Socialist Worker

Vote winner?

Issue No. 1737

Doncaster Labour council is showing just how to woo disillusioned Labour voters. Council leader Colin Wedd issued a memo warning fellow councillors to be 'careful' to help ensure 'maximum support' among Labour voters in the general election.

Within days of the memo Wedd announced that he wanted £800 paid from council funds to go on a five day 'fact finding' mission to...a horse race meeting in Pisa in Italy. This was quickly followed by the announcement of a 7.9 percent rent rise for council tenants and plans to sack 280 wardens in local elderly people's homes.

Business fails to turn green

Business is digging its heels in over global warming-just as a new United Nations report last week warned of even greater disasters if nothing is done. A survey by the Business in the Environment corporate body found that companies are making a 'pitiful' contribution to tackling global warming by reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

  • two thirds of companies have not even set targets for reducing emissions.
  • One third of all companies do not even measure their emissions.
  • Even on its own measure the corporate sector's performance on tackling global warming had fallen by 9 percent in the last year.

Meanwhile it has also emerged that the bosses' CBI organisation is pressing the government to further relax the Climate Change Levy in the forthcoming budget. The levy was supposed to tax the companies with the worst record of greenhouse gas emissions.

Chancellor Gordon Brown has already allowed many off the hook by making it possible for some to claim 80 percent discounts. The CBI wants the criteria for claiming the discount to be made even easier.

The government is suppressing a damning report showing 'institutional racism' throughout the civil service until after the election. The report, commissioned by the Cabinet Office, finds that black and Asian workers are consistently marked lower than white colleagues under the performance-related pay scheme, leading to lower pay rises. 'It is very sensitive,' one official admits.

Private bonanza

Big business is already gearing up for what it hopes will be a privatisation bonanza under a New Labour government after the election. Giant investment bank Merrill Lynch has formed a specialist 'public affairs' unit to lobby for privatisation.

The bank appointed Gill Christopher-Cambers as the second in command. The double-barrelled banker has spent the last four years as the manager of Tony Blair's political office.

Before that he worked for troubled Labour MP Keith Vaz. Head of the Merrill Lynch lobbying unit is Miles Webber. He sat on the board of foreign secretary Robin Cook's think tank, the Foreign Policy Centre.

Merrill Lynch internal reports are drooling over what they see as the prospect of the mass privatisation of education services. This will take place under the GATS trade agreement, supported by Blair.

The Ford fat cats

Ford bosses are enjoying the high life while thousands of workers at the company's Dagenham plant face the dole. Ford UK has just splashed out £50 million on two plush jets to fly executives around Europe.

The VIP planes each boast two bathrooms and showers, bedrooms, dining room, lounge and an office. The £50 million spent on pampering Ford fat cats could keep the 2,000-plus Dagenham workers facing the dole in work for a year.$ Free to choose, if you agree with us

The Nike shoes and clothing multinational now lets you personalise your trainers by submitting a word or phrase which it will stitch onto them. It claims this is 'about freedom to choose and freedom to express who you are'. Jonah Peretti sent in his money asking for the word 'Sweatshop' to be his personal tag.

Nike turned down Jonah's request, claiming, 'You have chosen inappropriate slang.' Jonah replied pointing out that 'after consulting Webster's dictionary, I discovered that 'sweatshop' is in fact part of standard English, and not slang. 'The word means 'a shop or factory in which workers are employed for long hours at low wages and under unhealthy conditions', and its origin dates from 1892. So my personal ID does meet the criteria.'

Nike then dropped all pretence and wrote back, 'Nike reserves the right to cancel personal ID. Some may contain material that we consider inappropriate or simply do not want to place on our products.' That's what corporations mean by 'freedom to express who you are'.

Spot difference

Computert technican Michael Collins was recently fined £235 and given four penalty points on his licence for doing 78 mph in a 50 mph zone on the A3.

Chauffeur Tony Peach was not prosecuted at all when caught doing the same 78 mph on the same stretch of road.

Oh...Peach is a police chauffeur and in the back of his vehicle sat Denis O'Connor, chief constable of Surrey.

Things they say

'A financial monster.'
GlaxoSmithKline drugs multinational boss JEAN-PIERRE GARNIER describing his own company

'The Socialist Alliance looks fresh and exciting.'
Pro-Blair Guardian columnist JOHN O'FARRELL

'We had to get the programme started. We had to create a market in the Private Finance Initiative because there was not a market.'
Health secretary ALAN MILBURN on PFI in the NHS

'I'm the hardest working person I know. I only go to about three parties a week.'

'Suitable for vegetarians.'

'How do you put an estimate on a six-foot hamster? We don't sell too many of those.'
Auctioneer DEREK SADLER on problems with selling off the contents of the Millennium Dome

'The fact is I have no vices.'
PETER MANDELSON, ex cabinet minister

'There's no reward for loyalty. It's run like a business.'
BUCKINGHAM PALACE worker on news that royal staff are not to get the medal they were expecting for the queen's jubilee

'Her life has gone as normal while mine has been ruined by one incident in which I did everything correctly.'
ARTHUR HARRIOT, ticket inspector who charged Cherie Blair a £10 penalty fare for not having a ticket...and who has now been sacked by Thameslink

'Six and a half million people have visited the Dome and six and a half left happy.'
Honest admission by P-Y GERBEAU, head of the Dome

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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 3 Mar 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1737
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