Why more nationalisation is a bad idea

I was asked to explain why I do not favour nationalising the railways, the Post Office, the water industry and the energy utilities yesterday on the radio.It was a trip down Memory Lane to the arguments of the last century, when Labour made the case for continued or more nationalisation despite all the evidence of the damage their policies did.

Nationalisation was the best way to lose more employees their jobs, to charge customers more, and to sting the taxpayer to pay the losses. The coal industry lost most of its workers when nationalised. The workforce of 704,000 of the newly nationalised industry in the late 1940s had fallen to as few as 235,000 by the time of the election of the Margaret Thatcher government. Despite all the closures of mines and sackings, the losses mounted to be paid by taxpayers.

The railways under public ownership experienced continuous decline. In 1950 they employed 606,000 staff and had 19,471 miles of operating track. By 1976 then under a Labour government staff numbers had more than halved to 244,000 and route miles had fallen to 11,189. The market share of the railways halved, and the number of stations fell by two thirds. The nationalised steel industry too, under Labour and Conservative governments, spent most of its time discussing how to curb the losses by cutting back on capacity and jobs.

Labour say they wish to renationalise the railways. The truth is the main cost and the main assets of the railway are already nationalised. The tracks, signals and stations are owned by Network Rail, itself wholly owned by taxpayers and financed by the Treasury. Many of the delays which affect rail services are the result of signalling failures or other Network Rail caused events. It is Network Rail’s job to expand capacity by improving signalling so more trains per hour can run on the railway.

I was asked why we did not buy shares in water companies whilst keeping in place current private sector management so we participate in the profits. I replied that we have other more important priorities for public sending. In the past government ownership of industries has not brought dividends and profits overall, but losses and the need for more subsidised capital.

The main way to improve service quality and bring down prices of utilities is to increase competition. That is what we need to do in some cases, as there is clearly room for improvement. What we do not want to do is to go back to a world where customers, employees and taxpayers all get a bad deal, which was the typical experience of our nationalised industries.

Labour’s big nationalisation programme has not been costed and is unaffordable. From past experience it would lead to worse service and huge bills for taxpayers.

Published and promoted by Fraser Mc Farland on behalf of John Redwood, both at 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU

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157 Comments

  1. fedupsoutherner
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    Yes, I remember it all too well John. Strikes in abundance and services cut off. Labour under the control of the unions. There has to be a better way of improving services without the threat of continuous strikes and look attractive to investors. What has been going on at Southern rail recently is unacceptable. The biggest problem with the energy market is that it hasn’t been able to operate a free market. Renewables have been costly and the costs have been borne solely by the consumers. Energy bills are going to go up regardless of the costs of fossil fuels which have been coming down recently and all because of wind farms, biofuels, biomass and solar and the subsidies we all have to pay.

    • Jerry
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      @fedupsoutherner; Funny how strikes under Tory government’s are never mentioned, no everybody must be living in perfect harmony…not!

      • libertarian
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        Jerry

        What has your comment got to do with what fedup wrote?

        I think you’ll find that strikes under tory governments are in fact mentioned an awful lot . The point is that monopoly industries be they public or private can be held to ransom by militant unions . As happened in the early 70’s under a Tory government when the miners went on strike demanding a 43% wage rise.

      • Edward2
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        Compared to years gone by strikes are greatly reduced.
        If you took away from the strikes on the tube and Southern Rail it’s tiny.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        @Jerry
        I didn’t say there weren’t strikes when Conservatives were in government but Labour are under the control of the unions. They go hand in hand.

        • APL
          Posted May 30, 2017 at 7:43 am | Permalink

          fedupsoutherner: “They go hand in hand.”

          Labour is the political wing of the Trades Union movement.

          I thought everyone knew that?

        • Jerry
          Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

          @fedupsoutherner; Strikes go hand in hand with bad management, not the labour party!

          Far stronger unions in Germany, but better management, meaning less strikes…

          • APL
            Posted June 1, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

            Jerry: “Far stronger unions in Germany, ”

            That doesn’t even matter. After the disaster of the war, there wasn’t much dissent in Germany between managers and unions that the primary task was to put Germany first in the industrial and economic spheres.

            In the UK by contrast the Union movement was riddled with Soviet sympathisers, and agitators, our public schools were seething hot beds of communist recruitment. Feeding directly into our traitorous governing class.

            The end result was the Soviets were able to hamstring British Industry at a time when it was facing the challenges of rebuilding our antiquated bombed industrial base and fight off low cost competition from the far east.

            Here is one instance where, yes, we were hacked by Russia.

          • libertarian
            Posted June 1, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

            Jerry

            “Far stronger unions in Germany, but better management, meaning less strikes…”

            At last you admit what we’ve been telling you, nationalised industry management in UK is pants , and thats why nationalised industries dont work here

          • Jerry
            Posted June 1, 2017 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

            APL; Nonsense, the FDR was far more riddled with Soviet sympathisers than any UK trade union was, what is more they simply hoped over the border from the GDR to do their work – the GDR had quite a Fifth Column operation in West Germany by all accounts.

            @libertarian; Once again you try and twist what has been said. But have it your way, so why doesn’t nationalisation work in the UK, because it becomes a political football when the right simply do not want it to work even when there are clear benefits for state ownership. If state ownership doesn’t work how come the Navy, Army and Air Force still belong to the Crown?!

          • APL
            Posted June 2, 2017 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

            Jerry: ” what is more they simply hoped over the border from the GDR ”

            Yea, to get out of the GDR. In the mid ’60 it was already apparent where most people would choose to live had they the chance.

          • libertarian
            Posted June 2, 2017 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

            Jerry

            The reason state ownership doesn’t work in the UK is quite simply because it never makes a profit, they can’t innovate, they dont invest, therefore can’t pay its workers more each year , the workers then go on strike. The service deteriorates . Simple.

            In Germany, France and other countries that have successful state owned industries , those industries compete in the private sector within and outside their own countries. They normally make profits and invest in their futures.

            The military is a completely different model , they aren’t allowed to go on strike for a start and if they dont do as management tell them they get sent to jail !!!

          • Jerry
            Posted June 2, 2017 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

            @APL; Tell that to a German and you’ll likely get laughed at.

            @libertarian; You are entitled to your opinion

          • APL
            Posted June 4, 2017 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

            Jerry: “Tell that to a German and you’ll likely get laughed at.”

            No, it’s you that’s making a joke of yourself.

            Now, I understand Prague is not in Germany, but it was a bellwether of what even the Soviets were worried was going on in the Eastern bloc.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prague_Spring

          • APL
            Posted June 4, 2017 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

            Jerry: “Tell that to a German and you’ll likely get laughed at.”

            In order to further your education. It was guarded by around 11,500 Grenztruppen, the Border Troops of the German Democratic Republic who were authorised to use any means necessary, including firearms, to prevent border breaches.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_deaths_at_the_Berlin_Wall

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Or you could spend the night at Gate 15 because your privatised BA flight has been cancelled. But at least you have a choice next time. CHOICE is the answer rather than privatisation or nationalisation per se, as Network Rail’s situation reveals.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        Indeed it is all about freedom of choice. With dire government monopolies you choice is take it or leave it mate, and you pay for it in advance (regardless) under threat of imprisonment. No wonder they are so dire.

        • APL
          Posted May 30, 2017 at 10:21 am | Permalink

          JR: “BA is flying lots of people to day and has generated good profits recently.”

          Good, I’m glad to hear it.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      All because nearly every one of our (almost all scientifically illiterate) MP’s voted for the insane climate change act. Also driven by the EU and new greencrap, Al Gore, World religion and the endless desire of governments for a new excuse to tax and regulate everyone.

      Three cheers for the five who voted against it – Christopher Chope, Philip Davies, Peter Lilley, Andrew Tyrie, and Ann Widdecombe and any who at least abstained.

  2. eeyore
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    A trip down Memory Lane indeed, and not a happy one. Another argument JR might have used is that in a nationalised industry the employer is government, which has bottomless pockets and no stomach for a scrap. The result, as we found in the 1970s, is strikes, capitulations, chaos, national bankruptcy and humiliation.

    Under Mr Corbyn things could be yet worse. Government and unions would make common cause to plunder the real enemy, the taxpayer. Even that that wouldn’t buy peace. The strikes and humiliations would continue just the same.

    In the past JR has rather downplayed Mr Corbyn. He has known him in Parliament for decades, where he was one of the harmless eccentrics. As he draws near to power, though, he looks anything but harmless. He is not like other Labour leaders. A Corbyn government would not be like previous Labour governments.

  3. Posted May 29, 2017 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    You are totally right on nationalisation. No argument.
    And the Labour want to make Diane Abbott Home Secretary, Lady Nugent Foreign Secretary, John McDonnell national treasurer and Tom Watson adviser! I do not think so.
    According to a recent survey, some 68 percent of people questioned believe that Theresa May should reveal her Brexit strategy more clearly before polling day on 8 June.
    I am a conservative voter – always have been like my Dad and Grandfather before me.
    I am not prepared to give Mrs May carte blanche to reinvent the wheel over Brexit though.

    • Politically drugged
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Mike Stallard
      I have heard of generations of family voting for one Party. I find that astounding. No Party stays the same. The personalities and their input obviously change. It is a world truth that if one party rules the roost for too long it corrupts everything local and national from top to bottom. A democratically elected one party state or Authority is sickening and lessens ones respect for ones fellow man

    • Dame Rita Webb
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      When I was a student I used to like travelling around Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Inevitably I used to come across members of the CPGB and the New Party (a neo Stalinist splinter group that still exists). I remember quite a few admitting that they always voted Conservative at elections. In that a vicious right wing government would further alienate the workers and quicken up the inevitable revolution. Similarly this time I am quite minded to vote Labour. The Conservative manifesto just seems to be the same prescription that Labour are offering, though in more limited doses. We cannot go on living like this forever. So hopefully Corbyn & Co will bring the nation to the brink and then we will find our true successor to Churchill and Cromwell. Then the dross that has inhabited No 10 in recent years will be swept away for good.

      • eeyore
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

        Don’t do it, Dame Rita. You play with fire. These are not normal Labour politicians. There are historical parallels for the subversion of democracy from within, not to be mentioned in polite discussion but never to be forgotten either.

        If that plea (on the knees of my heart, as the Irish say) has no weight with you, consider that Mr Corbyn can at best head a coalition. His partners therein will all have a price. What will the SNP’s be? Independence? Sterling? Abandonment of Brexit? Or all three?

    • David Price
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      I would not give TM carte blanche but hasn’t the government already described their strategy on 2nd January 2017.

      If instead you mean tactics and detail then would that be wise before actually starting the negotiation and on what basis are those questioned or you or I qualified to judge?

      • Posted May 29, 2017 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        If you look below, you can see where I am coming from.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      Dear Mike–Don’t understand your “reinvent the wheel”–This has not been done before, nor even close

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately the current Conservatives are just politically correct, big government, high taxing, red tape pushing, gender pay reporting, greencrap pushing, interventionist socialists. Just not quite as bad as Corbyn. This as they have a sensible wing of circa 100 MPs to pull them back to sense occasional.

      Why not do what actually works for a change? Cut the size of the state and get people to spend and invest their own money – they do it far more efficiently after all.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        Charles Moore today makes the point that the Tories have lost the art of communication. Well perhaps, but their main error was that they arrogantly chose to go into the election essentially promising to deliver higher taxes and lower pensions (together with daft left wing inventions, green crap energy, worker on boards, gender pay crap, a prices and incomes policy, tenant mugging, gig economy mugging and yet more red tape).

        Unsurprisingly the public (who are taxed to the hilt already, yet still receive dire public services in return) wanted the complete opposite.

        “May to send out “ad vans” telling voters she must lead Brexit talks” I read – (rather bossy in tone should she not be asking for their vote) – it reminds me of her rather unpleasant & childish “go home immigrants” ad vans in Hounslow(?).

        The adds should say – “Vote Conservative and we will deliver – lower taxes all round, the abolition of IHT, far better services, stong defence, law and order, more choice & freedom.

        An economy that actually works – rather than Corbyn & Sturgeons basket case version of Venezuela.

        • fedupsoutherner
          Posted May 29, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

          @LL

          The words Corbyn and Sturgeon are very dangerous when put together in one sentence!!!

        • Dame Rita Webb
          Posted May 29, 2017 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

          Yes the “dementia tax” was a classic here. As far as I understand the rules at the moment, its a 100% tax on any assets above around £23k (inc your house). However Mrs May is incapable of getting the message over that she was going to lift the threshold by around four times. She also failed to point out that old people, who then go on to need long term care, are usually is such a poor state of health that they are not around for much longer for it to burn away much of an inheritance. Finally if you go through a catastrophic event, like cancer, during your dotage the NHS covers all your care needs without your house being taken away.

          • Know-dice
            Posted May 30, 2017 at 7:57 am | Permalink

            DRW – I think that needs a bit of extra research… In that at the moment a house wouldn’t be taken as part of the calculation if there was another party that had an interest in the property, namely a husband or wife.

            Whereas the current proposal from Mrs May seems to “grab” the property until only £100,000 is left, presumably less any mortgage/loan that’s outstanding, but no consideration the other partner.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      As far as I’m concerned she has revealed enough of her negotiating position for the moment; she cannot unilaterally decide what the outcome of the negotiations will be and it would be pointless to try to specify every detail. Your problem is that you don’t like her strategy as already outlined because it doesn’t involve staying in the EEA, which is the exit strategy recommended and demanded by your mentor. So now you and others have turned against her and are siding with the EU and its supporters in this country, even while claiming to still support withdrawal from the EU.

      • Mark B
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        Dennis

        I think you are being a bit harsh there. To me we here concentrate cat too much on the trade aspect and not enough on administration of our affairs with the EU such as our border with Eire.

      • Posted May 29, 2017 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        Denis, you are right!
        We must stay in the EFTA/EEA to survive. Mrs May has shown absolutely no attempt to approach the Norwegians or the Icelanders about EFTA/EEA membership. The Europeans have tried very hard to stress that unless we are in the EFTA/EEA we will become a “third country” – ie chopped off all intercourse with Europe – on 00.00 30/3/19
        Let us leave personalities out of this shall we? I loathe ad hominem attacks – they are so very pointless and, yes, unpleasant. And they achieve nothing whoever makes them – or receives them.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 30, 2017 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

          I am right, but not in the ways you assume …

          Theresa May has made it clear that her interpretation of the referendum result would not permit the UK to remain in the EEA, for several reasons of which the foremost is that we would not then recover complete control of our immigration policy.

          Therefore it would be pointless approaching the EFTA states to see whether they would happy for us to join them so we could remain in the EEA via their pillar, and likewise it would be pointless for us to suggest to the other EU countries that we would like to stay in the EEA in some way or another when we have made it clear to them that we would not then accept the required freedom of movement of persons.

          Even the British Influence pressure group which urges that we should stay in the EEA openly admit that this would not allow us to regain the complete control of migration from the EU we want:

          http://influencegroup.org.uk/eea/

          “In other words, if the UK can prove that it is being materially or socially harmed by free movement, then it can act to curb it. This cannot be open-ended, and it may incur retaliation, but it allows for more control than currently exists”.

          So what would that be other than a recipe for perpetual rows with our neighbours, if they were foolish enough to allow us stay in it?

          As repeatedly pointed out you are wrong to suppose that we could avoid becoming a “third country” on leaving the EU by staying in the EEA; if that was the case then Barnier would not refer to:

          http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-norway-barnier-idUKKBN1591TO

          “… third countries closely associated with the EU, such as Norway and other EEA countries, Iceland and Liechtenstein”.

      • APL
        Posted May 30, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        Denis Cooper: “demanded by your mentor.”

        I was reading EUReferendum when Dennis had a run in with Dr North, and I can see why North has such a reputation of being ‘acerbic’.

        Denis Cooper: “So now you and others have turned against her ”

        I’ve not turned against May because of her position on the EU negotiations, honestly, I don’t know what that is.

        But seeing as we are now six months into our two year negotiating period with no sign that negotiations have even begun, and Theresa May has called an election, which seems to me to be an utterly unnecessary distraction. She hasn’t exactly reassured me that she knows what she is doing.

        The history of the woman is one of vacillation. Like most politicians she appears to have no principles. She, of the ‘nasty party’ remarks, the ‘Britons will greatly benefit from Sharia law’ remarks, is making an ever greater impression of utter vacuity.

        It would be an achievement to cause me to recall her predecessor with fondness, but May is on the way to succeeding where David Cameron couldn’t.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 31, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

          She should not have called an election, a foolish unnecessary risk, and I groaned inwardly when I saw the newspaper headline.

    • Robin Wilcox
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Governments negotiate. Parliament legislates. That is the way it has always been. We will have to choose who will make up the Government we want to negotiate. You don’t get to have to approve their every move.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      Another one bites the dust …

      http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86490#disqus_thread

      “… to save you the embarrassment of compounding your own stupidity, I’ve banned you from this site. I have no obligation to afford space to someone who cannot even be bothered to make a coherent case before launching into an ill-judged attack.”

      • Posted May 29, 2017 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        OUCH!
        Yup – I have had the same treatment too. When I wrote about my (Catholic) views on Gay Marriage a couple of years ago, I got the same treatment on Conservative Home. I am also banned from Labour List as a Tory!
        Dr North got really peeved when I started questioning his views on Associate Membership.
        That is why I say there should be no ad hominem attacks: they do not help and they obscure the truth.

      • APL
        Posted May 30, 2017 at 8:19 am | Permalink

        RNorth: “Central to my position, and repeated what must be hundreds of times on this blog alone, is that it is all but impossible to negotiate a workable FTA in the two-year Art 50 period, and that we would therefore be best off with an interim solution – preferably the Efta/EEA option. Not least of its merits is that Efta membership assures that we leave the EU, as a nation cannot be a member of the EU and Efta.”

        Seems like a reasonably coherent position. If someone comes on to a site and misrepresents the authors position in order to argue a position the author doesn’t hold, why should the author give that much time to the strawman argument?

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 30, 2017 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

          We don’t know whether it would be possible in two years, because there is no previous example to provide a guide.

          We know that starting from a position of no trade barriers and deciding what trade barriers should be unnecessarily reinstituted is not the same as the usual process of starting with trade barriers and gradually agreeing which of those barriers can be removed.

          And we also know that if it became necessary to avoid a disruptive withdrawal there would be the possibility of extending the two year negotiating period by agreement, and that the originators of Article 50 foresaw that this could happen:

          https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201617/ldselect/ldeucom/125/12511.htm

          “The Praesidium considers that, since many hold that the right of withdrawal exists even in the absence of an explicit provision to that effect, withdrawal of a Member State from the Union cannot be made conditional upon the conclusion of a withdrawal agreement. Hence the provision that withdrawal will take effect in any event two years after notification. However, in order to encourage a withdrawal agreement between the Union and the State which is withdrawing, Article I-57 [now I-60] provides for the possibility of extending this period by common accord between the European Council and the Member State concerned.”

          Moreover as the leader of the Fianna Fail party in Ireland pointed out in a recent speech, the process of negotiating the withdrawal of an existing EU member state could be seen as “reverse-engineering” the accession of a new member state and so could involve transitional provisions:

          https://www.fiannafail.ie/speech-by-ff-leader-at-byrne-wallace-brexit-event/

          “A solution should be to seek a form of transitional arrangement which is effectively a reverse-engineering of current accession treaties.

          Every country when it joins the Union does so, on the basis of a treaty which provides for the full rigour of state aid and competition law to be delayed for particular sectors. This is generally done in order to give the industries time to adjust or to provide alternatives for the impacted regions and workers.

          If joining the EU requires periods of adjustment to the new customs and market borders is it not logical that the same adjustment be considered for remaining member states when a state leaves?”

          And finally there is always the possibility of “provisional application” of any treaty prior to it being fully ratified and coming into force, as well as the less reputable possibility of simply ignoring any awkward treaty provisions and getting them changed later.

          All these devices will be available to the negotiating parties to avoid a chaotic separation, if none of them are used and chaos ensues that will only be because one side or the other wants chaos.

          • APL
            Posted May 31, 2017 at 6:28 am | Permalink

            Denis Cooper: “We know that starting from a position of no trade barriers and deciding what trade barriers should be unnecessarily reinstituted ”

            Thanks for your reply. The excerpt above sounds like you intend to make the whole economy a kind of lab. petri dish. How many companies will have to be exposed to ‘unfair’ competition from outside the UK, potentially even by our former ‘partners’, and how many will be driven out of business before you decide that we need protection in this or that sector?

            Denis Cooper: “there would be the possibility of extending the two year negotiating period by agreement ..”

            Now if I were being unfair, I’d probably suggest that you just wanted to stay in the EU by stealth! But anyway, North has long ago suggested that it may be necessary to extend the negotiating period. The point being, it would be better to do it up front [now] at the beginning of the negotiations than later. Even if May gets her enlarged majority, she isn’t going to want to prolong the talks much over two years, because she’ll be in exactly the same position vis a vis an election as she is now, only potentially, less popular.

            Denis Cooper: “Moreover as the leader of the Fianna Fail party in Ireland pointed out in a recent speech .. ”

            I rather thought that in leaving the EU, we would reduce the influence of other countries politicians on our governance. Frankly, Fianna Fail? ( I’ll ask what influence Fianna Fail carries in Brussels ? )

            Byrne Wallace: “A solution should be to seek a form of transitional arrangement ”

            Which is EXACTLY what North is advocating with the transitional membership of EFTA/EEA. Such an arrangement is there, on the table, off the shelf, for the asking – and potentially, attainable by negotiation in twenty months.

            Denis Cooper: “if none of them are used and chaos ensues that will only be because one side or the other wants chaos.”

            So yes, you’re proposing to conduct an experiment. Because let’s understand what ‘chaos’ will actually mean in this scenario, job losses, companies potentially going out of business, perishable goods piling up at our borders because the EU won’t accept them.

            All, at around the time ( assuming a Tory win ) of the next General Election.

            Way to go ensuring a more radical Corbinesque government is elected.

  4. Frank
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    But they know what went wrong last time. This time they’ll get it right, cross my heart and hope to die, would I lie to you, etc… 🙂

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Sure!

  5. The PrangWizard
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    It will be an even worse idea with Corbyn and his revolutionaries.

    The Labour (Marxist wing of the party) will form the government and the unions (Marxist wings) will run the organisations for the principal benefit of the employees. There will be a return of the ‘closed shop’.

    There will be purges of moderates, ‘the counter revolutionaries’ as they will be defined by the leadership.

    The slogan from will be ;

    ‘We are the Masters now!’

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      Quite correct and Mrs May is helping Corby with her openly socialist manifesto.
      Labour lite or the real thing is the choice.

    • Dame Rita Webb
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      I do not think the Great British public would put up for that. In such a scenario I would ask you to remember what happened to Allende in Chile. Look at who started going out on strike in opposition

  6. Richard1
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    This is all true, but it’s difficult as a Conservative voter to get that enthusiastic about Mrs May’s approach when she plans to continue to waste £100bn + on the 2 great white (green?) elephants of HS2 and Hinkley Point, is planning energy price controls (instead of addressing the green taxes and subsidies which are the real controllable variable in energy costs), plans to load more silly, pettifogging regulation on business and doesn’t seem to see a need for radical tax simplication and reduction to spur investment and enterprise. The sensible social care policy proposed was a move in the right direction, but that has now been abandoned in a strong and stable panic.

    Still I suppose it’s not my vote being courted, it certainly isn’t going elsewhere. it would be inconceivable for anyone rational to vote for Corbyn, Farron and the LibDems are useless, and the UKIP / Green lunatic fringe beyond a joke. Mrs May is very fortunate in her opponents! Longer term though, to make any success of Brexit, there needs to be a change of direction in the Conservative Party.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Dear Lionheart–Very unfair and unwarranted about UKIP, who served their country’s needs well–Hardly part of the lunatic fringe–And they may need to come back–If such a need arises I think you know they will

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        Agree Leslie. In fact their manifesto is very attractive and full of common sense ideas compared to that of the Conservative party. I particularly like the idea of reducing foreign aid money in favour of giving it to social care in the UK. Charity begins at home – or it should. This government should stop giving away our money and look after it’s own first.

      • getahead
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        Absolutely Leslie. Words out of my mouth.

      • hefner
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

        I sometimes wonder whether those claiming that UKIP is “hardly part of the lunatic fringe” are not lunatics themselves. What practically has UKIP brought/produced in Brussels apart Brexit? Brilliant for maintaining over the years the Brexit flame, but nothing else whatsoever. And everything thanks to Farage. After Farage, the various shenanigans within the UKIP top brass do not feel particularly attractive. As for their candidates for this election (in my area at least) they are a bunch of second order losers, at best.
        So UKIP might have been good for Brexit, but was clearly a one-trick poney.

        • a-tracy
          Posted June 1, 2017 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

          So are you saying the second biggest contributor to the EU elected MEPs on a fair democratic election and the EU ignored them all these years?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      “it would be inconceivable for anyone rational to vote for Corbyn” – true
      but it would also be inconceivable for anyone rational to vote for Theresa May/Miliband – but for the lack of any sound alternative.

  7. Mark B
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    Leaving aside the arguments for or against nationalisation I would like to point out that the UK taxpayer is subsidising private industry such as energy and the railway companies. We also nationalised bad banks
    Tje taxpayer has been the sop and it has been government that has facilitated that

    Another area of government largesse is im the creation of quangos. I here Mrs. May wants to create a Terrorism Czar. So when it comes to another security failure out PM and MP’s are once again firewalled from responsibility.

  8. Jerry
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Please do not complain about length of comments, you often cover a flurry of topics, length is needed to reply.

    Two points that you have not mentioned regarding the railways, both of which were instigated by Tory governments, the 1955 modernisation Plan, and the Beeching Reviews (commonly known as the Beeching axe) of the early 1960s, so quite why you appear to be criticising the loss of employment and loss of track miles etc. that went along with both of those policies I’m not quite sure, as they would have happened had the Conservatives won in 1964 – indeed had Douglas-Home been returned we might have lost an even greater number of route miles due to the second far more devastating report from Dr Beeching.

    Another point that you do not mention in your article, central to your dislike of renationalisation, is that your entry into national politics was as an advisor (to Mrs Thatcher) specialising in denationalisation, thus you are hardly going to admit to being fundamentally wrong even if it was fundamentally crystal clear that an industry worked better in public ownership.

    “The nationalised steel industry too, under Labour and Conservative governments, spent most of its time discussing how to curb the losses by cutting back on capacity and jobs.”

    Much as the privatised industry has been doing since privatisation then…

    Turning to the water industry, you say “The main way to improve service quality and bring down prices of utilities is to increase competition.”, can you explain just how that can be brought about when even a national grid of the nations non-purified water appears problematic, hence one area of the country can be suffering floods and another have a water shortage. How could someone in the South East of England buy purified water from the North West for delivery through the existing pipes in their street?

    “Labour’s big nationalisation programme has not been costed and is unaffordable.”

    There is no cost in renationalising the railways, even more so if the polices is carried out over a period of years as franchises come up for renewal or review etc and you know this very well. But on the issue of manifestos that have not been costed, when will the Tory party publish their manifesto costings? Stop throwing stones whilst your party lives in a glass house Mr Redwood!…

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      The motor car was to replace the railways and the recent return of passengers to rail was unforseen.

      • Jerry
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        @Anonymous; Nonsense, I think you need to investigate one of the politicos of the day for why he was favouring road building…

        • Edward2
          Posted May 29, 2017 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

          The improving standard of living meant people wanted to move from public transport and then bicycles and then motor bikes to eventually owning cars.

          • Jerry
            Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; You really do take a somewhat simplistic view of the railways. If railways were so out of favour by the car owner why did BR need to convert many a former station goods yard to car parks?…

          • Edward2
            Posted May 31, 2017 at 5:58 am | Permalink

            Because more people owned cars.

          • Jerry
            Posted May 31, 2017 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; Yes but they were also using trains, hence the need for station car parks, even in towns, not that all railway stations are in the centre of towns though! The rise in the ownership of private motor cars had far more effect on the use of the local omnibus than it had on the use of railway trains.

    • Edward2
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      On your very last point where you say thete is no cost in renationalising the railways, are you going to steal all the trains and equipment off the existing train franchise owners ?

      • Jerry
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        @Edward2; I take it you mean the rolling stock etc. that has not been subsided by the state in one way or another, on very favourable terms? Of course market value should be paid, but what should that market value be…

        As I’ve said before, renationalisation would not be my chosen solution to the mess that was John Majors privatisation folly, I woudl prefer a 1923 style grouping that also involves geographical railway companies taking control and responsibility of the track as well as all passenger and freight trains in their area but if that is not on the cards then renationalisation is the way to go to sort out almost 25 years of an utter omni-shambles.

        • Edward2
          Posted May 29, 2017 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

          Well if “market value should be paid” then that puts paid to your oginal assertion that there is no costs involved.

  9. Nig l
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Agree totally but you haven’t said why nationalisation doesn’t work, (political interference?) this is almost just a history lesson. Equally the cliche about competition in the utilities. Actually there is masses cerainly in gas and electricity where I switch at least every two years. What I have never heard from politicians is how? High barriers to entry, wholesale prices the same for everyone. So any improvements are only at the margin. You might explain how your policy of price capping, roundly condemned when it came from the other side will improve competition. If your argument is that history shows that nationalisation doesn’t work why don’t you acknowledge the same is true of price controls?

    Actually the Labour pitch is very seductive. For a one off capital outlay, they buy all future dividends. Your Party needs to explain why this won’t work. Your difficulty is that this will mean explaining that the problem is politicians, using that argument to persuade us to elect another set of ermm…………. politicians!!

    • alan jutson
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      Nig 1

      I agree there would be no problem with Nationalisation if such organisations were to be run effectively, efficiently, and on business like terms with continued investment.
      The reason they never were, is simply because of politicians who wanted their own placement to be put in charge because, they could be manipulated by the very politicians who put them there.

      The biggest nationalised industry is the NHS, but because it deals with health, illness and suffering, most politicians think it should not be privatised.

      The NHS suffers with all of the same problems as any other Nationalised industry.
      It lacks proper investment, it has poor and ineffective management, it appears inefficient, is subject to political interference, and is not a true National service. Indeed it suffers with exactly the same problems that we have seen so often with other past Nationalised Industry failures.

      There is actually nothing wrong with Nationalisation of life basic services, if they were to be allowed to run on a commercial basis.

      Once again the problem is with politicians trying to resolve commercial problems, with a political mindset.
      Thus we end up with the half baked privatisation scenario which is the railways, or commercial organisations such as Power and Water which have to report to a Government quango.

      • Turboterrier.
        Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:14 am | Permalink

        @alan jutson

        it has poor and ineffective management,

        Not poor in the 100s of thousands we pay them for being not fit for purpose

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      Correct @Nig1

      It is tempting to believe that not having to pay dividends to shareholders will save the consumer money.

      Past performance suggests that this is not the case but why? That is the narrative that will combat the policy.

      Price controls hits those who do shop around, government, if it must interfere, should really just make it easier to switch. Mandating companies to share consumer usage data when contracts are expiring with their competitors who can then send a quote and a phone number/url to switch to each user would increase competition more than price controls.

      Need to get round data protection but otherwise the costs are borne by the companies as marketing costs sending out the quotes.

      • graham1946
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

        Imagine the spam! No thanks, I’d rather do my own research and change accordingly. One of the best deals I ever had a couple of years ago was when our County Council had an auction of its tax payers who wanted to switch. We need more big switches like that. I’m currently awaiting the result of their last auction earlier this month with my personalised projection. If it’s no good, I’m no worse off, but if it’s good……….
        By the way, costs of any kind are never ‘borne by the companies’ – it all ends up on our bills

        • Narrow Shoulders
          Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:54 am | Permalink

          @graham

          You and I would prefer to do our own research but three quarters of households either can not or will not hence the threatened cap which will increase prices for those who shop around.

          Better to make switching easier than capping. Spam goes in the bin or is deleted.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      One Labour is running these industries they will be loss making in no time at all.

      The dividends will all then be negative, they will need endless subsidies.

      • hefner
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        As, obviously, at present there are no public subsidies to the private train companies???

        • Lifelogic
          Posted May 29, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

          Subsidies to trains are a mistake and unfair competition to the alternatives or cars, bikes, living closer to work …..

          • fedupsoutherner
            Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:15 am | Permalink

            LL Yes and the same with subsidies to renewables too. We have no choice but to pay it.

          • hefner
            Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:47 am | Permalink

            Indeed, they are a mistake, but the point was that it was not only a Labour problem. So a bit more precision in your writing might be welcome.

  10. Doug Powell
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Off topic, but topical:
    I have just witnessed the unedifying spectacle of Clegg attempting to garner votes for the Lib Dems from the dead of Manchester! He was saying that Brexit could (always ‘could’!) mean that the UK will be cut off from the EU Crime and Security Database!

    I attach a clip from an article by Alasdair Mcleod, which I suggest gives the true state of security matters post Brexit:
    “The EU is also likely to be side-lined in security matters. The US and UK work closely together on intelligence, with GCHQ by far the most important listening post in Europe. While cooperation on terrorism between Britain and the EU member states is unlikely to be compromised by Brexit, there is little doubt that in NATO-related intelligence generally, the Americans will work increasingly with the UK, and less so with Germany, France, Italy and the rest”.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      @Doug

      Agree with this. Some are seeking political votes on the backs of terrorism and it stinks. Clegg should be ashamed of himself. Just what would they propose to do to counter terrorism. I haven’t heard much. Nobody has actually suggested internment for people who travel to Syria/Libya to train in making bombs etc or not letting them back into the country. I understand this is not allowed under international law. The government is working closely with the security and intelligence available so Clegg should shut up. Nasty little man. He is deliberately praying on the fears of people.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      These are supposed to be our friends and allies. I can understand that in some cases a country may be concerned to protect one of its sources of intelligence and may want to be very careful about passing on certain detailed information, but apart from that kind of consideration it would be inexcusable for the government of one country to stand back and allow terrorists to slaughter innocent people in another country just because there is a disagreement over the best arrangements for trade between the two. Is that what Clegg thinks of the continentals, that they are so stupid and spiteful?

      • Doug Powell
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

        Denis,
        Don’t forget, the NonLib-Undems are proposing legalising wacky backy, so who knows what is rational thought!

  11. Timmy
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    “What we do not want to do is to go back to a world where customers, employees and taxpayers all get a bad deal, which was the typical experience of our nationalised industries.” Was??

    In a short while NHS staff will be balloting on strike action, because they don’t like offering a bad service, are poorly paid, and see the answer as screwing more money out of taxpayers.

    I think you need to explain why your statement doesn’t apply to the NHS and how come clinical services are better in public ownership, or say that it is not. The key remaining nationised industry is never confronted as a failure and therefore the Labour nationalisation arguments for other industries have traction

    Reply We all support free at the point of use so there are no revenues for services to privatise.

  12. Lifelogic
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Indeed, in short the government is absolutely hopeless at running anything at all as we can all see in spades. Look at the dire virtual state monopolies they do run like education and the NHS. They slant the tax system so that only the very rich can opt out of these dire state monopolies.

    If anyone does opt out they are forced to pay for everyone one else, plus their own treatment, plus much additional taxes like 12% IPT. Or Labour’s (& Gove’s) proposed VAT on school fees. There is thus no fair competition for the dire NHS and they get away with murder (literally in many cases).

    Monopolies always provided poor service very expensively, the customer get a “take it or leave it mate”, rationed and delayed service. There is little innovation, no efficiency and no effective competition. They do not respond to the customers needs or demands. Customers are a nuisance to them to be put off or deterred whenever possible and that is what they do.
    Addenbrooks hospital when I was there recently had loads of sign telling people not to come to casualty if at all possible as they were busy. Can one immagine a private hospital or business telling paying customers to get lost like this?

    Labour policies would kill the economy in short order and we would have dire loss making state monopolies everwhere. Largely run by the unions for the benefit of their staff and to the cost of everyone else. Or worse still interfered with by politicians to try to buy votes

    The government should stick to the very few things that only governments can really do.

    As Milton Friedman puts it.

    “Government has three primary functions. It should provide for military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. It should protect citizens from crimes against themselves or their property. When government, in pursuit of good intentions, tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the costs come in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player.”

    • hefner
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      Does that include the monetarist’s “quantitative easing”?

  13. Dave Andrews
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Nationalised industries suffer from the threat of strikes; privatised industries from the loss of value to the country through profits diverted to shareholders and executive pay.
    Either way, there is scant incentive to invest and modernise, and the employees have little incentive to do a good job, as their input is treated with little value, despite being on the front line facing down customer irritation.
    I favour a third way, where the business is partly owned by the employees, who then have power to respond to customer complaints, have an incentive to divert profits into investment and executive have to be transparent about the value they bring to the business. They can vote for a bonus if they want to, so their success rewards the people who actually earned it.

  14. Prigger
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Despite our educationalists needing to be neutral in politics, my own experience is they are not. “Higher Education lecturers and Uni professors are left of centre, in general” as one lecturer with an MA honestly stated to me.
    But there are clearly some areas of politics and economics which can be ruled out as insane today Egs, Saxon strip farming, slave owning pyramid building; sailors padlocked to the oars in our navy.
    World experience of nationalisation/socialism, on the whole, has led to so many deaths, so much starvation. It is time our country grew up. I really fully understand youth’s idealism. I shared it. But the real truths were not told. Instead we received see-through propaganda that any youthful mind could pick to bits, and did.
    It is one thing to speak of state intervention of various kinds in tiems of raw capitalism. It is another thing to speak of full-blown socialism/nationalisation. It doesn’t work!
    In Parliametnt we now have two parties the Labour Party and Green who advocate a system of economics which have been proven to bring utmost hardship. Why such people should be taken seriously by TV interviewers..well they have to. Why our teachers are so intoxicated with a German-Russian fairy tales show how exteremely bad our educational system and teacher recruitment.
    As one major American novelist said of Solzenitsyn’s four volume “Gulag Archipelago” … I shall never write another book, Solzhenitsyn has said everything there is to say. “

  15. bigneil
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Nationalising the railways would cost a lot of money? – -and HS2 is doing what? That is costing billions – just for one train system that only the rich will be able to afford to travel on and they will still have to travel by other means at either end of their train journey. It doesn’t matter which party it is – -they both waste the taxpayers cash – just on different things.

  16. agricola
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    It has seemingly only worked once in the case of Lloyds Bank. In this case the management were incentivised to get back to private ownership asap. In all other cases it has been an abject failure because there is no incentive to do more than collect this weeks wages.

  17. graham1946
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    I wonder which type of nationalisation you are against. Actually large swathes of these industries are already nationalised, but the owners happen to be foreign governments which seems o.k., but ownership by our government is taboo. Maybe this means that our politicians are incompetent and not capable of running a whelk stall. I think we can agree with that – look at the mess which is the NHS re-organised by your government at a cost of 3 billion for a far worse result than when you started and at far higher cost.

    As Jerry says, we badly need a water grid in this country as we get drier in the east and wetter in the west. I t will never happen under present private ownership because investing in large projects is not what they do. There are reckoned to be hundreds of billions of excess profits in private hands which they will not invest and its not because of Brexit, it’s been going on for donkeys years. Mostly it is SME’s and entrepreneurs who invest, not the great dinosaurs. No doubt in the end, when it’s hand is forced the government will do it and hand it over to the priavteers to milk the profits from. Why is it that power companies who make billions will not build their own power stations? We do it and hand over the profits to foreign governments. It’s lunacy

    • a-tracy
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      John,
      Could you invite the present private owners of the Water suppliers (used in this example) to tell us what large projects they have invested in and if they haven’t why not?

      Do the government have figures on investments made whilst nationalised compared to investments made whilst privatised too?

      Also if nationalisation is the answer why hasn’t the RBS recovered when Lloyds did?

  18. Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    I’m strongly opposed to nationalisation but at the same time I believe that the government should maintain some control over major UK companies and in particular be able to prevent them from coming under foreign control/ownership. Most of our utilities are now French or German owned; some of the railway franchises are German run. I think this is all wrong. Why should a German company be able to run a company more efficiently that British shareholders and directors?

    Among the problems with foreign ownership are that any research in the industry is foreign owned and we no longer get any financial benefits from it and also that the company has no real interest in the needs of this country, just in the profits that it can extract from its customers. I cannot imagine France or Germany allowing their electricity suppliers to be British owned and indeed in the past the French government has prevented companies being taken over in the national interest.

    I believe that the government should have the power to prevent vital utilities and other industries being sold abroad or indeed having more than a certain percentage of the shares in foreign ownership. Other countries manage to do this, why can’t we?

    I also feel that UK based companies with more than 50% foreign ownership should be prohibited from using the word “British” in it’s name. The debacle with British Airways illustrates both my points. It is no longer British owned and the move of jobs from the UK to India would certainly not be in this country’s interest, whether it is the cause of the current problems or not.

  19. Newmania
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Not going so well now is it John. you may yet come to regret alienating moderate Liberal England , the very second there is any other choice in fact . If you think you are the only one who will adopt a scorched earth attitude to getting your way think again

    Anything but Hard Brexit Corbyn wil,soon be gone Brexit is forever

  20. Red that one
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    John Redwood’s “Public Enterprise in Crisis: Future of the Nationalised Industries ” published in 1980.
    Odd that 37 years on JR is still fighting the same battle. As if we have not had enough drama of lost jobs, lost societies and ruined lives of peoples throughout the world. Socialism and nationalisation have done us bad.

    I started my toying with progressive ideas of socialism at a young age long before the book. I and many others were full of zeal and idealism , also very genuine, important. I recall how our elders and betters led “workshops” as they were called to instruct us in Marx, Engels etc. Looking back I see those wry smiles on their faces and other body language. I didn’t know what it meant. I was young in body-language understanding. I now know. They led us for their own gain at our loss. I do not forgive. They knew what they were doing.We, younger people, did not.
    So I have no respect for over 35 years of age , very well educated and intelligent “Socialists”. They know it doesn’t have a cat in hell chance of workingand they know young people do not have that experience to know the truth they secretly know. Despicable people!

  21. Antisthenes
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    The difference in reaction to the Labour and Conservative manifestos speaks volumes about our mental capacity. What it says is that we are motivated by self interest, short-termism and either have no understanding of economic realities or don’t care expecting the expensive consequences will be born by others. Labour’s offers of copious amounts of largess and lots of somethings for nothing was widely held to be wise, caring and and responsible from which their popularity soared.

    The Conservatives offer of sustainability, prudence and for us to accept some of the burden of funding which was received with howls of derision and inevitably to their popularity diving. So it is no surprise that nationalisation a method of production that has proved every time it has been introduced to have failed miserably has not lost it’s popularity. Pointing out as you do its short comings is generally going to fall on deaf ears. It appears the stupid only listen to the stupid and that is far too many of us.

    • Jerry
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      @Antisthenes; “What it says is that we are motivated by self interest, short-termism and either have no understanding of economic realities or don’t care expecting the expensive consequences will be born by others.”

      Socialist have been saying that since 1979 about Thatcherism…

  22. Bert Young
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    I don’t use the railways -thank goodness, and now don’t wish to . The gossip from the commuters near me all tell of the extreme frustration with delays , costs – including the cost of parking . It never used to be like this ; rail travel during the 50’s to mid 70s was straightforward , reasonably priced and quite a pleasure .

    Nationalisation is not the way to go ; Government was never and could never be efficient as management . Privatisation ought to be the right choice but the current choice of operators of the rail system , the numbers of them and the discrepancy of standards , suggests a review and overhaul . It would probably be better if there were no more than two operators altogether .

    Labour’s belief that nationalisation is the be and end all of everything shows how ignorant they are and how supplicant their approach is to Union dominance . Margaret understood the underlying threat to the operating efficiency of this country ; she stamped her foot down and re-established faith in privatisation . Theresa ought to take another read of her books and follow her principles ; we must go forwards and learn and understand from the past .

    • Jerry
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      “Government was never and could never be efficient as management.”

      Agreed, but that doesn’t stop an industry being state owned, run “not-for-profit”, with an independent (or at least arms length) board of management.

      • libertarian
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        Jerry

        When will people understand that EVERY organisation seeks to be run at a profit, that is an excess of income over expenditure. Any organisation that does not do this will not last. The excess is used to invest, raise workers wages, cope with increased costs etc.

        The difference is what/who gets a share of those profits

        Thats why nationalised industries on the whole fail as they do not even attempt to run at a profit and generate funds to re-invest and to return a dividend to the owners , the taxpayer.

        • Jerry
          Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

          @libertarian; For Christ sake! The phrase “Not-for-profit” is an accepted term and no one (other than you Walter) would ever think that it means not making any income…

          Also nationalised industries do work, for example DB in Germany, they do not work here in the UK because there has been a whole political party for the last 40 years who are determined not to allow them to work when ever they are in government.

          • APL
            Posted May 31, 2017 at 6:44 am | Permalink

            Jerry: “The phrase “Not-for-profit” is an accepted term and no one [snip] would ever think that it means not making any income…”

            Libertarian: “The difference is what/who gets a share of those profits ”

            Actually, I think you are both mistaken. ‘Not for profit’ doesn’t mean an organisation doesn’t make a profit, but rather that it is insulated from the market, inevitably by government grant.

            And thus we the tax payer ( the source of government funds ) does not know, other than by the advocacy of the executives* of a ‘not for profit’, that such an organisation is necessary or even desirable. Simply because we have no market signal to identify demand.

            Now I anticipate Jerry will cite numerous ‘not for profit’ that do good work, but the work could as likely be done equally well on a fully charitable basis, and with a voluntary administrative staff, probably more efficiently too.

            What you don’t often hear of from the executives of ‘not for profits’ is the extortionate salaries they pay themselves. Chief executive of NSPCC* is reputed to be paid £160,000 excluding expenses and pension contributions.

            Frankly, in my opinion, that’s obscene.

          • libertarian
            Posted June 1, 2017 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

            Jerry

            Getting rude an exasperated doesn’t make you right. Profit and income are two completely different things , so once again your abject rudeness is undone by your ignorance .

            By the way DB operate as a private business in 129 other countries , so you argument is flawed there too.

            As Ive told you many times you know nothing about the basics of business

          • Jerry
            Posted June 1, 2017 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

            @libertarian; Trolling Arguing the toss by removing context only makes one person look stupid, you Walter.

          • libertarian
            Posted June 2, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

            Jerry

            Being so dumb you dont know the difference between income and profit makes you look exactly what you are, totally ignorant of business

          • Jerry
            Posted June 2, 2017 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

            @libertarian; You are the one being dumb. I used an accepted phrase, the fact that you dislike it is neither here nor there, get over it, otherwise take your complaint to the like of the OED.

    • graham1946
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      What Margaret did was actually an amazingly huge con trick. She got the people to buy with their own money things they already owned jointly. She hoped for a property and share owning democracy, but she did not reckon with British short termism (which is still the hallmark of politics today). The people, some at least, bought nationalised industry shares are reduced prices and as soon as they showed a few hundred quid profit sold out to buy a new telly or holiday. They were never going to be shareholders. The shares were swept up on the stock exchange and now mostly are in foreign hands. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  23. jack Snell
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I believe there are some things that should never be privatised, like the air we breathe, like water supply that is essential for life to name a few. There are other things like public transportation that I think the jury is still out on. But lets go one further and consider energy providers and if we think we are getting a fair deal with so called competition? Well I for one don’t think so- this mantra that we have to be shopping around all of the time only works if you’re sitting at home all day with little else to do because it does not suit the old and infirm, the people who are not into computers and the internet nor does it suit people who have very busy lives. Hands up those who suspect that prices of petrol and diesel in smaller regions towns etc around the country are not being fixed on golf courses- because I do- competition is definitely not working in some areas and for that reason central government should impose caps on essential items. So called shopping around is only making fools of people – there should be better regulation on all of this stuff including caps if necessary

    • libertarian
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      jack snell

      Well I can tell you in my region petrol and diesel prices aren’t fixed. One of my companies publishes ( for free) a weekly report on the cheapest fuel by region, town and village. There is a wide discrepancy in prices.

      I’m afraid that as most government services and regulatory reporting is now online there is not really an option to “not be into computers”

      How long does it take to check a comparison website for goodness sake? The time it would take to make a cup of tea.

      I do the work for my old mum

      I agree energy prices are high ( mostly tax) so what price would energy be if it was renationalised?

    • graham1946
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      Competition goes two ways – the best is to give the best service and price.

      Increasingly though , with the transparency of the internet etc. they mostly end up charging more or less the same – a kind of unofficial cartel. How many ‘price match’ schemes are there around – no account taken of profit/loss, just matching competitors, hence over time prices rise, not fall. Nice and cozy. The only time there was a big fall in supermarket prices was when the discounters started hoovering up the main ones’ customers. They still carried on trading., even with reduced prices. Re petrol, in the nearest town to where I live three big supermarkets all charge the same for petrol and if one reduces or increases a bit, the others all do the same within 24 hours.

  24. John Gross
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    I agree with a free market driving down prices but how do I switch water supplier? Also the electricity market is pretty phoney – I still get the same electrons from the same generators whoever sends me the bill. Now if I could choose only reliable fossil fuel / nuclear and avoid subsidising wind, solar (and, God help us, tidal barrages!) plus extra transmission grids etc, then I might see a real cost saving.

    Reply There is now competition in water for commercial users. It merely requires permission to use the pipes as a common carrier, which retail customers currently are banned from doing.

  25. Roy Grainger
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I find it hard to believe that a nationalised railway would provide a more reliable or cheaper service for rail users. The employees might get paid more, which is the point of course.

    • Jerry
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Roy, best you ask the people of Germany or France what they think, after all most people outside of those countries regard both Deutsche Bahn and the SNCF as world renown state owned railways…

      • libertarian
        Posted May 29, 2017 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

        How many times are you going to post this nonsense Jerry?

        Germany has a mixed state and private operator rail service , here’s the wiki on it

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_transport_in_Germany

        The SNCF has the largest rail network in Europe BUT it carries the smallest number of total passengers only 10% of traffic is by rail in France

        SNCF carries very little freight traffic, which due to EU open competition ruling its now mostly provided by other European private rail operators

        The French non-TGV intercity service (TET) is in decline, with old infrastructure and trains. It is likely to be hit further as the French government is planning to remove the monopoly that rail currently has on long-distance journeys by letting coach operators compete

        Hmmm

        • Jerry
          Posted May 30, 2017 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          @libertarian; How many times are you going to be proves wrong, here is an article that proves it, look at the info box on the right, note who owns Deutsche Bahn;

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsche_Bahn

          Of course if the above article is wrong Walter, edit it, but don’t forget to supply your proof by way of a citation…

          If you read the similar article about the SNCF you will also note that it is owned by the state. Yes many parts are now in decline, but then the SNCF has had to be run in line with the EU’s polices that were inspired by the same Thatcherite ideals that have wrecked the railways here in the UK.

          Railways always work best as part of an integrated national transport systems and they can only do that if run as a whole (BR) or large geographical entities like (the old GWR, LMS, LNER and SR) after 1923 and before 1948.

          • libertarian
            Posted June 1, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

            Jerry

            How dumb are you?

            I did my research before I posted

            I know who owns DB , try reading the rest of the data. There are 100’s of private companies that operate rail services in Germany too. Are you denying that Germany has a mixed state and private provision in railways? Really? By the way DB operate in 130 countries are you trying to tell me they operate as a whole nationalised service in other countries? Lol ok Jerry

            So you agree with me then your example of a great railway SNCF was WRONG as they aren’t what you claim , as I said they are in decline , no need to apologise

            Your last paragraph is an oxymoron

          • Jerry
            Posted June 1, 2017 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

            @libertarian’; “I did my research before I posted “

            Yes and you got it wrong, now you are trying to twist what you said, and removing the contest to what I said, as usual when proved wrong.

            Your last paragraph is an oxymoron”

            To someone who knows nothing about the railway industry perhaps…

          • libertarian
            Posted June 2, 2017 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

            Jerry

            Nope I’ve been consistent all the way through. You cite DB as perfect example of nationalised railway , I tell you that Germany has a mixed system. You deny it , you’re wrong

            You cited the French system as being a good example, when one google of a French railway website puts your opinions in the bin.

            I admit I know very little about railways, thats why I looked at what you said and researched it.

            So why not spill the beans and tell us what makes you an expert on railways?

          • Jerry
            Posted June 2, 2017 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

            @libertarian; “Nope I’ve been consistent all the way through”

            Yes, consistently wrong!

            “I admit I know very little about railways, thats why I looked at what you said and researched it.”

            Trouble is your research was wrong. I simply said DB (Deutsche Bahn) without any further qualifications, you were so intent on proving me wrong the only way you could make your argument work was to remove my context and replace it with your own and even then you failed.

            “So why not spill the beans and tell us what makes you an expert on railways”

            Apart from a lifetimes interest, just an open mind.

          • libertarian
            Posted June 3, 2017 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

            Jerry

            “Yes, consistently wrong!”

            So despite the links to the German railway website, to the wiki entry and to DB info sites which ALL agree with me that there are many 100’s of companies involved in the German railway system we are all wrong and you are right because you like trains ….. chuff chuff Thomas

            You were arguing for the UK state ownership ( nationalisation ) of the UK railways system. You used Germany as an example of why it would work citing DB only. You consistently ignore the facts I presented to you that German railway system is NOT a single nationalised industry so therefore DB is NOT a good example of what you want here.

            Your mind is open in the same way a goal is with no keeper in the net.

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      Privatisation drove rail employee wages up from a very low base. The railway was being run down under BR.

      • Jerry
        Posted May 30, 2017 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

        @Anonymous; Yes, but then the purse strings were being controlled by the government.

        • APL
          Posted May 31, 2017 at 6:48 am | Permalink

          Jerry: “but then the purse strings were being controlled by the government.”

          BINGO!!

          So was investment, and if Nationalisation isn’t the cure to the problem, what other solution is there, but privatisation?

          After all the rail system was built by private funds, in the first place.

          • Jerry
            Posted May 31, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

            APL; “if Nationalisation isn’t the cure to the problem, what other solution is there, but privatisation?”

            Less political interference?

            Nationalisation, state ownership, can work, if allowed to, other European countries proves it. Not just Germany and France, look at the investment that is occurring in the Spanish railway system, Renfe is state owned.

          • APL
            Posted May 31, 2017 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

            Jerry: “Nationalisation, state ownership, can work, if allowed to .. ”

            Possibly. But the problem is the UK has been in economic decline for about sixty years. Whereas our competitors like Germany and the Netherlands have not. ( It helps of course that we’ve spent on defence spending when the Germans haven’t had to. And btw France’s economy isn’t looking too perky just now either. )

            Spain benefits enormously from the EU grants we’ve been paying them, as did Greece with their brand spanking new Athens Airport and Underground system.

            But your point is valid, without political interference, and with financial autonomy a nationalised industry might be viable.

            Problem is Jerry, those two things occurring together for any prolonged period, are about as likely as I am of winning the Lotto jackpot tonight.

          • libertarian
            Posted June 1, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

            Hey Jerry

            Take a look at Japanese railways and get back to us.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 1, 2017 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

            @APL; Excuses after excuses, you like most on the right just don’t want state ownership to work, admit it.

            @libertarian; Yes look and shudder! Even the worst UK TOC has not had to resort to employing staff with the sole intent to physically push the last possible fair paying passenger on to a commuter train and close the doors behind them, just because a private company doesn’t want to invest in more capacity.

          • APL
            Posted June 1, 2017 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

            Jerry: “Excuses after excuses ..”

            Not excuses, reasons.

          • libertarian
            Posted June 2, 2017 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

            Jerry

            Strange then that Japanese railways are recognised as one of the best in the world !!!

          • Jerry
            Posted June 2, 2017 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

            @APL; But many are not real reasons, or problems that can be over come, just as long as there is a will.

            @libertarian; Japanese railways were once recognised as one of the best in the world, in the mid 1960s, and then only their high speed lines…

          • APL
            Posted June 4, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

            Jerry: ” just as long as there is a will.”

            And the history of public ownership in the United Kingdom as an object lesson confirming that there is no political will, the politicians are slaves of the electoral cycle.

            They will throw anything under the bus to get a few extra votes.

  26. ian
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    This is a case of apples and pears. I do not see how your thinking works out. You are writing about a time when million of people were working for the war effort, and lived on food banks and coupons, there was no money for train tickets and millions of tons of steel and coal for war. Even the if the con party had of been elected back then, and let millions of people lose there jobs, which back then supported 4 to 8 children, because private companies were going bankrupt, because of no income from people. So how would you of done it. Sacked millions of wages earner with kids on day one. From 1950 till 1980 labour sacked three times as many people as you sacked from 1980 to 1990, and how would you of found millions of jobs overnight with no money. Would you of sent millions of workers home with no money or job like in the 80s, and then pension them off as sick never to work again not because they could not work, but because there was no work where they lived

  27. Original Richard
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    “The main way to improve service quality and bring down prices of utilities is to increase competition.”

    I agree but where is the competition in the railways, the water companies and the Post Office ?

    I have never agreed with the selling off of assets which are monopolies to create privately owned monopolies, a situation made even worse by the fact that some of these private shareholders are companies themselves owned by foreign governments.

    • hefner
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      OR, … but don’t you see, that’s the beauty of JR’s “free” market.

  28. libertarian
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    This is once again entirely the wrong argument

    Why is our politics so out of date and behind the curve

    The issue isn’t nationalisation v privatisation

    Large private industries witness BA, BT, and many others are as bad as nationalised industries. The issue is that 1) They have monopoly or near monopoly status 2) They are to big and try to manage from the top 3) They are not in touch with their customer/user/patient/citizen

    As a free market small government libertarian unusually I’m not against public ownership I would be very unhappy with privatised Police or Military services for instance. I’m reasonable OK with the state providing health care and education services and maybe other infrastructure services.

    What I’m against is bigness , i.e. one massive organisation in a monopoly position.

    It doesn’t work in the private sector and it doesn’t work in the state sector and in the digital 21st century it is even less effective

    Any state provided ( nationalised) services should be broken up and run locally

    • hefner
      Posted May 29, 2017 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

      There is the usual little problem in your nice argument: the overall trend of successful private companies is their owners want them to become bigger, either by some increase in outputs (which usually is fine) but more often than not by acquisition of some other activity-related companies.

      So libert how do you deal with that?

      • libertarian
        Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        heffielump

        99.3% of ALL companies are SME’s

        More than 80% of FTSE companies from 50 years ago NO LONGER EXIST Almost half of the 25 companies that passed the rigorous tests for inclusion in Tom Peters and Robert Waterman’s 1982 book, “In Search of Excellence,” today no longer exist, are in bankruptcy or have performed poorly.

        Of the original Standard and Poor’s (S&P) 500 list created in 1957, just 74, only 15 percent, are on that list today according to research from Professor Gary Biddle of the University of Hong Kong. Of those 74, only 12 have outperformed the S&P index average. Pretty grim.

        Yes a number of very large multinationals grow by acquisition, they are as wrong as the massive state sector organisations. Why you think they are successful I dont know, maybe you didn’t hear what happened to RBS when they over acquired, BHS did a great job did they, of you might think that BA is doing rather well or maybe you would like to explain why BT is being broken up in order IMPROVE its service.

        Maybe in reality massive companies aren’t as successful as you think?

        So how do we go forward with smaller, growing companies. We use the method pioneered in the 1980’s by Swedish businessman Percy Baranavik of Engineering giant Asea Brown Boveri. When an operating unit got too big he hived it off as an associate self managing company. Organisations such as Macdonalds are in fact franchises, i.e. 100’s of smaller businesses. There are lots of ways to grow and stay small. The worlds largest taxi company owns NO CARS, the worlds largest provider of rooms doesn’t own a single hotel and the biggest news organisation in the world doesn’t provide any content. A number of the worlds largest companies by value aren’t in fact that big in terms of numbers of people and organisational structures.

        In a 21st century world there are lots of ways to grow and stay small. In my own small way thats what I’ve done. I own 9 separate businesses, I could merge them all into one and have one big business but it doesn’t work. So I walk the talk

  29. Terry
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Interesting that Indian Railways have been State owned for 164 years, employ over 1.3 Millions and show a small profit each year. It is managed by Indians. Now look at Jaguar and Rover in the UK who are now a huge success since an Indian Company took them over.
    It seems the message here is that UK State run enterprises always fail when Brits are running them.
    Maybe we should employ Indian Industrialists to manage Network Rail?

  30. Peter Martin
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    “Labour’s big nationalisation programme has not been costed and is unaffordable”

    There are arguments for and against nationalisation. Even Mrs Thatcher was in favour of keeping the Royal Mail in public hands. Whether we see a better service or a worse service now that it has been privatised remains to be seen. I can’t say its made any difference one way or the other tbh.

    Years ago, when I was a student, I opened up an account with Girobank. This was publicly owned, was profitable, and offered a good service. It was just a short walk to the local post office to cash cheques and do my banking. It was then sold off to a building society which became a bank, and later when the building society itself was sold off to another bank I became a bank customer like any other. The first post office in question has closed down. The loss of its banking would no doubt have contributed to its demise. I have since moved house and there is another post office within walking distance which would be very handy. But sadly there’s no Girobank any longer!

    I now have quite a lengthy drive of about 6 miles each way to visit my local bank. So I’m afraid privatisation hasn’t worked too well as far as me my banking is concerned!

    The 1945 Labour government, rightly or wrongly, nationalised about 20% of the economy. The country was near bankruptcy at the time. So if Nationalisation is so unaffordable now, how was it afforded then?

    Reply They sacked a huge number of state employees in demobilisation, as they took the State out of many parts of the economy taken over for the war. They borrowed large sums.

    • APL
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:48 am | Permalink

      Peter Martin: “But sadly there’s no Girobank any longer!”

      I too was a Girobank customer, I agree it was mighty handy. Not least because it pretty much didn’t apply any bank charges.

      But yes, it was taken over by Alliance and Leicester, and then Santander, but if you pop down to that local post office, you’ll find you can still draw cash from your account and pay money in if you wish.

      Peter Martin: “The 1945 Labour government, rightly or wrongly, nationalised about 20% of the economy.”

      And it’s interesting that any industry nationalised in 1945 that could be done anywhere else *is* being done somewhere else – the Steel industry for example. The rail industry, the postal industry are obviously not candidates for outsourcing. And have been compelled, kicking and screaming into modern practices, automation and new practices. We are still arguing with ASLEF ( or its successor ) about the duties of guards or drivers – despite the technology existing to replace drivers in trains completely.

      Peter Martin: “20% of the economy” Now increased to 50% of the economy represented by the Welfare State.

    • Stephen Berry
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      This is an interesting question, Peter. As John say, the Labour government borrowed large amounts, with the prize entry being the Anglo-American loan of 1946. It was Keynes’s last major work for the UK and was for $3.75 billion (US$57 billion in 2015 money) at a low 2% interest rate. This was a not inconsiderable sum and not paid off until 2006. The Canadians also lent money and the Americans were also good enough to write off the lend-lease balance to the tune of $650 million (US$9 billion in present money).

      Supposedly, these loans were to enable the UK to maintain its overseas defence commitments, but it’s clear that what did not need to be spent abroad could now be spent at home. So, a combination of ideological fervour and American money enabled 20 per cent of the British economy to be nationalised between 1945-50.

      Re. your banking troubles. Why don’t you try internet banking?

      • APL
        Posted May 31, 2017 at 7:00 am | Permalink

        Steven Berry: “It was Keynes’s last major work for the UK and was for $3.75 billion (US$57 billion in 2015 money) at a low 2% interest rate.”

        I’d hardly call 2% low for the time. Nor is it low by today’s standards. As you say $3.75 billion in 1946 was a not inconsiderable sum, Keynes might have negotiated a more favourable rate.

        Historically – up until 1946 2% was about par for the course.

        That Keynes (damaged? ed) the UK on the deal as his last dying deed is no surprise. His doctrine has been doing sterling work ever since.

        • Stephen Berry
          Posted June 1, 2017 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

          APL: But 2% WAS a good rate for 1946-2006, precisely the time the loan was being paid off.

          I personally am not a follower of Keynsian economics, but I do recognise his important work for the country during the war. Ironically, in his pamphlet ‘How to Pay for the War’ (1940) Keynes argued that the war effort should largely be financed by higher taxation and compulsory saving (workers lending money to the government), rather than deficit spending!

          • Peter Martin
            Posted June 2, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

            Stephen,

            Its good that you give Keynes due recognition for his important wartime contribution to keeping the UK economy on track. There were some problems with higher than desirable levels of inflation but far less than in WW1.

            I’d just make the point though, that borrowing from anyone, including workers who are lending to government, and spending that money, is deficit spending.

            It’s just the same now. If you are buy a Premium Bond you are adding to the Govt’s debt!

      • Peter Martin
        Posted May 31, 2017 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

        @ Stephen,

        I have looked up how the Labour Government Nationalised the Railways. They created a stock known as British Transport Stock which paid 3%. They swapped that stock for shares of the Railway companies.
        So they created a liability on one side of the balance sheet and received as asset to put on the other. Is this “borrowing” in the sense that most people understand it? I doubt it. The US and Canadians weren’t involved and neither were their dollars.

        Yes of course I use internet banking like anyone else. Except when the Girobank was abolished there wasn’t such a thing. So arguably there is less need for the Girobank now than there used to be. But, we can say the same about all the other main banks too.

        I can’t see any other reason for its closer other than an ideological aversion to the Girobank business model.

        • APL
          Posted June 1, 2017 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

          Peter Martin: “Except when the Girobank was abolished ”

          It wasn’t abolished, it was sold to Alliance and Leicester.

          • Peter Martin
            Posted June 2, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

            It was abolished to the extent that, previously, anyone could their banking with Girobank, the Alliance and Leicester or anyone else they chose to.

            Afterwards there was one fewer option.

          • APL
            Posted June 2, 2017 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

            Peter Martin: “It was abolished to the extent that, previously, anyone could their banking with Girobank,”

            Well, for some time after the sale, it was still called National Girobank, so if it’s just the name you are attached to, fine.

            But at least we are agreed. Girobank wasn’t abolished.

  31. Ian Pennell
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    John Redwood,

    The only positive about Labour’s nationalisation programme is that, should they win power and do this and bankrupt the country, a following incoming Conservative Government would have lots of State-owned assets to sell off to help pay down the National Debt, so the spending cuts and tax-rises that might be needed to restore fiscal sanity need not be as electorally-repulsive as they might otherwise be.

    Which brings me to another point. At times like this, when we want to be able to show how Conservative policies are to be costed, it ought to be possible to make a case for selling off some State assets to the highest bidder- in order to fund some of our policies when there is little or no fiscal room to raise the necessary funds otherwise. If we did this to fund some of our policies (in addition to pledging to use repatriated money from the EU, cutting green subsidies and foreign aid in order to provide further funds), then the Conservatives would not be in the appalling mess they are now- after the worst Manifesto ever.

    Theresa May is facing Jeremy Paxman in front of a live audience. She needs to demonstrate how Conservative policies will be costed- perhaps you could enlighten here with some of these methods as to how to do it before “The Big Grilling by Paxo”!

    Ian Pennell

  32. margaret
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    National interests should not be put in the hands of private industry. The loyalty should be with British and British alone. If re nationalisation is cared for and re built for the sake of GB service. then it will work. I do not want any more self serving companies, thinking that they can blackmail us as it is their industry. You do NOT give power away.! That is soft and against national interests.

  33. Rods
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    When anybody suggests this to me I always ask them; do they agree it is a good idea that the law prevents company mergers from creating monopolies? The answer to date has always been ‘Yes’. I then ask then why do you think creating government owned monopolies is a good idea then?

    Going slightly off topic to last week:

    No business sense is launching a ‘sales brochure’ telling your most loyal customers you are going to increase their costs and then panicking when they say they are going to ‘spend’ their vote elsewhere.

  34. DavidMR
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    I’m reading a lot of thrusts and parries here that I’ve seen many times since I was a student in the early 1970s. Perhaps we should just take a quick reality check here: there isn’t going to BE a Labour government any time soon, and most certainly not one after June 8th.

    As to the Conservative Manifesto, somehow I can’t quite shake off the feeling that this is just a tactical re-branding exercise as opposed to a response to genuine public disquiet over its content. It seems to me that the PM’s advisers actually got it right: with a decisive victory in sight, it’s prudent to lower public expectations up front regarding their likely financial well-being over the next few years. So much easier to say “But look, you voted for us even after we did actually warn you…” than “Ah yes… well, we might have got that just a teensy-weensy bit wrong.” I seem to remember that Nigel Farage tried that something like that with regards his claims about the funding of the NHS the morning after the Brexit vote. It made him look rather silly – and a lot of people very angry.

  35. NA
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    But there is never real capitalism, just monopolies that then price fix and conspire together.

  36. ian
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    I think the way you approach the business matters of english people is all wrong. I do not see why the country cannot have it own company selling energy to the people, and compete with all the other companies selling energy, and all play by the same rules. I would say, a little company that just sell energy, and if it is capable of growing on it own merit, all so well and good, if not it will close down with no loss. I do not like any party ideology thinking, It divides people, that’s why i would never vote for someone who belong to a party.

  37. Wokingham mums
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Watching the debate he done good – know a vote for him won’t bet you in this areas So why bother?

  38. Prigger
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    TV has a funny idea about a “balanced audience”. In my book, a balanced audience would comprise of ordinary voters roughly proportionate to the existing voting intentions and track record in the Country.
    Instead, we get certain ones…Labour, who are not just ordinary Labour voters but ones obvious by their rhetoric of Labour member chants….Party members. There does not appear to be obvious Tory, LibDem, Green or SNP Party members.
    Labour is a very undemocratic UK Party.
    In the event, Mrs May prevailed over Mr Corbyn in tonight’s to-do. Thankfully

  39. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    The problem with nationalised industries is that they don’t have to make a profit. This leads to poor allocation of resources, including labour – in fact especially labour. They shrink because nobody wants to invest in them – the return on capital ranges from zero downwards.

    There is another form of state interference that also produces a poor outcome. Is goes under the name ‘industrial strategy’ and the Conservative Party’s manifesto is unfortunately stuffed full of it.

    Once Brexit has been achieved, Mrs May and her policy advisor, Erdington man will be surplus to requirements. Brexit excepted, the rebellion against her policy as contained in ‘her’ manifesto starts now. I certainly won’t be voting in favour of such a dirigiste pile of crap in 2022 if she tries to repeat the trick.

    AAA government – based on atheism, autonomy and anarcho-capitalism – is what I want in the 2022 manifesto. And do stop investing in yesterday.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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