Who feels 'entitled', posh boy? Cameron's welfare witch hunt

David Cameron spoke yesterday of wishing to end a ‘culture of entitlement’ on welfare benefits. He did so with a straight face just as he managed to claim that Jimmy Carr’s tax affairs were ‘morally wrong’ without a cheeky wink or raised eyebrow.

The utter hypocrisy of this Tory government (with a Liberal Democrat poodle yapping at its side) plumbs new depths every day. The Prime Minister’s family made its fortune from the use of tax havens. Over half of the Conservative Party’s donors operate offshore from the UK to avoid paying tax. They are the richest of the rich in this society yet do not wish to contribute to helping the society to function for the poor as well. As Gideon Osborne admitted ‘some of the very wealthiest people in the country have organised their tax affairs... so that they were regularly paying virtually no income tax.’ Cameron himself is worth over £30 million yet he claimed expenses from Parliament on his mortgage.

If there is a ‘culture of entitlement’ in Britain, it is evident among the richest. After all, how many large banks have trumpeted tax avoidance schemes yet ask for public bail outs when their gambling on the financial markets went wrong?

Why doctors are taking industrial action to defend their pensions on 21st June

Manchester GP, Dr kay Phillips explains why thousands of doctors like her will be taking action to defend their pensions on 21st June

UK Uncut - The missing billions

MPs act over Thomas Cook closure

Bradford MPs George Galloway and Gerry Sutcliffe today met with the national leader of the trade union representing the Thomas Cook employees at the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday 19.
The MPs pledged their full support to the union and its general secretary Manuel Cortes in their fight to save more than 500 jobs in Bradford city centre.
The MPs are commissioning an impact assessment from Bradford University and are asking the chief executive of Thomas Cook to meet them urgently so that the building 'does not become another shrink-wrapped mausoleum in the city centre,' Galloway said.
The union is still involved in the 90-day consultation process with the Cook management, with the jobs slated to go next March.
Galloway added, 'Gerry and I are determined to do everything we possibly can to save these crucial jobs.'

Bradford gets Respect

The Respect Party Conference takes place this Saturday, 16 June in Bradford, the scene of Respect's recent by-election and council election successes. The venue is the magnificent Connaught Rooms, Manningham Lane, Bradford, BD1 3EA.

The conference will discuss the way forward for progressive politics that challenge the three major parties which all say the same things. It will also include an afternoon session on the world in chaos, with a specific focus on the further attempts to foment war in the Middle East and the huge crisis in Europe.
Starting with registration at 10am, the opening address will be delivered by Salma Yaqoob, Respect's outstanding Leader followed by George Galloway, Respect MP for Bradford West who will introduce the session on the Bradford Spring and beyond. The morning will end with breakout sessions on building branches and student groups for Respect.

The afternoon session on the world in chaos will be introduced by Kevin Ovenden, Respect National Council member and Director of Viva Palestina. This will be followed by elections and some closing remarks.

Members and non-members are welcome (though only members will have voting rights). Registration can be booked on this website or at the desk at the entrance to the conference. It costs £5 to register as a member.


Reacting to the news that Thomas Cook is to close its Bradford operations centre and throw 468 people on the dole, Bradford West MP George Galloway accused the company of a 'heartless disregard' of the people and families involved.

'Once more we see a company put profit before people. There has been no consultation, just P45s all round. It's disgraceful,' the MP said. He called on the company, 'even at this late stage', to get round the table with local MPs, politicians and unions to save the jobs.

'Like any other company Cook has suffered through this shameful government's austerity programme. The economy needs growth, not retraction like this,' he continued. He pointed out that Bradford West had suffered the highest year-on-year increase of any of the country's 650 constituencies - almost 30% - and that more than one-in-five families were in fuel poverty. 'We need urgent action from the government to save these jobs and to grow the economy rather than stifle it. I am challenging David Cameron and George Osborne, the real people ultimately responsible for this tragedy, to come here to face the people and tell them why their job losses - and all the others suffered in the last year - are helping build the economy.'

Olympics, Anybody Got Tickets?

The LondonOlympics 2012 is a once-in-a-lifetime event. So why, asks Mark Perryman, have so few of us got tickets?
With the Jubilee over and the England football team unlikely to provide much of a lasting distraction at the Euros, the 50-day countdown to the London Olympics is now entering serious overdrive.
Right from the start of the bidding competition back in 2005, hosting a ‘home’ Olympics was sold to the British public as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This was no idle boast: Along with football’s World Cup (which England can’t even think of hosting till at least 2026) the Olympics is undoubtedly the biggest show on earth. Spread across 26 different sports and with over 200 countries competing, its reach and appeal is enormous.
The sales pitch of the Olympic organisers was explicit: This was an opportunity to be there while history was being made, to witness something unforgettable first-hand, to bring the memories of past Games watched on TV to vivid life. The Games organisers did little or nothing to dampen expectation that tickets for the Games would there for the taking.

John Carlos - the whole nine yards

A diamond job: the inhumanity of Workfare

Something deeply disturbing occurred on the river Thames in London over the weekend. While thousands had their parade rained upon as a flotilla of boats celebrated the Queen’s diamond jubilee, the scale of the attack on the poor in this society became more obvious.

To steward the event, a large team of unemployed men and women were bussed in from the South West of England by Close Protection UK . The company initially told the team that they would be paid for two days work during the weekend and bank holiday. Upon arrival in the middle of the night in London, the company reneged upon this offer. Thirty received no money at all while fifty more, on ‘apprenticeships’ received £2.80 per hour. The stewards were told to camp on the concrete under London Bridge as the rain poured.

When they woke, they were given clothes for the stewarding but nowhere to change. There were not even toilet facilities. After the parade, the group were taken by tube to Essex to pitch their tents in the dark. Another uncomfortable, cold and rainy night followed. Close Protection UK laughably claimed that this was part of the training for an NVQ in ‘spectator safety’ and, if the group did this work for nothing, they would be considered for the paid jobs at the Olympics. The question is how much are the contracts to provide safety at the parade and the Olympics worth to the company? Did the company’s bid include not paying staff and making them sleep rough in the streets?

While huge amounts of money are lavished on the diamond jubilee for a monarch who is paid by the taxpayer yet has wealth in excess of £300 million, the poorest are being reduced to Dickensian workhouse conditions. While enormous sums of money are frittered away for the Olympics, slave labour is being introduced for those without work. A government Work Programme has shown its true colours.

The Respect Party believes:
  • The Close Protection UK contracts for the jubilee celebrations and the Olympics should be made public immediately.
  • The group of unemployed people subjected to this abuse should be paid the going rate for manual labour from the point of pickup until return home and they should be given compensation by the company and the government for the indignity of what they suffered.
  • The government must declare how much it knew about this abuse and whether there are any conflicts of interest in relation to this company.
  • Close Protection UK should removed from all government contracts forthwith.
  • All government workfare and Work programmes should be immediately investigated.

The number of poor people in Bed and Breakfast accommodation has tripled; the number of people reduced to the charity of food banks has rocketed; jobs, wages and services are being slashed while contracts are awarded to private sector outfits that treat people in this disgraceful and inhumane way.

This is not the celebration of the pride of Britain, it is the calculated and brutal destruction of all that prevented widespread poverty. This is the scandal of government Work Programmes, for which the government should be put out of work. Our hope lies in resisting these attacks on our living standards and breaking the political orthodoxy that says austerity for the poor and bailouts for the rich.

It's the taking part...

According to the organizers, encouraging participation in sport is one of the main benefits of the London 2012 Olympics. Mark Perryman examines the evidence.

The Olympic motto “ The most important thing is not winning but taking part” represents some of the finest ideals not only of Olympism but of any sporting event aspiring to be democratic, participative and accessible. After this weekend’s Jubilee hoopla fades away, the coming summer of sport - Euro 2012, a serious British challenger to win the Tour de France, Wimbledon fortnight, overseas rugby tours to the southern hemisphere, a domestic test match series and the first, and last, home Olympics for most of our lifetimes - will no doubt test such sentiments to the full. A nation that invented many of the world’s team sports has, perhaps forgivably, some difficulty in coping with repeated defeats by the nations to which it exported them. Add in a lengthy martial and imperial tradition, and CLR James’ famous maxim ‘What do they know of cricket who only cricket know’ can be seen as essential to understanding why the British are not the world’s best losers.