Saturday, January 9, 2016

Sting in the Tail: Send for Jeeves (1991)

The Sting in the Tail Column from the June 1991 issue of the Socialist Standard

Send for Jeeves
The characters of P.G. Wodehouse may seem a little outdated, but the useless, luxurious lives of the very rich don't seem to have changed all that much since the days of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves.

Patrick Davison, a butler to the millionaire George Soros, recently won his case for unfair dismissal; and in reporting the tribunal the newspapers revealed a little of the outrageous life-style of the rich in Britain today. The butler insisted to Mrs Miriam Sanchez, a recently appointed chef, that she use less expensive wines when preparing her gourmet meals.
But Mrs Sanchez complained to Mr Soros's wife Susan, got her own way, and began to use Chateau Lafite wines costing between £400 and £500 a bottle
Glasgow Herald 8 May
All lovers of haute cuisine will be delighted that the present economic slump is not affecting the high standards of the Soros household.


Unkindest Cut of All
At the Scottish Tory Party conference in Perth last month you could hear some remarkable nonsense, but it is doubtful if any of the delegates could have topped the nutty ideas of that foolish fop Mr Nicholas Fairbairn MP.

When not grabbing the headlines of the gutter press with his eccentric notions of sartorial elegance (he once appeared at Buckingham Palace in a tartan three piece suit that made him look like a demented Bay City Roller fan) he thunders forth on such issues as World Hunger.
In Africa, they are being encouraged to have more children. I feel there should be more sterilisation programmes by these governments and It should be a world-wide priority.
Glasgow Herald 10 May
Like many politicians Fairbairn believes that World Hunger is caused by too many people. He of course does not take the socialist view that this planet is capable of feeding all the world's population if we had production for use instead of production for profit.

Sterilisation as a solution to World Hunger is stupid. Although it is a pity perhaps that Fairbairn's father hadn't been a volunteer for such a programme.


Dead Leninism
We forked out the £1.80 to buy the May Issue of "Living Marxism", the monthly review of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

The contents quickly reveal the RCP as yet another bunch of Leninists when, for example, we read about the alleged need for
... arming a minority with an understanding of the necessity for social change...
Of course there's not one word about what the social change is to be, merely a mention of "a new society".

But why only a minority, why not a majority? Well, being Leninists they certainly don't want THAT!

After all, if the majority saw the necessity for real social change by replacing capitalism with a world-wide society based on common ownership and democratic control then there wouldn't be any place for Leninist leaders, would there?


Thieves Fall Out
The Institute of Directors has been described as the Tory Party at lunch but now its director general has fallen out with the government.

Peter Morgan told the Institute's annual conference:
This awful recession . . .  is a failure of government management. It is government failure, not market failure.
The Guardian 24 April
Morgan imagines that if the government had followed policies approved by him then the recession would have been avoided. He is wrong. No matter what policies governments pursue, the normal boom - slump cycle of capitalism cannot be avoided.

But he was right about the relationship between inflation and wages when he blamed the government for "high wage settlements".
I have absolutely no doubt that inflation causes high settlements and not, categorically not, the other way around.
Remember this the next time you hear about "inflationary wage rises"


May Day Mayhem
May Day in Glasgow was fine and sunny but the number of marchers continues to decline. The main speaker at the official rally on Glasgow Green was a trade union leader but his meeting attracted fewer people than the beer tent did.

One fringe activity was a platform on which every leftist group was invited to speak. And so they did but often only to slag off one another.

For example, a Trotskyist attacked "the Stalinists" and was immediately denounced by an anarchist for supporting Trotsky, "the butcher of Kronstadt".

Some speakers urged trade union action while others were hostile to this, but all were united in hammering the Labour Party although most still wanted to "get the Tories out" and "a real Labour government in".

Incidentally, the big demand from the organisers of this meeting was ... the reinstatement of the demoted curator of the People's Palace Museum!

Meanwhile, Glasgow branch members of the Socialist Party set out their literature and, despite the surrounding din, held a brief meeting. That, we can swear, was the only occasion when anything about socialism was allowed to intrude during the whole afternoon.


Don't All Rush
Fancy a des res with "unrivalled view" over Kensington Palace Gardens? This apartment has polished marble floors throughout, four reception rooms, four bedrooms each with bathroom en suite, and has Prince Charles as a near neighbour. (ITN News 10 May).

And because the market is at rock bottom it's yours for a giveaway £13 million. This includes antique furniture worth £1 million but a discount can be arranged should you wish the apartment unfurnished.

Still not sure? Well, this residential block is so exclusive that its development officer thinks the apartment will go to the type of person “who needs a home in all the major capitals".

You'll think about it? Yes, that's just about all workers can ever do about capitalism's extravagances.


The Blackboard Jungle
A good example of the Tory Party's idea of open government was explained in The Independent on 13 May, in reporting how the government dealt with critical reports from the school Inspectorate on the state of education. 
The Government found such criticism embarrassing. In 1987 it held back the Chief Inspector's report until after the general election. Only after the election did the public find out about the large increase in unfilled teacher vacancies, the crumbling classrooms and the great divide between schools where parents could afford to buy textbooks and those who could not.
It is heartening that some Tory MPs are eager to avoid this dishonesty - they are proposing a bill to abolish the inspectorate!



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