Voices on the Left: 5 blogs from the left you need to read this week

A roundup of news on the left…

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1.Top private schools’ ‘paltry’ charity work revealed-openDemocracy

Private schools are not charities but engines of inequality and privilege, which continue to harm the fabric of our nation through a two-tier education system.

The Labour Party has pledged once more to abolish the charity status of private schools and use the money gained to invest in state schools. Now openDemocracy reports on some of the ‘paltry’ work elite private schools carry out in a bid to maintain their charity status.

‘Tours of a former WW2 bunker owned by a school, use of an observatory, and allowing a nearby nursery to use school grounds in the event of fire are examples of community work used by the UK’s top private schools to justify their charitable tax break’, the website reports.

Most private schools have charity status, entitling them to claim at least 80% relief on business rates in England and Wales. Labour estimated £1.7bn a year would be saved by removing private schools’ charity status.

2. UK Minister Steve Baker Receives £10k from Chair of Tufton St. Climate Denial Group-DeSmog

A minister in Rishi Sunak’s government who has been a fierce opponent of climate action received £10,000 from the chair of the UK’s main climate science denial group last month, DeSmog reports.

Although Steve Baker stepped down as a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) in September, the latest MPs’ register of interests shows that Baker received £10,000 in January from Neil Record, a Conservative Party donor and chair of the GWPF’s campaign arm, Net Zero Watch. The register does not say what the donation was for.

DeSmog reports: “Net Zero Watch has urged the government to “recommit to fossil fuels”, commission “a new fleet of coal-fired power plants”, and for renewable energy from wind and solar to be “wound down completely”.

“Record is also chair of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), an influential free market think tank which has opposed UK climate policies and received funding from oil giant BP.”

3. Hundreds of ‘Toxic’ North Sea Oil Spills Since 2019-Byline Times

There were 721 oil spills from North Sea facilities from 2019 to 2021, Byline Times reveals.

That means that there has been a 20% increase in oil leaks from 2020 to 2021. The number of leaks stood at 274 in 2019, 203 in 2020, and 244 in 2021.

The latest figures came in a response to a written parliamentary question by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.

Lucas told Byline Times that “super-wealthy oil and gas companies are acting as climate criminals – polluting our planet, destroying marine life with hundreds of toxic leaks and spills, and leaving the public to deal with the damage while they escape with billions in profit”.

4. Falling Property Prices Won’t Fix the Housing Crisis-Tribune

Grace Blakeley has written a piece for Tribune Magazine on how falling house prices will still not mean younger people being able to get a foot on the housing ladder.

House prices are expected to fall by as much as 25% when accounting for inflation over the course of this year.

Grace writes: “There’s just one thing getting in the way of this outcome (younger people getting a foot on the housing ladder): the parlous state of the UK private rented sector.

“As Michael Walker has been documenting recently for Novara Media, the crisis for UK renters has reached new highs over the past few years. If young people are paying 50-60 percent of their monthly income in rent, there is no way that they’ll be able to save enough for a deposit, especially with interest rates so high.

“And even if they do manage to save up enough for a deposit, they’ll be competing against buy-to-let landlords—many of whom can purchase properties without expensive mortgages.”

5. Britain has up to 100,000 victims of modern slavery, experts reveal-Morning Star

A hundred thousand workers in Britain are likely to be victims of modern slavery, the Morning Star reports.

The paper reports: “A podcast from the House of Commons select committees today heard from former independent anti-slavery commissioner Professor Sara Thornton and others on the scale of the problem and the government’s response to it.

“Ms Thornton warned that in 2021, 12,600 potential victims were identified, but added that “in fact the number experts predict is probably around a hundred thousand.”

“She also highlights the global aspect, adding: “Forced labour is pervasive in global supply chains and the focus really needs to be on finding it and fixing it, and ensure that those who are affected, those who are exploited, have some sort of reparation or remedy.”

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