Socialist Worker

It's nice work if you can get it

Issue No. 1830

THE GOVERNMENT and the press slam firefighters for having two jobs. But MPs are earning massive sums for positions on top of their £55,000 a year salaries. Many MPs earn the equivalent of a firefighters' wage of £21,000 for just one day a month's 'work' as directors of private companies.

Former Tory minister Stephen Dorrell gets £50,000 from a company making firefighters' clothes, while John Gummer gets £25,000 a year from a company specialising in fire safety. Ex Labour culture minister Chris Smith gets £25,000 for advising Disney.

CITY SLICKERS are grabbing millions and refusing to pay tax on it. At least 20 top City institutions are getting their whopping Christmas bonuses paid in Turkish liras. Paying bonuses in one of the world's weakest currencies is a scheme to dodge tax and national insurance.

You get 'loaned' £2 million worth of Turkish liras. If the currency falls against the pound by about 50 percent you will only have to pay back £1 million. The other million is your tax-free bonus. One company director said, 'It has definitely had the desired effect on my tax bill.'

Tories' top thug

THE TORIES believe in law and order - most of the time. Mark MacGregor is Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith's most senior aide and Conservative Party chief executive. MacGregor has been accused of trashing a women's peace camp in a raid in the mid-1980s.

A photo of MacGregor holding a banner stolen from the women's camp has come to light. The police are now reopening their investigation into the attack. At the time MacGregor was a leading light in the fiercely reactionary Federation of Conservative Students.

SINCE 1986 Mordechai Vanunu has been in an Israeli jail. His crime was to reveal Israel's nuclear weapons programme. An officer from Israel's secret service visited him two months ago and told him that his parole hearing would be successful.

When the parole hearing took place secret service officers claimed Vanunu might still have military secrets - after 16 years in jail. They fear Vanunu might reveal how he was kidnapped by Israeli agents in Rome.

COUNTER-terrorism really works - for big business. George W Bush slipped a 'rider' clause into his National Homeland Security bill last week.

The clause made a drugs company exempt from all civil lawsuits over a preservative it withdrew because of fears that it caused childhood autism. Over 1,000 affected families were considering suing the Eli Lilly company. What does this have to do with homeland security, you might ask? Well, nothing. Eli Lilly recently donated over $1 million to Bush's Republican Party.

Lies return with war

THE FALSE story of Iraqi soldiers throwing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators during the occupation of Kuwait in 1990 is being treated as fact in the US media again. The lies are repeated in Live From Baghdad, the HBO TV network film of the story behind news network CNN's coverage of the Gulf War.

The film claims that the disproval of the story was a PR stunt by the Iraqi government. The media uncritically repeated the claim about the incubator horror in the weeks running up to the first Gulf War.

It was later discovered that the PR company Hill & Knowlton was partly behind the story, and the 15 year old girl who testified to the incident was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US. Amnesty International found no evidence for the claims.

Spot the difference

'PRISONERS FACE 'inhuman and degrading' conditions...30 of the cells used to be dog kennels. Prisoners are kept in rows of mortuary-style steel boxes until they confess to their crimes or die.'
Guardian, 3 December 2002, on Iraq's prisons.

'THE PRISONERS spend 23 hours a day in small, sealed-in metal cells, described by one as living tombs. The 60 minutes of exercise allotted to each prisoner is spent alone in a bare room. The cell lights are never turned off.'
Guardian, 12 January 2002, on US 'Supermax' prisons.

Times to be concerned about the truth

'A DEADLY menace to our freedoms' was exposed by the Tory Sunday Times recently. The paper huffed and puffed about the protests against the Miss World contest. It slammed both 'fanatical Islamists' and 'decadent feminists' who 'fail to grasp that freedom is under threat'.

The paper said that the key to a free society is a free press: 'the right even to be disrespectful, annoying and blasphemous'. But the picture that went with the story (left) had the Socialist Worker Student Society (right) masthead carefully removed from the placards. Could the Times have censored views disrespectful and annoying to its own blue-rinsed readers?

Things they say

'MAGGIE Thatcher Would Be Proud Of Him.'
Socialist Worker front page headline, 7 December, on Tony Blair

'I SALUTE Tony Blair's strong and bold leadership.'
Margaret Thatcher, 9 December

'WE'RE PROUD of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years either.'
Trent Lott, leader of the US Republican senators, on his state, Mississippi, backing Strom Thurmond in the 1948 US presidential race. Thurmond's main policy was the continuation of segregation

'BUSH talks about weapons of mass destruction, but America's got them. It supplied a lot of those that Iraq has got. All sorts of countries are doing horrible things with these weapons.'
Author Jilly Cooper

'ISRAEL IS not going the right way. I would return the Occupied Territories. If we wanted, we could have a genuine peace accord with the Palestinians.'
Jonathan Ben-Artzi, an Israeli who has been jailed for refusing to serve in the army who is the nephew of extreme right wing politician Benjamin Netanyahu

'IF THESE laid off workers have trouble making ends meet they can always get illegal work.'
Right wing Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's advice to workers losing their jobs at Fiat

'BERETTA IS proud to introduce the United We Stand pistol with laser-etched gold American flag. This pistol is testimony that the American spirit will not be diminished.'
Beretta gun manufacturers

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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 14 Dec 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1830
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