MPs' pay rise
LONDON — Prime Minister John Major suffered his first defeat on the floor of parliament on July 14. Conservative MPs crossed the floor in defiance of their ministers — to vote themselves a 38% pay rise.
The government has refused to countenance pay rises above 4% for workers. Major was so miffed about the MPs' pay rise, it is said, that he resolved to refuse university lecturers a 6% increase. Further, he refused them leave to appeal to independent arbitration.
Expert on fascism
LONDON — "I belong to no political party but you can call me a mild fascist if you like. I visited Hitler's eyrie at Berchtesgaden. I regard it as a shrine ... The gas chambers were erected in Poland for tourists." So says "historian" David Irving.
This is the man whom the Sunday Times is hiring, reportedly for £75,000, to translate Josef Goebbels' recently discovered diaries. The Sunday Times justifies employing Irving on the grounds that he is "uniquely qualified to read Goebbels' handwriting". Accused of promoting fascism, and giving voice to a known fascist, the editor replied that he wouldn't be losing any sleep over it.
It is reported that many people, especially those from the Jewish community, are cancelling subscriptions to the Sunday Times.
Sunday school economists
LONDON — The government here has signalled its alarm at the results of a survey, indicating that British school children are receiving only 50 hours of religious instruction in their entire school lives.
Meanwhile, it was reported that the Anglican church, with assets of some £2.7 billion, has lost a staggering £500 million through speculation (i.e. gambling) on the property market.
It was not revealed how many hours of economic instruction the church commissioners had received at school.
Albanian market reforms
The announcement of IMF-promoted government spending cutbacks prompted several thousand Albanians to attempt a mass exodus to Italy. The IMF program, due for implementation this month, will scrap wage subsidies at the same time that price controls end.
One government official suggests: "The government view is that it will be another three years before we get back to our standard of living in 1989". Albania was then, arguably, the poorest country
Both major parties, the Democratic Party and the Socialist Party, are claiming to have been successful in the recent local government elections.
Poll tax to go
LONDON — The much hated poll tax, imposed by the Thatcher government two years ago, will be abolished from April 1993. A new property-based council tax will replace it.
In the year to April 1992, 2.8 million people had liability notices served on them for non-payment. It is estimated that over £1 billion is outstanding in arrears. Many councils say they expect to be collecting the tax into the next century.
The poll tax was not based on property value but on the number of adult residents in any premises. This was an enormous saving for the rich, but for most people it meant a steep rise in tax. Failure to pay resulted in people being struck off the electoral register. Many people have been jailed for refusing to pay.
Mass protest and campaigns of non-payment eventually forced the Tories to reconsider their position, but not until Margaret Thatcher was out of the way.
The government is determined to find a further £254 million to enforce payment of arrears, which are expected to rise by at least another £800 million in the final year.