nuisance neighbour, who is then deprived of any rights to benefits or housing .Bigger and bigger sticks are needed to get people to respond and behave in the way government wants them to. Bigger and bigger sticks are needed to get people to respond and behave in the way government wants them to.

But the possibilities imagined were not all negative . People do want a better world for themselves and their children .

The Soft City

By 2020, the city’s problems of drug addiction, violence and anti-social behaviour had continued to grow unchecked but instead of masculine attitudes, behaviour and values -toxic masculinity - women campaigners and men prepared to align with the excluded and change. Women in 2020 form the vanguard of the new cultural epoch: setting the scene working in different, more co-operative ways, but many men enthusiastically sign up too, liberated from the pressures of machismo and competition.Football is no longer so important, but merely one sport amongst many.

The Dear Green City

Glasgow’s green revolution sees exercise bikes hooked up to generators in schools, offices and homes, while windmills and solar panels top most buildings. The city leads the promotion of clean energy and sustainable living: exporting eco-friendly energy to the rest of Scotland and the world.

The Slow City

By the early years of the 21st century, more Glasgow voices increasingly question the city’s preoccupation with shopping begin to suffer consumption fatigue, and slowly renounce the addiction and thrill of compulsive shopping. By 2020 many have abandoned preoccupations with wealth, conspicuous consumption and rewarding talent with money. Instead there is a widespread sense that there are more profound issues at stake: finding some deeper meaning to life, investing time and love in bringing up children, caring for neighbours, the vulnerable and the old.

Kaleidoscope City

Glasgow has exploded into a kaleidoscope of diversity and visible vibrancy. The city is known for its open doors policy to newcomers and its tolerant cosmopolitan atmosphere. Waves of newcomers have arrived and been absorbed: the Poles, the Bulgarians, the Romanians, the Somalis, the Iraqis, the Lebanese. Old divisions and identities are barely remembered by the younger generations and new Glaswegians .

We of the Socialist Party will add our own option for the people of Glasgow to choose

Socialist City

Men and women of Glasgow , in co-operation with the peoples of the rest of the world , taking charge and taking responsibilty for their daily lives through a net-work of inter-linked decentralised democratically-controlled committees , based on local neighbourhoods and places of work , rising to regional and then world-wide administrations , which will decide production and distribution requirements of society , based not on the ability to pay -but upon need . The abolition of money . The abolition of prices and wages . The abolition of private and State property. A Glasgow of free access .

Abundance instead of Scarcity .

child poverty - again

Shall we see a difference in poverty figures with a new Scottish Parliament government under the SNP ? Only time will tell but we of the Socialist Party very much doubt it , going by the experience of history and what we know of Capitalism .

Barnados have released their latest report on child poverty . One-in-four Scots children is living in poverty - 250,000 youngsters are currently living below the breadline ( that's families it said are living on less than 60% of the average household income , less than £301 for a couple with two children and £223 for a lone parent with two children, after housing costs) .

Martin Crewe, director of Barnardo's Scotland, said: "Today in Scotland children are missing out on what most of us would consider essentials. Although the Scottish Executive has taken steps to reduce child poverty, we should be ashamed that one-in-four children is still living in poverty in Scotland today, when the UK is the fifth-richest economy in the world."

Barnados recommend certain reforms . Free school meals for children with parents on the maximum working tax credit , a special commission to be established to identify the policies needed to meet the Scottish and UK governments' targets of halving child poverty by 2010 , an investment of £3.8billion .

We said it in an earlier blog .

"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...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. "

The same will apply to any SNP Executive .

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The War Business - Blood Money

The Guardian carries an interesting article from Mark Curtis that should be brought home to everybody .

That when it comes to the ethical foreign policy once espoused by the Labour Party and the British Government , it was the drive for profits from the armaments industry that the real priority has been at . £45 billion worth of arms were sold by Britain in the past 10 years, making us the world's second-largest arms exporter.

In the past three years, arms have been exported to 19 of the 20 countries identified in the Foreign Office's annual human rights report as "countries of concern".

The Colombian military and its paramilitary allies have killed thousands of people in the country's civil war. Yet last year Britain exported armoured all-wheel-drive vehicles, military communications equipment and heavy machine guns, alongside a military aid programme. Indonesia has received more than £400million worth of military equipment since 1997, while using British military equipment for internal repression on a dozen known occasions.

Britain has exported more than £110million worth of military equipment to Israel during its occupation of Palestinian territories and war with Lebanon. Exports doubled in 2001, as Israeli offensive military operations were stepped up on the West Bank.

Despite an EU arms embargo, Britain has managed to export £500million worth of military and dual-use equipment - nominally "non-lethal" items to China . These include components for tanks, components for combat aircraft, and military communications equipment.

And what about all the rest of the weapons produced and sold ?

Over the past four years, 199 export licences have been approved to the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and the Channel Islands - territories without armies. The equipment includes small arms and ammunition, anti-riot shields, CS hand grenades, crowd-control ammunition and even nuclear, biological, chemical filters and respirators (for the Cayman Islands). It is anybody's guess where this equipment is destined. And this could be just the tip of the iceberg. Government statistics show the destination of only a quarter of all arms exports - the public are not told where the rest goes.

Academic research shows that governement subsidies for arms sales is between £0.5 - £1.0 billions annually .

Hand in hand with one another , at least 19 senior MoD officials have taken jobs with arms companies since 1997, while 38 out of 79 personnel secondees to the MoD between 1997 and 2003 came from arms companies .

Yup - war is big business and whether Blair or Brown , Tory or Labour , tools for death and destruction will come before the needs and requirements of the people .

Friday, May 18, 2007

A car for the very high rollers

A new model Rolls-Royce convertible is going on sale this summer.

In the UK, where it will go on sale in July, the car will cost some £325,000 when extras such as chrome wheels (£4,500), a brushed steel bonnet (£6,400) and a teak deck (£5,300) around the back seats are included.

At least 40% of its customers will be recruited amongst America's super-rich, though some 20,000 of the world's 85,400 ultra-high net worth individuals - people with more than $30m (£15m) ready cash at their disposal, as measured by CapGemini Merrill Lynch - are European, 3,700 of them British.

"The wealth factor is an important part of the market growth," points out Rolls-Royce Motor Cars' chief executive, Ian Robertson. "We're aiming to pick up about 1% of them each year. " - and that would be 800 out of a world's population of 6.5 billion .One American bid £1million in an auction to be the first U.S. customer. Rolls-Royce's chairman and chief executive Ian Robertson said: "Our customers are impervious to traditional marketing...Typically they have between £15million and £20million of disposable income but are extraordinarily keen on getting value for money. "

On average, Rolls-Royce's clients already own an average of seven or eight cars, along with three to five properties and in some instances a private jet (14%), or a yacht (7%).

Elsewhere Roberson says that Rolls-Royce has opened its fifth showroom in China in a hi-tech district of Chengdu, the luxury car maker announced.
"China is a very important market for Rolls-Royce, with sales in 2006 growing by more than 60 per cent, making the region our third largest market in the world behind the USA and the UK," .

An there is you and me struggling to just keep the motor on the road , too !!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rich and Poor - No Change After Blair

The gap between Britain's rich and poor again widened in the 2005-6 financial year, official figures showed on Thursday .

The Office for National Statistics said income for the bottom 10% after taxes and welfare benefits fell £10 to £11,374 . The richest 10 % average income actually grew by more than £2,000 to £60,908.

The figures have barely diverged since Blair came to office in 1997.

"The latest evidence suggests that income inequality may be increasing again," the ONS said. "Inequality still remains high by historical standards -- the large increase which took place in the second half of the 1980s has not been reversed."

When you get old ...

The average 60-plus-year-old owes more than £35,000 in unsecured debts, a survey shows. 63 percent of those aged 60 and over have unsecured debts -- such as credit card and loan debt . It found that the average pensioner owes £9,098 in personal loans, £7,551 in credit card debt, £3,215 in overdrafts and a further £15,616 in other unsecured debts, such as store cards and car finance schemes -- a total £35,480. Taking account of outstanding mortgage debts carried into retirement adds a further £31,000 per pensioner to the debt mountain, according to the research.
The over-70s were found to have the largest unsecured debts, at an average of more than £40,000 .

Figures from financial education charity Credit Action showed that the number of over-60s with money worries increased faster than among any other age group last year, as pensioners grapple with rising energy and council tax bills.

With monthly repayments on that of over £450 and more than 38 percent of pensioners living on £10,000 or less per year, it means that some older people are using almost half of their annual income to service their debt.

Chris Tapp, deputy director of Credit Action, said: "Retirement should be a time for some well-earned relaxation, but for all too many it is a time of financial stress. "

In The Scotsman we read A total of 51% are prepared to extend employment into their old age in order to make ends meet . Elsewhere it found that that for someone earning a median weekly wage of £447, their pension income would fall to £223 - just £9 more than the minimum wage, based on a 40-hour week.

Poverty and debt , something to look forward to when you get old .

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


In 1917 Hiram Johnson in a speech to the US Senate said "The first casualty when war comes is truth." This perceptive view was recently reinforced when Private Jessica Lynch of the US army exposed the lies of the Pentagon in her testimony to Congress. "The Pentagon said initially that she was shot after emerging from her vehicle, guns blazing, before being abducted. It later emerged that she was injured in the ambush and was incapable of fighting. She was taken to an Iraqi hospital by Iraqi troops and owes her life to Iraqi doctors, who even tried to return her to American troops. Speaking to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Ms Lynch told of waking up in hospital with terrible injuries, unaware that the Pentagon was circulating "the story of the little girl Rambo from the hills of West Virginia who went down fighting". "It was not true", she said yesterday. (Times, 25 April) R.D.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What Price Slaughter

The American journalist had an interesting article on the value placed on different people's lives .

He begins with reference to history when in the days before child labour laws, the business of insuring working-class children, who were then quite valuable to poor families, achieved enormous success. The courts assessed the literal value of an earning child to a family.

During the Vietnam War, as part of the American pacification program, U.S. officials made what were called "solatium payments" for wrongful deaths caused by American forces. Back then, the U.S. valued Vietnamese adults at about $35 , while children's lives were worth about $15.
The practice continues in its wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan .

For example :-

9-year-old boy, shot by one of our soldiers who mistook his book bag for a bomb satchel - $500
An Iraqi journalist shot on a bridge - $2,500 to his widow .

In early March , a platoon of elite Marine Special Operations troops in a convoy of Humvees were ambushed by a suicide bomber in a mini-van and one of them was wounded. As the convoy made a frenzied escape it layed down a deadly field of fire along a ten-mile stretch of road. Their targets, according to a draft report of the U.S. military investigation of the incident were Afghans, on foot and in vehicles who were "exclusively civilian in nature" and had engaged in "no kind of provocative or threatening behavior." In the process, the Marines were reported to have murdered "12 people -- including a 4-year-old girl, a 1-year-old boy and three elderly villagers" -- and wounded 34 - And the blood money payed ? - $2,000 per death to family members as condolence payments .

The family or spouse of a loved one murdered on 9/11 was also given a monetary value by the U.S. government -- on average $1.8 million, thanks to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund , created by an act of Congress, and thanks to 33 months of careful, pro bono evaluation of the worth of an innocent American life on the basis of the victim's estimated lost lifetime earnings. The total September 11th payout figure was in the range of $7 BILLION

In Iraq , total official payments for wrongful deaths, as well as for injury and collateral property damage, caused by American troops, had reached $20 million by the end of 2005. The figure now stands minimally at $32 million, made unofficially "at a unit commander's discretion."

The value of an innocent civilian slaughtered by al-Qaeda terrorists on September 11, 2001 to his or her family: $1.8 million.
The value of an innocent civilian slaughtered at Haditha, Iraq, by U.S. Marines: $2,500.
The value of an innocent civilian slaughtered by U.S. Marines near Jalalabad, Afghanistan: $2,000.

To the American military, all human life has a value - But it is calculated in dollars and cents .
And , of course , for the American government , the life of one of its citizens is much more valuable than the life of any foreigner .

Iraq - It was always about the oil

Our comrade at Mailstrom has posted a short animated cartoon that succinctly summarises the new Iraq Oil Law that is in the process of being passed by the Iraqi Parliament .

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Quick Fix

More than 31 million prescriptions for drugs such as Prozac were issued in 2006 - a 6% rise on the year before , the BBC reported .

In particular prescriptions for a group of drugs known as SSRIs, which include Prozac, rose by 10% last year from 14.7 mllion to 16.2million . There have been fears that the drugs are linked to suicidal thoughts and self-harm in some cases. In 2003, experts said SSRI antidepressants should not be given to teenagers after experts' concerns they made some patients suicidal. However, Prozac is still recommended for under-18s .

Research cited by MIND , the mental health charity, says the UK is trailing behind other countries in the use of other therapies.

The Guardian reports that levels of suicide and self-harming are soaring in mental health wards where there are few activities, locked wards and constant surveillance .
"It [ the psychiatric hospital ] can feel like a prison and unsurprisingly if people are very distressed at the time that's when they are most at risk ..."

A spokeswoman for MIND said: "Hospitals are sometimes hindering people's recovery rather than helping them to recover. There's boredom and frustration with nothing to do; with nothing to do they will think more and more about their problems and the isolation they face. It can make people deteriorate..."

The Independent on Sunday last month revealed how children as young as 12 are being incarcerated with adults in psychiatric institutions and that those children and teenagers are physically and verbally abused, left without proper therapy and housed with seriously disturbed adults.

Department of Health statistics show at any given time nearly a sixth of all adults are experiencing depression or anxiety. Mental illness accounts for a third of all illness in Britain.

More than 1.3 million older people have a mental illness such as depression and this figure will rise as the age of the population increases.

One sixth of the population suffers from a mental health problem every day.

One million people on incapacity benefit suffer mental health problems.

Mental health accounts for one third of all illness and 40 per cent of all disability in Britain.

More than 1.3 million older people suffer from depression or other mental illness.

The psychological pressures and the human alienation that people feel and experience from the effects of Capitalism carries a heavy toll . Perhaps not ALL mental illness will disappear when Socialism prevails but we can guarantee that the rates will be far, far less and those unfortunate to suffer will not be swept under the carpet , to be locked up and drugged by pharmaceuticals .

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Day School in Glasgow

Click for page 2 page 3 page 4 of leaflet.

The Wages of Sin

Once he leaves Number 10, Tony Blair is entitled to an immediate prime minister's pension of £63,000 and he will still earn a MP's salary of £60,000. Added to this, Cherie Blair, as a leading QC, is estimated to earn a six-figure salary.

In 2004, the Blairs took out a 95% mortgage on a £3.65million townhouse in Connaught Square near Hyde Park, London. This year, they bought the adjoining mews house for £800,000. These two purchases - combined with the £200,000 remortgage of their Sedgefield constituency home, Myrobella, in 2003 - mean they now have interest payments of more than £20,000 a month. This is almost as much as the average annual salary.

However, the Money Programme has calculated the Blairs could make £10.5 million in the next 12 months. Sir John Major has reportedly made £1m a year since he left Downing Street, while Lady Thatcher amassed a fortune after she stepped down in 1990. Both Sir John and Lady Thatcher took up positions in the City, but surprisingly, the £75,000-a-year salary for five to six days' work a month may not make financial sense for Mr Blair. Many experts believe that Mr Blair's earnings could dwarf those of Sir John and Lady Thatcher.

A US businesswoman and confidante of Mrs Blair, Martha Greene, has registered the Blair Foundation website, which will be used to promote his good causes. Ms Greene is also organising the refurbishment of the Blairs' Connaught Square house.

Bill Clinton left the White House in 2001 . Since then, he has turned his retirement into a money-spinner worth between $10 million and $50 million . In 2005, Mr Clinton earned just less than $5 million for 29 speeches - and it has been reported that he has earned almost double that in 2006. Last year, on one particularly lucrative day in Canada, Bill Clinton made $475,000 for two speeches.

Mrs Blair has already appeared on the professional lecture circuit. She reportedly charged £100,000 for a tour of Australia and £30,000 for a single event in the US. One year on the lecture circuit, the Blairs could probably make in excess of $5 million it is estimated .

And of course there is Tony Blair's memoirs - an advance in the region of £8 million . Indeed , the memoirs should be entitled "The Confessions of an Unrepentent Sinner " with his " I would do it all over again because i believed i was right ." arrogance .

"I am not going to beg for my character in front of anyone. People can make up their own mind about me," he told the BBC -Well , Socialist Courier have done just that , and our conclusion - An anti-working class war criminal .

Blair on the Rungs of the Property Ladder
1980: Mapledene Road, Hackney, bought £40,000, sold 1986 £80,000
1983: Myrobella, Trimdon village, nr Sedgefield, bought £30,000
1986: Stavordale Road, Islington, bought £120,000, sold 1993 £200,000
1993: Richmond Crescent, Islington, bought £375,000, sold 1997 £615,000
1997: 11 Downing Street - rent free flat next door to prime minister's traditional residence
2002: Clifton, Bristol, two flats bought for £525,000 in total
2004: Connaught Square, Bayswater, bought £3.6m
2007: Bayswater. Two bed house behind Connaught square property, bought £800,000. Blairs plan to join buildings together to create extra space

Blair on Tour
1997: Tuscany, guest of Geoffrey Robinson, Labour MP and businessman
1998: Tuscany, Prince Girolamo Strozzi, law professor and family friend
1999: Tuscany, Vannino Chiti, Tuscan president
2001: Ariege, Southern France, Sir Martin Keene, high court judge and family friend
2003 - 06: Barbados, Sir Cliff Richard, singer
2004: Sardinia, Silvio Berlusconi, Italian premier and media mogul
2006: Barbados, Sir Anthony Bamford, JCB boss and Tory donor
2007: Miami, Robin Gibb, Bee Gees member

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bliar or Brown-nose -Who Cares

picture courtesy of Capitalist Money Madness

Our opinion on the resignation of Tony Blair and the impending anointing of Gordon Brown ?

Different cheeks on the same arse .

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Capitalism , the Co-opting System

The Socialist Courier isn't known as a blog page for arty criticism but The Independent carries a story featuring the "guerrilla" graffiti artist known as "Banksy" who has a few pearls of wisdom .

"...The money that my work fetches these days makes me a bit uncomfortable, but that's an easy problem to solve - you just stop whingeing and give it all away. I don't think it's possible to make art about world poverty and then trouser all the cash , that's an irony too far, even for me."

"I have been called a sellout, but I give away thousands of paintings for free, how many more do you want?"

"I think it was easier when I was the underdog, and I had a lot of practise at it."

And the most poignant observation from him:-

"I love the way capitalism finds a place - even for its enemies. It's definitely boom time in the discontent industry."

Monday, May 07, 2007

Capitalism is a Cancer

Bucharest will witness a protest demonstration of a grisly kind today. The streets of the Romanian capital will be filled with cancer patients pleading with a government that they say has turned its back on them.

More than 370,000 patients have been diagnosed with cancer in Romania but only 76,000 are in treatment, according to official estimates. This year's budget for cancer treatment has been set at 336 million lei (£65 million), a fraction of the amount spent in other EU member states. The UK, with a population less than three times as big as Romania's, spent £4.3 billion on cancer in 2005-06. Many women with breast and gynaecological cancers who had had surgery and radiotherapy are unable to get chemotherapy.

In September, the government ordered a ban on newly trained doctors joining two-year oncology [ the study and treatment of tumors ] courses to qualify as specialists - the first EU member state to obliterate the specialty of oncology - replacing it with a 4 month course instead .

The government also introduced a new system for distributing drugs to cancer patients on 1 April. Previously, it had been handled by hospital pharmacies, but now patients can take a scrip from their doctor to a city pharmacy, and take the drugs at home. But the pharmacies are reluctant to supply the drugs because of bad experiences in the past with underfunded government schemes. The Ministry of Health has big debts from past years and they are sceptical that the government will pay this time . "Cancer drugs are expensive and no one wants to invest a lot of money in buying them and then find re-payments are blocked." . Thousands of patients were left without treatment.

Organisers of the protest in front of the Ministry of Public Health accuse the government of neglecting the suffering of cancer patients. They say ministers are withholding investment because they view cancer patients as economically unproductive.

Referring to the Minister of Health, Eugen Nicolaescu, a Federation of Cancer Patient Associations spokeswoman said :-

"He is an economist, not a doctor. He sees just figures and money, not human lives..."

A spokeswoman for the BMA in Scotland said:"It is no longer financially feasible to deliver everything to all people..."We need to have a sensible debate about rationing in Scotland in context of the Scottish health service."

While Dr Andrew Walker, health economist at Glasgow University, said:-
"...the Scottish Medicines Consortium, which guides the NHS on new drugs, already performed a cost benefit analysis to determine what should be made available to patients...As an economist I would like to see the same sort of model for the other 85% of the health service"

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Edinburgh Mayday 2007

Glasgow and Edinburgh members attend the traditional Mayday Saturday rally in Edinburgh .

The Struggle to Subsist

Nearly half of all UK families need two or more salaries to cover the bills and live comfortably, a survey from Scottish Widows suggests. Families with more than one child rely even more on two salaries, 51% of whom say they could not cope without them. High household bills and debts are putting pressure on family finances .

The survey revealed that a quarter of UK families have no savings while a further 25% have less than £3,000, figures showed.

The average two-child household has more than £100,000 mortgage, loan and credit card debt, the survey found. This compares to just £82,000 average debt for families with no children.

"This reliance on two incomes to buy and run the family home means millions of households are effectively doubling the risk of financial hardship should one of the breadwinners become unable to work," said Richard Jones, Scottish Widows spokesman.

Another report informs us that more than 30,000 people became insolvent in England and Wales during the first three months of 2007 , an increase of 23.9% on the same three-month period in 2006 representing more than 330 personal insolvencies for every day of winter.
It reaffirmed predictions that 2007 will go down as the worst-ever year for personal insolvencies in England and Wales, surpassing last year's record total of 107,288.

And lenders are taking a tougher stance with debtors with 18% debtors looking to enter Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs), a type of insolvency , being rejected by lenders. This is nearly double the rejection rate seen in the first three months of 2006.

Experts warn that a rise in UK interest rates , even a half a percentage point rise , could well push many people into insolvency.

As this article in this months Socialist Standard warns :-

"Sooner or later the bubble will burst, and it will be wage and salary earners without ‘independent means’ – drowning in debt – who are likely to be hardest hit, as the market economy solves a problem it created in the only way it knows."

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Polling Stations are now open

A final message from Oor Jimmy before you head off to mark your cross and vote .

...what the politicians of all Parties are saying, is just a cocktail of the same pledges, about how they will deal with the same problems.

And guess what, when the next election comes round, we will get it all again, because the problems of capitalism never go away, they are always with us.When I first voted, and it's a good few years, and elections ago now, the politicians were saying practically the same things, about the same problems, with the same equally hollow answers, and promises, so fellow workers, what's new?

But, as long as we put up with capitalism, then we have to put up with capitalism's problems, with no resolution in sight, and this not only applies to Britain, it also applies to the World.

It's the never ending story of a few everyday rich folk, versus millions of everyday poor folk.

But, it doesn't have to be that way, surely it's not impossible for us, the millions of everyday poor folk, to collectively put our heads together, to revolutionize the way we conduct our affairs, to change from a society based on the private gain of the few, to a social commonwealth, where the well-being, and harmony for everyone, will be the priority, and incidentally, save the Planet at the same time?

So, my fellow Human Beings, I urge you to think about it, because there's nothing in the whole wide World to prevent us, if we have the desire, and the will to carry it through?

The need is urgent, because time is running out!!

Paid Richly For Failure

Yet another of Socialist Courier's never-ending exposure of greedy capitalist pigs with snouts in the trough .

Former Scottish Media Group chief executive Andrew Flanagan was handed a pay-off of £831,024 after being ousted last year. This comprised £649,600 in compensation for loss of office, the Scottish Media Group's annual report reveals, together with the release of awards worth £181,424 under the company's long-term incentive and performance share plans.

He earned more than £1.1 million from SMG in 2006 after working only six-and-a-half months of the year before stepping down on July 18. This included £257,000 in salary for the period, plus benefits of £50,000 comprising car, medical insurance and pension supplement. On top of that, his severance deal included a payment of £555,600, representing 12 months' salary and benefits in lieu of notice. Surprisingly perhaps, he also got a £44,000 bonus. A further £50,000 was added to Flanagan's compensation package because he agreed to waive all statutory and further legal rights against the company.

Other executive with SMG to receive a golden handshake was former television chief Donald Emslie, who left last month after eight months as acting chief executive . He was paid a total of £361,135 last year, including a £24,000 performance bonus. The total included £45,000 for the extra responsibilities he took on when Flanagan left. Emslie also received LTIPs with a cash value of £173,775. He also was paid one year's severance still to be announced .

And were those pay-offs justly deserved rewards for success ? Hardly !

New in-coming chairman Richard Findlay slammed the predecessor board's strategy as fatally flawed and badly executed, leading to "excess debt, a lack of focus, instability in the leadership, dissatisfaction among the shareholders and poor staff morale".

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Great Money Trick

From the novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressel (published 1914), this story traces a year in the life of a group of painters and decorators in the town of Mugsborough in the early twentieth century. Haunted by fears of unemployment, the men struggle to keep their jobs at any cost but, in the course of events, some of them begin to realise that their condition of miserable poverty is neither ‘natural’ nor ‘just’. Robert Noonan (Tressell is a pen-name) was a painter and decorator himself and drew on his own experience of working life in contemporary Britain.


"Money is the real cause of poverty," said Owen.

"Prove it," repeated Crass.

"Money is the cause of poverty because it is the device by which those who are too lazy to work are enabled to rob the workers of the fruits of their labour."

"Prove it," said Crass.

Owen slowly folded up the piece of newspaper he had been reading and put it in his pocket.

"All right," he replied. "I'll show you how the Great Money Trick is worked."

Owen opened his dinner basket and took from it two slices of bread, but as these where not sufficient, he requested that anyone who had some bread left should give it to him. They gave him several pieces, which he placed in a heap on a clean piece of paper, and, having borrowed the pocket knives of Easton, Harlow and Philpot, he addressed the, as follows:

"These pieces of bread represent the raw materials which exist naturally in and on the earth for the use of mankind; they were not made by any human being, but were created for the benefit and sustenance of all, the same as were the air and the light of the sun."

"Now," continued Owen, "I am a capitalist; or rather I represent the landlord and capitalist class. That is to say, all these raw materials belong to me. It does not matter for our present arguement how I obtained possession of them, the only thing that matters now is the admitted fact that all the raw materials which are necessary for the production of the necessaries of life are now the property of the landlord and capitalist class. I am that class; all these raw materials belong to me."

"Now you three represent the working class. You have nothing, and, for my part, although I have these raw materials, they are of no use to me. What I need is the things that can be made out of these raw materials by work; but I am too lazy to work for me. But first I must explain that I possess something else beside the raw materials. These three knives represent all the machinery of production; the factories, tools, railways, and so forth, without which the necessaries of life cannot be produced in abundance. And these three coins" - taking three half pennies from his pocket - "represent my money, capital."

"But before we go any further," said Owen, interrupting himself, "it is important to remember that I am not supposed to be merely a capitalist. I represent the whole capitalist class. You are not supposed to be just three workers, you represent the whole working class."

Owen proceeded to cut up one of the slices of bread into a number of little square blocks.

"These represent the things which are produced by labour, aided by machinery, from the raw materials. We will suppose that three of these blocks represent a week's work. We will suppose that a week's work is worth one pund."

Owen now addressed himself to the working class as represented by Philpot, Harlow and Easton.

"You say that you are all in need of employment, and as I am the kind-hearted capitalist class I am going to invest all my money in variuos industries, so as to give you plenty of work. I shall pay each of you one pound per week, and a week's work is that you must each produce three of these square blocks. For doing this work you will each recieve your wages; the money will be your own, to do as you like with, and the things you produce will of course be mine to do as I like with. You will each take one of these machines and as soon as you have done a week's work, you shall have your money."

The working classes accordingly set to work, and the capitalist class sat down and watched them. As soon as they had finished, they passed the nine little blocks to Owen, who placed them on a piece of paper by his side and paid the workers their wages.

"These blocks represent the necessaries of life. You can't live without some of these things, but as they belong to me, you will have to buy them from me: my price for these blocks is,one pound each."

As the working classes were in need of the necessaries of life and as they could not eat, drink or wear the useless money, they were compelled to agree to the capitalist's terms. They each bought back, and at once consumed, one-third of the produce of their labour. The capitalist class also devoured two of the square blocks, and so the net result of the week's work was that the kind capitalist had consumed two pounds worth of things produced by the labour of others, and reckoning the squares at their market value of one pound each, he had more than doubled his capital, for he still possessed the three poinds in money and in addition four pounds worth of goods. As for the working classes, Philpot, Harlow and Easton, having each consumed the pound's worth of necessaries they had bought with their wages, they were agin in precisely the same condition as when they had started work - they had nothing.

This process was repeated several times; for each weeks work the producers were paid their wages. They kept on working and spending all their earnings. The kind-hearted capitalist consumed twice as much as any one of them and his pool of wealth continually increased. In a little while, reckoning the little squares at their market value of one pound each, he was worth about one hundred pounds, and the working classes were still in the same condition as when they began, and were still tearing into their work as if their lives depended on it.

After a while the rest of the crowd began to laugh, and their meriment increased when the kind-hearted capitalist, just after having sold a pound's worth of necessaries to each of his workers, suddenly took their tools, the machinery of production, the knives, away from them, and informed them that as owing to over production all his store-houses were glutted with the necessaries of life, he had decided to close down the works.

"Well, and wot the bloody 'ell are we to do now ?" demanded Philpot.

"That's not my business," replied the kind-hearted capitalist. "I've paid your wages, and provided you with plenty of work for a long time past. I have no more work for you to do at the present. Come round again in a few months time and I'll see what I can do."

"But what about the necessaries of life?" Demanded Harlow. "we must have something to eat."

"Of course you must," replied the capitalist, affably; "and I shall be very pleased to sell you some." "But we ain't got no bloody money!"

"Well, you cant expect me to give you my goods for nothing! You didn't work for nothing, you know. I paid you for your work and you should have saved something: you should have been thrifty like me. Look how I have got on by being thrifty!"

The unemployed looked blankly at each other, but the rest of the crowd only laughed; and then the three unemployed began to abuse the kind-hearted capitalist, demanding that he should give them some of the necessaries of life that he had piled up in his warehouses, or to be allowed to work and produce some more for their own needs; and even threated to take some of the things by force if he did not comply with their demands. But the kind-hearted capitalist told them not to be insolent, and spoke to them about honesty, and said if they were not carefule he would have their faces battered in for them by the police, or if necessary he would call out the military and have them shot down like dogs, the same as he had done before at Featherstone and Belfast.