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Middle East :: Bahrain
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Britain's privatised, publicly subsidised, overcrowded rail network is also the most expensive in Europe. If it was nationalised - even on a capitalist basis like France's railways - UK passengers would save a staggering £4.6 billion a year in fares, as season tickets in France cost around 13p a mile, compared to 21p in the UK.
Working class and middle class people are suffering huge job losses and cuts in living standards and services - part of the price for sorting out the debt-laden economy claims the government. But the UK economy continues to flatline. It seems that big business is refusing to invest, preferring to sit on cash reserves amounting to an unbelievable £754 billion - equal to 50% of GDP!
According to the chief economic adviser to the Item Club: "British companies remain extremely risk averse. Until these companies stop stashing the cash... the economy will remain on the critical list."
UK premier David Cameron recently visited Burma, currently run by a repressive military clique and where EU trade sanctions apply. Cameron is keen to lift ("suspend") sanctions on behalf of British capitalists who are eager to exploit the country's rich resources and cheap labour. To get round the tricky problem that it would be illegal under sanctions for the businessmen accompanying Cameron to enter Burma, the ever helpful UK foreign office reclassified them as "tourists".
One country where UK sanctions don't apply is Bahrain. The semi-feudal dictatorship crushed pro-democracy protests last year and has used torture and show trials against its dissidents.
Next week Bahrain is due to host a F1 motor racing event. F1 teams are participating on the grounds that the event is "safe", and multimillionaire F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone says 'don't mix sport and politics'.
Other reasons might be that the UK based McLaren F1 team is 40% owned by Bahrain's ruling family who also own 50% of the McLaren car group and that the event is worth $25 million to F1.
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Article dated 18 April 2012
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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