Socialist Worker

Starving in an English town

Issue No. 1807

A HOMELESS man starved to death after his benefits were stopped and he could not afford food. Martin Bowen was reduced to living in a tent within yards of the Tesco supermarket in Reading. The father of one had lived there for six years, after a broken relationship led him into a spiral of decline. Martin died within sight of all the food on sale in the store.

A local man tried to help him out after stumbling over him a week before he died. 'He looked really ill. His legs were the size of my hands. I bought him £20 of food and he drank two pints of milk in one go,' he said. But when Martin was found he was so emaciated he did not have an ounce of fat on his body, a pathologist said.

Martin had applied for the wrong form of benefits after a building job he was working on ended. As he didn't reply to a letter informing him of the error, he was literally left to rot.


Bosses ignore pay gap

OVER 99 percent of bosses are refusing to conduct checks to ensure they don't discriminate against women. In a study by the Amicus union, only 50 out of 6,000 firms were willing to carry out equal pay audits.

The pay gap in Britain between men and women has widened to 19 percent. Yet New Labour still says it does not need to legally force employers to carry out equal pay audits.


WE cough up around £35 million every year to keep the royal family in luxury. But it seems one item of their expenditure has gone down. The £107,000 they spent on alcohol last year has fallen to a mere £45,000 this year.

Could the recent deaths of Margaret and the Queen Mother account for this dramatic fall?


Deadly gap in safety

'ACCIDENTAL death' was the inquest verdict into the death of roofing contractor John Poulton who died after falling through a factory roof last July. But the Health and Safety Executive is investigating the case. John was fitting roof panels at Huthwaite's TNT Logistics factory when he fell through a skylight and was impaled on the machinery below.

The inquest jury was told that all the men should have been wearing safety harnesses and that metal boards should have been used to cover the skylights.
Thanks to Richard Buckwell from Ashfield for this story.


Not a free society

A COUNTRY'S leader turns up to a rally where the audience is forced to applaud and cheer. Sounds like one of those stage-managed events in the old Communist bloc, doesn't it? Except the leader is US president George Bush.

He was due to make a speech at a graduation ceremony in Ohio State University in the US last month. But the authorities heard that students had organised a 'Turn Your Back on Bush' peace protest.

The students were told they would be expelled, have their diplomas taken away and even be arrested if the protest went ahead. As students and their families entered the stadium they were urged, 'Please make sure you stand and loudly cheer our president.' Despite this the protest went ahead.

One parent said, 'Before he even got to the stage, we did our about face. We never got to see how many students participated. We were being led out of Ohio stadium. 'On this day I came to the realisation that we no longer live in a free society. Questioning our leaders is no longer the most outrageous crime you can be charged with. Not paying attention to them is.'


THE private company in charge of education in Bradford is moving from its headquarters after the council spent £300,000 revamping its old offices. It moved into the old education offices last summer.

But apparently it doesn't want to be associated with the local authority which used to work for education rather than profits.
Thanks to SW readers in Bradford for this story.


Quango'd

A QUANGO has been set up in one of the poorest boroughs in London. It is supposed to 'enhance the economic prosperity of south London'. The £75,000 a year chief executive of the South London Development Alliance is David Main.

He is certainly an expert on enhancing his own prosperity. When Main left a similar post on the Isle of Wight, his legacy was a £300,000 budget overrun and redundancies. Although he did manage to collect a £50,000 payout for himself.


Slim pickings for migrant workers

TWO TONS of strawberries are being scoffed at the Wimbledon tennis tournament. The fruit has been picked by thousands of migrant workers, mainly from Eastern Europe, who have been specially flown in. They are paid a pittance for back breaking work that earns big bucks for a few. The fruit farmers say they pay the migrant workers the minimum wage-£4.10 an hour.

The average picker is expected to pile up five to six kilos an hour. The farmers sell them at a rate of £1.92 for just ten strawberries at the Wimbledon tournament. New Labour doesn't call these people 'Gypsy beggars' or 'economic migrants' because farmers want them here.

Rich farmers have lobbied the government to allow more migrant workers to come and work here for the season-and then be sent back.


Things they say

'WE'LL ONLY have to shoot a few to get the message across.'
PETER DAVIS, mayor of Port Lincoln in south Australia, on his attitude to refugees in a local detention centre

'THE key conclusion from the study is that the police continue to engage in too many pursuits that endanger public safety.'
DAVID BEST, head of the Police Complaints Authority, on the number of people killed during police car chases

'THE absurd thing about my escape from injustice was that I simply exchanged one system which oppressed opinion for another.'
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA comparing Czechoslovakia under Stalinism with the US today

'DECISIONS in America are based solely on how much money will come out of it, and not on the questions of how much health, morals and the environment might suffer as a result.'
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA

'MORE people have been turned into enemies because of their religion than in both world wars put together.'
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA on the treatment of Muslims

'THE Conservative Party at the moment couldn't win an election whatever its policies were.'
MICHAEL PORTILLO, defeated candidate in last year's Tory leadership election

'WALL STREET is looking more like Fraud Street.'
Rupert Murdoch's New York Post

'HOW KARL Marx must be rubbing his hands with glee and saying, 'I told you so'.'
DAILY MIRROR editorial


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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 6 Jul 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1807
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