Monthly Archives: November 2008


This article is from the Socialist Labour Party (SLP)
According to Chancellor Alistair Darling’s pre-budget report a total of £20 billion is being allocated to stimulate the economy. Darling predicted that this stimulus would put the UK into a favourable position when there was a “return to growth in the world economy” which, according to the Chancellor, would be by 2010 with growth of “between 1.5 percent and 2 percent.”
However, when this £20 billion sum and the Chancellor’s comments are analysed and connected to developments in the real world it exposes either utter naivety or downright deceit on Darling’s part.
At the same time as Darling was delivering his report, the United States government was ploughing $250 billion into Citigroup, representing the largest government bailout to date, and the Federal Reserve announced they were making a further £800 billion available to the banking industry. All this is on top of the $200 billion they allocated to Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac and the $150 billion given to insurance giants AIG, and, of course, the $700 billion bailout fund that was authorized by the US Congress in September.
These are truly staggering sums and to understand the depth of the current crisis it is important to note that Citigroup is by revenues the world’s largest bank with over 200 million customer accounts in over 100 countries.
Added to this is the fact that General Motors, the world’s largest car manufacturer, established a hundred years ago, has had to go cap in hand to the US government for a bailout and in the UK recently both Woolworths and MFI have gone into administration.
So together you have long established companies going to the wall and the largest bank in the world now existing on a government hand-out, and yet Darling is talking about ‘a return to growth in the world economy’ as if all this was a minor hiccup.
Moreover, the Chancellor is suggesting that the cost of the measures he has implemented will have to be paid back by 2011. The much publicised 5 percent increase in income tax for those earning £150,000 or more covers less that half a million people and will raise only £2 billion; so how and from whom is the rest of the cost going to be raised?
The clue to this came when Darling addressed the CBI prior to making his report. He told his audience that the government borrowing needed to fund his measures would be paid back by ‘efficiency savings’ and the ‘sale of government assets’.
‘Efficiency savings’ is a euphemism for job losses and wage cuts, and the ‘sale of government assets’ relates to state-owned industries being split up and sold off to the private sector. In other words it is the working class who will be asked to pay for the bail-out of the financial system.

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Can London afford Boris?

Well London has been there and done it where others are still scratching their heads and probably other parts of their anatomy. Seems he’s scrapping extensions to congestion charging after consulting with views of the scheme.
This was one response:
“Abolition of the Western Extension means that London’s fare payers will take yet another hit after the unnecessary above inflation fares increase coming this January.
Boris Johnson has now loaded on the London fare payer £50 million a year through abolition of the CO2 congestion charge on gas guzzlers, £20 million a year through abolition of the cheap oil deal with Venezuela, and now a minimum £14 million a year (too low Evening Standard estimate) to £70 million a year (TfL estimate) through abolition of the Western Extension.
The cost to London’s fare payers of Boris Johnson has therefore so far been between £84 million a year and £140 million a year – bloggers and journalists should be able to hone that down further.
And Boris Johnson used to go on about saving £3 million a year on the cost of the Londoner under Ken Livingstone!
Really Londoners cannot afford the cost of Boris Johnson.”

WillDuff’s profile picture WillDuff
Nov 27 08, 10:24am

Venezuela supports Chavez allies at the polls

Contrary to some reports predicting a huge turn against Hugo Chavez the results of polling, with record numbers turning out to vote, have returned his supporters. With reportedly high rates of crime in the poorer areas it was expected that there would be a recation against the President, but that didn’t happen with a few exceptions. The Mayor of Caracas was one where an opponent was victorious.
An article in the Observer (23/11/2008) reported that Caracas was the capital of gang warfare predicting this would turn people against Chavez. It appears, however, that destabilising factors are very much present with outside influence from a US dominated Columbia.

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Execution agreed. Not through the courts though

The execution of suspected terrorists by remotely controlled aircraft inside Pakistan has met with anger and condemnation in many quarters. A question has been asked in parliament whether British intelligence played a part, or even knew about, a plot to assassinate some wanted “terrorists” holed up in Pakistan’s NW territory. The answers have been far from clear, but according to an article in The Independent (24/11/2008) it was a deliberate act. One of the victims is said to be a British subject born in Birmingham and associated with the plot to blow up transatlantic airliners with liquid bombs.

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Peres demonstration at Oxford.

Sir Shimon Peres, (as he now apparently is: knighted for services to war crimes?) was given a rowdy reception when he responded to an invitation to speak at Balliol College, Oxford. It seems that opposition to Israel’s actions against Palestinians is growing, although this is still not having an impact on the elite. Governments insist on supporting Israel and turning a blind eye to the daily murders and atrocities handed out to civilians. They justify this with their continuing “war against terrorism” rhetoric which is being continued by president-elect Obama. No change here apparently.
Thanks to Zarina Bhatia for drawing my attention to this following her letter of complaint over the original invitation.

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Land grab – back to the scramble for Africa

One response to the economic crisis is a return to a competition for scarce resources – back to Africa for example where well endowed nations – and multinational organisations – grab land. Already struggling people are forced to compete for food while others secure their own wellbeing.
Already we have seen the European Union plundering fish stocks vital for the well being of poor African countries. The well-known philanthropist and Come Dancing hopeful, Peter Mandelson, secured deals to ensure starvation reminscent of colonialism in Ireland and India during the nineteenth century.

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Obama watch

The news that Barack Obama is moving urgently on Guantanamo Bay is to be welcome. It recognises the far-reaching damage done to world views of the US in the world. The promised change is noted. Less clear is the action that Obama will take on continuing incursions into sovereign territory not at war with the US. Pakistan is the most prominent example of that. No apparent change here so far.
However closing Guantanamo Bay does not solve the problem of dealing with the 250 or so remaining inmates, only a handful of whom can be said to be “hardcore terrorists”:

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Looking for signs

“Change” is the word that has been at the top of the agenda, but seeing signs that things will be different doesn’t always measure up. Tough talk from Russia has made it clear that if the defence shield idea continues with sites close to her borders then they too will assemble a similar response. The Boston Globe reports that Obama and Medvedev have been on the phone – Obama has been doing the rounds – and agreed that both countries must work on global issues.
I think I read a statement that the “war on terror” rhetoric would be dispensed with. While Obama’s intentions on Iraq are to draw back from continued force his willingness to continue in Afghanstan and even Pakistan make it difficult to see what is changing. It seems as if the military operating there are seeking a clearer objective on what they are doing. It is intensely disappointing that Obama, like Brown, would associate himself with any bit of US foreign policy that continued to use bombs and violence. No change here.

“Comrade Sarkozy”

Reading Fidel Castro’s reflections often brings a smile to my face. They have interest because they come from someone with first hand knowledge of world affairs, and often draw out interesting observations. He notes that Carlos Chavez refers to “Comrade Sarkozy”. This wasn’t a malicious jibe but more in recognition of Sarkozy’s outspoken views on the current world economic crisis. Fidel comments that if such sentiments had come from a country like Cuba the world’s press would have given a rather different reaction.
Chavez likened attempts to renew the capitalist world as like trying to refloat the Titanic as it lay on the ocean bed before commenting on Sarkozy’s speech which was made in Beijing in his capacity as President of the European Union.

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The future is now

It was just two years back when this site picked up Obama, rather late in the scheme of things. However the view that he would actually be at the door of the White House just two years on was hardly credible. At that time I was teaching some young people who were out of school for one reason or another, predictably a number of them were black so I introduced them to Obama While they were interested they clearly felt the idea that he would one day be President of the USA was a myth.
I spent the night of the announcement of the presidential election results at the Afro Caribbean Millennium Centre in Birmingham. We had a good celebration including cow foot soup, curried goat and Jamaican rum. The last time I had joined them was as Nelson Mandela walked free. The sense was that this was indeed history. That was clearly the mood across the US but the whole world was watching and joined in. To me, while it was clear that this had a particular significance to black people, there are many who are not who are able to share that and demonstrate the fact that they too are genuinely overjoyed and relieved that there appears to be forward movement.
The Civil Rights tradition was clearly invoked with Martin Luther King’s family witnessing what they felt to be a culmination of what he stood for. “Rosa sat so the King could stand so that Obama could run” was one view.

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