Socialist Worker

Blair's lapdog is laid bare

Issue No. 1837

THE PRO-WAR camp notched up a notable supporter last week-nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow. Perhaps you thought he was just a sleazy businessman who makes his money from exploiting women in lap-dancing clubs.

You'd be right. Stringfellow is famous for 'pushing back the boundaries' of such 'entertainment' by winning the legal right to put on nude pole-dancing. After the attack on the World Trade Centre his greatest concern seemed to be the effect on his clubs if fewer greasy financiers came to spend their cash.

But Stringfellow is also a strong Tory. He is a member of a Conservative business circle who each pay at least £10,000 a year to the party and are guaranteed access to members of the shadow cabinet.

When he signed up Stringfellow said the Tory leadership was considering a policy idea that he had mentioned over dinner. A sexist Tory-just the man to back Tony Blair over war on Iraq.


Racism's no joke

A BRITISH diplomat has not been instantly sacked despite circulating a racist e-mail as 'a joke'. David Arkley, deputy head of press and public affairs at the Moscow embassy, sent a poem to nine of his friends.

'Ode of an Asylum Seeker' claims to describe how a refugee buys a big house with welfare cheques, invites 14 families to move in and forces his neighbour to leave. It begins, 'I come for visit, get treated regal/So I say, who care I illegal?' It then gets much worse.

Racist references include, 'We have hobby, it's called breeding/Welfare pay for baby feeding.' Arkley admitted using an official e-mail address to circulate the message. The Foreign Office is holding an inquiry.


A hospital patient has clinched a new world record for Britain after being left on a trolley for over three days. Tony Collins, a diabetic, was in a corridor for 77 hours waiting for a bed while he was ill with a virus.

A few days after his record was confirmed he returned to hospital with a similar problem and this time waited 60 hours. Tony endured the record wait at Princess Margaret Hospital in Swindon. He said, 'The hospital staff were brilliant and in no way would I criticise them. But in different circumstances this sort of situation could have been fatal.'


Court out

WHEN Lawrence Jacobs walked into a Louisiana court for his son's trial a few weeks ago he couldn't believe his eyes. The prosecutor was wearing a tie with a dangling noose on it. Mr Jacobs's son is being tried on a capital murder charge.

On a later day another prosecutor had a tie with an image of the grim reaper. Defence lawyers say this is just the latest evidence of a bloodthirsty culture in the district attorney's office. In East Baton Rouge, 75 miles away, the district attorney celebrates death sentences with office parties replete with steaks and Jim Beam whiskey.

Thanks to Diana French for this story.


Not ready for the obituaries

THE HIGH Court is trying to decide if the working class still exists. The Earl of Cadogan is trying to stop a property company building luxury houses on a site in Chelsea originally intended to provide homes for the poor. The earl is one of the richest men in Britain. He is worth a massive £1.3 billion.

The land in question was sold by the earl's grandfather in 1929 'for the housing of the working classes'. The property company, Dano Ltd, claims that the term is now meaningless. The firm's barrister said 'working classes' used to mean those employed in manual or industrial jobs for wages.

But the barrister added, 'It is not possible to say today with any degree of certainty or precision what is meant by working class or whether any person is within that description.' The earl says it does still mean something.

Inside the System is prepared to provide expert witnesses to back up the earl's line for as little as, say, 10 percent of his fortune.


Reward is down the line

TUBELINES IS one of the private consortia taking over parts of London Underground under New Labour's PPP scheme. Private Eye magazine has unearthed some characters at the head of this outfit.

ANDREW CLEAVES is Tubelines' contract director. He is a former London Underground manager who worked on secondment to former transport secretary Stephen Byers 'to communicate the benefits of PPP'.

ALEX FOULDS is Tubelines' director of business planning. He used to be the 'PPP transaction manager at London Underground, responsible for developing the contractual performance and payment regimes'.

MARTIN BROWN is Tubelines' health and safety director. He came to the firm from the Health and Safety Executive where he agreed 'the safety case' for PPP.


A supermarket manager, hailed as a hero by the press after robbers battered him, was sacked after taking sick leave due to the stress of the attack. Sean Flynn had tried to stop two men taking £4,000.

An employment tribunal last week told his ex-employers Kwik Save to pay him £17,500 for unfairly dismissing him. The company said, 'We believed we were acting in his best interests.'


Secret freeze squeeze

GOVERNMENT ministers have tried to keep secret a report which shows their total failure to meet a pledge to make sure the poorest households keep warm in winter. In 2001 the government said 2.3 million households would get help for improvements such as insulating their homes to cut fuel bills. Now the most optimistic forecast is that by 2010 just 800,000 might get the cash.

Between 30,000 and 60,000 elderly and poor people die unnecessarily in Britain each year. Ministers have told contractors that the insulation programme is to be cut by 15 percent from April because of spending restrictions.


Things they say

'THESE tuition fees, paid after graduation, are likely to increase student debt, especially for low income students, which, as this study showed, deterred their participation in higher education.'
UNIVERSITIES UK, which represents vice-chancellors, on their report into fees

'SOME OF these will be assumptions and stereotypical nonsense whipped up by elements of the media. It is important to challenge these. Britain is not a soft touch.'
KEN JONES, head of Sussex police force, on refugees

'I'VE gotten nervous at some of the pronouncements Rumsfeld has made. He almost sometimes seems to be enjoying it.'
GENERAL NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF

'IT'S SO bad being homeless in winter. They should go somewhere hot like the Caribbean where they can eat free fish all day.'
LADY VICTORIA HERVEY, royal hanger-on

'THE chief characteristic of Tony Blair is that you can never believe a word he says. He is not the first prime minister you can say this of, but he is the one least inclined to telling the truth.'
ALAN WATKINS, senior political commentator

'I WAS taken to a room by a Labour official and I assumed someone would fetch me. I couldn't walk to the reception and didn't have my wheelchair. But no one came. I think they just forgot about me.'
LORD BRUCE OF DONINGTON, who helped set up the NHS, who was abandoned at a Downing Street reception


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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 8 Feb 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1837
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