Socialist Worker

The Torygraph falls into grubby hands

Issue No. 1908

THE BATTLE for control of the Daily Telegraph was finally settled last week, with the Barclay brothers grabbing it for a cool £665 million.

The Barclays—Sir David and Sir Frederick—made their millions in the property and hotel trade. They bought the Ritz hotel in 1975 before expanding their empire into shipping, then shopping, then the media.

Newspaper commentators have already started grovelling to the Barclays. The twins are portrayed as being dignified old-fashioned gents who bought the Telegraph out of charitable concern for its editorial integrity.

But the Barclays’ track record reveals a somewhat grubbier picture.

The brothers bought the Littlewoods clothing empire last year. One of their first decisions was to scrap the company’s ban on dealing with suppliers that use child or forced labour.

The Barclays ordered Littlewoods to withdraw from the “ethical trading initiative”, a voluntary code of conduct for clothes retailers promoted by charities and trade unions.

A few days later the twins scrapped all corporate charitable donations from Littlewoods.

The Barclays live as recluses in a bizarre mock-gothic castle on Brecqhou, a tiny rock in the middle of the Channel Islands. All the companies they own are registered in Jersey. For tax purposes, they are registered as living in Monaco, a playground for the Euro jet set.

But the Barclays do live up to one “traditional” business value—nepotism. They have selected Sir David’s son, Aidan Barclay, to run the Telegraph.

‘We just want answers’

ANOTHER BLACK man has died in psychiatric custody.

Azrar Ayub was a 24 year old patient in a secure unit at Prestwich hospital, near Manchester. He had been diagnosed as a schizophrenic and had been detained at the unit since June 2000.

On the day of his death, 28 May, Azrar was restrained by hospital staff who said he had become violent. He was sedated and left in an isolation ward.

Azrar’s brother, Safraz, tried to visit him on the night he died. He was refused entry at 8pm. Four hours later he was told Azrar was dead. Safraz asked in a local paper, “Why wasn’t I allowed to see him?

“He was still alive when I was at the hospital and they wouldn’t let me see him. I was badly shocked when I saw his body. He was really badly bruised. We just want some answers.”

Azrar’s death came three months after an inquiry into the death of black psychiatric patient David Bennett recommended that “under no circumstances should any patient be restrained in a prone position for a longer period than three minutes”. The police have launched an investigation.

Driver awarded a busman’s holiday

FIRST EDINBURGH, the Scottish private bus operator, certainly knows how to reward its brave and loyal employees.

One of its drivers, Gordon Smith, was selected for a “meritorious award” by Lothian and Borders police force.

While he was on a rest break, Smith chased and caught a man who was attempting to steal one of the company’s coaches from its depot.

Smith was slightly injured during the incident.

He was due to receive the honour on Tuesday 1 June. But Smith was due to work an 11-hour shift that day.

First Edinburgh insisted that he had to use one of his holidays to attend the award ceremony.

After protests the management agreed to let him take the day off—but they insisted he had to work one day at the weekend instead. Smith responded by quitting his job. “I was totally disgusted by the company’s attitude and the way I’ve been treated,” he said.


165 years ago - 1839

BLACK SLAVES rose up and took over the Amistad, a ship carrying them to Cuba.

There were 53 slaves on board. They tried to make the crew take them back to Africa. But the crew sailed to Africa during the day and headed back for America at night.

An 18-month court case followed. The slaves were backed by anti-slavery activists.

The slaves eventually won their freedom. Their case highlighted the appalling conditions endured by the slaves, and the horrors of the whole system of slavery.

Donald has no leg to stand on

“I STAND for eight to ten hours a day. Why is standing limited to four hours?”

These sentences were scrawled by Donald Rumsfeld on a document about the treatment of detainees. The document reveals how Rumsfeld explicitly sanctioned the breaking of the Geneva Convention, which says detainees should not be forced to stand for more than four hours.

God’s merchant bankers

THE INSTITUTE of Economic Affairs describes itself as “the UK’s original free market think tank”.

The institute’s latest journal is called Morality, Responsibility and the Marketplace.

One article, “The Market Economy and the Teachings of the Christian Gospel”, explains why Jesus is a role model for businessmen. The author of this pious tract is Jonathan Aitken, the disgraced former Tory minister turned UKIP groupie.

Figure it out

£37 million

The amount doled out to the royal family from the public purse last year. The figure includes paying for helicopters to ferry Prince Andrew to his favourite golf club.

“It’s a rare piece, full of phrases like ‘working class’ which he never uses these days.”
SOTHEBY’S OFFICIAL describing a manuscript of Tony Blair’s first speech as prime minister, due to be auctioned next month

“There is never going to be Western-style democracy in Iraq.”
SIR JEREMY GREENSTOCK former British envoy to Iraq

“Michael Moore’s Farenheit 9/11 played to capacity houses across the nation, even in areas normally loyal to the Republicans. ‘Throw Bush out, throw Bush out,’ an audience in California’s Orange County, a conservative stronghold, chanted as the lights went up after one showing.”
Daily Telegraph

“Go fuck yourself.”
DICK CHENEY US vice-president to a US senator who criticised Bush’s policy in Iraq

“We very much get the feeling that Prince Andrew and some of the other royals have no understanding of the lives of ordinary people.”
IAN DAVIDSON Labour MP on public accounts committee

on spending by the royals

“There was no torture at Guantanamo. I’m proud of everything done at Guantanamo.”
GENERAL MILLER commander of the Guantanamo prison camp

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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 3 Jul 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1908
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