10 things you didn't know about Rick Santorum...

...but might like to know in the wake of his Iowa surge.

Rick Santorum, Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania senator, may be relatively unknown but he almost beat GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney in yesterday's Iowa caucus, trailing Romney by a mere eight votes. Let's be clear: Santorum won't be the Republican nominee come November. But he will now be the subject of countless media profiles, debates and discussions - as well as a bunch of vicious, attack ads from the Romney machine in New Hampshire.

So, here are ten things you might not know about Richard John "Rick" Santorum but might like to know:

1) Santorum, the most belligerent of the ultra-hawkish GOP presidential candidates, has said that if he's elected president, he would order the bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities unless they were opened up to international arms inspectors and then dismantled.

2) Santorum is a friend and ally of U2 front man and anti-poverty campaigner, Bono, who told the New York Times in 2006: "I would suggest that Rick Santorum has a kind of Tourette's disease; he will always say the most unpopular thing. But on our issues, he has been a defender of the most vulnerable."

3) Santorum, an evangelical Catholic, supports a blanket ban on abortion without exceptions for rape or incest, and has compared homosexual relationships to "man on child, man on dog" relations.

4) The afore-mentioned comments by Santorum resulted in a notorious Google-bombing of the then US senator in 2003. (Caution: only click on the previous links if you have, ahem, a strong constitution...)

5) Santorum could be considered an Islamophobe: he has called for the profiling of Muslims and told Bates College students in March 2010 that Islam is stuck in the seventh century and beyond reform or modernisation.

6) As a young lawyer, prior to being elected to Congress, he represented the World Wrestling Federation, arguing that professional wrestling should be exempt from the regulations on anabolic steroids because it wasn't a real sport.

7) Santorum has advocated bigger and faster cuts to government spending than most of his right-wing rivals for the Republican nomination: $5 trillion of cuts in federal spending in the space of just five years. (Yet, curiously, he has still been labelled as a "big government conservative" by Telegraph blogger James Delingpole.)

8) When his baby Gabriel died at childbirth, Santorum and his wife spent the night in a hospital bed with the body and then took it home where, joined by their other children, they prayed over it, cuddled with it and welcomed the baby into the family.

9) Santorum believes that "there is no such thing as global warming"; it is "junk science". He supports a policy of "drill everywhere" for oil and gas.

10) Santorum wasn't always so opposed to current rival Mitt Romney; in February 2008, prior to the last presidential election, he said: "If you're a conservative, there really is only one place to go right now...I would even argue farther than that. If you're a Republican, if you're a Republican in the broadest sense, there is only one place to go right now and that's Mitt Romney."

Given the result in Iowa, we can only assume now that Republican primary voters in 2012 will heed Santorum's 2008 advice and pick Romney.

 

 

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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Our union backed Brexit, but that doesn't mean scrapping freedom of movement

We can only improve the lives of our members, like those planning stike action at McDonalds, through solidarity.

The campaign to defend and extend free movement – highlighted by the launch of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement this month – is being seen in some circles as a back door strategy to re-run the EU referendum. If that was truly the case, then I don't think Unions like mine (the BFAWU) would be involved, especially as we campaigned to leave the EU ourselves.

In stark contrast to the rhetoric used by many sections of the Leave campaign, our argument wasn’t driven by fear and paranoia about migrant workers. A good number of the BFAWU’s membership is made up of workers not just from the EU, but from all corners of the world. They make a positive contribution to the industry that we represent. These people make a far larger and important contribution to our society and our communities than the wealthy Brexiteers, who sought to do nothing other than de-humanise them, cheered along by a rabid, right-wing press. 

Those who are calling for end to freedom of movement fail to realise that it’s people, rather than land and borders that makes the world we live in. Division works only in the interest of those that want to hold power, control, influence and wealth. Unfortunately, despite a rich history in terms of where division leads us, a good chunk of the UK population still falls for it. We believe that those who live and work here or in other countries should have their skills recognised and enjoy the same rights as those born in that country, including the democratic right to vote. 

Workers born outside of the UK contribute more than £328 million to the UK economy every day. Our NHS depends on their labour in order to keep it running; the leisure and hospitality industries depend on them in order to function; the food industry (including farming to a degree) is often propped up by their work.

The real architects of our misery and hardship reside in Westminster. It is they who introduced legislation designed to allow bosses to act with impunity and pay poverty wages. The only way we can really improve our lives is not as some would have you believe, by blaming other poor workers from other countries, it is through standing together in solidarity. By organising and combining that we become stronger as our fabulous members are showing through their decision to ballot for strike action in McDonalds.

Our members in McDonalds are both born in the UK and outside the UK, and where the bosses have separated groups of workers by pitting certain nationalities against each other, the workers organised have stood together and fought to win change for all, even organising themed social events to welcome each other in the face of the bosses ‘attempts to create divisions in the workplace.

Our union has held the long term view that we should have a planned economy with an ability to own and control the means of production. Our members saw the EU as a gravy train, working in the interests of wealthy elites and industrial scale tax avoidance. They felt that leaving the EU would give the UK the best opportunity to renationalise our key industries and begin a programme of manufacturing on a scale that would allow us to be self-sufficient and independent while enjoying solid trading relationships with other countries. Obviously, a key component in terms of facilitating this is continued freedom of movement.

Many of our members come from communities that voted to leave the EU. They are a reflection of real life that the movers and shakers in both the Leave and Remain campaigns took for granted. We weren’t surprised by the outcome of the EU referendum; after decades of politicians heaping blame on the EU for everything from the shape of fruit to personal hardship, what else could we possibly expect? However, we cannot allow migrant labour to remain as a political football to give succour to the prejudices of the uninformed. Given the same rights and freedoms as UK citizens, foreign workers have the ability to ensure that the UK actually makes a success of Brexit, one that benefits the many, rather than the few.

Ian Hodon is President of the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union and founding signatory of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.