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From: The Socialist issue 692, 2 November 2011: Bosses prosper, workers suffer... join the 30 Nov strike

Search site for keywords: NHS - School - Grant - Health - Tony Blair - Margaret Thatcher - Recession

Fast News

Spare no expense

Former prime ministers Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair together have claimed over 1.7 million in 'expenses' in the last five years.

Under rules set up by John Major in 1991 the ex-PMs are able to claim a public duties cost allowance. Figures released last year show the maximum allowance claimable doubled from 47,568 in 1997-98 to 100,205 in 2008-9.

How the 86-year old Thatcher, given her poor health, has been able to claim 535,000 from the fund since 2006 is not clear.

Blair, who has earned millions in speaking engagements, consultation work and publishing his memoirs since leaving office in 2007, has claimed 273,000 from the public purse.

Employment credentials

Professor Malcolm Grant has been appointed to chair the NHS commissioning board which oversees the NHS's 100 billion+ budget. Grant, who earns 380,000 a year at the University College of London and will pick up 1,300 a day in his new post at the Department of Health, was nominated by the health minister Andrew Lansley.

However, the professor was less well received by the cross-party parliamentary selection panel after he admitted that he found it "difficult to demonstrate [his passion for the NHS] because I am not a patient of the NHS".

The panel found that Grant "demonstrated a lack of experience of NHS structures and processes"... "did not demonstrate to the committee a robust understanding of the issues"...and "demonstrated an assumption that his appointment was already confirmed".

When it came to a vote the panel split down the middle but the professor received the casting vote of chairman, Tory MP Stephen Dorrell.

Academic sums

Headteacher Mark Elms, who earned a reported 200,000 last year, has announced he intends to close Tidemill Academy in Deptford, south London, early for Christmas due to building work problems at the school. But because the Academy is outside local authority control, parents at Tidemill are being asked to fork out 100 a week to enrol their children in a play scheme for the weeks that the school is closed. If it had remained a council-run school then the local authority would have provided free child care.

Social unrest

On the eve of the G20 summit of capitalist politicians, the United Nations International Labour Organisation's (ILO) World of Work report 2011 says "the global economy is on the verge of a new and deeper jobs recession that will further delay the global economic recovery and may ignite more social unrest in scores of countries". The report comes at a time when unemployment worldwide is at 200 million, a new record high.

The report adds: "On current trends, it will take at least five years to return employment in advanced economies to pre-crisis levels, one year later than projected in last year's report." And that in over 45 of the 118 countries examined, the risk of social unrest is rising.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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Article dated 2 November 2011

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