The Socialist 26 March 2014 |
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Them & Us
David's den (number ten)
Tory chairman and housing minister Grant Shapps has defended his party's patronising 'bingo and beer' poster, which was distributed immediately after the Budget.
Trumpeting Osborne's 10% cut in bingo industry profits tax and 1p off beer duty, the Tory poster condescendingly proclaims: "To help hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy."
Presumably, this is instead of continually worrying about how to pay the rent, mortgage, soaring utility bills, etc.
The use of the pronoun "they" instead of "we" betrays the sneering class snobbery of the Tories to the 'great unwashed'.
Even if the tax cut leads to bigger bingo prizes, you still have to win! And even if publicans pass on to customers the 1p cut in beer duty, how many pints must you drink to make any substantial saving?
The most remarkable aspect of the bingo and beer poster is the Tories actually believing that people will buy into their trivial election sops and ignore the government's further savaging of public services and welfare cuts.
On Budget Day what could hard-pressed families in London have wished for? Rent controls, a massive council housing building programme, cheaper tube fares?
The capital's Tory Mayor Boris Johnson came up with an even better idea - two second-hand police water cannons costing £200,000!
Some people (including those 35,000 residents who signed a petition against their purchase) might protest that water cannons are a danger to the public. However, Boris reassuringly told the London Assembly: "No one wants to see water cannon deployed routinely on the streets of London" - a relief if you happen to be popping into the local cafe!
House of shame
Britain's house and flat renting crisis is getting worse, especially in London where prices are going stratospheric. If wages had kept up with house prices, the average salary in the gentrified but still mainly working class London borough of Hackney would need to be £131,924 a year!
Even some Tory newspapers have reported on people who are living in expensive but tiny, mould-ridden rented flats.
But little outrage is heard from our 'representatives' in the mother of parliaments. Why? One reason could be that while 2% of Britain's population earn income from buy-to-let properties, that figure rises to 25% when you look at MPs in Westminster.
Ducking the issue
I don't know if you've followed the scandal here in South Africa over the 215 million rand of public money spent to 'upgrade' president Zuma's private residence.
Leaders of the ruling African National Congress claim this expenditure was for security but the public prosecutor has found that to be largely nonsense.
Some of the installations included a cattle kraal [enclosure] and a chicken run! When the architect was asked on what grounds these could be charged to the public purse he said, "this is how they do it in England".
An obvious reference to the MPs' expenses scandal back in 2009, highlighted by a Tory MP's claim for a 'duck house'.
So UK MPs have become a model for the corrupt ANC!
Sean, South Africa
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