Inside the system
Who's guarding the Guardian?
KEEP A close watch on the Guardian now that there is a new chairman of the Guardian Media Group. He is Paul Myners. Myners has been chairman of the fund managers' Gartmore Investment Management since 1987, is the deputy chairman of Powergen, and is also an executive director of NatWest Bank.
He is also chairman of the Lloyd's of London investment committee. He used to be a journalist on the Tory-supporting Daily Telegraph until 1974, when he left to work for the Rothschild investment bank. When he first started at Gartmore as chief executive the firm was partly owned by British and Commonwealth Holdings.
This company made a fortune for the Cayzer family. Lord Cayzer was the biggest backer of the Tories in Margaret Thatcher's early years. Cayzer was also a director of the Economic League, an organisation that compiled a blacklist of trade union militants and socialists for employers to use. Hugo Young, Guardian journalist and chairman of the Scott Trust, which owns the Guardian Media Group, welcomed his new boss, saying, "The trust is very pleased to have found such an outstanding businessman, sympathetic to its unique purposes."
Follow orders and be damned
GUYANA, one of the poorest countries in the world, has been told it cannot have its debts cancelled-because it has followed the advice of the International Monetary Fund. In May 1999 the Guyanese government had jumped all the hurdles put up by the IMF to qualify for debt relief. Now it has been told that the extra money promised at the G8 summit in June last year, and at the IMF and World Bank forums in September, is not coming. Last summer, there was a public sector workers' strike.
The government wanted to hold pay rises to 12 percent but an arbitration tribunal awarded the workers 31.6 percent. The IMF and World Bank met with the government and told it to give in. Now the IMF has ruled this award broke previous targets for public spending and is refusing to release the agreed debt relief funds.
Guyana is in its third round of a five year long structural readjustment programme. In 1997 this meant the country spent 17 percent of its economic output on servicing debt compared to just 4.1 percent on education. Chancellor Gordon Brown has agreed that the IMF and World Bank's conditions have to be met before New Labour will fulfil its promise to give debt relief.
Split in store
ASDA supermarket's latest gimmick to pull punters in has backfired on them. The retail giant, now owned by US company Wal-Mart, was encouraging its shoppers to find love amongst the baked beans. Last April Asda's publicity machine went into overdrive when Tracey and Wayne Bowler decided to get married after meeting in an Asda store in Nottingham. The supermarket paid for a wedding, a blessing ceremony in the store and a honeymoon in the Lake District. Ten months later Tracey and Wayne are getting divorced.
Accountants choose Lords
UNDER LABOUR'S reform of the House of Lords there will be a new commission that will appoint the non-elected members in the House of Lords. The people on that commission will be chosen by one of the biggest accountancy companies in the world, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). PwC is the product of a merger.
One half used to be the firm Price Waterhouse. This is the company which paid former Tory MP and party treasurer Tim Smith before he resigned after admitting taking cash for questions. The Coopers bit of the firm also has connections with the Tories. It used to have Sir Christopher Foster as its senior partner. Foster advised the Tories on how to privatise the railway and then went on to become deputy chairman of Railtrack. The cost of hiring PwC will be around 52,000 plus VAT. Advertising costs will be some 30,000 plus VAT.
HOME secretary Jack Straw's son has lashed out at New Labour's plans over tuition fees. William Straw put forward a motion to his Oxford college student committee and then sent it on to Downing Street. The motion reads, "Top-up fees are wrong. Introducing top-up fees will not increase academic standards at Britain's universities but will lead to them becoming elite institutions."
A BUNCH of drunken toffs caused mayhem in the Oxfordshire village of Kingston Blunt two weekends ago. The party was for Oxford University's Bullingdon Club, which involves its members, or "Bullers", on a riotous drinking binge. One of them listed the alcohol they knocked back; "We started off with a Jeroboam [about ten ordinary bottles worth] of Perrier Jouet and got through eight bottles of Bolly a head."
The marquee "was covered in broken crockery, splintered tables and the bodies of 'Buller' men wearing tweed suits". Among the gang was Lord Lawson's son, Tom, who has graduated from the university. Around 30 police eventually arrived to deal with the party, and they let the rich kids off with a caution.
Things they say
"THERE IS no scientific evidence on which to justify a ban on GM foods and crops. We should resist the tyranny of pressure groups."
- TONY BLAIR, February 1999
"THERE IS no doubt that there is a potential for harm, both in terms of human safety and in the diversity of our environment, from GM foods and crops."
- TONY BLAIR, February 2000
"THE FOCUS of GM research is on the commercial and not on food. It has been pushed prematurely into the field by corporate greed."
- DR SURMAN SAHAI, scientist and lecturer in genetics
"THERE is widespread resentment amongst party members at the undemocratic way Labour candidates have been chosen in the Welsh, Scottish, European and London elections."
- AEEU union leader KEN JACKSON, whose union refused to ballot nearly 40,000 members in the London mayor election and cast a block vote for Frank Dobson
"IN THIS case, with the Ethiopian witnesses, you may think they all looked rather similar and it was difficult to distinguish them."
- JUDGE MARTIN STEPHENS' racist comment
"AT THIS rate council housing as we currently understand it will have ceased to exist within a decade."
- JIM COULTER, National Housing Federation spokesman
"PAYING 300 to bring my baby with me on holiday is worth every penny."
- Pet owner LINDA SHERROCKS on a passport for D'Artagnan, her dog
"AM I a second choice? Absolutely."
- Tory mayoral candidate STEPHEN NORRIS