THE FIRM at the centre of the chaos surrounding clearances for teachers and others working with children is Capita. It runs the Criminal Records Bureau, which handles the clearances, under a £400 million public-private partnership.
Capita's founder and chief executive is Rod Aldridge. He says, 'My feelings are much more towards a New Labour agenda than anything else.' He got an OBE, and is a regular supporter of New Labour's £500 a head fundraising dinners. He is also an adviser to New Labour on public-private partnerships. There is no possible connection between any of this and the following facts:
- As well as the Criminal Records Bureau contract Capita was also awarded the contract for running the government's now collapsed Individual Learning Accounts scheme.
- Capita got the hugely lucrative contract to take over running the TV licensing scheme from the Post Office.
The firm has also won a string of contracts for local councils and schools, running things like housing benefit. Capita has now been awarded the contract for running the proposed congestion charges for London.
There is certainly a connection between those facts and the fact that Rod Aldridge is now one of the 300 richest people in Britain, with an estimated fortune of £97 million.
Sins of emission
FORD LIKES to portray itself these days as concerned about the environment. Its chairman, Henry Ford III, even did a photo-shoot showing him alongside some of the firm's US workers cleaning up a polluted river.
Three years ago Ford said it was moving into a new era by launching production of an eco-friendly electric car which wouldn't emit pollutants. Last week, as the Earth Summit in Johannesburg drew to a close, Ford quietly announced it was abandoning production of the car.
BRITAIN'S bosses are getting nervous, according to a report by a top legal firm last week. The DLA law firm compiles an annual report on the state of industrial relations.
It reports that now almost half of Britain's bosses are worried their workers will either strike or hold strike ballots in the coming months. Let's hope the bosses' fretting turns out to be more than a bad dream.
...blow for New Labour
NEW LABOUR trade secretary Patricia Hewitt has appointed Bridget Blow to a government body which controls millions of pounds of 'regional assistance' grants handed to business. Blow is chief executive of ITNet, a company with some experience of taking public money.
In the London borough of Islington, for example, it has the lucrative contract to run housing benefits. The firm has recently been fined £40,000 for its abysmal performance. Patricia Hewitt was clearly not listening to Islington Labour MP and former cabinet minister Chris Smith, who said, 'Labour is committed to cracking down on ITNet and, if necessary, getting rid of them completely.'
Obviously he forgot to mention this stance to his colleague Patricia Hewitt formely of Arthur Andersen, the disgraced accountants.
Major problem for one US hawk
THE US military is having a few problems with its frontline forces. The captain of the US's most famous aircraft carrier, the Kitty Hawk, has been sacked after a series of arrests of crew members for alleged robbery, assault and drug smuggling.
The carrier is based in Japan, though it was stationed in the Arabian Sea during the war on Afghanistan and would play a key role in any assault on Iraq. In August an officer was charged with assaulting and attempting to rob a 68 year old Japanese man.
Two days later Japanese police arrested another crew member for car-jacking. Ten days after that another crew member was arrested for drug running.
Every little extra helps
REMEMBER TESCO's 'rip-off' Britain campaign? The supermarket giant accused manufacturers of charging higher prices for goods in Britain than elsewhere. It staged a court battle with US jeans firm Levi in which the supermarket said it wanted to import cheap jeans direct from the US. Tesco claimed all it was interested in was customers. There must have been a few red faces at Tesco last week.
It was revealed that it had been importing goods from abroad at a cheaper price than it would have to pay to British suppliers, but not passing a penny of the saving on to shoppers. The firm was getting goods like Fairy Liquid, Lynx deodorant and Vileda floor wipes from suppliers in Spain, Italy, Belgium and Greece at up to 10 percent cheaper than its usual British suppliers' prices. But the prices on the shelves stayed exactly the same with the extra going to Tesco.
CHILDREN'S puppet Sooty would be more popular as head of state than Tony Blair, according to a survey released last week. More than 30,000 people took part in the poll. Sooty also beat the current next in line to be head of state, Prince Charles.
Things they say
'OF course, Tribune stands by the official Labour candidate in Hackney. However, some socialists may be glad that it is a secret ballot.'
Tribune, the centre-left Labour magazine, on Paul Foot standing as Socialist Alliance candidate in the Hackney mayoral election
'IS Britain prepared to send troops to pay the blood price of the special relationship with the US?'
BBC interviewer Michael Cockerell to Tony Blair on war against Iraq
'THE US need to know, are you prepared to commit, are you prepared to be there and, when the shooting starts, are you prepared to be there?'
Tony Blair's answer while nodding
'THE disaffection with New Labour is so strong that it would be impossible for anybody to win a union election from a pro New Labour position.'
John Edmonds, leader of the GMB union
'THE US wants to avoid a situation where the Iraqis threaten, much as they did to Kuwait ten years ago, the stability of the world's energy supplies.'
Richard Haass, director of policy at the US State Department
'BNP activists are urged to travel to London to help us put our patriotic, pro-countryside message to the huge contingent of radicalised Middle Britain who will flood central London on 22 September.'
Nazi leader Griffin urging BNP members to join the Countryside Alliance's planned pro-foxhunting march