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Voice From the Back

The rat race
Inside a socialist society we could all engage in useful, productive work with much shorter hours. What a contrast to the rat race of today. "A report by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) released this week, will say that despite much talk about "work-life balance", many people are still working 50-60 hours a week and feel their lives are out of control. Work follows us home. The MHF's study found a correlation between the number of hours worked and the number of hours spent thinking or worrying about work outside working hours. The more you work, the less free time you have and the more of your free time you spend worrying about work” Sunday Times (20 April).

Refugee hypocrisy
According to the Glaswegian (1 May) more than 100 refugees in Glasgow are being forced to return to Afghanistan in line with the government's policy to slash the number of refugees in the UK by 50 percent. “Sally Daghlian of the Scottish Refugee Council said the Foreign Office was still advising against all non-essential travel to Kabul and against travel to other parts of Afghanistan.” On the one hand the FO is telling refugees it is safe to go back but warning its own citizens to avoid it because it is still war-torn and subject to the ravages of various warlords. Another piece of political vote-catching with no regard for the safety of the workers who are being deported under armed guard.

A double tragedy
A correpondent to the letters page in the Herald (7 May) tells of a terrible personal tragedy. “The cynically named National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) was set up by the Labour Government to ration healthcare. Its guidelines are stringent in the extreme and are binding on all medical practitioners . . . The availability of NHS drugs was the final straw for me in terms of my allegiance to the Labour Party. My 32 years' link was severed on the death of my wife last year. She was denied the drug Temodal on grounds of cost. This drug could have extended her life and would have most assuredly have lessened her distress in the final three months of it.” If the writer of that letter had been a member of the owning class his wife would have had a less awful existence. It is tragic that this woman died but it is even more tragic that millions of humans are doomed to die because of their lack of money.

Political porkies
Politicians lie; and that is official according to a recent government-funded report. “Politics should be regarded as less like an exercise in producing truthful statements and more like a poker game,” said author Glen Newey, reader in politics at the University of Strathclyde. “And there is an expectation by a poker player that you try to deceive them as part of the game.” . . . “Newey's report – published by by the government-funded Economic and Social Research Council – adds that not only is lying 'sometimes justifiable' where there is a public interest, for instance where national security is at risk, but voters even have a 'right to be lied to' about things where they would rather not know what had happened, such as what was done during a war” Observer (18 May).

A leader speaks
Here is one of your leaders speaking. Speaking in the usual doublespeak of political waffle. In this case it is the leader of the Conservative Party, Ian Smith revealing his deep intellectual abilities. “Britain needs a government that understands that more people are left behind when more people are held back. It needs a government that stands back in order for its people to step forward”Times (14 May). Eh?

Another market triumph
Socialists are always being told how wonderful the market system of capitalism is by its supporters, but how do they defend the following? “The catastrophic collapse of the coffee prices – at a 100 year low in real terms – is forcing Latin American farmers to grow coca, the plant from which cocaine is made. Mounting evidence that Peruvian farmers in particular are turning to cocaine to escape from poverty will be presented by Oxfam tomorrow in a crisis meeting of World Bank and European Union officials together with banks, traders and representatives from the 25 million people who depend on coffee production for their livelihood” Observer (18 May).