Writing on the Wall

A regular column in 'Solidarity'

The writing on the wall

  • Hidden hand
  • Not so nice for us
  • Biting the hidden hand
  • Look at me
  • The real fat cats



Hidden hand

According to Life at the Top: The Labour Market for FTSE-250 Chief Executives by Nick Iles, the median salary of FTSE-100 top pussies has grown by 92% in the last 10 years, to £579,000. In 2001, when the value of top companies fell by 16%, top executives gave themselves a 12% increase in pay, with bonuses up by 34%. Shocking figures, but they won't surprise people who follow the news.

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The writing on the wall

  • Nausea #1
  • Big Con
  • Nausea #2
  • Ask a stupid question
  • Checkout all-out!



Nausea #1

Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian fell for the listening Tony Blair pen-and-notebook-in-hand act. Writing about the first Big Conversation in Newport on Friday 28 November he said: "It is a scene from a daydream. You're having a cup of tea, sounding off about the way the country should be run, when there, suddenly sitting right next to you, is none other than the prime minister."

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The writing on the wall

  • Wrong number?
  • Black's dead, long live...?
  • Making the links



Wrong number?

According to a survey by government regulators, the all-new, competitive, market-marvellous telephone directory inquiry services give wrong answers to up to seven in ten inquiries.

The worst service, 118 355, gave 67% wrong answers to people with the simplest queries, for a British home number. On average over all the services, 38% of inquiries for British numbers got wrong answers, and 63% of inquiries for overseas numbers.

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The writing on the wall

  • Dodgy Dame caught out
  • Trust me, I'm Alan Leighton
  • Debtors of the world unite



Dodgy Dame caught out

Dame Shirley Porter, the former Tory leader of Westminster council, is in the headlines again. Remember her? She epitomised 80s' Tory values. Westminster was the "flagship" Tory council. Lest we forget how revolting they were, here's a summary…

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The writing on the wall

  • The company he keeps
  • No democracy, please, we're British
  • Kibush
  • A word in your ear



The company he keeps

During the last ESF preparatory meeting in Paris we found out that George Galloway had signed a petition "for the liberation of Tariq Aziz" who was captured in April by the invading US forces. Tariq Aziz was long a member of Saddam Hussein's government, its public face in the west. Why would any socialist expend a second in indignation at the US's extra-judicial treatment of Aziz?

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The writing on the wall

George Bush recently requested an extra $87 billion from the US Congress to pay for the occupation of Iraq. Most of that money will go on reconstruction contracts in Iraq, and most of those will go to American firms. One of the most notable was the $500 million to support troops and extinguish oil field fires for Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, which Vice President Dick Cheney led from 1995 until 2000.

The extent of the cronyism involved in the awarding of contracts - the links between these businesses and the US administration - is quite staggering. Here's the latest revelation.

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Around the world: 

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The Writing on the wall

  • UK strikes up
  • Free emergency treatment shock!
  • US poverty-figures
  • Ethical code changes
  • Wish I'd made it up!



UK strikes up

You might have thought the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) bleating about a rise in trade union militancy "slowing the pace of public service reform, and jeopardising the UK's economic competitiveness" was just September conference season sabre-rattling. But bosses are genuinely worried.

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The Writing on the Wall

  • Working in a whorehouse
  • “Best practice”?
  • “Sensitive area”
  • New Labour: widening the poverty gap



Working in a whorehouse

“Working for the fire service is like working in a whorehouse. The better we perform the more often they screw us!” (from 30k rank and file firefighters’ site).

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Prisons, race hate and representation

  • More stopping, searching, jailing
  • Representation
  • Prison
  • Race hate
  • Stop and search



More stopping, searching, jailing

Home Office minister Lord Falconer: "The tragedy of the Lawrence story is not only the horror of Stephen Lawrence's brutal and senseless murder but also the failure of the criminal justice system-the police, the CPS, the courts-to deliver justice to Stephen and his family."

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Reasons to be cheerful

  • Reasons to be cheerful
  • BNP gears up for elections
  • Not in our name
  • Back to the church



Reasons to be cheerful

Not everyone views the prospect of civilian casualties in any assault on Baghdad as bad news.

Leading UK shares rose 1.5% after reports that US forces are closing in on Baghdad. European shares also rose. Reports that US forces were attacking Iraqi Republican Guard positions in the outskirts of Baghdad after intense air strikes dispelled recent gloom about the war effort.

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The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

War war

  • Weapons of mass destruction
  • Tony Ceaucescu?
  • Burnley council's BNP shame
  • In the service of the IMF
  • Blowing in the wind



Weapons of mass destruction

"The Bush administration is planning a secret meeting in August to discuss the construction of a new generation of nuclear weapons, including 'mini-nukes', 'bunker-busters' and neutron bombs designed to destroy chemical or biological agents, according to a leaked Pentagon document.

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the writing on the wall - extreme punishment

  • Tough on suicide, tough on…
  • Crime does pay for some
  • Well done, that man
  • "Taking our jobs"
  • Get in there



Tough on suicide, tough on…
Another statistic for our caring Home Secretary to be proud of.

The prison population has risen by 6,840 since the beginning of the year, to a record 72,500, and the number of inmates who have killed themselves has reached 89 since January, compared with 72 self-inflicted deaths in 2001.

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The writing on the wall: Diabolical dialectics

It's certainly been a week for things turning into their opposite.

  • "There is such a thing as society" (now where have we heard that before?)
  • Oppressed Gentlefolk
  • Not just toffs
  • Everyone's favourite BISHOP
  • And Fruitfully

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Fat cat of the month ... and more

  • Fat cat of the month
  • And more fat cats...
  • Firms fail... but bonuses don't
  • Mad Frankie's pensions steal
  • Health: a bit of summer madness



Fat cat of the month: BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies

Facing accusations of dumbing down, his answer? To put his salary up with a soaraway bonus of £97,000. Clearly the basic £357,000 he gets just doesn't pay the bills.

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"The biggest miscarriage of justice"

Tony Blair reckons the "biggest miscarriage of justice in today's system is when the guilty walk away unpunished". An arguable position, especially if like the Birmingham Six you are innocent and lose 16 years of your life (or even die in prison) due to police fit-ups.

"The days of the old hobby horses about the police and how they treated people, the days of believing the whole issue is simply around how we give better protection to defendants - I believe those have changed."

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