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Welfare State

Labour and the Health Charges

“The principle of the free, health service has been breached, and I dread to think how much that breach might be widened in future years”, said the President of the Board of Trade when he resigned from the Labour government in April 1951. He was objecting to 'imposing charges for National Health teeth and spectacles to raise money to spend on arms. His name was Harold Wilson.
Wilson was right. The new Tory government, elected in October of the same year announced within six months that it was to bring in prescription charges. The Labour Party was up in arms playing on its image as builder and defender of the welfare state. In Parliament they did all they could to oppose the measure.

Old-Age Pensions: A Typical Reform

At the time that the OLD AGE pension measure was passed by Parliament it was pointed out in this journal that its chief purpose was to save the rates. It was to encourage old people to starve outside the workhouse rather than go in and be kept at treble the cost by the ratepayers. Evidence of this fact has been repeatedly given, and to-day, owing to the enormous increase in the cost of living, the old-age pensioners are dying off like flies. Such paragraphs as the following speak eloquently of this :

    "'LIFE ON 1s. 6d. A WEEK.”
      "'If they can live on Is. 6d. a week each and don't get starved, a good many of us eat too much,' said the coroner at the inquest on a Bethnal-green woman aged 70. She and her aged husband had lived on the latter's a old-age pension of 5s., out of which 2s. was paid in rent. Occasionally the man earned an odd 6d. The doctor said that death was not accelerated by want."

Editorial: Who Cares Who Cares?

Stirring the public conscience became part of the entertainment industry some time in the early eighties. At first, unsuspecting viewers in leafy suburbs noticed nothing more harrowing than malnutrition and death thousands of miles away, and threw loose change at the spectacle. A vogue for tales of glue sniffing and dragon chasing in dank, inner city garages then led to terrible addiction to earnest debate among experts, a form of exorcism which suddenly made way for a string of fresh concerns.

Book Reviews: 'Southern Insurgency', 'Cut Out - Living Without Welfare ', & 'Defiance - Greece and Europe'

Global class

'Southern Insurgency: The Coming of the Global Working Class', by Immanuel Ness (Pluto Press, 2016)

The author teaches political science at the City University of New York. He has also been a union organizer and an activist in various projects in defense of workers’ rights. He has shown particular concern with the plight of migrant workers.

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