Socialist Worker

Lobbyists are unconvincing over the minister for fracking

Issue No. 2389

Ministers have “failed to convince the public” over the merits of fracking. This is according to Owen Paterson, the environment secretary. He told a committee of MPs on Tuesday of last week that the government lost ground to campaigners with “exciting” clothes and banners.

The esteemed secretary of state was with lobbyists late into the night the following evening in the Intercontinental Hotel bar in plush Park Lane. 

Owen’s companions were Hanover Communication’s Charles Lewington and former Tory energy minister Charles Hendry MP.

Hendry gets £5,000-plus a month from energy companies. 

Hanover represent fracking firm Cuadrilla as well as Shell UK and many other corporate clients. 

As parts of the country flooded it’s nice to see the minister spending time with those that matter.

Has the Church of England seen the light about fracking? 

It had previously warned that drilling for shale gas could damage “God’s glorious creation”.

Then the government awarded exploration licences to areas that fall within the 100,000 acres of land owned by the Church Commissioners, the Church of England’s investment arm.

The news came from Sir Tony Baldry MP, the Church’s anointed in parliament. The MP moonlights as deputy chairman of the oil and gas explorer Woburn Energy.


A boy born in London’s posh Knightsbridge can expect to live to be 97.7 years old.

But a boy born in Tranmere, Merseyside, should not expect to get past 67. 

He won’t live long enough to collect his pension, which by then will come at 68 or later. 

The life expectancy gap between the rich and poor is wide—and growing, according to figures from Public Health England.

Life expectancy for rich people is 30 years longer than for the 


Atos are popular, says Atos boss 

The boss of hated benefit assessor Atos  said the public was “satisfied” with the job his firm was doing.

Joe Hemming made the claim defending the firm’s handling of the government’s “work capability assessments” to MPs.

Hemming, appearing at the Commons Public Administration Committee, said, “Atos is proud of the work it does.

“We have a real passion for delivering services to the citizen in a way that continues to satisfy the way the citizen wants to be served.”

He’s clearly not fit for work.

A former spy fallen on hard times tried to sell a fancy watch made exclusively for MI5 agents on Ebay.

MI5 had commissioned the watches in 2009 to mark its centenary. 

They carry the agency’s motto “Defend the realm” and cost £1,000 each—but this one had bidders offering £3,500 by the time it was mysteriously withdrawn from sale.

Council house waiting lists slashed

Havering council in London has cut three quarters of its housing waiting list to under 3,000.

The London Borough of Hammersmith’s housing waiting list has also fallen —from 8,171 people in April 2012 to just 768 a year later. Bournemouth’s is down from 9,425 to 3,177.

The councils aren’t building houses. They are just making the lists shorter by taking names off them.

Tory defence minister Philip Hammond has complained that people in Britain have an “irrational fear” of war. 

He moaned that people were “war weary”. He said the government should “present intervention as time-limited and with strictly defined ambitions”.

Or they could stop going to war?

The ermine vermin coffee complaints

Members of the House of Lords have lodged a series of complaints about their subsidised restaurants. 

Peers can enjoy seared scallops, foie gras and champagne risotto at the Barry Room private restaurant. It is subsidised at a cost of £1.3 million a year. 

Peers receive a £300-a-day expenses allowance for attending the House of Lords.

One impassioned Lord suffered a 15-minute wait to be seated, which they said lost “some of the finesse of the afternoon” and left their guests unable to “eat the beautiful cake selection” in time. 

One peer said he had been left “scarred” after his dinner booking was cancelled suddenly. 

He complained that his wife was “unable to lunch elsewhere” because she was wearing a tiara”.

Another member denounced the arrival of a new coffee machine as “insulting”.

Charity begins at home and school

If you give to a charity, you might expect the money to go to a good cause, not to pay private school fees for the children of its boss.

But that’s precisely what’s happened to tens of thousands of pounds donated to the Halo Trust, the mine-clearing charity made famous by Saint  Diana of the car crash.

Guy Willoughby, the chief executive, gets a “remuneration package” of between £210,000 and £220,000 a year, including an allowance for boarding school fees for his three children.

Halo says it has to “remain competitive alongside our counterparts, such as the UN, Army and the Foreign Office”. 

Dods Parliamentary Awards presented the award for Tweeter of the Year to Labour MP Tom Harris “for his daily usage of Twitter.” 

The only issue is that he doesn’t actually use the social network site. 

Though he did once claim for three iPads on expenses.


‘It was a complete oversight on my behalf. I did not read the small print’

Tory MP Charlotte Leslie voted to try to ban immigrants who are HIV positive from Britain

‘Not a gallery of nodding dogs’

Michael Gove on his advisors

‘Benefits Street exists not because of moral collapse, but because of socialism’

Charles Moore of the Daily Telegraph on how war created socialists who nationalised things which made people lazy

‘I just love helping people’

Scarlett Johansson explains why she chose Sodastream, which operates in the occupied West Bank, over Oxfam

‘It’s an opportunity for the Socialist Workers Party to sign up very large numbers of people to the Labour Party’

Andrew Marr shows he doesn’t understand either the SWP or Ed Miliband’s proposed changes to the Labour Party

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Article information

The Troublemaker
Tue 4 Feb 2014, 16:21 GMT
Issue No. 2389
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