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Broken Britain 4: being sold piecemeal to foreign governments and companies

In April, Peter Hitchens eloquently described the way this country is being sold to foreign governments and companies:

“I don’t think any other nation would put up with this. Why do we? The most ridiculous is the way our trains – devastated by John Major’s mad privatisation scheme – are falling into the hands of foreign state railways. So, while the Government cannot bear to have railways run by the British state, it is happy to have them run by the German, Dutch, French or even Hong Kong state systems . . . in this country that invented the railway and once exported equipment and skills around the world.”(Right: Private profit from public loss: NIPSA 2013)

Hitchens summarises:

  • Privatised railways’ jaws are clamped firmly to the public teat; when they fail they can just stroll away from the mess they have made.
  • British Rail’s trains were faster and more comfortable. It looked after its track far better and – given the money – it would never have made the mess its successors are now making of electrifying the Great Western line, which is years behind schedule, partly abandoned and vastly over budget.
  • In the 20 years to 2013, state subsidies to the rail sector roughly tripled in real terms, while fares continued to rise.
  • My trains are almost always late, frequently very badly so.
  • But they get more expensive all the time.
  • those responsible are protected from us by call centres and unresponsive websites, which only talk to us when they want to.

Finally Hitchens adds: “Last week it emerged that SNCF is bidding to operate HS2, a pointless vanity line that should have been cancelled long ago but which the Government is too weak to abandon. So we might be hiring a foreign state railway to run a service we don’t even need, while Britain is full of sizeable towns with no railway station, which could be linked to the national system for a tiny part of the cost of HS2 . . . The idea that our rulers have any idea what they are doing, or can be trusted with our national future, is a joke. They’re just hoping the bailiffs don’t turn up before the Election. But if they do, what have we got left to sell, to pay our bills?”

Hines argues that the Treaty of Rome needs transforming into a ‘Treaty of Home’ that will allow peoples to protect what they hold dear

Rupert Read has described Colin Hines’ ‘feisty clarion call’ for a change of direction away from acquiescence in the deregulated world that spawned the financial crisis and towards protection of nature, workers, localities and sovereignty, resisting rootless international capital.

As Read says, Hines’ policy of Progressive Protectionism will surely be part of a socially and environmentally viable future: crucial thought-leadership away from the political dead-end of globalisationist fantasy.

 

 

Read’s review (text here) will be published in the Ecologist, May/June issue, see Contents https://reader.exacteditions.com/issues/55993/spread/5

 

‘Corbyn’s key political positions are in actual fact supported by a majority of the British public’

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David Edwards of Media Lens responds to a Guardian article by Polly Toynbee in which she suggests that voting for Jeremy Corbyn would amount to a ‘betrayal’ of the electorate by quoting Ian Sinclair’s argument that in fact it is Toynbee, not Corbyn, who is out of touch with public opinion.

Sinclair noted that Corbyn supports a publicly run NHS, a position supported by 84 per cent of the public, according to a November 2013 YouGov poll.  In addition:

  • ‘He supports the nationalisation of the railways, a position backed by 66 percent of the public, including a majority of Conservative voters, according to the same poll.
  • ‘He supports the nationalisation of the energy companies, a position supported by 68 percent of the public, including a majority of Conservative voters, according to the same poll.
  • ‘He believes the Royal Mail should be publicly owned, a position supported by 67 percent of the public, according to the same poll.
  • ‘He supports rent controls, a position supported by 60% of the public, including 42% of Conservatives, according to an April 2015 YouGov poll.
  • ‘He opposes the retention of Trident nuclear weapons, a position John Curtice, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, notes is supported by a “smallish plurality” in “the majority of polls”.
  • ‘He strongly opposed the 2003 Iraq War, which was also opposed by the more than one million people who marched through London on 15 February 2003.
  • ‘He has long pushed for the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan, a position favoured by 82 per cent of the public, according to a May 2014 YouGov poll.’

Thus: ‘Corbyn’s key political positions are in actual fact supported by a majority of the British public.’

Edwards ends: “Like Blair and the rest of the establishment, the Guardian and other corporate media claim their motivation is to preserve Labour’s electability, rather than to attack any and all politics that stray off the ‘centrist’, ‘modernising’ path.

“In reality, it could hardly be more obvious that this collection of profit-seeking, corporate enterprises – grandly and laughably proclaiming themselves ‘the free press’ – is opposing a threat to their private and class interests”.

 

Soapbox for the 99%: privatisation is grand theft from the public

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Richard Bruce says:

Having given a lot of thought about nationalisation, privatisation and the results of policy decisions, I have come to the conclusion that privatisation is in fact grand theft from the public which is then made to pay again for what they had already both paid for and provided the funding to build the infrastructure that made the sell-off possible.

We are seeing it again with the rescued banks – they will be re-privatised at a massive loss.

Public loss, private gain

The population at large blamed nationalisation for failure when the reality is that placemen put into the hierarchy deliberately run down the businesses so that a sell-off at a fraction of the real value could take place without too much public outcry. Those responsible enriched themselves handsomely.

The Post Office

This is happening again with the Post Office which has priced itself out of the general letter post making it almost impossible for people to afford to send letters and cards as they once did and which now relies on the massively annoying junk mail problem, just to keep profitable, which wastes an enormous amount of resources and landfill.

What was once a respected next day delivery service to all addresses in the UK is now rapidly degenerating into a third-class service where there is no guarantee for delivery even for recorded delivery letters. Where once the mail was routinely delivered before 9 am in the morning some are lucky if they get deliveries by mid-afternoon as consolidation of rounds mean postmen have much bigger rounds than they once had.

Politicians of all parties are to blame as they have allowed competitors to cream off the most profitable services but add to the cost of the Post Office by making them carry the burden of less profitable deliveries. One can only wonder if those politicians held shares in the competitors.

If we examine what has happened to the privatised formerly nationalised services the outlook for the Post Office looks bleak.

The railways

I well remember talking to a well-spoken gentleman on a station platform and how he declared that once the railways were privatised things would improve. How wrong he was. Ticket prices soared. Subsidies increased. Shareholders ran away with the profits that would have eased the tax burden on us all. Worse still we no longer have a joined up national railway with problems now similar to those that required nationalisation in the first place – and some regional services are run by foreign owned nationalised companies.

Water, electricity and telephone services

If we look at water, electricity and telephone services we see the same story. What was once owned by the taxpayers via government is now more often than not run by foreign companies with the British customer being forced to pay excessively high prices to satisfy shareholders and foreign companies.

Housing

Housing was another privatisation scam. Well-built council houses were sold for political reasons at a fraction of their worth and that triggered a shortage of homes for those who could not afford to buy and fuelled increases in house prices and the rents linked to them.

That in turn increased the welfare bill because the owners of property no longer paid rates and the tenants often could not afford to pay rent and the council tax, plus the water bills that were once included in the rates. Worse than that was the replacement housing costs which required agreements with builders and more subsidies for the provision of what are basically little more than wooden sheds with decorative walls but which are still priced as if they were built to last. Why can no politician see the glaring scandal there?

We now have a government that is reportedly going to offer money to first time buyers who cannot afford the required deposits so that they can once again get the property owning sector moving again. What seems to have been forgotten is that it is this very issue that supposedly started the current financial crisis with the sub-prime mortgages failures that brought down long-established banks.

Of course we should question if there really is/was a financial crisis as it should be noted that the elite are doing very nicely thank you and it is only the very poorest in society who are being hit, as is usual.

The Coalition’s current policy is to once again support those who cannot afford mortgages while at the same time punishing those who are unable to afford their rents and who have received financial assistance not for themselves but as direct payments to wealthy landlords as inflated rents. Both actions will no doubt end in disaster.

National Health Service

We were told that the NHS would be safe but it is clear that there is a move towards privatisation with the changes to Foundation Trusts which offer members discounts at local shops whilst at the same time drastically cutting numbers of hospital beds, Nurses and Blood Donor Services. The added stress of staff is unbearable and we have seen the same in the changes made to the education system with the cuts hitting as they did before at the basic infrastructure, which is usually far cheaper to properly maintain than it is to replace after being run-down.

Once again short-term political gain is to be paid for by even greater financial problems down the track.

The prison service

Not so very long ago there was an outcry that government was using a prison ship because there were too many prisoners and there were promises that more prisons would be built. The reality is that they have closed prisons and shortened sentences and yet crime has reached a point where hardly a day goes by without reports of murder.

All of the formerly nationalised services were sold off at a fraction of their true worth as a temporary fix for the economy – but surely anyone with eyes to see would realise that such a short-term fix brings long-term pain.

Welfare and NHS cuts

Look closer and we can see that once again it is grand theft from the people of this country who provided the investment, just as the new welfare and NHS cuts are a betrayal of the ideals of the National Insurance Contributions scheme, which was supposed to protect those injured at work or by accident illness etc. Now that too is slowly being privatised, as are the services that determine eligibility, and here too those who have eyes to see can see obvious fraud and deception, but the politicians responsible see only good in what they do because they know that they will never have to suffer from the consequences of their actions.

They are alright Jack – and the rest of us will just have to take it all on the chin and from our wallets….