Inside the system
A class game of two halves
REMEMBER GORDON Brown and Tony Blair attempting to boost their working class credentials by watching the European Cup? Well, football seems to be going the way of New Labour. According to a new survey of fans, Premier League clubs are attracting well off fans but "losing those at the bottom of the socio-economic scale".
The average cost of a Premier League season ticket is now 317. At Chelsea it is 594. An incredible 60 percent of Chelsea season ticket holders are on over 30,000 a year. One in three Manchester United season ticket holders are on the same amount. Less than one in 20 of the working population earn that amount of money.
The survey by researchers at Leicester University found that working class fans are being priced out of watching the game. Black fans continue to face racism. Not a single black season ticket holder was found at Everton, Blackburn Rovers, Celtic or Rangers. This is unlikely to worry Blair and Brown too much. After all, those who cannot get to watch a match at the ground can always be fleeced by New Labour's friend Rupert Murdoch through his pay per view satellite channel.
AUSTRIAN far right leader Jrg Haider attacks immigrants. But he is happy for logging firms on his 10 million alpine estate to exploit seasonal workers from war-torn ex-Yugoslavia. Haider's great uncle used Nazi anti-Semitic laws to swindle the Brental estate from a Jewish family in 1939.
Some of the seasonal workers now on the estate are on less than 1.40 an hour for doing dangerous work in 12 hour shifts. They have to pay 70 a month for cramped accommodation where five live in a little room, heated only with the wood they cut. No wonder Haider wants to keep immigrants as second class citizens.
Did Jack inhale?
ACCORDING TO journalist Michael James, New Labour's upright home secretary Jack Straw was no stranger to puffing illegal substances in his youth. James describes an occasion in the late 1970s at an annual conference of the National Union of Students in Blackpool.
He recalls a party where "alternately sucking from a tin of beer and drawing from a very fat joint, the man to my left seemed to be losing his fight with gravity. Furthermore, all his attempts at meaningful conversation ended in utter failure with his increasingly inane gibberish. The man began to dribble into his beer and over his shirt sleeve every time the joint failed to make contact with his mouth. 'Oh, that's Jack Straw,' a friend told me. 'He was the NUS president a while ago'."
Ron's ode dear
RON TODD, the ex-leader of the Transport and General Workers Union, is yet another Old Labour figure to turn his back on Tony Blair. Ron backed Labour's shift to the right during the 1980s. After he retired he turned his hand to poetry. He clearly thinks the Blairites have gone too far judging by one recent ditty. He attacks New Labour for offering Tories government jobs. He writes, "I know that there are those who seek to get work/But Chris Patten groomed for Europe is a sin/And Kenneth Clarke in charge of Business Network?/Are you sure that as a party we did win???"
Pity poor new rich
YOU HAVE to feel sorry for those people who have suddenly become filthy rich. Two psychologists in the Bay Area of the US have uncovered "Sudden Wealth Syndrome". "It's an early identity crisis," explains one medical "expert", Joan DiFuria. "There's a sense of shock. There's a sense of 'I don't deserve it'." DiFuria and colleague Stephen Goldbart have now set up the Money, Meaning and Choice Institute and are planning to write a book to help those afflicted with wealth. As Goldbart says, "They've bought the BMW and they have the $3 million house, and they still wake up in the morning and say, 'I don't feel good about myself'." They aren't the only ones who have spotted a gravy train. Financial companies such as Merrill Lynch and Charles Schwab have held seminars for clients on the problems of new found riches.
"MANY find it overpriced and disappointing." What attraction in London could the Lonely Planet travel guide be describing? London Underground? The Millennium Dome? None other than Britain's supposedly main tourist attraction, Buckingham Palace. Just one more argument for getting rid of its tenants.
Things they say
"HE'S very aggressive. He doesn't give people enough money to have their entertainment, like parks for children. I don't like him when he drops bombs on people. I think we should have a new prime minister."
- seven year old MICHAEL DOBBS gives his verdict on Tony Blair in Chat magazine
"IF I had stood unopposed at the last election, I would still have come second."
- JOHN MAJOR, former Tory prime minister
"You would have come third."
- JOURNALIST at Major's press conference
"WE SIMPLY can't go on pretending that all universities are like each other or that they should all get the same funding. It's like saying that Manchester United is the same as Tranmere Rovers."
- DOWNING STREET INSIDER explaining why the government may create an elite league of universities
"LABOUR voters feel that in many regards as though somehow there's a vast conspiracy to defraud them."
- PETER KILFOYLE, who resigned as junior defence minister recently
"YOU CAN'T have a dinner party without a guest mentioning the exodus to Great Britain. It is today the turn of the large fortunes, the high salaries and the entrepreneurial forces to find refuge across the Channel."
- French newspaper LE MONDE on the rich fleeing to Britain because of its low taxes on the wealthy
"IT IS not a reduction in wages, more a kind of subsidy."
- DOME SPOKESMAN explaining why some staff are partly being paid in McDonald's vouchers
"My campaign slogan is 'action not politics'."
- STEVEN NORRIS, Tory candidate for London mayor