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Poor deal from Ray

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Issue 1683

Inside the system

Poor deal from Ray

REMEMBER THE man New Labour recruited to sell the New Deal in a multi-million pound series of TV adverts last year? Ray Porter was filmed on a train announcing to bemused passengers that he thought the New Deal was a great idea. He was hailed by Tony Blair as an enterprising businessman who was willing to take on 12 unemployed people at his Merseyside firm, Porter Builders. Porter also showed his support for New Labour by donating 1,800 to the local Labour Party. But Porter Builders went into receivership just before Xmas. On 31 December the company recorded debts of 2.6 million. Within months around 100 workers will lose their jobs.

STUDENTS at Keele University will be financing a flutter by the fat cats on the international stock markets, thanks to the college authorities. The university has sold off the rental income on all its student accommodation for the next 30 years to finance company Owengate Keele plc. The deal was worth 55.5 million. Paul Rigg, Keele University’s director of finance, said the firm would be making use of the international bond markets to “revolutionise” the cam pus’s finances. The “revolution” will mean students’ rents will increase.

Tory hack

HACKERS BROKE into the Tory party’s website last week to offer some opportunities to hard up Tory MPs. The hackers adjusted the site to include a “Cash for Questions” page. Users were invited to type in a Tory MP’s name and what question they would like them to ask in the Commons in return for a negotiable reward in a brown envelope.

Beppe’s real face

THE ACTOR who used to play black character Lenny in Eastenders has been stopped and questioned 40 times by police. Destune Coleman is just one in a survey by Time Out magazine of black men in London who have been repeatedly stopped by police. Coleman said, “It’s happened to me so often I view being stopped by the police as part of my driving life.” He has even been accused of stealing his own car.

One of London’s most senior black police officers, Commander Ali Dizaei, was stopped and accused of carrying drugs as he was coming out of a gym. He has also been pulled over outside his own police station. On one occasion Dizaei was stopped after a night out in Hampstead when he drove away in his BMW. “The two officers were very aggressive, firing questions in my face about drinking. When I showed them my warrant card they were suddenly very apologetic,” said Dizaei. Home Office statistics show that blacks are six times more likely to be stopped than whites. Yet black people only make up 11 percent of the city’s population.

FOUR detectives in the West Midlands have been moved after 12 junior officers complained that they had been bullied. The chief inspector, inspector and two senior sergeants have been chucked out of the National Crime Squad head quarters in Birmingham. The squad was set up just two years ago as the British equivalent of the FBI. The four officers are now back in the West Midlands police force.

A load of CAC

A KEY anti-union figure has been appointed by New Labour to implement the new trade union rights legislation. Sir Michael Burton, now a high court judge, has been hand picked by Stephen Byers, the trade and industry secretary, to head the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC). The CAC will decide if trade unions can push for union recognition or not. Burton was a QC during the 1984-5 miners’ strike. He represented two scabs in Yorkshire against the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). The legal action led to the strike being outlawed and the NUM’s funds being seized.

Burton also represented union buster Rupert Murdoch, owner of News International, after he sacked 5,000 print workers and moved to Wapping in 1986. Burton is no stranger to New Labour. He stood as a Labour councillor in the 1970s before joining the right wing breakaway Social Democratic Party in the early 1980s. Could Labour have found anyone less committed to trade unions?

Under the cover

THE TRUE level of the “bed crisis” in the NHS has been covered up, according to the Association of Community Health Councils. A report published by the Royal College of Nursing found that nurses in 18 casualty units said they had been asked to move patients while the inspections were happening. One hospital opened an empty ward over the weekend to provide temporary relief to casualty.

Managers wanted to underplay the crisis because inspectors were recording national waiting times in casualty for a survey. Despite all this cheating, conniving and scheming the survey still revealed that many hospitals were failing to hit the government’s maximum waiting time target of four hours for an emergency bed.

Things they say

“RUSSIANS? We’re chums, we’re in the same business. We know how to make bombs. They know how to make bombs.” 

  • KEN JOHNSTON, responsible for the safety of Britain’s nuclear warheads at the Atomic Weapons Establishment.

“WITH great regret, I have resigned in compliance with the board’s wish to have a new chief executive. I am sure the Millennium Experience will continue and increase its already apparent success.”

  • JENNIE PAGE, the sacked boss of the Millennium Dome

“What this conference is about is that nobody knows how to respond to Seattle.”

  • PARTICIPANT at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland

“IF THE global system continues to generate growing inequality, environmental destruction and a race to the bottom for working people, then I can assure you it will generate an increasingly volatile reaction that will make Seattle look tame.”

  • Speech by JOHN SWEENEY, leader of the US equivalent of the TUC, at the Davos summit

“I WAS impressed by his candid approach to the issues we discussed, his problem solving approach. I found him a very well informed person and a good interlocutor.”

  • US secretary of state MADELEINE ALBRIGHT on Russian prime minister VLADIMIR PUTIN, the butcher of Chechnya

“IT IS not just the black population who are dissatisfied with their behaviour-there are those among the white community who are unhappy too, people that the police see as being ‘low class’.”


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