Socialist Worker

Not just a bloke thing

Issue No. 1813

NEW LABOUR has decreed that dads explore their caring nurturing side. It has issued a pamphlet to show dads how they can bond with their sons - and instil good old New Labour values into them at the same time.

On a trip to the cinema forget about the film. Instead get your son to estimate the percentage profit made by the film distributors. Next time you watch cricket together (which being dads and sons you will), 'Don't just talk about it between overs. Get him to write a short report.' And encourage those New Labour ambitions: 'The next time you're in your club or sports with your son, get him to think about how he would run it if he was in charge.'

A report produced by the Department for Education last year found that 75 percent of fathers say they would like to be more involved with their children - and that means daughters as well as sons. But some 66 percent of fathers say pressures of work stop them being more involved.

Ministers pay lip service to the idea of 'work-life balance'. Stephen Twigg, minister for young people, has launched a 'Give an Hour' scheme. This aims to persuade employers to give their male workers an hour off work to spend doing something 'worthwhile' with their kids. But it is precisely New Labour's pursuit of flexible working, where no one dares to take time off, that creates our stressed out, exhausted workforce.


Charity cases

WHILE SOME are told to tighten their belts, others just manage to get bigger slices of the cake. The disgraced Ken Lay of Enron scooped a jackpot of $247 million, while Scott Sullivan of WorldCom grabbed $49 million just before his firm went bankrupt. But top cat is Gary Winnick of Global Crossing, who creamed off $512 million before his firm collapsed.

Ken Lay once had a vacation home in the exclusive resort of Aspen, Colorado. The Woody Creek Tavern in Aspen has a charity jar on the bar labelled, 'Ken Lay Relief Fund. Please help a fellow neighbour.' But unsympathetic punters have filled the jar with fake dollar bills, condoms and even bullets.


IS THIS the future of care for the elderly under New Labour? Patients in hospitals in north Staffordshire face a hardline new policy aimed at tackling bed blocking.

Hospital authorities have announced that they will call in the police as a last resort in cases where elderly patients, considered ready to be discharged, refuse to leave their beds.
Many thanks to readers in Stoke.


EX prime ministers leaving 10 Downing Street always donate a book or two to the main bookcase. Most leave a volume of Keats's poetry or something like that. Margaret Thatcher contributed two volumes of her own autobiography.


Snatch squads

A NEW craze is taking hold of the bored young executives of New York. They pay thousands to be the victim of a 'designer kidnapping'. They pay Brock Enright, who then organises heavies to bundle them into a car when they are least expecting it.

After administering a thrilling scare, the heavies let them go. Enright has abducted 24 bored execs already. One exec has been 'kidnapped' three times, while another particularly requests to be forced into a tight space and kept there.


Cool clothes are overdue

LIBRARIANS WILL not be fashion victims. Over 900 librarians are trying to beat the heat and take on their 'fashion police' bosses in the borough of Queens, New York. As temperatures soar over 35 degrees celsius, bullying bosses at the borough's libraries have banned workers from wearing short skirts, sandals or T-shirts.

The 900 workers have held demonstrations outside the borough's 63 libraries. The librarians and their union have condemned the constricted dress code as an attempt to 'force them back to the old stereotypes of prim women'.
Many thanks to Ken Muller from north London.


Top beef

A PASSENGER on a Virgin train from Edinburgh to Manchester was told by a buffet steward that he could not buy a beef sandwich. The sandwich was reserved for first class passengers only. The hungry traveller had to settle for a second class BLT sandwich instead.


PRESIDENT Chirac's new Tory government in France is trying to criminalise the nation's young people. He claims there is a 'culture of impunity' among French youth. Mouthy children as young as 13 could be locked up under a new law. New 'crimes' include ruining classes and foul-mouthing teachers. When schools reopen students could face up to six months in secure juvenile prisons plus a £5,000 fine for 'attacking the dignity' of a teacher.


'Open' ethics

JACK STRAW, foreign secretary, proudly claims that arms sales to the repressive regime of Colombia have fallen from £2 million to £250,000. But the figure doesn't include all the arms sales to Colombia. 'Open' export licences allow arms dealers to sell unlimited numbers of some weapons, including toxic chemicals. The number of 'open' export licences has risen from five to 15.


THE much-loved Millennium Dome has been taken over by a right wing US business tycoon. Phillip Anschutz got the dome for nothing, and taxpayers continue to cough up for its upkeep. And now he's taking over Wembley stadium as well. But Anschutz is not too worried about the Dome or Wembley stadium's profitability.

He can always lie about profits - that's what he usually does. Anschutz made $1.5 billion selling his shares in a company he was founder of. But the company has admitted exaggerating its profits and using improper accounting techniques.


Things they say

'IT'S ONLY the poor who buy funeral insurance, and there is huge demand. It's very good business. We have priced in the costs of Aids. Profits were up 13 percent.'
JIM SUTCLIFFE, chief executive of Old Mutual, South Africa's largest insurer

'NO institution has a given right to continue to function. In ten years time there will be a different pattern of provision. Some universities will have gone. We are not interested in propping up institutions.'
SPOKESPERSON at the government's Department for Education and Skills

'TO BE able to penetrate organisations you need to have on the payroll some very unsavoury characters. It is mean, nasty, dangerous, dirty business out there and we have to operate in that arena.'
DICK CHENEY, US vice-president, on the reasons for the US review of their ban on assassinations

'IT PUTS policemen in the position of judge and jury for these offences. It's another shortcut scheme.'
MARK LITTLEWOOD, campaigns director of Liberty, condemning on the spot fines for anti-social behaviour

'I DON'T think we've succeeded. You could say that we haven't tried hard enough.'
MICHAEL MEACHER, environment minister, on his government's environmental policies

'THIS didn't happen just once or twice. Downing Street has also rung-up the World at One programme to complain about the items it was planning to run.'
JOHN SIMPSON, on Number Ten's interference with news items


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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 17 Aug 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1813
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