Patrick Ward

Glenrothes: Where did it all go right?

Issue section: 
Author: 

Voters in Glenrothes backed Labour in a surprise by-election win last month. The victory in itself was not the only boost for the beleaguered Gordon Brown.

Labour increased its share of the vote from the 51.9 percent won at the 2005 general election to 55.1 percent. And Labour not only increased its share of the vote for the first time since 1997, but also the actual number of people who voted for it. This hasn't happened in a Labour seat since 1978.

Just days before the poll, the Scottish National Party was crowing that it had already won. Leader Alex Salmond proclaimed, somewhat embarrassingly, "Yes we can win, and yes we will win."

Immigration - deporting responsibility

Issue section: 
Author: 

"We need a tougher immigration policy and we need to stop seeing it as a dilemma. It's not. It's easy. I'm going to do my best to help the British back to work." These are the words of Labour immigration minister Phil Woolas.

His comments appeared in an interview with the Independent in which he perversely described his commitment to booting out migrants as the logical conclusion of his lifelong fight against racism. "It's been too easy to get into this country in the past and it's going to get harder," he added.

Banking bonus

Issue section: 
Author: 

The £5.5 billion bailout of Lloyds TSB came as Gordon Brown promised to crack down on bankers' bonuses. But the bank's chief executive, Eric Daniels, thinks otherwise, telling employees that they actually faced "very, very few restrictions".

"If you think about it, the first restriction was not to pay bonuses," said the banker, "Well Lloyds TSB is in fact going to pay bonuses. I think our staff have done a terrific job this year. There is no reason why we shouldn't." No reason at all.

Rich guarantees

Issue section: 
Author: 

In October the government increased its guarantee on savings from £35,000 to £50,000. This means that if you have savings of up to this amount, and your bank goes bust, the government will reimburse you.

The panic around the sudden instability of banks led to masses of column inches in the national press, from the Telegraph to the Guardian, where worried savers were encouraged to spread their savings around if they held more than this amount. It suddenly looked as if millions of people held such levels of savings.

Indignation

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Philip Roth, Jonathan Cape, £16.99

It is 1951 and the Korean War has entered its second year. Marcus Messner, the young son of a kosher butcher in Newark, directs every ounce of his energy into his studies to avoid entering the conflict at a low rank and getting butchered like his cousins in the Second World War.

As a grade A student at the local college he enjoys his course: his radical lecturers, the opportunity to mix with a diverse student body and studying the works of Bertrand Russell. He helps his father run his shop and, as with his studies, is a diligent and appreciated worker.

Economics class

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

One of the other questions on certain people's lips is, "Where should I put my children?"

The fallen Masters of the Universe are facing a grilling on a scale to which they are unaccustomed if they go top hat in hand to the public school head teacher's office.

As Westminster School bursar Christopher Silcock advises, private education involves "sacrifice"; a privilege only for a certain class of people. Structural adjustment programmes are increasingly common, following an interrogation over "house values, Isas, investments and how many jewels they have got", said Silcock. Tough advice from the bursar includes thinking about downsizing your house.

State capitalists

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

One of the questions on certain people's lips as a result of the economic crisis is, "Where should I put my savings?"

If your bank goes under you are insured by the government's Financial Services Compensation Scheme for up to £35,000 (although the scheme has never been tested before, nor does the fund from which the compensation is to be drawn actually exist yet).

Economic crisis: Losers take all

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

As suited City workers laden with cardboard boxes left their glass and steel monuments to the free market for the last time, Bloomberg, the cable channel for traders, solemnly replaced its continuous on-screen ticker-tape share price updates with "Lehman staff clear desks, call head hunters, weep".

Meanwhile, "The biggest personal loser has to be [Lehman CEO] Richard Fuld," the New York Sun reported. "The Fed decided to bail out virtually every other sizeable financial institution in America, but somehow left Lehman off the list. He must be wondering - wrong zip code? Bad tie choice?" But Fuld must have taken some solace in the fact that he left the bank with a $22 million "golden parachute" payoff. Not bad for a loser.

Drugs: prescription for change

Issue section: 
Author: 

Julian Critchley, former director of the Cabinet Office Anti-Drug Co-ordination Unit, argued last month that Britain's drugs policy "doesn't work, cannot work, because we have no way of controlling the supply of drugs".

Critchley now claims not only that all drugs should be legalised, but that the majority of professionals in government, police, the NHS and charities share this view. "Yet publicly, all those intelligent, knowledgeable people were forced to repeat the nonsensical mantra that the government would be 'tough on drugs', even though they all knew that the government's policy was actually causing harm."

Making Arms, Wasting Skills

Issue section: 
Author: 

Steven Schofield, Campaign Against Arms Trade, £3

This new booklet is a timely investigation into the nature of the arms manufacturing industry and its centrality to modern imperialism.

The report argues that Britain has become a world leader in peddling death and instability. The US is happy to allow BAE to grow, especially into the US market. Meanwhile, the US develops, sells and uses weaponry of a higher technological level. In return for subservience, Britain, and others, can also get the latest in warfare technology.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Patrick Ward