What is the UK’s worst nationalised industry?

In the 1970s when as a young man I first became critical of nationalised industries, I identified there main features of them I did not like. They were bad for their customers. They usually overcharged them, with high rates of price increase. They failed to innovate or hit high standards of customer service. They were bad for their employees. You had a high chance of losing your job if you worked for the nationalised steel or coal or rail businesses, as they went through redundancy programme after redundancy programme. They were bad for taxpayers, as they racked up huge borrowings and losses which required taxpayer subsidies and write offs on a large scale.

The current nationalised business which comes closest to some of these features today is the nationalised provision of roadspace. It is a monopoly supply, provided mainly by Councils with the biggest and most successful roads supplied by the national government. They are provided free at the point of use, but there are huge charges on motorists who pay many times over the cost of the provision through special taxes on motoring. The cost of provision for taxpayers is also high. The monopolist rations the supply, creating congestion and inconvenience. The Highways executives often occupy the road for weeks on end for improvements or alterations, and do not seem to have a sense of urgency in getting roads back into use. Some of the works they call improvements intensify the congestion and sometimes pit different kinds of road users against each other in unhelpful ways.

This year has seen misery about potholes, where some of the local highways authorities have been slow to respond to money available for pothole filling, and slow to respond to the general public mood to improve the quality of the surfaces. Potholes are particularly trying for cyclists. Let’s hope local highways departments take up Mr Grayling’s proposals to put utilities away from the main highway, to build better local strategic networks, and to tackle congestion more vigorously.

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119 Comments

  1. Martin
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    “put utilities away from the main highway”

    Suggest you ask Electricity, Gas. Water, Telephone companies and the council how much that would cost just in Wokingham!

    Replt To be done when putting in new anyway.

    • jerry
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      @JR reply; How many times does it need to be pointed out, there is no point,. unless you plan on making the utilities install two sets of services on such roads as at some point such services need to cross the road to get to the other side… Also should a utility need to repair/dig-up one of these services were do you suppose their works vehicles will be parked, were do you think the alternate provision for pedestrians will be, along side the kerb on the road perhaps, just like what happens now when services are under the pavements?

    • Iain Gill
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

      new telephone cables should always be fibre optic. most of the cost is in digging the hole. digging new holes and laying copper cable is a complete and utter disgrace in this day and age, and shows how out of control openreach et al are.

  2. Mark B
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    The current nationalised business which comes closest to some of these features today is the nationalised provision of roadspace. 

    I fear our kind host is making an attempt at selling the selling off of our road network. The money for which will of course be wasted.

    As I have said before, Capitalism works when there is competition. Creating a non-State monopoly from a State one in NOT the solution.

    Our roads are already maintained by private companies. Local authorities are already having much of their work put out to private tender, something that I am familiar with and agree with. So I am a little bit surprised by all this and want to get to the truth behind the thinking.

    We cannot afford to give billions away. Starving ourselves and deliberately running down our infrastructure to facilitate its sale is a menditous act. I do so hope the Conservative Party is not morphing into the Nasty Party ?

    • Bob
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      @Mark B

      “hope the Conservative Party is not morphing into the Nasty Party ?”

      Too late, the Tories have already been infected with the cult of collectivism. Watching David Willetts in complete harmony with Chuka Umunna last night promoting wealth tax to Andrew Neil just confirmed that fact. They’ll sell of the Crown Jewels to pay for a few more years of squanderous wasteful spending in the name of virtue signalling,

      People like Jacob Reese-Mogg and our kind host are increasingly fighting a rearguard action within the party I’m afraid.

    • bigneil
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      ” The money for which will of course be wasted. ”
      A never ending river of costly non-contributing human imports needs paying for.

      • Andy
        Posted June 29, 2018 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        Actually the biggest cost – by far – is pensioners. 40% of the health budget goes on pensioners. A huge chunk of the social care budget. And then pensions – a massive expense. In addition to all the perks people get just for being old. Migrants pay their way – pensioners don’t.

        Either taxes rise or there has to be a massive clampdown on what pensioners take out of the system. I’m easy either way. But if you lot want to keep your silver plated lifestyles you’ve got to figure out a way to pay for it. Personally I’d like to see you all suffer the austerity the rest of us have faced.

        • Edward2
          Posted June 30, 2018 at 9:12 am | Permalink

          A recent report said people need to earn well over £25,000 to even begin to pay enough tax to pay for health welfare education and all the other things our state provides.
          To say migrants (all) pay their way is highly unlikely.
          Despite huge increases in our population since 2000 the GDP per capita has not risen hardly at all, which is a telling statistic.
          PS
          What age do you define someone as a pensioner?

  3. Bob Dixon
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    Traffic lights seemed to be placed so as to create congestion. Where possible they should be replaced by roundabouts. All traffic lights should use smart technology.

    • Anonymous
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 6:25 am | Permalink

      It seems as though traffic policy is to put people off driving – as though we really have a choice in most cases.

    • libertarian
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:05 am | Permalink

      In my local town we’ve suffered congestion for years. The council 2 years ago had to swithc off the traffic lights in the town centre whilst they installed new street furniture . Hey presto all the congestion disappeared

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:06 am | Permalink

      Indeed but the green lefty loons wanted to cause congestion to force people out of cars and trucks and into (usually far less green, slower and less efficient) buses and trains.

      Listen to Oxford Union Debate “Socialism does not work” with JR, Corbyn, Hannan and others (with JR on socialist traffic lights and freedom roundabouts), on YouTube. Corbyn shows himself to be totally unsuitable to run so much as a whelk stall – just far too dim. Let us hope that despite Hammond & May’s best efforts to assist him (by largely aping his policies) he does not ever get near power. Labour/SNP would be an economic disaster even worse than T May.

    • jerry
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      @Bob Dixon; “All traffic lights should use smart technology.”

      Most already do, see those cameras and sensors, that is smart technology, compared to the old control systems that simply used inflexible pre-planned timers to switch the sequences.

      I have more issues with the placings of Bus stops, around here there used to be a bus stop lay–by, now it has been filled in at pavement high so the buses now have to stop on the road – were ever practicable all bus stops should have a lay-by, were a lay-b is not possible there should be at least 40 metres between opposing bus stops.

    • bigneil
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      The traffic flow in our small town works better at the one set of traffic lights . . . when the traffic lights have failed, so people sort it out themselves.

  4. DUNCAN
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Maybe it’s just me but I have no idea why the author composes articles about the issue of public provision but never draws attention to the antediluvian activities of the unions who are one of the main reasons this type of provision has become highly political and inefficient

    All state activity has become politically infected by the left and Labour. They see the State as a political power base, they see the taxpayer as a source of financing (opt-in system keeps Labour and the unions alive) and their aim is to infect it and influence its management to bend to its will. The NHS and the BBC are perfect examples of this type of politicisation inspired by Gramsci

    The NHS is a pure monopoly supplier and yet Mr Redwood backs this PM’s plan to afford it more money. Is that an efficient use of our money? Of course it isn’t but it’s part of a Tory PM ‘s political strategy using our money.

    The NHS should be broken up and efficiencies imposed but this requires political courage. We don’t have a courageous politicians in the UK. We have politicians who know how to spend taxpayers money, it is the only thing they seek to do simply because spending money avoids CONFLICT

    Reform means conflict. Therefore reform will never happen and we the taxpayer will be expected to finance ever greater levels of waste, privileges and gold plated employment terms for all State employees

    • Lifelogic.
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 6:31 am | Permalink

      Exactly, and the current Tories are clearly of the left not even centre left.

    • 37/6
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 6:34 am | Permalink

      I don’t understand.

      For example, the unionised NHS. The money and hours are totally crap, except for consultants and managers. Staff can and frequently do go the the ANZAC nations for greater reward and better conditions – so much for the power of British unions.

      The railways. Barely any of the TOCs have had industrial disputes. London Underground and Southern Trains are the obvious exceptions. Bus drivers in TFL are unionised too, but rarely are they in dispute. Having to book on at 2, 3, 4 am, work weekends and bank holidays (no enhancements) are hardly the sign of unions ruling the roost.

    • jerry
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:11 am | Permalink

      @Duncan; The NHS is not a monopoly supplier, you are free to purchase private health care cover if you so choose. Were there is any NHS monopoly it is because the private health care suppliers have no interest to provide an alternate service, such as A&E or their own Emergency ambulance service for example.

      The NHS is far from perfect but it is better than many of the alternatives.

      Paying for the NHS via taxation is no different from paying for our military, few would suggest privatising the army, it is only that the NHS stands out (as does the BBC, and Highways for that matter) because of the separate (one-upon-a-time) hypothesised tax.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted June 29, 2018 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

        the NHS kills and injures more people than get killed and injured on the roads, it is a complete national disgrace. stop defending it, its ridiculous. just about every single developed country does healthcare better.

        and being “free” to pay to go private out of taxed funds (you have already paid for NHS care its just failed to materialise when you need it) and being charged VAT on it as well often, and charged for prescriptions that should be free etc. Its a fiddled system to perpetuate the current chaos and vested interests.

        • jerry
          Posted June 30, 2018 at 9:31 am | Permalink

          @Iain Gill; Nonsense! You are totally ignoring the number of people who die in other countries were (for what ever reason) they do not have access to medical care, never mind the number of medical malpractice claims made in the USA each year.

          As for paying taxes, your point is what, privatise the army & police too, after all the MOD & Home office are also funded via taxation – indeed back in the 1980s if you recall CND members wanted to deduct from their income tax the share of what our nuclear deterrent was costing them, the courts refused such a request, are you suggesting the courts were wrong?

          You do not get to cherry-pick what taxes you pay, it is that simple, but if you want to take out additional cover that is your prerogative, be it health-care or a private security cover etc.

          • Iain Gill
            Posted June 30, 2018 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

            I have lived in lots of developed countries. And some less developed. Healthcare here is by far the worst for all income brackets. Your scare stories don’t work on me cos I have seen first hand, and I have seen the disgrace you are defending.

            If you are looking for people without access to medical care the list is rather long here, you not noticed basic hemaroid operations are no longer available which will lead to blood poisoning and worse.

          • jerry
            Posted July 1, 2018 at 7:59 am | Permalink

            @Iain Gill; Regarding your second paragraph; Nonsense, blood poising is a very serious condition and would be treated as an emergency by the NHS, conditions such as hemaroid’s would first be assessed by a GP, then if needed the patient would be refereed to a specialist, if the condition is serious enough the patient would receive what ever treatment they need.

            But even if you are correct all you do is provide an argument for increased funding for NHS, not scrapping the service. Someone without (the correct or adequate) private health care insurance will not get their hemaroids either – and even if they do get treatment they might not get the on-going check-ups they then need, as I’ve said before, I know someone who having had cancer treatment via a private health care plan now has to pay personally for his ongoing check-ups, having come up to the imposed cut off point of the policy….

          • Iain Gill
            Posted July 1, 2018 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

            Jerry you are delusional.

            People who need treatment are most certainly not getting it here, and it will only get worse with recent announcements.

            So someone who needed life saving treatment didn’t get it, went private, funds and insurance ran out, at least they are still alive, many with easily treatable conditions are left to die by the NHS.

            What is your point? I would be dead if it had been up to the NHS, not once but many times, I was forced to pay out of taxed money for basic care the NHS failed to deliver in my hour of need. So my family are a lot poorer at least I am alive. In my view the NHS should return to me the insurance premiums in taxes they took under false pretences.

            The NHS is an international laughing stock, and far too many people die here who should not.

            Defending the NHS is madness.

          • Iain Gill
            Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

            And refusal to do hemaroid operations will lead to an increase in blood poisoning cases. Blood supply mixing with fecal matter makes it obvious. Sure you will get admitted to a & e when you develop serious blood poisoning, but it will have been completely avoidable.

            Like low rates of mole removal leads to large numbers of skin cancer. Sure you will get admitted when you have serious cancer, but the way to drive deaths down is to remove more moles sooner like they do in the entire rest of the developed world. Not all would have become skin cancer but the only way to drive deaths down is to remove more earlier.

          • libertarian
            Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

            Jerry

            No amount of money will fix the NHS, its a defunct model that consistently delivers really poor health outcomes.

            People in other developed countries are staggered that a large number of Brits worship the NHS

            Most developed nations offer universal healthcare , free at the point of use. They dont provide it via a government department though which is why EVERY single one of them has a better service than we do

            Personally I think the Singapore system is very good and provides a clever leg up onto the housing market to0, but basically French, Swiss, German, Dutch, Australian basically almost anywhere except the USA offers a far better service

          • jerry
            Posted July 3, 2018 at 6:57 am | Permalink

            @ian Gill; @Walter; Any political party who suggests scrapping, never mind makes a manifesto pledge to scrap, the NHS will be signing their own political suicide note. Get over you manias against the NHS, it is not going anywhere very soon, the electorate are more likely to scrap our nuclear deterrent first.

          • Iain Gill
            Posted July 3, 2018 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

            Our politicians are lazy and refuse to confront the reality of the NHS, real people know how rubbish it is, and as more people travel and see how it’s done in the rest of world the NHS position becomes less and less sustainable. It will change radically one way or another, too many people are suffering for propoganda and hype to keep propping it up.
            Also our whole political class are vulnerable to someone coming forward with some common sense on this and other issues, I wouldn’t be surprised to see their lazy assumptions toppled.

          • Iain Gill
            Posted July 3, 2018 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

            I wouldn’t put a manifesto commitment to scrap the nhs, I would win elections by promising to move it to a copy of the best countries in the world like Switzerland, New Zealand, Belgium, etc. NHS should become a state backed insurance, get out of running or owning providers of care, disband ccg’s and give buying power to individuals. Starting the changes with those most demonstrably let down at the moment.
            This is honest, decent and election winning, people are bored with the same old tired nonsense from politicians.

    • forthurst
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      There is an article in the DT concerning the importance of patients seeing the GP with whom they have built a relationship for improved health, longevity and a reduction in hospital visits and the fact that the push towards mega-practices mitigates against this. My local mega-practice which already has seventeen thousand patients is about to absorb yet another small practice. It currently employs ten doctors of whom seven are part time women and three full time men and another who is unidentified, possibly a locum responsible for night cover. I have heard criticisms from people who complain they have never seen the same doctor twice here. How can a doctor be expected to perform a consultation in ten minutes when it might take that long to understand the patient’s history?

    • Excalibur
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      Bull’s-eye in one, Duncan, particularly with your penultimate and final paras. Our democratic system flounders through a lack of political resolve. We are governed by self-serving political pygmies (our host always excepted, of course).

    • Dan H.
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      The most recent announcement about NHS funding was not really a serious attempt to fix the NHS, because Mrs May’s government is not anywhere near strong enough to attempt to do this. No, the ethos behind the announcement was twofold.

      Firstly, by tying NHS funding to a successful Brexit a cognitive link was established such that Remainers can be accused of trying to harm the sacred cow that the NHS currently is.

      Secondly, by announcing extra funding for the NHS, Labour were invited to partake in a game of political top trumps and to announce even more funding, to be paid for with more taxes.

      A sensible response to that announcement would have been to nod sagely, point out that the People had spoken in the referendum and that utilising the windfall thus created in this manner was indeed very wise, and also something that Labour had been asking for all along, and wasn’t it nice that the Tories were listening to good sense for once?

      Instead the Labour spokesman seized the opportunity to shoot himself in the foot, and announced that Labour would top the Tory boost to NHS funding by increasing taxes. To the average voter in the street, this sounds like “Labour… More Taxes… NHS”, and gives the common voter ever more reason to shun Labour at the polls.

      Napoleon once famously said that on no account should an enemy be interrupted whilst he is making a big mistake, hence the Tory press office has been silent ever since.

  5. Lifelogic.
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    Indeed nationalist industries are a disaster and nationalised monopolies free at the point of use even worse. You make all the right points on roads.

    The NHS, roads, much of education, the criminal justice system, state housing and the BBC spring to mind.

    Excellent piece by Rod Liddle, originally in the Spectator, repeated in the Mail yesterday listing how hugely out of touch with the public the lefty, greencrap, pro EU, tax funded, BBC propaganda outfit is. Out of 427 guests on the today programme talking about the EU only 3,2% were Brexit supporters. This when the country is at least 52/48 and probably more now.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-5894123/ROD-LIDDLE-Radios-moaning-women.html

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      One can only assume that T May, P Hammond, Mathew Hancock and the BBC trustees are all perfectly happy with this massive, pro EU BBC bias. Also all the other biases they inflict on the nation daily. Particularly the climate alarmist one and their love of the dire NHS that kills thousands. Why so much BBC coverage of the Grenfell victims when the NHS kills many times more every single month?

  6. Richard1
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    The Conservatives should propose privatisation of the road network, abolition of road tax and the introduction of road pricing depending on demand. The reason we have traffic jams is that roads are free. Economics 101: if something is free demand is unlimited and a queue forms. This could even be dressed up as a green policy under our ‘climate change obligations’.

    • Lifelogic.
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 6:19 am | Permalink

      Congestion is certainly not the best way to limit demand it costs money, wastes people’s time, frays tempers, increases pollution, and raises no money. Road charging per mile (and more at peak times) is far better and the money can be used for more road provision to reduce congestion.

    • 37/6
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 6:38 am | Permalink

      So long as you scrap vehicle excise and petrol duty.

      I think you’ll find drivers over pay for the resources they use.

    • jerry
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      @Richard1; The most inflationary load of privatisation nonsense ever, never mind the most likely to fall foul of cartel, monopoly and personal data concerns. Although that said, I do accept that a case could be made for introducing Toll road pricing on at least parts of the UK motorway network.

      • Richard1
        Posted June 29, 2018 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

        ?? Your first sentence says my eminently sensible market solution is nonsense and the second seems to agree with the idea. Good you are coming round to it. I think others will also on reflection.

        • jerry
          Posted June 30, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

          @Richard1; You missed my point completely, the point about our motorway network is that using it is and always will be optional [1], thus even if operated privately, even by a single company, an abuse of market-position can not form. Nor would any smart-charging create the sort of door-to-door data-mining worries that would happen with a national scheme, as only part of each journey would be tracked and/or logged.

          [1] there has always got to a non-motorway route available, otherwise (at least part of) the route is not given an “M” status, hence why the M25 is C shaped and not a fully circular motorway, unlike say the M60 around Manchester

    • Dennis
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Richard1 – “The reason we have traffic jams is that roads are free. ”

      Wrong! The reason is overpopulation which covers probably all existential problems in the UK , and elsewhere. Remember when the M1 opened? Even after months there were hardly any cars to be seen on it. Yes, not many people could afford a car which equates with a small population.

      • Richard1
        Posted June 29, 2018 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

        I think this explanation is false and based on prejudice. Better management of traffic would solve the problem. The best way to manage traffic would be to do it the same way as we ensure everyone in London gets lunch every day. Don’t need a minister for lunch, or an EU directorate, just allow the market to operate.

        • Dennis
          Posted June 30, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

          ‘The best way to manage traffic would be ‘ How? Price the road to make it too expensive for many or make a booking to travel your route when there is a space on a date you can’t choose?

          What about building more roads to keep pace with the growing population?

        • jerry
          Posted July 1, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

          @Richard; @Dennis; Both of you are forgetting other (mainly political) reasons that have increased road use since the early 1960s, such as the Beeching cuts to the railways and Bus deregulation that has seen unprofitable routes cut-back or scraped.

          If you can’t start your journey by rail most people will complete their journey by the alternate, not split it between two modes. if you can’t get the Bus back from Town you are unlikely to take the Bus into Town…

          The UK has not had joined up thinking when it comes to transport since the late 1970s, if not since the mid 1950s.

    • Drachma
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      You could also argue that the UK population size is too much and should be reduced..30 millions would do..likewise why should fresh air be free..we pay for water don’t we? what’s the difference

    • agricola
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      There is an element of truth in what Richard 1 says. Getting an appointment and subsequent treatment for your pet is a straightforward no delays process. You either pay or as in most cases pets are insured. The NHS, free at the time of need or I suspect at any time of assumed need is inundated. It is not free by the way, all tax payers pay for it. The NHS suffers ill managed demand with the result that those in real need get overlooked in many cases. Paying the bill at the vets directly seems to engender a greater sense of responsibility such that the system is not swamped with the trivial.

      • Richard1
        Posted June 29, 2018 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

        Another excellent example, I will remember that one thanks!

  7. eeyore
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    Worst nationalised industry? Good lord, we’re spoiled for choice, but my vote goes to the criminal justice system. Whether you’re a victim, criminal, defendant, witness, lawyer, judge, prison officer or probation officer it’s a national horror story. As for delivering justice – don’t make me laugh.

    All MPs have been given a free copy of a recent expose, The Secret Barrister by a lawyer blogger who goes under that pseudonym. They really should read it.

    • Nig l
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      Yes. It really is contemptible especially the Innocent tax and reprehensible that decent people like JR and others, should walk by on the other side.

  8. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    The civil service?

    • Lifelogic.
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      Little by way of ‘service’ (other than fines, fees, bossing about and taxation), not always very civil either and overpaid by about 50% relative to the productive sector (when pensions are included). They care not what they spend nor what value if any it gives. Not their money after all.

      Like buying a present for someone you do not know or care about using someone else’s money.

    • ChrisS
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:05 am | Permalink

      Arguably a prime candidate, however, compared with other similar organisations around the World ours is amongst the best. It just shows how bad the others really are.

    • Ian wragg
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      You beat me to it Denis. I was going to say the government.
      They give little or no value.
      They do diametrically opposite to what the voters want.
      Now over 2 years after the referendum we have a cabinet meeting to decide what we want from Brexit.
      This is May speak for how far can she capitulate.
      The latest buzzword seems to be EFTA.
      Just a watered down vassal status.
      Drain the swamp as Trump would say.

    • Jagman84
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      We have a winner! Denis Cooper, I wholeheartedly agree. Another unaccountable body requiring remedial surgery, post-Brexit.

  9. Lifelogic.
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    David ‘two brains’ Willets on This Week last night was proposing vast tax increases to further damage the economy, throttle further the golden goose and continue wasting money on the dysfunctional disaster NHS. A ‘service’ that is killing thousands, delaying millions of treatments and has some of the worst health outcomes for a developed nation.

    Thank goodness we had Jacob Recce Mogg to say some sensible things. Though even he did not point out what a disaster the NHS and so much of this bloated, overpaid and inept government actually is.

  10. Nig l
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Why do we have to hope Local Authorities take up Graylings proposals and in the use of that word, do not you sum up the whole problem? Why cannot legislation be used to order them to carry out the wishes of parliament. It is the same with bin collections, nhs parking charges etc. The Minister says something, presumably to give himself political cover and the Local Authorities ignore it.

    Equally I would have more sympathy with your position, albeit I agree, how poor the service is, if you set out the financials, confirming that the Treasury ‘gives’ the Local Authorities sufficient money to do the job properly. Until then, I and I suspect many other people, will continue to believe they are forced to do things in the cheap, because road users are being milked to pay for the rest of government.

  11. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, Fraser Nelson suggests that the Chequers meeting next week will be a good time for obstinately dissenting ministers to resign:

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/06/29/chequers-summit-theresa-may-will-have-right-people-right-place/

    “There is no time left for debate, she will say: a decision is needed now. There is also a coded message: if you wish to resign, this would be a good time to do so.”

    I recall what Tory MP and Chairman of the 1922 Committee Graham Brady said on the BBC Daily Politics yesterday, that the government should be “cleaving to the principles that were set out in that speech”, namely the Lancaster House speech:

    http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2018/06/28/the-eu-summit/#comment-943433

    Perhaps all ministers, and advisers, should be required to take a solemn oath that they will do that, and those who decline to sign up to it should be invited to resign.

    • mancunius
      Posted June 30, 2018 at 1:49 am | Permalink

      The problem is that the remainers all signed up to it, though inwardly resolved to oppose it at every step.

  12. Peter Wood
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    Good Morning,

    If I may, what a self-serving question and answer. ” It’s someone else’s fault.” By definition, nationalised industries are owned and/or controlled by HMG. It is therefore HMG, from the PM down to the lowest box-ticker bureaucrat, who are incompetent and wasteful.

    These public services could be put right, but HMG does not seem to want to do so. Put responsibility where it belongs.

  13. Old Albion
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    I visited the Irish Republic last month. I hadn’t been back there for around ten years.
    The road infrastructure has improved massively, from pot-holed and rutted single track roads to wide urban roads with new tarmac surfaces. Dual carriageways and now Ireland even has Motorways.
    How as this happened? Simple, the EU has funded it. Funded it partly with some of the money we give to the EU as a net contributor. Meanwhile the (dis)UK Gov. has insufficient money to invest in our road network !

  14. jerry
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Members of Parliament, especially in an age of direct democracy?

    Many of the debates on this site alone cast more insight on an issue than the debates on the floor of the HoC do, for example I listened to the debate on dangerous weapons the other day, one MP could not understand why anyone might be carrying dangerous chemicals in a public place, implying that they must be up to no good, another MP had to point out that household cleaners were often in such a category! Whilst I would add that many legitimate trades/hobbies use such chemicals – is the government planning to ban a householder/plumber/decorator from using drain cleaner or paint-stripper. The whole debate was grossly ill-informed, but MPs feel the need to be seen to be doing something, anything, how ever bad and unworkable the law will end up being.

    Two days ago I posted a comment in reply to @Libertarian listing why I though nationalised industries were often better than ‘for-profit’ companies in the same field, giving examples, In another comment I also posted how Govts. can stifle progress in state owned industries, both comments are still awaiting moderation…

  15. Newmania
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Asked to reduce my objection to Jeremy Corbyn to a sentence I would say ” This is man who looks at the 20th century and sees the victory of the planned economy.”
    That is as wrong as you can be about anything. That said if there is one area in which the presence of the government has usually been necessary it is in the provision of infrastructure and I`m not at all sure the country needs more cars.
    The pot hole misery is simply a matter of a squeeze on LA funding , caused by the vast sums diverted into the task of Brexit . The figures a carefully guarded secret but that scandal will see the light of day in due course .
    Teaching assistants , help for struggling children and music lessons are other cuts getting attention locally and in general one gas the feeling that nothing matters to this government other than evading responsibility for the underlying mess they caused

    • jerry
      Posted June 30, 2018 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      @Newmania; “The pot hole misery is simply a matter of a squeeze on LA funding , caused by the vast sums diverted into the task of Brexit”

      Wrong, the squeeze you talk of started well before June 2016 and Brexit, the real cause (at least more recently) has been the vast sums diverted into QE etc. since 2008 when other more -small S- ‘socialist’ methods of reviving the economy would have worked far better, schemes that would have sat happily in a Conservative manifesto of the post war period until the mid 1970s.

  16. libertarian
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Couldn’t agree more about roads

    We still have potholes that have been there over 3 years in major A roads and Dual Carriageways

    Highways England response to the last Operation Stack fiasco was totally and utterly appalling. The CEO went missing and refused to answer for his quangos cock ups, they were totally disinterested in any plan to ease the problem. Despite having spent millions on digital signage the only use they put it to is to nanny us about how we drive. The RHA and I in one TV programme about this suggested that tech ( digital signage/apps/satnav etc ) could be the cheapest and most effective way of managing traffic. Their response was no we want to build one giant lorry park for 4,000 trucks. They didn’t do that either, in fact they have to date done nothing

  17. acorn
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    The Palace of Westminster. £540 million a year, and that’s just the bits that get on the balance sheet!

  18. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    The devolved governments especially the SNP who always do everything to hold the UK back and money wasting, overspending, with high opinions of their usefulness local councils.

  19. Dave Andrews
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Congestion could be reduced by raising the driving standards, so less people could get a licence in the first place, and drivers whose skills have lapsed given opportunity to improve or lose their licence.
    However, as the government views the motorist as a cash cow, this proposal is not likely to get anywhere.

  20. ChrisS
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Roads.

    Travelling by car through Europe frequently ( these days it’s for pleasure, not business ) I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the country that has the best model of road system is France.

    Germany has the same basic system as ours and Merkel refuses to spend much of her vast trade surplus on the roads. As a result the Autobahns are in a shocking state with tram lines in the inner lanes and hundreds of bridges suffering from concrete cancer, the result being severely restricted lane closures and absurdly low speed limits when driving across them. A complete contrast with the 1980s when the network was in good condition.

    France has exceptionally smooth road surfaces and the privately funded and managed Autoroute system is constantly being expanded and improved upon. In return, French drivers pay tolls to use the Autoroutes but no road tax and fuel is about the same price as here. With a transponder in my car, I can drive through the latest toll stations at 30kph without stopping so there is rarely any queuing.

    If even Germany won’t spend the necessary money on their road network, it’s clear to me that no Government here is ever going give us the motorway system we so badly need.

    The only answer would be to allow new motorways to be built by the private sector, funded by tolls. We could do a lot worse than invite the French Autoroute operators like Vinci to build and run them.

    Who knows, when a few private motorways are in operation, a future government might well decide that it would be cheaper to transfer management of our existing “free” motorways to the same private operators.

  21. Peter Martin
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    The technology exists to privatise the road system -if that is what you want to do. Each vehicle could be fitted with a sensor that sends back its position, obtained from GPS, every so often, and via the mobile networks, to a central computer which works out your road usage and deducts an appropriate amount from your credit card or bank account by direct debit at the end of each month.

    To ensure that no-one is disabling their sensors we could have number plate recognition cameras linked to the computer which will check that vehicles are where they are supposed to be.

    It can even be set up to know when you are exceeding the speed limit and add any fines to your monthly bill and mark up the points on your licence. When you’ve clocked up too many you’ll be automatically disqualified. Isn’t technology marvellous?

    I could be wrong, but I can’t see it being a big vote winner.

    • Gorge Orvill
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

      Why not put a plastic tracking tag in everyone’s neck like a dog and wherever you go, cinema,museum, fortune teller, a GPS tracking device takes your money automatically from your bank account? Most people in rock sold Labour areas could automatically vote to a Constituency computer simply by closing their eyes and falling asleep

      • jerry
        Posted June 30, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        @Gorge Orvill: Indeed, but a GPS dog-tag can be removed, even swapped with an unsuspecting victim or willing accomplice and thus defraud HMT/private companies -no it would need to be a GPS chip injected under the skin like Defra require some domesticated animals to be, even an ear tag will not do…

        From 2004 the Blair/Brown government wanted to bring in ID cards, not even track people, once the protests against, and the realities of such a ID scheme, started to become understood the general public support for the government started to loose support, those on the right who want real time GPS vehicle tracking are making the same basic mistake as the Blair government did 10 years ago, the public will simply not support it.

  22. JimS
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    1. Put the management of local roads out to contract with incentives to improve traffic flow/reduce congestion.

    2. Accept that cycling is NOT a suitable form of transport, (but encourage as a leisure activity). The days when several thousand cyclists flooded out of a factory to disperse after a journey of three miles or less are long gone. Now we have a few lone cyclists causing severe and dangerous congestion as they travel 25 miles or so. Get bikes off the roads and pavements. (A start would be to ban bikes from all roads with a speed limit more than 30 mph). Bike trails should be provided on the same basis as tennis or swimming facilities.

  23. TL
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    John,

    Here’s a monopoly that can go on the bonfire; the House of Lords.

    There must be a better and more representative way of taking informed opinion on legislation?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 30, 2018 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      So bad is the Lords now that a public lottery (perhaps with a basic IQ test and lack of a criminal record) would be a far, far better and more representative method of choosing representatives.

      Look at “abandon ship” Cameron’s appalling lavender list. As Auberon Waugh put it:-
      Anyone in England who puts himself forward to be elected to a position of political power is almost bound to be socially or emotionally insecure, or criminally motivated, or mad.

  24. Adam
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Telecommunications, when linked with the Post Office were among the worst. Competition improved the service, but BT still drags its legacy behind.

    The absence of user choice to obtain better causes virtually all nationalised industries to settle on tolerated provision instead of pursuing excellence. However, duplicating octopoid routes such as water, rail, roads & footpaths would produce only crazy-paved alternative paths.

  25. Sakara Gold
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I fear that selling off the national roads network as you suggest would result in foreigners owning a strategic infrastructure asset, which would be run like the railways. The money raised would be used by the Chancellor as annual income and wasted – just like the revenues from N Sea oil.

    Doubtless, ultimately the numerous stealth taxes raised from motorists would have to go up to pay for the public enquiries as the public opposes huge 8 lane motorways stonking through our national parks, green belt land, heritage sites etc.

    The government is reaping huge VAT revenues due to the recent rise in petrol/diesel costs. Why can’t some of this be used to repair the inordinate number of potholes across the country? They are not just in Wokingham

  26. BOF
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    If roads are privatised that will be mainly motorways and main dual carriageways. This will leave most of the road network still in the hands of local government.

    Charging on main routes will inevitably lead to traffic, much of it heavy vehicles, diverting to minor roads with the resulting additional wear and tear and increased maintenance costs (plus the aggravation to locals of the additional traffic) born by guess who, local government and their local tax payers.

  27. Roy Grainger
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    In terms of a nationalised business which is a drain on the public finances when it really should be a big money maker, and one which offers a worse product to the public than commercial rivals, the Ordnance Survey takes some beating.

  28. stred
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I don’t understand why other countries that use taxes to maintain and build roads without taking ages, closing main routes with long diversions, making motorways that work with hard shoulders into ones that don’t when any breakdown causes 2 lanes to be coned off or gantries telling traffic to slow to 40, making traffic stop at barriers to slow it and cars almost collide with oncoming traffic etc etc- seem to spend the taxes sensibly. Highways England and TFL give the impression that they are run by people that have never driven a car or lorry and really don’t like them.

    As for the worst nationalised disgrace, name any industry that separates the customer from the provider and makes the providers spend much of their time assessing ‘outcomes’ in order to play games and have a false market. Or allows senior staff to moonlight with private customers and award each other payments up to £77k pa for their excellence. Or when management fails, employs more and more management and when there is a monumental cock up and the customers die, they ‘learn lessons’ and get a better paid job in management or are headhunted to move to the ministry running the whole shambles.

  29. Jacey
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    As always I read our host’s comments with interest. It is very evident that the issue of potholes has become a serious one that needs resolution. My apologies for going off subject but there was an issue I wished to raise after reading yesterday’s article but didn’t have time to do so. I would be very interested to hear JR’s opinions about UFT ( Unilateral Free Trade ) at some point. This has been put forward, as I understand it, by Prof. Patrick Minford among others. Would this be a course to follow in the future ? Indeed the near future.

  30. Universal Sweetheart
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Our road problems are eternal. No-one knows why it goes on. Much like why the whole world of advertising companies and charities can just have their love letters stuck into your home any time they like and however many they like and are not compelled to arrange a return door-to-door pick-up service as you’re already seeing someone.

  31. margaret
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I have worked in the NHS since I was 18 yrs . It was managed by Nurses, Nurses took care of budgets, Nurses gave their lives to the business of running the NHS. Drs were few and did not interfere with the running,the young ones worked hard , and Consultants were high and mighty and played golf, but they did not interfere with the running of things . Managers were experienced Nurses .
    Then our roles were split and outsiders came, money was appropriated to different sources, everyone decided that they could do it better and subsequently got us into debt . The Nurses kept a tight ship. There was no better service. Now it is not a monopoly and anyone who thinks it is should actually do some research .More recently ATOS who boasted that they could do it better have gone into liquidation .Agencies I worked for have mainly gone bankrupt and treated employers as their servants not the NHS. Private intervention and recruiting from overseas has been disastrous , however now we cannot do without help from overseas. A dependence has been created.

    Road works seem to go on and on and small back road pavements are hazardous , but completely ignored, The pavements are dangerous for the pedestrians who are not seen as important.

  32. rick hamilton
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Highways are the biggest disaster because transport affects almost everything we need. Followed by National Rail.

    Roads policy seems to be to slow down traffic as much as possible to reduce emissions and to meet the insane carbon reduction targets put in by Miliband’s stupid Climate Change Act. The majority of MPs voted for it in order to be seen as environmental goody-goodies and where does it get us. The huge jams created by endless road works to install more and more congestion-causing measures must have already put our emissions up way beyond target.

    Then we are told by the pathetically infantile long-term plans on local government websites that the preferred means of transport will be walking or cycling! Preferred by whom? Don’t these complacent halfwits understand that we are supposed to be competing in the world as a productive economy and everything they do just makes things worse?

  33. Tim Snell
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    I regularly commute on bicycle from Crowthorne to Reading. Driving to Reading is becoming increasing difficult with the new housing developments and the change in priority between M4 and A329M at J10.

    It is not just potholes which are a problem (these do present a real danger to cyclists) but the road surface makes this fairly easy route a real chore. We seem to have an inability to properly tarmac roads an, obsession with surface redressing and the majority of works, repairs and ironwork fall within the first metre from the kerb.

    The worst example, by some way, runs along the Reading Road from the Woosehill roundabout to the M4 bridge. There is an integrated cycle lane which frequently moves on to the shared use pavement back, this cycle lane has been painted green with a coating which has now broken the road surface up and created an incredibly unforgiving surface.

    For the record I am also a paid up road user and I do stop for red lights!

    • Old Albion
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

      But do you pay a specific tax for riding your bicycle on the roads? I’ll answer for you. NO.

      • Tim Snell
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

        I am not sure I understand your point here, if indeed you have one. I would observe that is is very unlikely I cause a great deal of wear to the roads whilst on a push bike.

        I was trying to make the point that, as with many cyclists, I am also a motorist. the state of local roads and the traffic on major routes illustrates the point, that I believe JR is trying to make, rather well.

  34. mancunius
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    There is a disturbing tendency for companies employed by the state to behave increasingly like nationalised industries. Utilities are a perfect example, and they are very little constrained by their regulators. Even when the Big 6 (and National Grid) make gross and sustained billing errors, the regulator will not move against them (‘We have to let them do that, or they’ll lose money’ was the unbelievable response of the Ombudsman’s office to one such complaint after a major energy company justified its behaviour in issuing a four-figure bill by claiming it had been misled by NG.)

    In another recent case, a major water company routinely surcharged households for years by covertly adding to the advance annual bill the final monthly sums they would shortly be debiting from the customers’ bank accounts. This naturally meant a year-on-year increase in the amount unwary customers were forced to advance as an interest free loan to the water company: a nifty way of boosting the company’s capital. The company’s stubborn and repeated response to all complaints was that they ‘could not alter their software’ and the regulator – struggling to understand the underlying maths and technology, let alone the principle of fairness – agreed with them.
    And yet, a couple of years later, when the CEO was replaced, this dodgy billing practice ceased at a stroke – they suddenly found themselves enabled to alter their software so as not to overcharge.

    That same water company announced on BBC Radio that they would give way to (Labour) government demands to lower prices for the ‘poor’ – adding ‘Of course that means everyone else will have to pay more to make up the loss’.
    You can take these industries out of nationalised status, but you can’t take the nationalised thinking out of the industries. They are fancy monopolies – and in many cases their shares are the monopoly of foreign pension funds, and not even available for UK shareholders to profit from.

  35. Andy
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Obviously for energy generation we should move away from a centralised model anyway. Communities should generate their own (renewable) power. Solar, wind, hydro, tidal – it depends where you are. This would enable us to get rid of ghastly pylons which blight our countryside – and have elegant windmills instead.

    • Bee keeper
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      What “communities” We do not have any except in the minds of politicos.

    • Dauber
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      Windmills are not elegant , not even the old ones in the Constable painting. A blot on the landscape.

    • Edward2
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      And pretty candles when the wind doesn’t blow.

    • Anonymous
      Posted June 30, 2018 at 12:23 am | Permalink

      We used to have windmills, remember ?

  36. JasonW
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    The HoC Followed by the Lords

  37. NickC
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    The worst nationalised industry? I name the electricity supply industry. But . . . but . . . you splutter, it’s not nationalised . . . Well, it is privately owned, but it’s policies are totally at the whim of the government’s obsession with – ! ***CARBON*** ! – !! From strike price auctions to carbon tax to the establishment arties belief that a windmill is the same as a Coal fired plant.

    We hardly have enough capacity to supply current demand let alone build replacements for aging plant. And who wants to build reliable CCGT when it can be switched off in favour of a windmill? Oh, I know, invent a subsidy to entice builders, because the government’s OWN renewable subsidy policies make fossil fuel plant uneconomic.

    Then on top of that dodgy scenario – brilliant wheeze – let’s replace all ICE cars with electric. Oh but then we need to double the electrical energy output to cope. There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Theresa, dear Theresa, a hole – please refer to paragraph two . . . and . . . repeat.

  38. ian
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    The whole political system, banking, media, the voters are so brainwashed they don’t even know what day it is, anything that matters, When you talk about services like electric and gas, the gov still control the prices by way of, what you can use to generate the electric, Hinkley point, no coal and cut back on gas, the difference between companies 0 to 8 pounds a week and internet and phone 0 to 3 pounds a week, EU has a bigger say than the UK gov on regulation and procurement for itself with most contracts going to EU companies by way of agreement between UK gov and EU 27, that they over 60% of all UK gov procurement contracts, the only thing I know that the UK get back from the 27 gov in the EU is Airbus plane wings.

  39. ian
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    The three blind mice.

  40. APL
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    JR: “What is the UK worst nationalised industry?”

    Well, you asked.

    With what we know now, it has to be the Police. Their fundamental duty should be to enforce the law without fear or favour.

    It turns out, they have been cowardly and selective in enforcing the law.

    They are partial in the application of the Law and have forsaken some of the most vulnerable in society.

    Then closed ranks to conceal their fecklessness.

    Utterly shameful.

    • Anonymous
      Posted June 30, 2018 at 12:33 am | Permalink

      Totally gutless in dealing with those of an alternative lifestyle but zero tolerance for a few mph over – those of alternative lifestyle exempted, natch

  41. ian
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I see that BAE systems landed a contract with the Aus gov, for sub hunters, when was last a British company landed a contract from the EU 27 govs.
    Maybe they did but it was so small the media didn’t bother mentioning it.

  42. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    “Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said time was rapidly running out and that Britain urgently needed to bring forward more detailed proposals on avoiding a hard border with Ireland after Brexit … ”

    OK, here we go, a letter to the Irish Prime Minister, copied to EU functionaries:

    Dear Leo

    This is to let you know that we definitely do not intend to make any changes at all to the land border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

    For the foreseeable future we will continue to assume that with few exceptions the goods coming in across the border will be of acceptable standard, in conformity with EU rules, and so will no more need inspection at the border than they do now.

    We hope we will not have to collect any import duties, but if that does prove necessary we will arrange for the collection to be carried out well away from the border.

    We will not be constructing any customs posts, or other new infrastructure, or making any other changes at all, on our side of the border.

    Moreover to reassure you and your colleagues in the EU that we will never knowingly allow this border to be used as a backdoor to introduce contraband goods into the EU Single Market we will be passing very strong legislation to prevent any such goods being exported across the border.

    Any haulier who knowingly carries across goods which the EU deems unacceptable will be liable to lose his haulage permit, and in any cases of deliberate rather than inadvertent infringements there will be the potential for severe criminal sanctions.

    I hope this will be sufficient reassurance, but in any case I would welcome comments on how we could perhaps refine this proposal.

    With my very best wishes

    Theresa.

    • stred
      Posted June 30, 2018 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      What we are likely to write-

      Dear Leo,

      The UK will not be installing customs posts at the non-existent border but will collect tariff duties later, as at present with non-EU countries. However, I realise that you will be unable to do likewise, as you have cancelled your electronic customs project. My civil servants have proposed that we collect these for you and pay them to Mr Junker.

      There is, therefore, a danger that along the long 300 mile border, smugglers will be able to endanger Irish citizens by selling full power Henrys and Dysons or American chickens to unscrupulous traders. Having spoken to our friends in the Commission many times over the past two years, I fully realise their need to prevent this serious breach of EU security and will be proposing to my cabinet the need to follow EU standards in the UK for the foreseeable future. We must prevent citizens on both sides of the border from indulging in dangerous non-EU practices.

      Yours ever subserviently,

      Theresa.

  43. Timaction
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Off topic. It is being reported by Brexit4u that your useless leader has agreed yesterday to an off books 330million Euro,s to the EU Turkey bung to reduce immigration and funds to bribe Africa. No treaty obligation to do this! If this is true and I have little doubt it is as Madam Merkle praised her for solidarity or some such rubbish, what chance of a true Brexit with this buffoon in charge??. I’m fed up of being fleeced by Government taxation to see it given away on their foreign vanity projects or allowing abuse of our health, housing, education and all other public services. She is totally out of her depth.

  44. JM
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    The Royal family..unelected and too expensive..too many hangers-on..should be cut back downsized

    • Prigger
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      The Royal family has my vote. As far as I am concerned that is the only vote the rest of you will ever need.

  45. Posted June 29, 2018 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood,

    There are several rationales for nationalizing industries. In many case those rationales are political. For instance, a government captured by7 a certain industry , like defense or agriculture, will look for ways to divert state resources in a way that will produce deliberate inefficiencies, by intrioducing subsidies, state production or restricted procurement.

    Socialist economic systems (mainly a relic) would nationalize industries with well organized workers in other to create a situation of featherbedding. A sectoral interest. In deleopment state models (most famously Korea), the state would have national upstream industries (steel, bulk chemicals), in order to give prospective national champions in the private sector competitive advantage in impulse costs.

    The most common (formerly) nationalized industries in Europe are monopolistic utilities like water, power and public transport. Utility banking (“Postbanks”) and telephone/post/packet delivery were also quite common.

    In general state have been looking to monetize state industries with marketable profit potential (good) or sold public monopolies to the private sector (bad).

    The consensus among institutional economists is that state firms are even more prone to managerial pathologies than large liste corporations: managerial entrechment, management-labour pacts at the expense of efficiency and thus burdening the consumer, opportunities for outright fraud and corruption. Documented best practices, benchmarking and merciless independent auditing (with public reports) can help but usually politicians are not able to perform the same role as financial markets.

    So take your pick: water? Could be state but regulation would serve the public interest too. Rail? Same, Railroad operation maybe. Contracts better than concessions. Health care: regulation much better than state ownership of productive assets. Finance: a publicly owned basic utility bank (zero risk) run by a private contractor wopuld be a good idea, with all other finance credibly uninsured. No more Goodwins beacause truly unprotected share- and bondholders would never agree to risky strategies of that type. And so on.

  46. agricola
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Asking for the worst implies that no nationalised industry is up to much. I accept that defence and the police need to be under direct government control while accepting that in terms of capital financial inputs these come largely from sources that are not nationalised. For all the rest of things that government fail to do effectively perhaps we should have a ministry of public contracts, staffed by professionals, but definitely not civil servants. It would need to be departmentalised to cover the various disciplines required and permanently open to scrutiny. Put simply I want those responsible for road building and maintenance to have had at least a fifteen year career building roads, not studying politics and history. No sensible person would choose their surgeon or pilot based on his political or history qualifications.

  47. ferdinand
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Many years ago I asked our local council why they did not require utilities to put their conduits under pavements or grass verges, to be told it was too expensive as they were already under the roads. So I then suggested that, as almost all road damage is the result of poor repairs by the utility companies, they should guarantee their workmanship until such time as the road was scheduled to be resurfaced. The date of that phased programme could be given to the utility. If it was only one year then they would bear little cost but if it was ten years they would make certain their workmanship lasted that long.

  48. Iain Gill
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    The NHS is the worst because it causes more pain and misery than the others, and because its self perception is so wildly off the mark.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted June 29, 2018 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

      After the NHS the next worst is the Home Office
      With the months and months and months and months they take to process a biometric ID card application. People who have been here a long time, often decades, with indefinite leave to remain visas, fully integrated into society, are left without their passports or visas or ID for a long time preventing them from travelling (and earning money or seeing family in many cases) and preventing them doing simple stuff like rent a house (since the recent rules that you cannot rent a house or often access healthcare without ID and proof of being legally resident here) or get a job.
      If they think you have filled the form in incorrectly they hold onto your ID for significantly long times, if you have passed all the box ticking it takes an absolute age to get any ID back, all the while you are unable to carry on so many aspects of normal life. Their phone lines never answer, and if you ask for your ID back as they have had it a long time and you need to travel they don’t return any ID.
      A completely out of control arm of the state preventing decent people going about their lawful business for no good reason, and with no checks and balances on their poor service levels.
      Meanwhile illegal immigration is running at high levels and none of this is helping reduce it.

  49. BrexiteerwivMusket
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Shock Horror, read all about it paperlessly online
    Osborne’s EveningStandard has a shortfall in profit.” £9.98m – after a recorded profit of £2.2m in the previous year, representing a £12m swing into the red.”
    Warning to all Brexiteers. Don’t cry too much. Trust in God. But keep you powder dry.

  50. Edward2
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Excellent article in Guido Fawkes which copies a letter from a UK company published recently in the Financial Times.
    The company explains how exporting and importing works and the effect of leaving the EU will cost them.
    It should be printed onto the side of every bus in the UK.

  51. Raymond Greenwood
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Roads are a (quasi) public good so I think they are better run by the public sector. They are also required for security. Private sector ownership and control will , I think, tend to sacrifice public good for private profit. Where the private owners are ‘foreign’ there may be a security issue to them owning the UK’s Highway infrastructure.

    There are ways and means of improving the efficient use of the current highway stock such as by lane charging to Utilities and contrators digging up the road (which I think is done to some extent) and road pricing (which, outside London, is rare).

  52. Anonymous
    Posted June 30, 2018 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    Government.

    Worse than useless.

    If we are to be a vassal state of the EU then scrap it.

    Countries that ignore the populist vote *spits* can get by with only one politician.

  53. Nigel Seymour
    Posted June 30, 2018 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    J, keep pressing the issue of potholes!. Not wishing to bring harm to anyone but the best thing that can happen is for a cyclist to die as a direct result of hitting a pothole (if it already hasn’t occurred.) Soon get Graylings attention perhaps…

    Secondly, The short supply of CO2 has gripped the nation. I haven’t had crumpet for years and when I now go to get some I can’t. Cor blimey say wot?? Is Gove the minister for crumpet supply me wonders?

  54. Bible Prophecy
    Posted June 30, 2018 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    The best way to tell how civilised a country is when you arrive is judge how many potholes are in the road. We are not doing very well.

  55. margaret
    Posted June 30, 2018 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    I have just called a service in to deal with a pest problem in my garden. This is private. They initially would not be flexible saying that their man could only come on monday between 8-1pm and I would have to be in to pay directly. I commented that I had a list of patients and had to go to work .This chap expected me to have time off to let his chap in and pay.He could not consider an alternative.My comment was I am sorry the NHS does not work like this ,I have my own list of 20 patients and could not cancel all . We don’t have people to step into our positions just like that , we build up our client list and are partly responsible for their well being. Private firms live in a world where they want us to bow down to money and not those who they serve.His fee is 60 patients time to me.

    • APL
      Posted July 1, 2018 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      margaret: “Private firms live in a world where they want us to bow down to money and not those who they serve.”

      Well, there is more than one private sector pest control company. So, while you’ve found one that is somewhat inconvenient to deal with, you could turn the page in the Yellow pages and find another which may be more accommodating.

      On the other hand, I must take time off whenever I wish to see a GP, despite having much free time in the evening or even later at night, in many practices I will be unable to see a GP at any but the prescribed office hours.

      “and I would have to be in to pay directly. ”

      At least you know how much it will cost for the service. When I go to the GP, I have no idea if I’m getting good value for money, or being shafted. The cost is completely obscured.

      In fact, money is demanded ‘up front’ and even if I never use the service, I still have to pay through the nose.

      Unless, I’m a migrant or UK government preferred minority. Then it’s ‘fill yer boots’.

      • margaret
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

        A ratio of 1:60 doesn’t do it for me . It is slow inefficient and what is more I was told that it would be the same whoever I contacted.
        Patients are brainwashed into thinking that the GP delivers all medical.It is a complete fallacy.The GP lead was introduced in readiness for the private sector. Some of the medical standards are appalling.It is about time we stopped labelling this qualification as superior and took a reality check.

  56. margaret
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Haemorrhoids can be injected, banded or surgically removed. The clinician , that is the Nurse or Dr will refer if they cannot be conservatively managed and the referral will go through a triage system where non clinical staff prioritorise according to the case you have made for the patient. The treatments are still carried out. I referred 2 recently for similar. Do not make things up.

  57. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 3, 2018 at 2:32 am | Permalink

    A case in point: There are approximately ten miles of the A30 between Black Dam roundabout at Basingstoke and the village of Hartley Wintney. Over the last 20 years, many miles of perfectly good dual carriageway have been converted to single carriageway use by hatching out the outside line and placing bollards in it. I’m told that this has been driven by safety policy. As an ‘old codger’ who likes to drive at 50 mph, I can testify that it doesn’t feel safe when white van man is driving up my arse willing me to go faster. I would prefer him to overtake.

    I intend to write to Hampshire County Council asking them to provide before and after statistics of fatal and serious personal injury accidents on this stretch of road. In many counties, the police keep accident records and share data with the county, so I’m sure that the statistics could be provided if requested.

  • 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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