IF YOU love big business and privatisation, New Labour’s forthcoming party conference in Brighton is the place for you.
The Social Market Foundation think-tank has organised a series of fringe meetings to bring ministers and bosses closer together.
In the recent Birmingham by-election New Labour taunted the Liberal Democrat candidate, Nicola “Nokia” Davies, because of her job for the Mobile Phone Operators’ Association.
But Alun Michael is to speak on a platform paid for by the association alongside Mike Dolan, the association’s executive director and Nicola Davies’s boss.
Culture minister Lord McIntosh will speak on “gambling and regeneration” alongside Sun International gambling firm director Peter Byrne.
Sun International, which ran South Africa’s Sun City, wants to open four huge casinos in deprived parts of Britain. It will be paying for the meeting.
Health minister John Hutton will address the question, “Can the private sector deliver public good for the NHS?”
The meeting is paid for by Swedish health firm Capio, which has won a £210 million contract to carry out NHS operations.
Treasury minister Ruth Kelly will speak on increasing personal debt at a meeting paid for by the Finance and Leasing Association.
This represents Britain’s credit card, hire purchase and loan companies, which between them control about one third of British consumer debt.
Pensions minister Malcolm Wicks will speak on a platform provided by Royal London, a pensions and savings firm.
It is lobbying for more ways to make money from the government’s “stakeholder” pensions.
Transport secretary Alistair Darling is set to speak at a meeting sponsored by the Go Ahead train group, alongside the company’s £342,000 a year deputy chief executive Chris Moyes.
Housing minister Keith Hill and Oona King MP are speaking at a meeting about the “have nots” on a platform sponsored by the British Property Federation.
Stephen Twigg MP is inviting delegates to “think while they drink” at a reception helpfully provided by nuclear firm BNFL.
Casting Perle before Hollinger’s swine
THE REPORT into Conrad Black’s $400 million “corporate kleptocracy” at Hollinger International, which owned the Telegraph, has cast light on the dark deeds of Richard Perle.
Perle, known as the “Prince of Darkness”, is a former US defence adviser and a key member of the Project for a New American Century.
He was chairman of Hollinger Digital. Hollinger invested $2.5 million into Perle’s company Trireme Partners. Perle grabbed over $3 million in bonuses in 2000 and 2001, even though the company lost $67.8 million.
Another director of Hollinger International is US war criminal Henry Kissinger.
Harrowing stuff for public school
HARROW PUBLIC school says, “We seek to remind our pupils that they are part of a distinguished and honourable community, and inspire them through the example of great men who have gone before them.”
One of those “great men” is Mark Thatcher, recently arrested after being implicated in the coup plot against Equatorial Guinea.
But he isn’t the only former pupil of Harrow public school to have fallen on hard times.
The Marquess of Blandford served a prison sentence for drug offences and jumping bail.
John Jermyn, the Marquess of Bristol, served numerous terms in prison for drugs offences. He lost his stately home and died in his 40s.
A former chaplain of the school recently confessed to being at the centre of a paedophile ring.
Guy Lucas became the sole practitioner at solicitors R Lucas and Sons. He was at the centre of a £1.2 billion mortgage fraud in the 1990s and struck off by the Law Society.
Simon Straker died in a Los Angeles police cell after being arrested for drunkenness.
William Maudling, son of disgraced former Tory home secretary Reginald Maudling, died in 1999 in a north London squat, devastated by heroin.
BEN GOLDSMITH, son of Referendum Party founder Sir James Goldsmith, has become a leading donor to the Green Party.
He gave £20,000 to Green MEP Caroline Lucas’s successful campaign to get re-elected in the south east. This is four times the amount given by Anita Roddick, the Body Shop founder.
Goldsmith inherited £10 million “spending money” from his father’s £1.2 billion will, lives off a £1 million a year allowance, and works as a venture capitalist in the City of London.
Caroline Lucas says, “He was a lifesaver for us. We were absolutely delighted to receive Ben’s donation.”
The bullet and the ballot
THERE ARE concerns about the role the Pentagon will play in the counting of soldiers’ votes in the US presidential elections.
US soldiers from Missouri stationed in Iraq and other countries will be able to e-mail their votes from combat zones to the Pentagon. The Pentagon will then send them to local Missouri election offices to be counted.
This system has not been used before. It is rife with security problems.
The defence department scrapped a similar programme earlier this year because it could not “assure the legitimacy of votes” cast by e-mail.
Omega Technology will handle the e-mailed ballots without election observers being present.
The New York Times says, “There is more cause for concern after the ballots arrive at the Pentagon.
E-mail voters will be required to sign a release acknowledging their votes may not be kept secret.
“When the people handling ballots know who they are cast for, it is not hard to imagine that ballots for disfavoured candidates could accidentally be “lost”.
“Because the e-mailed ballots arrive as computer documents, it is possible to cut off the voter’s digitised signature, attach it to a ballot supporting another candidate, and send that ballot on to the state to be counted.”
In this week - 20 years ago - 1984
PROTESTS shook Chile, marking the eleventh anniversary of the military coup on 11 September 1973.
The Chilean dictator, Pinochet, unleashed repression against protesters.
Nine demonstrators were killed and many more were injured.
More than 10,000 workers from the slums of the capital city, Santiago, followed the coffin of a French priest who had been gunned down.
It was the first time in 11 years that a protest had reached the city centre. Students occupied their colleges and truck drivers stopped freight.
Figure it out - 75%
The proportion of the 18,656 doctors registering with the General Medical Council last year who were trained overseas. These foreign doctors are crucial to keeping the National Health Service afloat.
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