1990s >> 1992 >> no-1053-may-1992

Sting in the Tail: So What’s New?

So What’s New?


America is determined to remain the world’s sole unrivalled superpower and is ready to guard against any Western European challenger, It is claimed.


The New York Times, quoting a Defence Department document, said the US must convince potential competitors “that they need not aspire to a greater role”.


Instead, a single superpower will use its military might and “benevolent domination” to deter any challenger.


The US would “selectively address” those wrongs which threatened America and its allies’ interests.

ITN’s Oracle 8 March


Breaking into Jail or Militant Martyrdom


Tommy Sheridan, the leading light in Scottish Militant’s anti-poll tax campaign, contested Glasgow Pollok from his cell where he is spending a six month sentence for defying an interim interdict.


According to his election leaflet Tommy is, as every good Trotskyist aspires to be, a “hero” and a “martyr”: He runs in charity marathons and if he spots any local laden with shopping bags he will stop and say “c’mon, jump in”. Mother Teresa isn’t in it.


In case all this wasn’t enough to impress the voters then much was made of his “university education” but Tommy’s trump card was to be his list of reforms which he would pursue “when elected”. These included a Scottish Parliament, the re-nationalisation of privatised Industries, mortgage-to-rent conversion, and many other measures which would leave capitalism untouched. Incidentally, the word “socialism” didn’t appear once.


And what was the result of all the martyrdom and goodies offered to the workers of Pollok? Tommy still lost by nearly 8,000 votes.


Jumping the Queue


In a report in The Herald (6 April) the medical correspondent reported that nearly 2,000 staff, most of them nurses, stand to lose their jobs in Glasgow’s psychiatric hospitals over the next four years. This would cut nursing staff by half.
The unit general manager, Mr Tim Davison, said of these cuts that they would serve to increase further the “relative efficiency and competitiveness” of the unit.


Competitiveness in treating mentally-ill workers? This is the economics of the mad house indeed!


So while mentally-ill people roam the streets lacking even the minimum of health care, patients are being turned away from psychiatric hospitals. As the waiting list grows there is always one way to beat the system. According to a psychiatrist working in Glasgow:

  “They have to be placed somewhere else. Occasionally, you get the situation where there isn’t a bed available in Glasgow at all. You have a suicidal patient you want to admit, and you have to leave him to turn up at out-patients next day, hoping he hasn’t killed himself In the meantime.”


Empty Slogans


“My Vote”, “It’s Time For Labour”, “The Best Future For Britain”. These were the election slogans of the three big parties, and the Socialist Workers Party had to have one too.


Remember some of their past slogans, gems like “Labour To Power Minus The Bomb” and “Vote Labour But Without Illusions”7 This time it was “Vote Labour And Build A Socialist Alternative”.


The one constant factor here is their urging workers to vote Labour, but with such a talent for slogans surely the SWP ought to be in advertising — just think of the mountains of soap powder and the rivers of lager they could be selling!


Well, maybe, but we can be sure that one slogan we’ll never get from the SWP is “Abolish The Wages System”.


A Deeper Slump


Capitalism’s long-promised economic recovery will eventually come but things may get worse before they get better.


This would be due to the international nature of capital and in particular to the recent plunge in share prices on the Tokyo stock market. From a peak of 39,000 in 1989 the Nikkei share index has fallen to below 17,000.


These falling share prices mean falling profits for Japanese banks which own vast amounts of shares, and it is these banks which are responsible for providing much investment worldwide — 24% of British financial assets are held by Japanese banks and they provide 14% of the ECs direct inward investment (The Guardian 8 April). They also fund America’s huge budget deficit and we all know that when America’s economy sneezes then the world economy catches cold.


If these falling share prices mean that Japanese banks severely reduce their lending then the recession will deepen. Of course all of this may not happen; the Nikkei climbed by over 1,200 points in one day (9 April), but it shows that events in one part of the world influence events elsewhere and it also shows that the economic plans made by businesses and governments are — well, just plans.


Rich Pickings


The popular press never tire of telling us about working class scroungers. Those workers who actually have the effrontery to claim social security payments while working part-time in a public house, or doing a spot of gardening on the side.


Little or nothing is ever reported about the gigantic legal frauds carried out by members of the ruling class. The Observer Magazine (5 April) did however carry a report about a group of well-heeled landowners who have a nice little earner.


Under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act many of them are coining it in. This was an Act intended to keep some land free from the overdevelopment that is the norm of capitalism. All the owner had to do was threaten to develop the land and the Act would provide him with lavish compensation for doing nothing.


John Grant of Rothiemurchus owns 25,000 acres of Scottish wilderness. The government are about to give him a payment of £670,000 for not developing it and he is claiming an annual payment of £92,000 on top of that!