[There's a old joke about how there's only ever exactly enough things that happen each day to fit perfectly into a newspaper. The truth is, all too often we get to the end of a news day with more stories than can actually be crammed in, and The Morning Star is no different. So while we're getting our new website off the ground I'll just post the more urgent, interesting or amusing detritus here.]
04/07/13 — “PEOPLE make Glasgow” according to a £500,000 council rebrand, but its own staff are mulling strike action after they were rewarded with real-terms pay cuts.
The Unison union’s Glasgow branch is one of dozens across Scotland to begin balloting on strike action yesterday over a proposed one per cent pay rise from the local authorities’ umbrella group Cosla.
A yes vote would see at least two national walkouts and rolling one-day strikes across the country before the year’s end.
Union officials say the one per cent increase would be wiped out by a projected three per cent rise in inflation — meaning local government workers’ pay packets would still be worth less than the previous year.
Inflation has already soared by more than 10 per cent since their pay was frozen in 2010.
Local authorities say they simply cannot afford more in a time of austerity.
But the ballot comes just days after Glasgow City Council confirmed the half-million budget for its new marketing slogan — ironically, “People Make Glasgow”.
The BBC have published an article by one Brian Milligan, which purports to show that it is possible to eat a healthy, varied diet for less than £1 a day. The article is – and I'm being polite here – a complete farrago of nonsense from beginning to end. Let's start with the idea that the diet Mr Milligan lived on for five days (a whole five days, imagine!) was 'healthy'.
Dear friends and readers,
Thankyou for your support and sympathy in this difficult time for Katie and I.
As you may already know, New Zealand’s parliament passed historic legislation this evening to legalise same-sex marriage; an act that cultural commentators have warned will irreparably destroy the institution of heterosexual marriage.
Katie and I have been in a loving, fulfilling relationship for seven years now – four of them as a married couple – but as of 11pm NZST we each experienced a sudden loss of interest, attraction and even basic human empathy with regard to one another.
We are therefore separating as of today, with a view to finding new partners of our own respective genders in order to comply with the spirit and letter of the law.
Since such marriages are reportedly intrinsically unsatisfying and inauthentic, my only consolation is that they are also poor environments for raising children due to their ‘party’ lifestyle and copious consumption of hard drugs.
Thankyou again for your kind words and support.
[In case it's not abundantly clear, I'm kidding. Why not go read a serious critique though, courtesy of the Queer Avengers' Beyond Marriage blog.]
Some stories enrage you because there shouldn’t have to be anything more to say; no National Debate or serious frowny faces on Question Time. The HIV-positive asylum seeker and her 10-month-old child who starved to death in a Westminster flat last March. The teenager who set himself on fire in a council office in December after they refused to find him a home.
And now there’s 35-year-old homeless man Daniel Gauntlett, who died of hypothermia in Aylesford last week on the porch of an empty bungalow that he could not enter without facing arrest and a criminal record.
You can read the Kent Messenger’s original story by Chris Hunter here — but spreading equally quickly through Twitter, Facebook and the like is the savage fury of Is Mike Weatherley Dead Yet?, an anonymous website launched within days of the report that directly links Gauntlett’s death to the legislation authored by Tory MP Mike Weatherley and passed into law last year that criminalised any act of squatting in a residential property, derelict or not. Read the rest of this entry »
[First published in The Morning Star, 09/02/13]
RBS chief Stephen Hester wore an especially frowny face this week to admit his bank’s role in the biggest scandal since the financial crisis itself.
Years of wholesale manipulation of the Libor rate had put a gloss on an otherwise collapsing economy, lured investors into risky financial products under false pretences and had gone on to fudge the figures of trillions of pounds’ worth of consumer loans and contracts worldwide, with the resulting sleight of hand driving businesses into bankruptcy and families from their homes.
But worst of all, it made them look bad.
“There is no room in RBS or in our industry for that kind of wrongdoing,” he told reporters, adding without a trace of irony that “we won’t be the only bank with these findings of course.”
So what exactly did they do? Read the rest of this entry »
[DISCLAIMER: This post is personal opinion and protected free expression which in no way indicates the views of my employer. TRIGGER WARNING: Racist hate speech quoted below.]
So the latest Blue Labour scheme is apparently to make speaking ill of soldiering a hate crime.
That’s not an exaggeration of any sort, I swear. Take it from their defence shadow Jim Murphy:
“We must protect those who protect our nation.
“It is unacceptable some service people face abuse.
“This is an important part of a wider campaign to prevent discrimination against our heroes.
“They serve us, we should protect them.”
The problem with this should be obvious – obvious enough that Murphy cannot possibly see it as anything more than a calculated half-step in the dizzying tap routine of the Reactionary Radical Centre. “Let’s see, whose safety is genuinely threatened by prevailing societal attitudes? People with disabilities, people with alternative sexual and gender identities … and people who get paid to directly threaten other peoples’ safety.” Read the rest of this entry »
[First published in The Morning Star, 26/01/13]
When news broke late last week that three British nationals were among dozens of hostages killed in a disastrous firefight between Algerian soldiers and Islamic terrorists, David Cameron was unequivocal.
Whatever people said about the Algerian government’s pointed refusal to negotiate or their unilateral decision to attack the besieged BP-owned compound was irrelevant, the PM insisted.
“I would just say that the responsibility for these deaths lies squarely with the terrorists who launched a vicious and cowardly attack.”
But within days reports surfaced that the fighters had arrived fresh from the Libyan border, with uniforms, bombs, rockets and guns all bought from the former stockpiles of the deposed Gaddafi regime.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton confirmed the reports on Wednesday, telling Congress there was “no doubt that the Algerian terrorists had weapons from Libya”.
And if that wasn’t enough, the plot’s mastermind Mokhtar Belmokhtar said as much himself in an interview with the Mauritanian news agency ANI in 2011.
“We have been one of the main beneficiaries of the revolutions in the Arab world,” he said, referring to the loose regional alliance Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
“As for our benefitting from the weapons, this is a natural thing in these kinds of circumstances.”
So while Belmokhtar’s men pulled the triggers, the guns they wielded against Paul Morgan and Kenneth Whiteside and Garry Barlow and dozens of other Brits were a consequence of Britain’s own foreign policy — its complicity not only in the “liberation” of those weapons in 2011’s civil war, but the sale of them to Moammar Gaddafi’s regime to begin with. Read the rest of this entry »
[First published in The Morning Star, 19/01/13]
So the Lib Dems have finally drawn their line in the sand.
Not the regressive tax system they pledged to scrap, only to trade a mansion tax for a VAT hike; not the “fair chance for every child”, replaced with increasingly desperate child poverty and real-terms school funding cuts under the Pupil Premium; not the university tuition fees they vowed to wipe out, then trebled (and are now thinking of pledging to cut again). Not even hiving off the NHS and slashing its funding, generating broad revulsion and derision even in their own conference halls.
No, the Liberal Democrats’ first front-bench revolt in three years of coalition rule turned out to be a procedural bill that would diminish their own prospects for re-election — a decision that, like their leader Nick Clegg, somehow comes across as both cynicial and naively optimistic at the same time. Read the rest of this entry »