Monday, April 07, 2008

Breaking the nationalisation taboo



"Even 12 months ago nationalisation seemed a quaint notion from yesteryear - as remote from today's concerns as big band music, ration coupons and nylons. Nobody who wanted to be taken seriously by mainstream opinion could ever champion the self-evidently economically wasteful and amoral act of nationalisation.
But a credit crisis that has forced the reluctant nationalisation of one bank in Britain, Northern Rock, and the socialisation of some £15bn of loans of another in America, Bear Stearns, is forcing mainstream opinion to think the unthinkable."

writes Will Hutton, economics editor of the Observer. Well, Will, some of us have never dropped our belief in nationalisation, however 'untrendy' holding such a belief became in the Thatcherite/New Labour era. As the disastrous consequences of privatisation become more and more apparent- be it our rip-off utility bills, our terrible privately-owned public transport or the fiasco at Terminal 5-, it's good to see 'mainstream' commentators like Hutton now calling for nationalisation to be put back on the agenda. As I've argued before, a progressive agenda in Britain today means turning the clock back, to the days before the neoliberals wreaked their damage on our economic and social fabric. And a programme of renationalisation is the key element in such an agenda.

UPDATE: Incredibly, there are those who think that after 30 years of neoliberalism and disastrous privatisations, Britain 'still needs more Thatcherism'!! Philip Johnston in today's Daily Telegraph, writes:

"Nor were Thatcher's other reforms reversed by Labour. The privatisations that took place under her premiership (railways came later) are all accepted as normal today. There will be many people under 30 who might be amazed to learn that you once had to fly on a state-owned airline."


And equally Philip, after the B.A. Terminal 5 fiasco, there will be many people over 30 who wish that Britain still had a state-owned airline.

2 comments:

John said...

I don't think they'll be making the boast about B.A. being the 'world's favourite airline' anymore. A more accurate description would be 'the world's favourite airline for those who enjoy losing their bags and waiting several hours to board a plane'.

Jock McTrousers said...

It's a pity there's no prospect of there being anyone to vote for, who might implement re-nationalisation? Not to mention anyone you can vote for to save the NHS! There's the Greens, but they're not in with a chance, in the near future - and there is some room for doubt about their approach; for instance, if I'm lucky I can get a return flight to Scotland cheaper than the price of a taxi across central London, but I'm not even sure if it's still possible to get a train to Glasgow at any price. There are trends in Green policy (particularly in their adoption by other parties) which make me wonder if the cheap flights might disappear, but the trains remain as expensive, thus preventing the poor from travelling - a nicely isolated, atomised, weakened working class. The Greens need to send a clear message, with some salient policies highlighted - ' RE-NATIONALISE THE RAILWAYS, WATER, AND GET THE PRIVATE SECTOR COMPLETELY OUT OF THE NHS IMMEDIATELY ON TAKING POWER'. That would increase their vote, but would it do it in time? And would they have the balls to commit, since they are still very equivocal about Europe, and these policies would mean conflict with the centralising EU? Can the Greens really be trusted, more than the rest, in other words? An independent ' no privatisation of the NHS' candidate standing for every seat might give a surprising result.