Socialist Worker

Now stick an ASBO on Labour in Hartlepool

Issue No. 1920

CRIME BECAME a key issue in the Hartlepool by-election in an unexpected way last week.

Local police had to intervene when a row between Labour and Lib Dem supporters threatened to turn nasty. Incredibly, the two sides were raging at each other over which party was the toughest on crime.

The Labour Party have been accused of bussing staff up from their central London office to hold a “protest” outside the Lib Dem offices in Hartlepool on Tuesday of last week.

The “protesters” waved placadrs accusing the Lib Dems of being soft on criminals. A huge row ensued. The police had to break up Labour’s crime picket and “had words” with senior figures from both parties.

Newspapers are reporting that among the Labour “protesters” were Labour officials who played key roles in the Hodge Hill by-election in July.

Labour won the Birmingham Hodge Hill seat, but their campaign disgusted many by its vitriolic abuse of “teen gangs” and asylum seekers.

A local paper, the Hartlepool Mail, ran a picture of last week’s undignified scuffle.

Respect press officer Peter Smith responded by having this letter printed in the paper:

“The clash between Labour and Lib Dem supporters on York Road requires a response. Rival political parties can surely find a more mature way of settling disagreements than engaging in a street ruckus.

“It beggars belief to think that this unseemly row was over the party’s respective law and order policies.

“We in this office were pleased that a close examination of the photograph clearly shows that, with the exception of the police officers, most of the demonstrators were not from the town.”

Labour Party figures are now threatening legal action against the Liberal Democrat candidate for naming them as getting on the wrong side of the police on her website.


Top salaries for the axe wielders

THE DEPARTMENT for Work and Pensions (DWP) is advertising for a chairman of the new Pensions Regulator group.

The quoted salary will be £100,000, but the ad does not say if this will be a full or part time job. The DWP says this will be decided “as a result of negotiations”.

The successful candidate will also have the option of taking a civil service final salary pension scheme or negotiating a more attractive package.

The DWP announced the closure of 42 offices last week, and tens of thousands of workers face the sack. Those that are left face having their retirement age raised, and their final salary scheme is under threat.


LEADING BLAIRITE Alan Milburn is giving up his £30,000 job with the venture capital firm Bridgepoint to return to the cabinet.

Bridgepoint owns Alliance Medical, which won a £95 million five-year contract in August to provide 12 mobile MRI scanners to the NHS.

NHS scanners are often underused because the funds to employ staff are not there.

A £700,000 MRI scanner in Royal Bolton Hospital only runs six half-days a week because the trust says it cannot afford the staff.


Parent power proves costly

WHEN South Lanarkshire council refused to repaint Kirktonholme Primary School’s entrance a group of parents stepped in.

The council then handed the parents a bill for £300 for using the staff room during the two days they painted.

The council claimed the repaint would cost £31,000. But Jackie Hurry of the parent teacher staff association said, “We calculated that it cost us about £500 to paint the school. Of that money £300 was given to the council.

“We asked them if they could put it down as a charitable event so we would not have to pay for the hire, but they refused.”


Lib Dems' sick policy

YORK’S LIBERAL Democrat council has become the first council in the country to use a private company in an attempt to slash sick leave.

Under the three month trial, adult services employees—home and residential carers and social workers—do not contact their line manager when sick. Instead, they speak to private healthcare organisation Active Health.

An occupational health nurse will then give advice on how best to treat the symptoms.
Thanks to Paul Furness


Kylie flops with workers

BOSSES AT Croatian Telecom had the wonderful idea of asking chart-topping pop diva Kylie Minogue to come to sing to them to cheer up the workers.

But the workers weren’t so happy about it. They decided they would prefer a pay rise to hearing Kylie singing to celebrate the company’s rebranding.

And they forced the company to back down.

A company spokesman said, “It won’t happen because of protests by unions. At this stage the concert would be a provocation.”


In this week - 140 years ago - 1864

KARL MARX and Frederick Engels helped set up the International Working Mens’ Association, or the First International, in London.

The group helped spread the ideas of socialism. It had branches across the world.

The Paris Commune, the very first workers’ government, came into being after an uprising during the French-Prussian war, proving the relevance of the International’s ideas.

The International raised solidarity and support for the Paris Commune, but it was crushed by the ruling class. The International was wound up in 1872.


Figure it out - 10

The number of years longer a man from a wealthy family can expect to live, compared to a man from a poorer background. This is according to the National Consumer Council.


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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 25 Sep 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1920
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