Socialist Worker

Blair's set to go nuclear

Issue No. 1808

'BRITISH GOVERNMENT officials are laying secret plans to push a major programme of new nuclear power stations.' These shocking revelations are in New Scientist magazine this week just as the cost of clearing up Britain's existing nuclear waste has soared to £48 billion.

Based on leaked Department of Trade and Industry briefings, the New Scientist report says the government's agenda 'is for Britain to follow the US and end the slump suffered by the West's nuclear power industry since the accident at Chernobyl in the Ukraine 16 years ago'. New Labour and its pro-nuclear energy minister Brian Wilson want to revive the deadly industry by loosening safety and planning restrictions on new nuclear power stations.

The government considered softening up hostile public opinion by claiming that nuclear energy is 'green' because it doesn't cause global warming. That's true. It just emits deadly radiation that remains lethal for hundreds of thousands of years.

Give us a break

MPS HAVE come up with a way to grab some long weekend breaks. Taxpayers will foot the £2 million bill for MPs to enjoy three more free trips every year to any of 28 European destinations.

MPs are heading off for a THREE MONTH summer break. Before they go they're making plans to work just two days a week in parliament when they get back.

THIS is where the New Labour witch-hunt against parents whose children play truant can end.

Kevin Hope from Borden in Hampshire told a friend he was worried he couldn't pay a fine for his ten year old son's truancy from school. The next day Kevin was found hanged.

Double dealing

TONY BLAIR has promoted a 'New Deal in the Communities' scheme on east London's Ocean estate. The council estate is getting a £21.5 million redevelopment grant, which the government says will improve the area. Some homes will be demolished and the homes left will be renovated.

New Labour did not scrap the Tories' 'right to buy' scheme, which allowed council homes to be sold off. So tenants can buy their homes with discounts of up to £38,000. But if a home bought under the right to buy is demolished, councils have to pay compensation of the full market value plus 10 percent relocation costs.

There has been a mysterious rush of right to buy applications on the estate since parts were earmarked for demolition. The total 'compensation' leaves just £2 million to fund the whole redevelopment project.

Low life

SIR GEORGE Bain, vice-chancellor of Queen's University in Belfast, is also chair of the government's Low Pay Commission.

He has just had a new £50,000 Mercedes car delivered. That could fund 11,000 hours of work at the minimum wage of £4.50 an hour. The government has failed to reach its own target of £11,000 minimum a year for workers on low pay in universities.

Callous crackdown on asylum seekers

THE government's sick scheme snooping on asylum seekers has been exposed. Workers from the Office Temps agency were employed to harass refugees. This is part of the government's claims of a crackdown on benefit fraud. Around 200 temps were sent out to knock on the doors of asylum seekers.

If asylum seekers were out when they were snooped on, they were suspected of working illegally. They were sent a warning letter. If no reply was received within ten days, they risked having their meagre benefits automatically stopped.

At least some of the temps were shocked by what they were being asked to do. Many of them were brought face to face with the reality of what refugees have to suffer. 'Some asylum seekers had been through horrific experiences,' said one ex-temp on the scheme. 'One refugee wanted to show the scars he had from being tortured. Most of us expected to be doing a filing job when we started. We had no idea it was going to be like that.'

'It was a big waste of time and money,' said one temp, who has now quit. The scheme has not produced any figures on how many asylum seekers it claims to have found doing anything wrong.

A multinational behind glamorous fashion and perfume brands pays its factory workers starvation wages. Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR) is the firm behind top brands Gucci, Brylane and Yves Saint-Laurent.

Women in the Philippines who produce these luxury goods get paid just $3.25 a day, less than the country's legal minimum wage. Workers for the luxury suppliers in Tirupur, India, are paid the equivalent of just ten US cents an hour, a fifth of the official minimum needed to support a family.

THE US attorney general, John Ashcroft, is pushing to get as many people as possible executed. So far he has reversed 12 decisions by federal prosecutors and ordered them to seek the death penalty in cases where they had decided not to.

Since his appointment the Justice Department has been three times more likely to seek the death penalty for black defendants accused of killing whites than for blacks accused of killing non-whites.

Class of his own

SPARE A thought for John Kelly, sentenced to 18 months in jail. John had a first class sense of who to target. He dressed smartly, boarded trains and targeted well heeled passengers. He hung his jacket over theirs before switching jackets when he got off.

His travelling spree netted him £30,000 using stolen cards to tap into the bank accounts of his victims, who included a judge, a police inspector and many businessmen.

Things they say

'I AM profoundly concerned at scenes of widespread destruction of densely populated refugee camps.'
Foreign secretary JACK STRAW after Israel used F-16 fighter jets against Palestinian civilians in April

'ANY interruption to the supply of these components would have serious implications for the UK's defence relations with the US. We are not a pacifist country.'
JACK STRAW this week allowing British arms components to be used in US F-16 jets that are then sold to Israel

'I HAVEN'T really hurt anybody. It's just a statue, an idol we seem to be worshipping.'
PAUL KELLEHER after he beheaded a statue of Margaret Thatcher

'I'M worried about a country that could lose confidence in the free enterprise system. I understand how tender the system can be.'
GEORGE W BUSH, concerned about the state of capitalism after the corruption of Enron and WorldCom

'THE ONLY person that seems to be pushing PFI hospitals is Tony Blair. He doesn't give a damn about the people they are supposed to be serving.'
MARGARET COOK, the ex-wife of Robin Cook, on why she is quitting her job in the NHS due to the government's 'uncaring' attitude

'NASTY, extreme and strange.'
Tory leader IAIN DUNCAN SMITH explains how people view his party

'IT WAS like an abattoir. There was blood everywhere.'
AFGHAN WOMAN describes the scene after the US attack on a wedding party last week

'THERE SHOULD be more blood.'
US INVESTIGATORS on the aftermath of the attack

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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 13 Jul 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1808
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