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New poll shows public attitudes in wake of News International crisis

James Murdoch and David Cameron in happier times
An opinion poll for tomorrow's Sunday Mirror and Independent on Sunday is worth taking note of. It's largely good or reassuring news from a left-wing perspective.

The popular backlash against Rupert Murdoch and News International is fierce. 81% agree with the statement 'All of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers, the News of the World, The Sun, The Sunday Times and The Times, have been damaged by recent reports of illegal methods used to get stories.' Only 8% disagree.

63% agree with the statement 'As a result of reports of police officers being paid for information by newspapers, I trust the police less'. 22% disagree.

Only 7% agree that 'Rupert Murdoch and his son James are fit and proper people to take full control of Sky TV'. 73% disagree.

What about attitudes to the cuts? 24% agree with the statement 'The Government is cutting spending in a way that is fair to every section of society'. 60% disagree.

67% agree with the statement 'I expect to be worse off personally as a result of the spending cuts'. 16% disagree.

These findings should of course be treated with some caution. It is well established that some people can regard the cuts as unfair and expect to be worse off personally, but still broadly support the austerity programme. This may seem odd, but there's a huge ideological effort to persuade us that - even if cuts will mean you suffer, even if they aren't fair - they are nevertheless 'unavoidable' or 'necessary'.

51% agree with 'In most cases I have sympathy for people going on strike against public spending cuts'. 38% disagree. Interestingly, 73% of Labour voters agree with the statement. Ed Miliband, take note.

Only 33% agree that 'It is right for the UK to take military action against Colonel Gaddafi's forces in Libya'. 40% disagree. Who speaks for the anti-war 40% in parliament? Just a handful of MPs.

The findings on party leaders' personal ratings show a fall for David Cameron, but an increase for Ed Miliband. Cameron has declined from -7% to -12% since June. Milband has improved from -27% to -14%.

This is hardly a ringing endorsement for the Labour leader, but could prove to be a turning point. It isn't clear, though, that News International's crisis is quite as toxic for Cameron personally as some of us might wish. It is still uncertain how things will play out.

  • Written by Alex Snowdon
  • Category: Comment

Fuel poverty: can't pay, won't pay

This report - 'One in five households in fuel poverty as energy prices soar' - is extremely significant, especially when we consider the planned price hikes by British Gas and Scottish Power:

'Figures show a huge rise in UK households in fuel poverty, even before expected rises in the price of gas and electricity, and charities predicted that this winter would see millions more people struggling to keep warm at home.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change statistics show 700,000 more UK families fell into fuel poverty in 2009, bringing the total to 5.5 million — one in five of all households. In the UK, fuel poverty is when a household needs to spend more than 10% of its income on fuel in order to heat its home to an adequate standard, and have hot water and run lights and appliances.

The department admitted that 100,000 more families in England alone were expected to go into fuel poverty this year.

The figures came less than a week after British Gas said its gas prices will rise by an average of 18% and electricity bills by 16%. Scottish Power has also raised its gas prices by 19% and electricity by 10%, while other power companies are expected to follow suit, blaming wholesale gas prices.'

An issue which goes to the heart of British politics today, it is fundamentally about who pays for the bailouts. We are looking at a fall in working class living standards and the poorest being hit hardest, while private firms make a profit and the rich don't notice any difference.

It would be good to see a serious movement - involving a range of trade unions - demanding the energy industry is re-nationalised, and perhaps even a mass 'can't pay, won't pay' campaign (like the one which killed the poll tax) taking off.

Wishful thinking? Maybe, maybe not. It's something we in the anti-cuts movement should be urgently talking about.

  • Written by Alex Snowdon
  • Category: Comment

We Won the Wardens - for this year.

Results of the Consultation on Pastoral Support in the Halls of Residence Join THIS Facebook group for updates and to get involved with the campaign to save them forever. The University has recently completed a consultation exercise on proposals to create more than 50 new student bedrooms by changing the arrangements for pastoral support in [...]
  • Written by solomons mindfield
  • Category: Comment

Mark Steel promotes PCS tax justice campaign

Comedian and Independent columnist Mark Steel
Via Philosophy Football:

'On Saturday 6 August a new football season begins. And on Friday 5 August Philosophy Football are having an eve-of-season party. Expect to be entertained and inspired in equal measure.

Headlined by the brilliant comedy and biting commentary of Mark Steel. With poetry from the legendary Attila the Stockbroker. And opening the show one of the hottest names in spoken word 'Skint and Demoralised'. While filling the dancefloor late into the night, a DJ set by Two-tone legend Rhoda Dakar.

The party is organised in association with the PCS as part of the union's campaign for fair tax. On this theme the evening opens with a roundtable on 'Football, Finances and Own Goals' . Guardian economics writer Aditya Chakrabortty will be making the case for a 'Rooney Tax' and is joined by Panoroma's Andrew Jennings talking about his investigations into FIFA corruption.

Kris Stewart, one of the founders of the club and their first Chief Executive, speaks on the AFC Wimbledon story, plus football academic and co-author of 'The Football Nation' John Williams offers a critique of The Premiership monster .

The party is also a celebration of 25 years of the football fanzine When Saturday Comes being half-decent. At the recently refurbished theatre-pub The New Red Lion 271 City Road, London EC1V 4LA. Nearest tube The Angel.

Show starts 7pm. Hurry, our parties always sell out!
Book at http://www.philosophyfootball.com/ or call 020 8802 3499.'
  • Written by Alex Snowdon
  • Category: Comment

'We support the European anti-cuts conference'

Saturday 1 October, London. The current list of supporters is below (the legendary Athens Riot Dog, pictured, doesn't appear to be listed, but hopefully that will change). For more information see Europe Against Austerity 

BRITAIN: Tony Benn, President Coalition of Resistance, Ken Loach, John McDonnell MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Caoline Lucas MP, Kate Hudson (CND), Imran Khan, the People's Charter, Andrew Burgin, Secretary Coalition of Resistance, Bill Greenshields, Chair Communist Party of Britain, Lindsey German, Convenor Stop the War, Paul Mackney, former UCU General Secretary, Clare Solomon, President ULU Students Union, Hilary Wainwright, Red Pepper, Lee Jasper, BARAC, Len McCluskey, Unite General Secretary, Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary, Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, Communication Workers Union (CWU)

FROM EUROPE: SSP-vpod (Switzerland), Attac Germany, Attac Portugal, Joint Social Conference, Euromarches
SPAIN: Plataforma pels Drets Socials de Valencia, Izquerdia Anticapitalista, Mesas Ciudadanas de Convergencia y Acción, Entrepobles/Entrepueblos/E​ntrepobos/Herriarte
GREECE:‚Äã Committee Against the Debt, Costas Lapavitsas
BELGIUM: Centrale Nationale des Employés (CNE), ATTAC Wallonie Bruxelles, CADTM
FRANCE: ATTAC France, Union syndicale Solidaires, CGT, FSU & Solidaires du "Havre de Greve", Fondation Copernic, Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste IRELAND: Sinn Fein, Richard Boyd-Barrett TD (United Left Alliance), Joan Collins TD (United Left Alliance), Séamus Healy TD (United Left Alliance) POLAND: Franciszek Gierot (Free TU "August 80", Fiat Poland), Zbigniew Pietras (Free TU "August 80", Opel-Poland), Zbigniew Kowalewski (PPP, Polish Labour Party), Elżbieta Fornalczyk (Free TU "August 80" Tesco)
OTHERS: Psykologi Utan Gränser - Sverige/ (Psychology Without Borders - Sweden), Stockholms Antiracist Cultural Association (STARK), Martin Mikula, New Anticapitalist Left (Czech Republic), Yannis Almpanis Network for Political and Social Rights

  • Written by Alex Snowdon
  • Category: Comment

Is Jeremy Clarkson's demise too much to hope for?

"This is how much I value my dignity"
In these times of mounting problems for the British establishment, all sorts of possibilities are opening up. As if the Murdoch empire, the government and the Metropolitan police being plunged into crisis weren't enough, it turns out Jeremy Clarkson may be tarnished by association with the phone hacking scandal.

I enjoyed this Guardian snippet about Clarkson, featured in an article about the so-called 'Chipping Norton set':

'One of the better-known personalities living nearby is Jeremy Clarkson, the Top Gear presenter and Sun columnist. It was at his Chipping Norton home that [Rebekah] Brooks met her second husband, Charlie, an old pal of Cameron's.

The prime minister even turned up for the launch of his latest thriller, Citizen. Cameron's close social links with the "set" are further evidenced, reportedly, by his willingness to appear as Top Gear's The Stig in a video tribute at Clarkson's 50th birthday party. The prime minister has also been known to go riding with Brooks.'

It really is a tawdry little world they live in, isn't it?

  • Written by Alex Snowdon
  • Category: Comment

What if Rupert Murdoch had never been born?

Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie - long before one was a national treasure and the other a hugely successful actor in US television - imagined a world (or London, anyway) without Murdoch, with a little help from classic film 'It's A Wonderful Life':

  • Written by Alex Snowdon
  • Category: Comment

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