Chancellor Gordon Brown wrote a big article for the Sunday Times recently singing the praises of capitalism. 'The key to neighbourhood renewal is more businesses. American cities have taught us the advantages of business-led regeneration. Our old cities and estates should be seen as new markets with competitive advantages. Changing our culture to one that favours enterprise will come about with the greatest effect if it starts in our schools. I want every young person to hear about business and enterprise in every school. I want businessmen and women to visit our schools and talk to enterprise classes. I want every community to see business leaders as role models.'
In 1975 the young Gordon Brown had a much better grasp of reality when he co-authored The Red Paper on Scotland. Brown wrote, 'If the prospects for the least fortunate are to be as great as they can be, then they must have the final say-and that requires a massive and irreversible shift of power to working people. Eroding the power of the market is the forging ground for socialist progress. We need the public control of industries essential to the provision of social needs and services-building and construction, food and food processing, insurance and pensions, energy, land, banking and foreign trade. The priorities are the taking over of the assets of the major British and American multinationals, without compensation.'
Deadly state torture
New Evidence has confirmed the scale of torture and murder carried out by French forces in Algeria, North Africa, from 1954 to 1962. General Aussaresses, now 82, has said that torture was routine and widely condoned at the highest levels. In an interview with Le Monde he says that up to 3,000 people arrested by the
French authorities 'disappeared'. He admitted he had personally executed 24 people. Aussaresses described how he reported to his superior, General Massu, every morning. 'I'd say to Massu, 'We picked up so and so.' Then I'd look him in the eye and add, 'We'll kill him tomorrow.' Massu grunted. I assumed that meant he approved.' Aussaresses says he was against any apology by the French government.
A series of government documents were released to the public for the first time last week. They reveal that King Hussein of Jordan called for an Israeli air strike against Syrian troops who were supporting a Palestinian uprising in 1970. The Israelis apparently never acted on the request. Hussein also 'appealed for the moral and diplomatic support of the United Kingdom and the United States'. He killed thousands of Palestinians using weapons such as napalm supplied by the US.
The taskless in government
The government has set up 238 'task forces, advisory groups and review bodies' since 1997. Yet many of them have produced absolutely nothing, or at least nothing that is being made public.
Not a word of reports or recommendations has been produced by these unelected quangos:
- The Music Industry Forum.
- The Advisory Group on Nutritional Standards For School Lunches.
- The Ministerial Advisory Group on Retail Crime.
- The Graduate Apprenticeship National Steering Group.
But of course this was never the real aim. As one civil service insider said, 'Most such committees are packed with businessmen. 'Their function is to tell the government what the private sector wants done and to railroad it through the departments of Whitehall.'
A fair cop
A traffic cop with a hand-held radar gun nearly caused a major military incident recently. He locked on to a speeding vehicle travelling at 300 mph. It turned out to be a RAF Tornado on a low-flying training mission. Its anti-radar missiles then automatically locked on to destroy the policeman. Fortunately for him, the pilot just managed to deactivate the system before the weapons were fired.
A British businessman, who wants to remain anonymous, gave his wife a £14 million submarine for Christmas. He ordered it from the US store Neiman Marcus's mail order catalogue.
The BSkyB chief executive, Tony Ball, cashed in £6 million of share options to add to his basic salary of £700,000 a year. In an attempt to justify the payout, a BSkyB spokesperson points out that 'Tony Ball has a young family'. No doubt the same generosity will be shown to all its employees in the same position.
Prestwick Golf Club, one of the poshest in Scotland, is widening its toilet cubicles so its members can read the Financial Times while engaged in their private business. At present the toilets are only large enough only to read a paper such as Socialist Worker. This is clearly not suitable for a club whose membership is drawn almost entirely from those who went to public schools.
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that taxpayers will have to pay £32 billion to clean up Britain's nuclear military installations. In June 1999 the MoD said the cost would be £10 billion but a recent Treasury review says it needs to put aside three times as much to deal with weapons and ships now regarded as out of date. These include the first nuclear submarine, Dreadnought, which has been in storage since 1983.
Last month Helen Liddell, a trade and industry minister, told an audience of businessmen the total cost of cleaning up the British nuclear industry (military and civilian) would actually be £85 billion.
Things they say
'The United States economy is in deep trouble.'
LAWRENCE LINDSEY, George W Bush's chief economic adviser
'This bloke Mark Thomas is an out and out nutter.'
EXPORT CREDIT GUARANTEE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL's email about the left wing comedian
'Thomas IS back on the telly (by the way [name of official deleted] also said that Caborn wants him to gather as much background/dirt on him in order to rubbish him).'
ECGD OFFICIAL reports orders from Labour trade minister Richard Caborn
'If things continue like this we could even end up under house arrest.'
CHINESE LEADER DENG XIAOPING during the revolt of 1989. The document was leaked last week
'Consignia? The name doesn't actually mean anything.'
JOHN ROBERTS, chief executive at the Post Office, explains the new corporate name
'Bishops should not support Comic Relief. It backs evil organisations.'
JACK SCARISBRICK, chairman of anti-abortion group Life, after British Catholic bishops said it was all right to donate money to the charity Comic Relief
'It's quite a popular one that, isn't it?'
BLAIR responding to a question about renationalising the rail at a Labour Party meeting in Bristol
'Our view, like [New Labour minister] Clare Short's, is that if poor countries reject the know-how that multinational firms can provide they risk trapping themselves in poverty. She agrees with us and we with her. New Labour has come round to our view that markets often know better than governments.'
Bosses' magazine the ECONOMIST