Labour’s abandonment of nationalisation is a betrayal that couldn’t have come at a worst time.
Today it is essential that public ownership in its true form be part of any future political manifesto. Utilities must be brought under public ownership in the true meaning of the word nationalisation, it not only makes economic sense it’s also a matter of security.
Ironically while Starmer’s Labour moves further away from Nationalisation, it is needed more today than at any other time since the 1940s.
Starmer recreation of the Labour Party upon the ruins of Blairism and New Labour is the wrong ideology at the wrong time.
Starmer is moving as far away from Nationalisation as Blair did, even though Starmer made that pledge for state ownership in his leadership contest, he now claims state ownership is not nationalisation, Weasley words from a real barrister. He also made claim that part of the reason Labour failed so much in 2019 was an overloaded manifesto.
I can assure you that giving people free broadband was not a vote loser, we all know why Labour lost 54 English seats, 52 of which voted to leave the EU.
However, none of that is relevant when we examine the current issues. The need for nationalization comes as we are entering a European energy crisis, any political party that wants the people’s support, needs to make the case for nationalisation.
Starmer: Labour would not nationalise big six energy firms
It is this energy crisis that is the root cause of EU and UK price hikes, hikes that are crippling economies, elsewhere the energy prices have become a catalyst for civil unrest and what looks like the collapse of Kazakhstan, protests sparked by rising fuel prices in the west of the country that quickly spread to encompass other regions and turned into a general protest against corruption, poverty and inequality.
The fact that the EU are now overwhelmingly dependent on Russia for their gas supplies has left us all vulnerable,
French gas prices soared 48% as Putin’s grip sparked bloc panic last October.
In 2020, Moscow accounted for 43.3 percent of the EU’s natural gas stock, followed by Norway at 20 percent.
Britain also imports Russian pipeline gas via the Netherlands but is expected to feel much lighter effects from Putin’s squeeze.
Norway, which is not a member state of the EU, is the main supplier of both crude oil and natural gas for the UK.
However the majority of the big six suppliers are foreign-owned EDF, the French state-owned energy company controls over 20 percent of the British market, that’s a big tap to put pressure on UK consumers and businesses.
It’s not as if Western Europe wasn’t warned, especially the EU and Germany who were constantly berated for their Nord Stream pipeline and dependency on Russian gas.
The direct result has been Germany’s annual inflation hitting the highest rate since 1993.
Consumer prices in Germany rose by 3.1% in 2021, according to preliminary data released by the Federal Statistical Office on Thursday.
It is the highest inflation rate since 1993.
Rising energy costs and supply bottlenecks largely drove the surge in the cost of living.
In 2020, Germany’s average inflation was still relatively low at 0.5%. By December 2021, the year-on-year increase in prices stood at 5.3%.
It was the second time since reunification that German inflation had topped the 5% mark, after coming in at 5.2% in November.
Economists have said it could take a while before German inflation rates fall again.
The rise in energy prices was expected to remain the biggest driver of increases in prices.
“The sharp rise in natural gas prices is not likely to reach consumers until the beginning of 2022 due to the existence of long-term contracts with gas suppliers in many cases,” the Leibniz Institute for Economic Research told the DPA news agency.
Germany has left itself vulnerable, Germany imports more than half of its energy. The country largely imports its oil from Russia, Norway and the United Kingdom. Germany is also the world’s largest importer of natural gas. The largest gas imports come from the Netherlands, Norway, and Russia via the Nord Stream.
Nationalisation is the best and only route to combat both the cost of living crisis and fuel poverty.
Labour is touting the cost of living crisis as the result of poor Tory management, their only answer is to remove vat from energy, unfortunately, that is just like sticking your finger in the gas leak.
Yes, certainly to an extent the tories can take some blame but this has been a crisis in the making for a long long time.
Taking Gas as an example and due to the fact gas is at the crux of this crisis, we can look at why and how we ended up here.
Thatcherism enabled the Tory governments from 1979-1997 to sell off the majority of our public assets.
Selling off the family silver.
In what could only be described as state robbery, a transference of public assets to private hands, we witnessed every public industry undergo the set neoliberal pattern of ‘LPG’, Liberalization, Privatization, and Globalization.
Or as Noam Chomsky stated: “That’s the standard technique of privatisation, defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.”
Currently, the NHS is being given away and the cost of rail travel soars, part of a meticulously planned ideological assault on the fabric of British society under Tory rule, who want to defund, demoralise, then privatise.
The end result being that the wealth of our nation is left in the hands of a few, this is not a good thing. Let’s not mistake it, the government is focused on privatising public sector entities, managing them with a view not to revive them, but to prepare a case for their privatisation. Policies designed to extract wealth from the poor and weak at the bottom and transfer it to the already fat cats at the top of the rotten heap.
Let’s hope there is a return soon to days when people mattered more than profits. If this makes you angry reshare and continue to fight against it, we must take back control of all our essential services. –Noam Chomsky.
LPG usually comes after a period of direct intervention from government, this enables the running down and loss of public confidence in the targeted public owned asset. The asset is sold off cheap or as the Tories would suggest, at an attractive price, leaving the public coffers with a one-off small contribution and that once constant flow of capital from our public asset, diverted into private hands.
Tell Sid, The Great British Gas Rip Off
The great British Gas rip-off was an act of self-injury that made the few rich and the many think they could be part of a stoke holder society. Thatcher invested heavily in the “Tell Sid” campaign, propaganda.
The adverts created the illusion that we could all buy into this lucrative investment. Many took up the option in an era of mass privatisation by the Conservative government led by Margaret Thatcher. New rules meant that employers and employees could own shares in companies.
Thatcher’s astonishing string of sell-offs included Jaguar, British Aerospace (now BAE Systems), British Telecom (now just BT), British Steel, British Petroleum (BP these days), British Airways (part of International Consolidated Airlines Group today), Rolls-Royce, regional water firms and, of course, British Gas.
Selling our own nationalised gas industry to the people, something we already owned, unfortunately, the shares were only for those that could afford them, they were also capped off for individuals but for the hedge funders, big companies and Banks, the sky was the limit. What was ours, was ours no longer, sold off.
Thatcher created a stoke holder society that made the petite bourgeoisie happy and the fat cats even happier, in return it opened up the working class to even more market forces, allowing that iron heel to constantly stamp on the poor.
The number of individuals owning shares now stands at just over 12%, down from 54% in 1963.
Britain’s family silver is mainly owned (54% of all stock market listings) by overseas firms and investment groups able to make huge profits from exploiting a captive market.
The £9billion share offer was the largest ever at the time and marked a key moment in Margaret Thatcher’s crusade to make Britain a nation of stock owners.
Anyone who kept their British Gas shares now owns stakes in Centrica, BG Group and National Grid.
These splits make it difficult to calculate exactly how much a current stake relates to the original, but stockbroker Simply Stockbroking has estimated that 100 shares bought for £135 in 1986 would be worth £1,686 today.
“Millions of people will be sitting on share certificates issued in the 1980s, which will now be worth a considerable amount of money,” said Simply Stockbroking chief executive John Douthwaite.
Privatisation has become a cash cow for crony capitalists. Sid has not only been sidelined but he’s also been shafted. Look at any privatised service and the story is the same – the customers have seen bills rise and the owners have seen their dividends leap.
By the 21st century, people were looking at a choice of heat or eating.
The fact is millions more would have saved much more on their gas bills if a well run British gas had never been sold off.
Her government vowed to ‘roll back the frontiers of the state’ and put public-owned companies in private hands that could ostensibly run them more efficiently, the fact is they just creamed the profits and has history shows when they ultimately found themselves in trouble, it was public money that bailed them out.
Tony Blair transformed the Labour Party from a democratic socialist party to a social democratic party, his third way was little more than centralism on steroids, his landslide victories came from a perception of change, and an appearance of offering the people an alternative to the Tories, a masterstroke of political illusion, taken up by the masses desperate for an alternative to Tory pressure and its ignorance to the working-class plight.
However, Blair stamped down on the last vestiges of socialism within the Labour Party by changing clause iv to an unrecognisable version, notwithstanding the fact, clause iv was a direct contrast to the dogma of the EU competition law that would clash of ideologies, the two could never sit together.
The original version of Clause IV was drafted by Sidney and Beatrice Webb in November 1917, and adopted by the party in 1918. It read, in part 4:
“To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service”.
This section was widely seen as the Labour Party’s commitment to socialism, even though the word “socialism” is not explicitly mentioned. The Manchester Guardian heralded it as showing “the Birth of a Socialist Party”, stating that:
The changes of machinery are not revolutionary, but they are significant. There is now for the first time embodied in the constitution of the party a declaration of political principles, and these principles are definitely Socialistic. … In other words, the Labour party becomes a Socialist party (the decisive phrase is “the common ownership of the means of production”) … Platonic resolutions have been passed before now, both by the Labour party and by the Trade Unions Congress in favour of the Socialistic organisation of society, but they are now for the first time made an integral part of the party constitution.
In 1918, nationalisation was seen by many voters as akin to modernisation – the nationalisation of the railways was a widely supported policy, for instance, as it would reduce the plethora of uncoordinated and competing companies. This text is usually assumed to involve nationalisation of the whole economy, but close reading of the text shows that there are many other possible interpretations. Common ownership, though later given a technical definition in the Industrial Common Ownership Act 1976, could mean municipal ownership, worker cooperatives or consumer cooperatives.
In December 1944, the Labour Party adopted a policy of “public ownership” and won a clear endorsement for its policies – the destruction of the “evil giants” of want, ignorance, squalour, disease and idleness (identified by William Beveridge in the Beveridge Report) – in the post-war election victory of 1945 which brought Clement Attlee to power. However, the party had no clear plan as to how public ownership would shape their reforms, and much debate ensued.
The nationalisation was led by Herbert Morrison, who had had the experience of uniting London’s buses and underground train system into a centralised system in the 1930s.
He started with the Bank of England in April 1946, whereby stockholders received compensation and the governor and deputy governor were both re-appointed. Further industries swiftly followed: civil aviation in 1946, and railways and telecommunications in 1947, along with the creation of the National Coal Board, which was responsible for supplying 90% of UK’s energy needs.
1946 also saw the establishment of the National Health Service, which came into force in July 1948; railways, canals, road haulage and electricity were all also nationalised in 1948. By 1951, the iron, steel and gas industries had also been brought into public ownership.
Thatcher may have sold off the family silver but when Labour had the opportunity, Blair with his centrist ideology failed and refused to claim it back.
The failure to renationalise British gas is a direct cause of fuel poverty for millions, of course, it would not be possible while a member of the EU.
Attempting to do so would have exposed the impasse of EU membership and renationalisation, bringing it into a confrontation with the Labour Parties ideology.
We all know how much Blair cherished the prospect of becoming the permanent EU president, at that stage for Blair, an ideological confrontation would mean being exposed on so many fronts, fronts that would have demasked him.
Tony Blair had set the path for Labour and understood the conflict of public ownership and the EU’s competition laws.
In 1993, before becoming Leader of the Labour Party, Blair wrote a pamphlet for the Fabian Society which criticised the wording of Clause IV for not clearly stating the means and ends of the party.
Blair put forward a case for defining socialism in terms of a set of values that were constant, while the policies needed to achieve them would have to account for changing society.
At the conclusion of the 1994 conference, after becoming Leader, Blair proposed that the Labour Party needed a new statement of aims and values and stated that he would draw one up and present it to the party.
This astonished many people, as the last time such a move had been taken in the late 1950s, it had been a failure.
The new version was adopted at a Special Conference at Easter 1995 following a debate, and reads, in part:
“The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect”.
This version of Clause IV currently appears on the back of individual Labour Party membership cards today.
Pretty words and very ambiguous, Blair’s new clause iv is open to many interpretations but more tellingly it removes any reference to common ownership, leaving industry to the free market of EU competition.
The abandonment of the socialist principles of the original Clause IV represented a break with Labour’s past and, specifically, a break with its 1983 Manifesto in which a greater part was the advocating of state ownership.
It was telling how far to the right Labour had swung under Blair when he freely stated: ‘My job was to build on some Thatcher policies’ Blair described Baroness Thatcher as “a towering political figure” whose legacy will be felt worldwide.
Blair said Lady Thatcher had always been “immensely kind” to him. He added: “I always thought my job was to build on some of the things she had done rather than reverse them. “Many of the things she said, even though they pained people like me on the left… had a certain creditability.”
The reality was, under Blair and New Labour, it wasn’t socialism or even centre-left, it was more of a parody of conservatism, Tories in Red.
Renationalisation is good politics but good economics.
For any political party that hopes to make any real difference to the lives of the many, the only economic sense is to re-nationalise. for those that claim state-run utilities, rail or mail don’t work then look at France their state-owned energy company Électricité de France (EDF) generated nearly 70 billion euros in revenues in 2020. The French utility is one of the largest in the world and is counted among the Big Six energy suppliers in the United Kingdom. The French government owns over 80 percent of the company, which is headquartered in Paris, France. The company also owns over 20 percent of the British market.
I know for some are going to suggest this is contradictory to my comments on nationalisation, however, the very reason EDF only own 80 percent of Frances energy market is the fact the EU forced the French state to sell off a minimum of 20 percent to the open market.
It makes economic and practical sense to renationalise, Labour’s failure on this only poses the question, what’s the point of Labour?