Socialist Worker

Dear minister... angry letters from an unelected busybody

Issue No. 2326

Prince Charles must have breathed a sigh of relief this week. The attorney general has refused to publish 27 letters with which the future autocrat has bombarded politicians.

He said the memos were part of Charlie’s “preparation for kingship” and that to publish them would have “undermined his position of political neutrality”.

Charles defends his “meddling” by saying he was “born into this position for a purpose”. He also claims to be a harmless environmentalist.

But the lobbying that has emerged reveals some of the more reactionary views one would expect from a man who owns most of Cornwall.

One of his first political interventions called for a referendum over the Channel Tunnel. “Britain will no longer be an island,” he fretted.

In one leaked letter, Charles lobbied Labour’s Lord Chancellor Irvine against the Human Rights Act. He said that to talk about “the rights of individuals” without their “social responsibilities” was a “fundamental distortion”.

He told of his “dread” that health and safety regulations and a “compensation culture” would create a “real fear of taking decisions”.

Former culture secretary Tessa Jowell says Charles contacted her about apprenticeships in the countryside. One dreads to think what he had in mind for young farm workers. And needless to say, Charles opposed the ban on fox hunting.

He wrote to Tony Blair, agreeing with a farmer who told him “if we, as a group, were black or gay, we would not be victimised or picked upon”.

He also told ministers that if the ban went through, “I might as well leave this country and spend the rest of my life skiing.” Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to have kept this promise.

The BBC will also be sitting on the “audience feedback” it received from Charles, in the hope of maintaining “a safe space… away from public scrutiny”. Perhaps the prince should save them the bother—and save future pearls of wisdom for the trees.

Double trouble

There’s reassuring news for the cops who tasered innocent blind man Colin Farmer in Chorley last week—supposedly mistaking his white stick for a samurai sword.

They could soon be issued with new “X2” tasers from the US. They are laser guided and can zap two targets at once. Blind people can sleep soundly in their beds once more.

Burning issue

London’s housing crisis could cost lives, according to the London Fire Brigade. In the past three years they have had to tackle fires in buildings not meant to be lived in almost every five days.

Deaths and serious injuries in the so called “beds in sheds” fires come more than once a month.

Racism? Now we’ve got an app for that

Are you concerned that the harassment of Muslims in France hasn’t quite gone far enough? If so, Apple may be able to help. An app on their French iPhone site invites users to report on a real-time map the location of any woman they spot in a niqab or hijab.

The nerds at racist website Enquête et Débat strongly deny that their app is anything like denouncing people to the Gestapo. Is there an app for reporting bullshit?

Meanwhile it’s been an embarrassing week for Google boss Larry Page. The firm lost more than £12 billion from the value of its shares last week—thanks to a rogue email.

An unexpectedly weak financial release was accidently sent to stock market authorities ahead of schedule. It began with the words “PENDING LARRY QUOTE”. Google was forced to suspend trading. We don’t imagine Larry’s feeling lucky.

Just the ticket for the MP gravy train

It may come as news to no one that George Osborne is a first class snob and swindler. He’s not the only one. More than 180 MPs have booked first class rail tickets on expenses, despite new rules brought in after the last big expenses scandal.

Their ruse is to book first class tickets in advance that are cheaper than standard tickets bought on the day. This allows them to pretend they’ve saved the taxpayer hundreds of pounds.

And that’s not the only way they are still putting their hands in the till. Some 27 MPs have been caught claiming up to £20,000 expenses for one home while milking another for rent. Tory MP David Amess also claimed more than £8,000 to stay in London hotels over the past year.

Others on the list include both ministers and Labour shadow ministers. And at least eight MPs have found the ultimate loophole—letting to or renting from other MPs.

Know your enemy: James O’Shaughnessy

Lobbyist James O’Shaughnessy was David Cameron’s senior advisor until 2011, when he left after trading on his insider knowledge.

Now says failing schools should be taken over by private firms, as the motivation to make money will help them improve. Clearly worked in his case.

An austerity sandwich for NHS patients

What do NHS funding cuts taste like? To find out, get yourself admitted to Newham University Hospital in east London.

It allows just £2.19 to be spent on food per patient per day—which could work out at as little as a mouth-watering 73p per meal. Options include a sandwich with “chicken-style slices”. Yum!

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The Troublemaker
Tue 23 Oct 2012, 17:13 BST
Issue No. 2326
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