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The Socialist 14 May 2014 |
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Them & Us
Hardly a week passes without another example of crazy property values generated by the government-fuelled housing bubble. If readers thought the recent £550,000 sale price of a large garage in Camberwell, south London, was bonkers then prepare yourselves for this: six dilapidated garages in Fulham Road sold at auction for £700,000 - ten times their guide price!
Perhaps the most outrageous example of profiteering private landlords comes from an advertised one-bedroom flat in Earls Court, west London. At only £170 a week you might be tempted to think this is a bargain. However, the 'fully furnished bedsit' is actually little bigger than a single bed and is so tiny that there is no toilet!
In the debate on the forthcoming independence referendum hundreds of people have packed meetings in Scotland to hear the case for socialism. At the other end of the political spectrum, however, generating interest is proving harder. Conservative Future Scotland, the Scottish Tory Party's youth wing, had to cancel its national conference on 10 May - "due to lack of interest and declining youth membership numbers". Only 12 tickets to the event had been sold!
So desperate is the Labour Party leadership not to alienate big business that Miliband and Co continually reiterate their support for spending cuts while refusing to offer meaningful policies to improve the lives of the majority of the population.
Unfortunately for Ed this strategy has resulted in Labour's standing in opinion polls actually sinking below that of the Tories, despite four years of vicious government austerity. According to a Guardian poll, Labour is on 31% support - down 6% on last month, its lowest rating since losing the 2010 election - while the Tories are on 33%. And adding to Labour's woes, Miliband was given a net personal approval rating of minus 25!
As the mass media prematurely claimed the end of the 'great recession', Barclays Bank spoilt the government's party by announcing 19,000 job cuts, of which over half are in the UK.
Some 4,000 jobs have already been axed. It's also expected that many of the bank's high street branches will close to cut costs and boost profits.
Instead of attacking the greedy banksters Tory Chancellor George Osborne called the jobs cull "regrettable".
Pfizer's multibillion takeover bid for AstraZeneca has highlighted once again the Con-Dems' generous taxation system which benefits big business (20% corporation tax in the UK compared to 40% in the US).
But even this liberal tax regime hasn't stopped leading companies using subsidiaries based in secretive tax havens.
According to the charity Christian Aid, FTSE 100 firms have set up nearly 30,000 subsidiaries, with 14% of them based in "highly secretive" jurisdictions thereby avoiding taxation. This is despite Prime Minister Cameron's repeated pledge to enforce 'transparency' with multinationals.