Posts Tagged ‘Margaret Thatcher’

Queasy Kwarteng – Not a Diversity Hire, But a Member of the Tory Hard Right

October 2, 2022

I’ve got a few interesting remarks from some of the great commenters on this blog about a piece a put up about a video by Simon Webb of History Debunked about Kwarteng. Webb wondered if the man now doing his best to trash our economy was a diversity hire, whose sole qualification for the job was his skin colour. Mark Pattie and Jim Round have pointed out that he isn’t. He was appointed because he was another Old Etonian willing to implement the programme of the Tory hard right.

Mark wrote

‘Kamikaze Kwarteng was *not* a diversity hire. He may be of Ghanaian descent, but he was Eton educated (hence probably why he got the Chancellor job). Suella Charlatan got the Home Sec job because she was more right-wing than Patel, and James Cleverley got his role because of his many years in the Army. Unlike the rest, he seems to be one of the very few (ten or so) genuinely decent Tories I’ve any respect for. It’s a damn shame he didn’t run for the leadership.’

And Jim commented

‘As with quite a lot of Simon Webb’s videos, it is what isn’t said rather than what is.
It isn’t mentioned that groups like The Taxpayers Alliance and The Institute of Economic Affairs had a major influence on this “budget” (Tim over at Zelo Street has covered this)
Also remember that The New Culture Forum, who Webb has been a guest of are based there.
They think that this is a “Conservative” budget but it is unknown whether they thought that the markets would react so badly.
Also not mentioned is the fact that Kwarteng is highly likely to be a millionaire, as well as attending Eton.
But no, let’s feed the narrative that he is only there because of the colour of his skin.’

The Taxpayers’ Alliance tends to turn up on BBC News programmes to give their views on economic policies. They are always presented as if they are a politically independent organisation, but their leaders are all members of the Tories. The Institute of Economic Affairs have been demanding hard-right economic policies since before Thatcher. I don’t think Kwarteng’s a genius by any stretch of the imagination, but this shows that the people at the Arise Zoom meeting on the Tory minibudget were absolutely right: he’s a Thatcherite true-believer, working for arch-Thatcherite think tanks, and so shares the same grotty mediocre views as his leader, Liz Truss. I should say that I haven’t watched Webb’s wretched video, but it wouldn’t surprise me if a section of the Tories is now trying to make him a scapegoat for Truss’ abject economic failure.

Lobster’s Robin Ramsey Explains Why Thatcherism Didn’t Work as Claimed and Why Truss Will Fail

October 2, 2022

In my last piece I said that Lobster’s editor, Robin Ramsey, has a background in economics and that he said in one of his pieces for the magazine that the Tories recognised long ago that trickled down economics didn’t work. They still wanted to cut spending and punish the poor for being poor while giving lots of more money to the rich. They just had to find a better pretext for it. So they started arguing for their wretched policies on grounds of morality. Now Truss has gone back to the old trickle down argument. In the recent issue of Lobster, 84, Ramsey has a piece in his ‘View from the Bridge’ column, ‘All Trussed Up’ explaining why Thatcher’s economics policies didn’t work in the way she thought they did, and even despite her best efforts, and why this means Truss’ policies will fail. He writes

‘On the day that Prime Minister Truss made her announcement about dealing with the energy crisis here, The Times (8 September) briefly mentioned (on p. 39) that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was off to the City to discuss ‘Big Bang 2’ – further deregulation of the financial services sector. Centrally, I would guess, will be a change to the rules introduced after the financial crisis of 2007-9 which increased the amount of capital the banks had to keep in reserve. In other words, financial gambling is going to be encouraged again. The central question with this new government is this: do they really believe that this warmed-over Thatcherism will work? My guess is that they do; that they have spent too long in a free marketeer intellectual ghetto to understand even the Thatcher years. They have failed to grasp that Thatcherism didn’t work on its own terms: it did not ‘cure’ inflation and did not produce more economic growth than its predecessors. Mrs Thatcher’s ‘reforms’ were possible because her government had North Sea oil revenues to pay for mass unemployment; could sell off chunks of the public sector; and, despite her best efforts to kill it, had a manufacturing base three times as big as it is now. The new government has little oil revenue; a much diminished manufacturing base; and not much of the public sector left to be sold. It will be interesting to see how long it takes them to grasp that the horse they are enthusiastically flogging is dead.’

For further information, go to https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/article/issue/84/the-view-from-the-bridge-47/

Kwasi Kwarteng – Diversity Hire, or Just Another Member of Truss’ Government of Mediocrity?

October 2, 2022

It’s been a few days since I commented on a video by Simon Webb of History Debunked, so here’s one now. A few days ago, he put one up questioning Kwarteng’s qualifications for office as Chancellor of the Exchequer and wondering if he was only chosen because he was Black. Was his appointment simply a case of Truss giving him a job in order to show how diverse her government was? Given how disastrous the minibudget is, Kwarteng does not strike me as a brilliant economist. But then, neither does Truss herself, who strikes me as another absolute mediocrity. The same with Therese Coffey, who I wouldn’t trust to run a corner shop or local whist club. As for Jacob Rees-Mogg, I think he’s cleverer than the rest in that he has clever people working for him and is sufficiently slick with his patrician diction and general demeanour to conceal his absolute incompetence from much of the public. But none of them, absolutely none of them, strike me as intellectual powerhouses. Quite the opposite.

Readers of this blog of a certain age and taste in comedy will remember Glasgae toon’s guerrilla philosopher, Rab C. Nesbitt, and his biting view of Scots politics and the treatment of the poor and the underclass from the bottom of a pint glass. In one episode, Nesbitt crossed paths with the local Tory politician, a political nonentity looking forward to great things because Tory prime minister John Major was in office, and ‘this is the age of the mediocrity’. Ah, how that was the joke at the time! John Major was the grey man, a boring, uninspiring individual following the all-too vivid figure of Margaret Thatcher. Major himself wasn’t economically deft or competent, as his privatisation of the railways and the collapse of the pound during Black Wednesday showed. But compared to Truss and her crew, he was statesman of positively Churchillian proportions.

A week or so ago I went to an online meeting where members of the Labour left, like Richard Burgon and members of the TUC responded to Truss’ minibudget. They pointed out what a right-wing nightmare it was, along with her highly authoritarian attempts to strangle the unions with fresh legislation. Truss was promising nothing to the British working class except more poverty while massively cutting taxes for the rich. But the panel was also encouraged by the fact that people were determined to resist, and mobilising strikes and protests up and down this Sceptred Isle. And as for Truss and the rest of the minions, they saw them as the last of the Thatcherite True Believers. Thatcherism has run its course. It’s now looking threadbare. People are abandoning it. And Truss and co are the last of the market fundamentalists, more right-wing than Thatcher herself. And that’s saying something, given how she was a fan of real Fascists like General Pinochet!

If I read what the Labour people were saying rightly, this means that, as the last of the true-blue Thatcherites, Liz, Kwarteng and co are the scrapings from the bottom of the Tory barrel. In which case, Kwarteng didn’t get his post because he’s a diversity hire. He got his job because he shared the views and the same lack of ability as Truss and the rest of her followers.

And unfortunately, that means we’ve got to suffer his and Truss’ doctrinaire incompetence.

Their colour is immaterial. All that matters is their grotesque hatred and victimisation of the poor to benefit the extremely, obscenely rich.

Get them out now!

Simon Webb Asks ‘What’s Wrong with Fascism?’

September 16, 2022

Well, it looks like Simon Webb of History Debunked has finally gone full Mosley. And you never go full Mosley. He’s put up a piece today asking, ‘what’s wrong with fascism?’ He argues that fascism is viewed negatively because it’s confusion with Nazism. But socialism has also committed horrible atrocities and run death camps. In contrast to this, he points to the Portugal of the dictator Salazar in the 1960s, which was prosperous and had kept out of the Second World War. And fascism, he explains, is neither communist nor capitalist.

No, I’m not going to put the video up here. Because he’s arguing for fascism after all. Now he’s got a point in that some political scientists and historians do make a distinction between Nazism and Fascism. Nazism is at its heart a form of biological racism and has its own origins unique to Germany, while Italian Fascism was a form of militaristic nationalism which included elements of both socialism and capitalism. However, Italian Fascism was also imperialistic, calling Italy a ‘proletarian nation’ that had been unjustly deprived of colonies by the great powers of Britain and France. It invaded Greece, Albania and Yugoslavia, as well as Tripolitania in north Africa and Ethiopia. In nearly all these countries the Fascists committed horrendous atrocities. They also developed racial policies similar, but not as harsh as the Nazis, defining Italians as Aryans as contrasted with the Jews, who were expelled from various professions. Both Nazism and Fascism supported and protected private industry, but the economy was centrally planned by the state. Germany was a complete dictatorship under Hitler, in which the Reichstag was only called once a year to sign the act stating that Germany was still in a state of emergency and so Hitler’s dictatorship could legally continue, In Italy Mussolini let the Italian parliament continue for a few years until he replaced it with a chamber of Fasces and corporations. A corporation in this case was an industrial organisation, one for each industry, that contained both management and the unions. By the 1930s there were 27 of these. They were supposed to run the various industries, but in practice they served just to rubber stamp the decisions Mussolini had already taken.

I’ve read some of the comments that have been left on the video. Some of them are rants against Tony Blair’s period in office and complaints that it was supported by a biased media. Well, one paper stood against him – the Daily Heil. And you can wonder who had the real power in Blair’s relationship with the media, as he was always worrying whether his policies would meet the approval of one Rupert Murdoch. And Blair was a Tory in all but name. Thatcher, remember, regarded him as her greatest achievement. I’ve also notice that several of the commenters can’t spell Nazism. They’ve spelled it ‘Natzim’.

Of course, it hasn’t just been the association with the Nazis that has tarnished Italian Fascism. It’s also the various brutal dictatorships that have appeared across the world that committed horrendous atrocities, like the various military dictatorships in Latin America, the most famous of which is General Pinochet’s in Chile, as well as Greece under the Colonels. You can also attack his argument by pointing out he deliberately confuses socialism with communism. Communism is a form of socialism, but it is not the definitive form. For most British Labour supporters and politicians before Blair and his stupid, Thatcherite ‘Third Way’, socialism meant democratic socialism, which supported and included parliamentary democracy, and a mixed economy. This was the type of socialism practised by the reformist socialist parties of western Europe, like the German Social Democrats. And this form of socialism was keen to support human rights and democracy to a greater or lesser extent, as shown in the various people who joined anti-apartheid and anti-racism movement and gave Khrushchev a hard time when he visited the country about the imprisonment of socialist dissidents in the USSR.

I’ve left this comment on Webb’s video. I wonder if anyone will reply.

‘Salazar is probably best viewed as a reactionary Catholic like General Franco, rather than a pure Fascist. His books apparently are pretty much about Roman Catholic dogma, rather the secular ideas which informed Italian Fascism. And Fascism wasn’t just nationalism or dictatorship. Would your readers want definitive features of fascism like a state-directed economy, even if it is done through private industry and the corporate state, in which parliament is replaced by a chamber representing industries, each corporation including management and unions, which is charged with running the economy?’

Grotty Daily Mail Shills for People to Abandon NHS and Go Private

August 26, 2022

I’ve just been to the barbers for a haircut, and while waiting I leafed through some of the papers left out. One was the Heil, so I looked through that. Okay, I’m not proud of it, but it was something to read while waiting. Needless to say, it was as it usually is. There’s a story about the cost of housing asylum seekers and the channel migrants. But what really disgusted me was an opinion piece. This was by a supposed NHS consultant urging patients to ‘beg, borrow or steal’ to go private.

This is essentially the Tory strategy for running down the NHS, ever since Maggie Thatcher. She wanted the health service privatised and replaced by an American-style healthcare system funded by private health insurance. She was only stopped by a cabinet revolt and the finding of her personal secretary, Patrick Jenkin. Jenkin had been to America and knew exactly how poor in comparison the American system was. So Thatcher had to content herself with aiming to get 10 per cent of the population to take out private health insurance.

She also began process of piecemeal privatisation, selling off or opening up the ancillary services to private competition. This process was carried on by John Major’s administration and then by Tony Blair, who was ostensibly Labour. And Cameron, Tweezer and Bozo have in turn continued the wretched process. Private healthcare firms are allowed to compete with the NHS itself for contracts for medical services. Thanks to this privatisation, administration costs in the NHS have sky-rocketed where they approaching the levels -25 per cent or so – which the American private health system spends on administration. Privatisation does not bring savings. Quite the opposite. At the same time, the Tories have cut spending on the NHS, and grotty Tories like Truss and Mogg are saying they’ll cut more NHS ‘waste’. Meaning, presumably, more expensive privatisation and cuts.

The only way to cut waste is to renationalise the NHS.

But the article shows the direction of travel British healthcare is taking under the Tories: a two-tier system, with poor NHS services for the people at the bottom, and expensive private healthcare for those who can afford it. And the Tories stand to profit from it personally. Under Cameron, 100 MPs had personally connections to private healthcare firms.

If you really want to ensure that you and the rest of this great nation has the healthcare it needs and deserve, then kick the Tories and the other privatisers out, and demand the renationalisation of the NHS!

Liz Truss Co-Author of a Report Which Demanded Savage Cuts and a £10 Charge to See the Doctor

August 19, 2022

This is another piece from the Mirror which reveals precisely what a prize right-wing scumbag Liz Truss is. According to the article, ‘Liz Truss report demanded vast cuts and £10 fee to see GP – ‘true colours’ in full’ by the paper’s political editor Dan Bloom, the Tory leadership contender was the joint author of a 2009 report published by the think tank, Reform, calling for massive cuts to public spending. This included cutting pensioners’ benefits, doctors’ pay by ten per cent, and imposing a £10 charge for seeing the doctor.

The article begins:

‘Liz Truss is accused of showing her “true colours” in a paper that called for vast spending cuts and a £10 fee to see your GP.

The runaway favourite to be Prime Minister was one of seven people who wrote a 44-page slash-and-burn policy document for the 2009 Budget.

The ‘Back to Black’ paper for the Reform think tank recommended cutting £28bn in a year by introducing “user charges for GPs” and whittling 10% off doctors’ pay.

It also demanded ministers “remove pensioner gimmicks” to save £3.2bn, force civil servants onto a four-day week with a 20% pay cut, and hike the pension age at the last moment.

And it called for major military projects to be axed – including the Royal Navy’s planned aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

Despite her being Deputy Director of Reform at the time, Ms Truss’ campaign bizarrely claimed: “Co-authoring a document does not mean that someone supports every proposal put forward.”

Despite saying it shouldn’t be in 2009, a Truss ally insisted the likely Prime Minister does believe in an NHS free at the point of use – and she’ll not cut GPs’ pay or defence spending as PM.

Ahead of tonight’s Tory hustings in Manchester, an ally argued: “The purpose of a think tank is to put forward bold, radical ideas in the hope the government will pick up one or two.”

A campaign spokesman added of the document written 13 years ago: “This is a nearly two decade old document written against the backdrop of Labour bankrupting the economy.”

But Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “Liz Truss’s track record shows her true colours. She is out of touch and out of step with the public.’

The article can be read at: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/liz-truss-report-demanded-vast-27781979

Ah, we’re back to the old ‘high spending Labour’ refrain, in which Labour is accused of bankrupting the economy and that savage cuts to public spending, meaning primarily the NHS and the welfare state, are needed. Do I believe that somehow, in the past thirteen years, she’s had some kind of conversion to Nye Bevan’s vision of an NHS that provides everyone with care, free at the point of use?

No. Because she’s a liar in a party of liars.

Remember the last election when an independent fact checking organisation found that while Labour had made no untrue statements, the number of lies the Tories told was off the scale in the thousands?

And the Tories don’t believe in the NHS. Not since Maggie Thatcher wanted to privatise it, but was only prevented by a massive cabinet revolt. Since then they’ve privatised everything they could, starting with the ancillary services and progressing to the medical services, as these have been contracted out to private medical companies and hospitals. And the other year various Tory scumbags were demanding an expansion of the list of services for which fees could be charged.

If she doesn’t believe in these cuts now, it’s only because that they’re a political liability. It looks to me very much that she strongly believed in them when Cameron was in power and Gideon, sorry, George Osborne was chancellor.

You cannot trust her with the NHS.

You cannot trust her to look after the elderly.

And you cannot trust her on defence.

Get her out, and her foul party with her.

Katie Hopkins Talks Sense! Wants Us All to Unite Against Fuel Poverty and Threat of Suicide

August 18, 2022

Heaven help me, I’ve agreed with ‘Hatey’ Katie Hopkins! You remember her, the supercapitalist, racist snob who came runner-up on The Apprenticeship and became a right-wing media pundit until her views were too toxic even for the Heil to keep her on. Since then she’s been knocking around with convicted stalker Alex Belfield, now looking at the possibility of going to the slammer. But in the video below she actually says something that I hope we can all get behind.

She criticises the way 45 million people by her estimation will be in fuel poverty this winter. This means that more than ten per cent of their income will be spent on heating. This is unsustainable. And she’s afraid that something like one million people will decide they can no longer face life in this country. She goes on to state that in her view, the energy crisis has been brought on by successive governments going green and shutting down the coal-fired power stations with nothing to replace them, at a time when India and China are building new ones. And our government has also thrown away concerns about this country’s fuel security. But, she says, even if you disagree with her views and are a complete ‘greenie’, can we all agree to unite against fuel poverty and the possibility that a million people may decide that life in this country is not worth living. And so she urges people not to pay their exorbitant energy bills.

I fully support people from both left and right coming to together against fuel poverty and put pressure on the various politicos and companies that are responsible for the present crisis. Tory icon Maggie Thatcher has had a large part in it, because the Tories closed down the British coal mines except for a very few in the ’90s or so. The argument for this was that it was supposedly cheaper to import South American coal. An additional, if not the real reason, was that she wished to break the miners’ union, the NUM, because of the way they’d defeated the Tories under Ted Heath.

But energy policy has been a mess. Cameron’s lot got the French nuclear power engineers in to build various nuclear power stations despite problems building them and the sustainability of this strategy as well. And this is apart from Jacob Rees-Mogg showing us all where his sympathies lie last week when the Beeb interviewed him on Radio 4. Instead of sympathising that the price rises were wrong when these companies were making massive profits, the Minister for the 18th Century and Bringing Back Child Chimney-Sweeps declared that those companies had only been able to pay their shareholders dividends of a few pence, and that they needed to do so as a reward on investment. Somehow I don’t think the shareholders only got a few pence as dividends. The companies’ directors certainly didn’t: they’ve pocket bonuses and salaries worth hundreds of thousands, if not a few cool millions.

I don’t really agree with people refusing to pay their energy bills, as I can see people being prosecuted as a result and going to prison, whereas it should be the energy companies and their bosses up before the beak.

Incidentally, it shows where the sympathies of the Heil are that they published an article about how the ‘don’t pay’ campaign was organised by middle-class ‘Corbynistas’. Oh those poor mega-millionaires, being persecuted by the evil middle class commie followers of the despised Trotskyite running dog Corbyn!

But even so, I agree with her that left and right need to stand together against this poverty and profiteering and look after those who may otherwise think that life is not worth living. Always assuming that she means suicide, and not people trying to flee abroad to live and so help to precipitate a demographic crisis.

Grammar Schools Did Not Benefit the Working Class; They Excluded Them

August 13, 2022

I got the book I ordered on James Callaghan’s period as Prime Minister, James Callaghan: An Underrated Prime Minister, edited by Kevin Hickson and Jasper Miles through the post yesterday. It’s a collection of papers on various aspects of Callaghan’s government. I’ll put up a piece introducing it later. I’ve only been dipping into it, reading the odd chapter.

The defeat of Callaghan’s government at the 1979 general election and the victory of Maggie Thatcher ushered in a period of Tory rule that lasted until 1997 when Blair got into power. But he was also a Thatcherite, and in some ways it was a change of face, not a change of direction. Callaghan’s defeat meant the end of the old social democratic consensus, but as recent events are showing, elements of this consensus are still very much relevant and desperately needed. Such as the return of the public utilities to public ownership.

One of the issues the Tory leadership candidates have been promising is the return of the grammar schools. Well, bog-eyed Nicky Morgan promised this a few years ago, and the policy was a failure then. There’s a considerable nostalgia for them in certain parts of the British electorate that still resents the establishment of comprehensive school. For these people there’s a simple difference between the two. Comprehensive schools are nasty failures showing everything wrong with progressive attitudes to education, while the grammar schools with their tradition values were so much better. The Tories have been pushing this line since 1969 or so. The line is that through scholarships and the 11+, working class children who went there had a far better education than they now have in comprehensive schools. But this is a very rosy view of the reality, which was that the grammar schools were solidly middle class institutions from which the working class were largely excluded.

Jane Martin, one of the contributors to the book on Callaghan, makes this point in her chapter ‘Education: Politics And Policy-Making with the Intellectuals of ‘Old’ Labour’. She writes

‘Government reports and sociological surveys soon evidenced the reality behind secondary education for all. It was obvious that middle-class offspring dominated grammar intakes, owing to advantages imbued by family background, and social class remained a major influence on educational achievement. From 1946, the secondary modern schools and bottom streams of the grammar schools were full of working class children who had largely negative experiences. Defenders of selective education argued only a small number of children had the academic ability to attend grammar schools, but research showed that coaching and intensive tuition, used by the middle classes, improved test scores. Added to which, successes secured by fifteen- and sixteen-year old secondary modern school candidates for the new ‘O’ Level examinations exposed the fallibility of a selection process that made it acceptable for around 80 per cent of mainly working-class children to ‘fail’.’ (p. 166).

This is what the Tories are really promising when the start the nonsense of going back to the grammar schools: the exclusion of the working class from a superior set of school intended to cater for the middle classes. Even Thatcher’s education minister, Rhodes Boyson, recognised this. When he was a teacher in a secondary modern he put some of his pupils forward for ‘O’ levels, because he knew they could pass them.

Sunak and Truss are once again pushing for policies designed to keep the working class down, all based on nostalgia for a previous education system that was seriously flawed, but has been promoted as far better than the comprehensive system. But the fact that they’re now talking about how wonderful grammar schools were is also a tacit admission that their academy schools are also a failure.

There is no alternative to keeping comprehensive schools. What is needed is not their abolition, but their better funding and a real drive to improve educational standards. Not more class snobbery disguised as educational meritocracy.

We Own It Petition for the Nationalisation of Failed Energy Company Bulb

August 13, 2022

I got this email this morning from pro-nationalisation organisation We Own It:

‘Dear David,

Privatisation has failed.

The Guardian is saying water should be nationalised. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown is saying we need to bring energy into public ownership temporarily. Even the Telegraph and the Times are questioning privatisation.

Meanwhile, 100,000 people have pledged to stop paying their energy bills.

YOU can put a solution on the table – sign our new petition for the government to turn Bulb into a new public energy supplier which can cut people’s bills.

Nationalise Bulb

Private energy company Bulb collapsed in November 2021 and the government is planning on spending £2.2 billion to prop it up.

Right now the government is considering giving a further £1 billion to private company Octopus to take over the company.

This makes no sense. Other countries like France, Germany, Italy and the US all have public suppliers of energy. France has used publicly owned EDF to limit energy bill rises to 4% while our bills have gone up by 54% and that increase will go up to 119%!

The government could take Bulb’s 1.7 million customers as the basis of a new publicly owned energy supply company.

Sign the petition now

The situation is desperate and politicians know it. You can highlight this huge opportunity to politicians and the public. You can push for public ownership that can cut everyone’s bills by spreading the word.

Please sign and share now – before the government hands Bulb back to the private sector.

THANK YOU for your support.

Cat, Alice, Johnbosco, Matthew, Jack and Kate – the We Own It team’

I’ve had absolutely no reservations about signing the petition. It makes sense, far more sense than successive right-wing government spaffing public money against the wall trying to prop up failing private companies from a doctrinaire, inflexible belief in the superiority of private enterprise and in order to shove more public money into their friends’ pockets as management and shareholders. And this is an important first step to the nationalisation of the energy sector as a whole.

When even Gordon Brown, Blair’s right-hand man, the Torygraph and the Times are having second thoughts about the privatisation of the utilities, it’s clear that something is profoundly wrong with privatisation.

Thatcherism has failed.

Nationalisation is the solution.

Tories out!

To go directly to the petition if the above links aren’t work, it’s address is at: https://weownit.org.uk/act-now/nationalise-bulb

Academic Historian Pauline Gregg on the Nationalization of the Electricity and Gas Industries

August 11, 2022

With the energy crisis threatening even greater numbers of working people with grinding poverty, while the bosses of these industries record obscene profits and pocket millions in bonuses, I looked up the nationalisation of the electricity and gas industries in Pauline Gregg’s The Welfare State (London: George G. Harrap, 1967). She writes of their nationalisation

‘The Electricity Bill came up for its second reading on February 3, 1947. The history of electricity supply was another example of haphazard growth and piecemeal legislation. At one time there had been no less than 635 Electricity Undertakings over the country; in London there were still 75 in 1947. The industry was governed by 243 Provisional and Special Orders and Acts of Parliament; tariffs and voltages differed from area to area, and often in adjoining districts; municipal ande company undertakings had never come to terms. Whichever Government had been returned in 1945 would have had to impose some degree of order and rationalization upon the industry. Scotland alone showed some ordered development. In 1941 Thomas Johnstone, the devoted Secretary of State for Scotland in the Coalition Government, had appointed a committee to consider the practicability of developing the water-power resources of Scotland for the generation of electricity. It was a scheme which would make work for areas which were losing their population besides bringing the great boon of electricity to small townships and scattered homesteads. It was a great tribute to a country at war that in February 1943 it had passed the Hydro-electric Development (Scotland) Act which established a Hydro-electric Board for the North of Scotland.

The Bill before the House in 1947 proposed to establish a British Electricity Authority with full responsibility for generating electricity and selling it in bulk. Local distribution would be in the hands of fourteen area boards, Scotland would still be served by the Scottish Hydro-electric Board, who jurisdiction was extended to include some 22,000 square miles north and west of a line from the Firth of Tay to the Firth of Clyde-about three-quarters of the total area of Scotland. Again the measure raised only a token opposition and took 165 Conservatives into the lobby against it on February 4, 1947, rather as a gesture against the Labour Government than from real opposition to the Bill.

A similar pattern was proposed for the reorganisation of the Gas Industry. On January 21, 1948, the Bill “to provide for the establishment of Area Gas Boards and a Gas Council” was presented by Hugh Gaitskell, who had succeeded Shinwell as Minister of Fuel and Power. It was given its second reading on February 11 by 354 votes to 179. Gas supply, like Electricity was complicated, disintegrated, inefficient and controlled by a legislative framework that was a major obstacle to improvement. All Reports agreed on the desirability for larger areas of administration and for great integration, and Gaitskell claimed that the most suitable structure for the industry would be found under public ownership.’ (pp. 73-4).

And on pages 76-77 Gregg explains why these measures were needed and that they didn’t constitute a political and economic revolution.

‘Nationalization, it has been said, was a political and economic revolution, forced through after a generation of waiting. There had been a generation-and more-of waiting, but both the election results of 1945 and the debates in the House of Commons overrode any suggestion that they were ‘forced through’. The myth that they involved “a political and economic revolution” is disposed of on several grounds: the industries concerned (with the exception of iron and steel) were either semi-derelict or in urgent need of such reorganisation as could come only from a central authority with large resources to back it; they were all natural monopolies amenable to the advantages of large-scale operation; they were either public services or approximating to such; their public control was in step with a world-wide movement and one which, in Britain itself, was already well established. Banking and insurance all over the world, big power projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority in the U.S.A., the Volta River scheme in Ghana, the Panama Canal Company, the Aswan Dam on the Nile, the Kariba Dam on the Zambezi, afforestation schemes, flood-control, navigation improvement, agricultural development, railways in Europe, America, Canada, Australia-schemes which started before or after and continued at the same time as the British nationalization undertakings – put Britain in the main flood of development, not in any revolutionary situation. For the Labour Party and for their opponents this was paradox that changed the political scene. Who had stolen whose thunder was difficult to determine, but, with the exception of iron and steel, it was unlikely that much party political capital could ever again be made out of the issue of nationalization’.

This last sentence was disproved when Thatcher and the Tories went on their rampage of privatisation in the 1980s and ’90s. But even then, support for privatisation never went above 50 per cent. The nationalisation of the utilities was common sense and the majority of the Tory party at the time understood this. Privatisation was supposed to open up further sources of investment, and competition would lower prices.

This has not happened.

Energy prices are going up, while bosses are pocketing massive pay rises. Thatcherism, as I have said in a few previous posts, has failed.

The only solution is to renationalise the utilities.