Posts Tagged ‘Public Utilities’

Greens Take Hotwells Ward to Become Biggest Party on Bristol Council

February 3, 2023

Yesterday there was a local election for the ward of Hotwells and Harbourside in Bristol. I had an invitation from the local Labour party to help them campaign for it, but circumstances prevented me from physically going and I do not believe in phone banking. Anyway, the results are in. It was won by the Green party, who took it from the Lib Dems by 26 seats. This is quite ironic, as in the last election the Lib Dems only won that ward by the same number. This victory now makes the Greens the largest party in the council, though I gather that none of them have an overall majority.

Hotwells is one of the city’s historic districts on the banks of the Avon running through the city, and where Bristol’s harbour was before it was abandoned in the 70s and the port moved to its present location at Avonmouth. It’s a mixture of retail, office and residential buildings, including some dating from the 18th and 19th centuries when it, along with Clifton, were the city’s spa districts. Some of the housing is very modern and upmarket, while there are also a couple of 60s/70s brutalist tower blocks. It’s also the location for one of Bristol’s private schools, Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital. It’s population also includes lecturers and academics from Bristol university, which is literally just up the road in Clifton. Just across the river are a couple of converted tobacco bonds, one of which now houses the city’s archives while another is, or was, the site of a green technology centre.

Bristol is quite a green city. Under the Labour mayor, Marvin Rees, the local authority’s put in a number of new cycle lanes and in that part of the city you do see people pedalling away, including women with their children in trailers behind them. The council has also announced other plans for developing a local green economy, including a clean air zone which has caused controversy in recent weeks because of the way it affects traffic.

Bristol Live reported that the new councillor, ‘ 24-year-old Cllr McAllister, who works in legal services, said his party was now preparing to take power in Bristol.

He said: “Successive Conservative-led governments and our Labour-run council have left our residents feeling frustrated — whether it’s through botched consultations on new developments, repair works to public throughways going on for years, the cladding crisis, or even threatening to take away our library.

“There’s never been a more vital time to speak up for our communities, and that is exactly what I’m going to do from now on. The Green Party is now the biggest group in the council, with 25 councillors, and I recognise the weight of that responsibility. As a team we are putting together our programme so we are ready to run this city from next year.

“In the meantime, I think that the city council’s current leadership has a responsibility as well — they have to now recognise the mandate that the Green Party has. I’m really looking forward to getting on with the job and representing this amazing community with the commitment and enthusiasm that it deserves.”’

See: https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/greens-win-bristol-election-race-8106783

He undoubtedly has a point about local service. Roadworks with the attendant diversions have been going on in Temple Meads for many years now, as well as in the rest of the city. And the council is considering closing Bristol Central Library and moving it to another location. Rees has also made decisions that make little sense, and have ignored the wishes and opinions of local people. The city wishes to build a new, top-level stadium. The ideal location would be Temple Meads, because it’s the site of the railway station and is a very short drive from the motorway. Rees decided against that, ruling instead that it should be build in Patchway, a district miles away in the north of Bristol. He also upset the local people in Hengrove and Whitchurch in his plans for the redevelopment of Hengrove Park. This was to be the site of new housing, but locals objected because there were too many homes planned and no amenities. They voiced their complaints to Rees, who politely met them. They also submitted them, and their alternative plans, to the relevant supervisory authority, who ruled in the favour. But Rees ignored them, and bulldozed his plans through.

But some of those 26 voters may also have been swayed by national issues. I’ve got very strong reservations about the Greens’ social policies. I’ve got the impression they’re very woke. It was the Green-led local authority in Brighton and Hove which caused controversy a couple of years ago by teaching Critical Race Theory in its schools. In Bristol, former Green councillor Cleo Lake put forward the motion calling for the payment of reparations for slavery to all ‘Afrikans’. In Scotland, it seems to be the Greens behind the Gender Recognition Act, which would lower the age of consent for children to identify as trans to 16, cut back on the amount of time a transperson would have to live as a member of the sex they wish to transition to. As well as the policy that has seen dangerous biologically male rapists locked away in women’s prisons.

But they also have great economic and welfare policies. As I posted a few days ago, I caught their party political broadcast the other night, and they said all the right things when it came to the NHS and the utilities: they want them renationalised along with a proper welfare state. Brilliant! These are the policies that Jeremy Corbyn put forward in his brilliant manifesto, and which Starmer promised to retain. Until he dumped them during a policy review. A few years ago the Greens were gaining on Labour in Bristol before Corbyn became leader, and I have no doubt that some of that was due to the Blairism of Miliband’s leadership.

The Bristol Live report speculates that the victory could mean trouble for Labour in the local elections here in 2024. That’s a real possibility. Novara Media has put up a video today in which Michael Walker and Dalia Gebreal discuss the failure of the Labour leadership to voice support for the strikers. There has been no messages of support from their front bench and Starmer has been going around sacking those that have stood on picket lines. On the other hand, when asked about this, the local MP for Bristol south, Karin Smyth, said quite rightly that the party still defends the right to strike and gave some reasonable objections to MPs standing with the pickets. But it still looks to me like Starmer not wanting to be seen backing strikers and alienating all the Tory and Lib Dem voters he wants to atract.

The Greens have won by a very narrow majority, which could vanish come 2024. But it’ll be very interesting to see how well they do and how the local Labour party responds to their challenge.

Richard Tice Calls for the Partial Renationalisation of the Water and Power Companies

February 1, 2023

Reform posted this short video, just over two minutes long, on their YouTube channel. In it, their current fuehrer calls for the partial, and rather half-hearted renationalisation of the water and power companies. He tries to connect this with Brexit, and has a dig at Starmer for initially backing it and then dropping it, saying he was no longer interested. Tice begins by stating that we are being badly served by the water companies, who are foreign-owned and so use various dodges to avoid paying tax. No other country allows vital parts of their infrastructure to be owned by foreigners. This is quite true, and Mike has been pointing this out on Vox Political since forever and day. This has been the case since they were privatised by the Tories great, molten idol of private enterprise, Maggie Thatcher, in the 1980s. He wants them partly renationalised – 50 per cent owned by the state, 50 per cent owned by pension funds, and placed under private management. This, he feels, will bring it the best of both state and private enterprise.

He’s wrong, of course. There is no magic solution behind private industry. When they’ve been handed state enterprises or institutions, their policy has always been the same: sack people and make those who remain work for less in poorer conditions in order to deliver profits and shareholder dividends. This has been done in the NHS, when hospitals and doctors’ surgeries have been handed over to private companies. In the case of GPs, this has also resulted in unprofitable patients being dumped and their surgeries closed. It also reminds me slightly of the restructuring of industry under the Nazis. Companies were linked together in a series of industrial associations, set up as private companies but membership of whom was mandatory under the Nazi regime. These associations were under the direction of the state planning apparatus running the economy. And the head of these industrial associations always came from private industry, even when the companies under him were state-owned. Obviously Tice isn’t calling for an extension of this system to British industry as a whole or its transformation into a centrally-planned economy. But he makes the same assumptions that Hitler and the Nazis, as well as the Italian fascists did, about the superiority of private industry. And as a true-blue Brexiteer he tries to link it to Brexit by saying that, as with the departure from the EU, this is all part of Britain taking back control.

Still, Tice has got something right, even though I think his speech is partly influenced by a BBC report today that Oxford Council has called for the end of water privatisation, as well as the outrage of the massive profits the private power companies have been making while energy bills have rocketed.. He’s clearly looking around for policies which he thinks will resonate with the public, and so has recognised, albeit grudgingly from the half-hearted way he wants it done, that the majority of the British public want the renationalisation of the public services. Of course, he’s still extremely right-wing in demanding more cuts to the welfare state, which he’s justified with the bogus explanation that British people need to move into low paid jobs in order to stop the British state importing more foreigners to do them. I posted a piece yesterday rubbishing that, and you should also read the comments on the piece left by the greater people reading this blog, who have added much more relevant information. But it is interesting that in this area of policy, Reform has moved left of Labour.

Not that I’ll believe they’ll keep their promises, anymore than I believe Starmer will.

Hurrah! The Green Party Wants to Renationalise the NHS

January 27, 2023

I don’t usually watch the party political broadcasts. I find them too boring, depressing and, in the case of the Tories, infuriating. But I caught a bit of the Greens’ broadcast last night, and was impressed. They stated that as part of their platform of policies they would renationalise the NHS, end its outsourcing and make social care free at the point of use as with the health service. Excellent! This is what the Labour party should be doing, and should have done 16 years ago when Blair won his landslide victory in 1997. But I’m afraid Starmer won’t. Everything he’s said has raised warning signs that he means to privatise more of the health service following Blair’s precedent, starting with using private healthcare providers to clear the backlog of cases. This is exactly what the Tories have been saying. Or course, Jeremy Corbyn wanted to renationalise the NHS, along with the public utilities and restore and revitalise the welfare state. Which is why they smeared him, first as a Communist, then as an anti-Semite, enthusiastically aided by Starmer’s allies in the Labour party.

I’ve very mixed feelings about the Greens. They’re very woke. There was a controversy a few years ago about the schools in Brighton, which I think is a Green council or their MP is Green, teaching Critical Race Theory and White Privilege. In Scotland the Greens are behind the SNP’s wretched Gender Recognition Act, which would lower the age people can legally declare themselves trans to 16 amongst other reforms. I don’t doubt that it’s meant well, but I strongly feel it will do much harm by encouraging confused young people to pursue medical treatment that may be totally inappropriate for them and could lead to lasting harm.

But I entirely support their demand for a properly nationalised and funded NHS.

I am just annoyed that it’s the Greens, who are regarded as an extreme, fringe party, demanding this and not Labour.

Well, a few years ago the Greens took a number of local seats from Labour in the council elections in Bristol until they were only one or two behind them on the council. I would therefore not blame anyone if, in the forthcoming council elections, they turned their votes away from Starmer’s Labour and voted Green instead.

The Fascist Argument Against Free Market Capitalism

January 15, 2023

I notice that as the failure of contemporary free market capitalism becomes every more obvious, its right-wing supporters are out on the net telling everyone how wonderful capitalism is. Capitalism, according to them, has lifted more people out of poverty than any socialist state has ever done. You find this repeated by the Lotus Eaters, and I recent found yet another video on YouTube put up by a right-winger.

Now there is something to this. Marx in the Communist Manifesto was impressed by the global achievements of capitalism, and industrialisation and trade has produced development and prosperity in Britain, the West and elsewhere, and lifted people out of the poverty of agricultural subsistence economies. But this hasn’t been done by capitalism alone. Trade unions have also been part of the development of mass prosperity in the industrialised nations through demands for increased wages, better working conditions and so on, a fact ignored by the right. And working people in the west enjoyed their greatest period of prosperity when capitalism was regulated as part of the post-War consensus. In Britain this took the form of a mixed economy in which the utilities were owned and operated by the state. The privatisation of these utilities, the devastation of the welfare state and the deregulation of the economy has led to a massive transfer of wealth upwards, so that the poor have become colossally poorer and the wealth of the rich even more bloated and obscene. Properly regulated, capitalism does raise people out of poverty. But free market capitalism, of the kind frantically promoted by right-wingers like the Lotus Eaters, has done the reverse.

But let’s grant them that the 19th century was an age of industrial and agricultural expansion in which people enriched themselves. Mussolini expressed this view in his speech about the corporative state he was introducing into Italy. The fascist corporations were industrial organisations, one for each industry, which included representatives of the trade unions and the owners’ organisations. The Italian parliament was dissolved and reorganised into a Chamber of Fasces and Corporations, in which these organisations were supposed to debate economic policy. In fact, it just served as a rubber stamp for the Duce’s decisions. It was, however, important for propaganda purposes, to show that Mussolini’s regime had transcended capitalism and socialism.

The Fascists weren’t enemies of capitalism, far from it. Mussolini’s constitution made private industry the basis of the state and economic life, which is why I’m using it his critique of free market capitalism against the free marketeers. Mussolini had been a radical socialist, but when the Fascists seized power he declared them to be true followers of Manchester School capitalism. In other words, free trade. This was accompanied by a programme of privatisation. In Germany Hitler gave a speech to the German equivalent of the Confederation of British Industry, saying that capitalism could only be preserved through a dictatorship. He stated that he would not nationalise any company, unless it was failing. During the Nazi dictatorship industry was organised into a series of interlocking associations subject to state control. But they were not nationalised, and the leadership of the organisations was always given to private industrialists, not the managers of state industries.

Back to Italy, Mussolini described how this initial period had begun to decay. The old family run firms declined, to be replaced by joint stock companies. At the same time, firms organised themselves into cartels. In America, these cartels demanded intervention from the government. Mussolini announced that, if left unchecked, this would lead to the emergence of a state capitalism that was every bit as pernicious as state socialism. His solution was that capitalism needed to be more ‘social’. It would be subordinated to the state through the corporations, where workers and management would cooperate to make Italy a great power once more.

Something similar has happened over the past four decades. Under this new corporativism, representatives of private industry have entered government as advisors and officials, often in the departments charged with regulating their industries. At the same time, industry has received massive subsidies and tax breaks so that much of the tax burden has moved lower down on working people. Mussolini was correct about private industry demanding state intervention, however much this is denied and state planning attacked by free market theorists. And the result is corporativism, which the free marketeers denounce as not being true capitalism. But it’s been pointed out that the type of capitalism they believe in has never existed.

Free market capitalism is a failure. The solution is not a murderous dictatorship, but the old, regulated, mixed economy of the social democratic consensus. An economy that includes private industry, but which recognises that it alone does not create wealth, and which demands the inclusion of working people and their organisations in industrial negotiations and policies in order to create prosperity for working people.

Shock! Horror! Patriotic YouTuber Paz49 in Favour of Nationalising Energy Companies

December 16, 2022

Here’s a turn up for the books! Paz49 is a former squaddie and I think he may also have been a prison warder. He’s a patriotic, true-blue Tory who begins his videos with ‘Hello lefties’ and then begins to make it very plain that he thinks everyone on the left is well-below him in intelligence. He got a bit shirty with me a year or so ago for a piece I put up criticising him for applauding the ultimatum sent by a group of French officers and soldiers. This declared that they would take to the streets and fight unless the French government took a harder stand against Islam. This sounded to very many people like the threat of a far-right coup or civil war. Paz endorsed it, and then got angry when I described him as ‘far right’, which he took to mean ‘fascist’. Well, it can mean fascist. But equally it also means parties or organisations to the right of the Tories, of which the fascists are only one out of a number. UKIP were far right, in the sense that they were more extreme than the Tories, but they were national populist rather than fascist.

But it seems there is one left-wing policy Paz is prepared to support. He posted a poll asking his readers if they would support the nationalisation of the energy companies. He did, because they had got too greedy. I did the poll, voting yes, and it appears that over 70 per cent of his respondents did the same.

Which bears out the findings of organisations like We Own It that the renationalisation of the energy companies and public utilities in general is popular with people across the political spectrum.

It’s just the Tory government that doesn’t like it.

Starmer Brings Back Labour Plan to Abolish House of Lords

December 13, 2022

Last week it was revealed that Keir Starmer intends to abolish the House of Lords. Before I go any further, I should say that I have no idea what he wants to replace it with. I caught a few seconds of a video put up by GB News or one of the other god-awful right-wing YouTube channels of a Starmer being laid into on this issue by Peter Hitchens. From the few seconds I saw, Hitchens was accusing him of wishing to make all the members of the upper house appointed by the Prime Minister. Hitchens stated that this would be undemocratic, which is absolutely right, if true. But the debate is also more than a little familiar. Back in 1986 or 87 the papers carried reports that the Labour party then wanted to abolish the House of Lords. I think they also plans to reform the House of Commons to make it more democratic, which would have involved giving more power to the speaker. Then there were Tony Blair’s reforms in the late ’90s and early part of this century.

Blair took on the objection to the House of Lords that it was an unelected, undemocratic anachronism. It is. It is, or was, a remnant of feudalism, the old medieval grand council in which the king or the prince was advised by the kingdom’s great lords. It goes all the way back to the witangemot, the council of wise men, in Anglo-Saxon England and similar feudal assemblies in the Carolingian Empire and other states on the continent. Such an assembly is outdated and against the basic principles of democratic representation. On the other hand, it had the advantage of being cheap. Or so I heard it said at the time these reforms were being mooted. The other argument, put forward by really reactionary Tories, was that the hereditary peers deserved the place because they were better fitted to it through centuries of breeding and education. Which is the old Tory argument that all the great civilisations had an aristocracy that cost them an election in the early part of the past century. I don’t think it’s a vote winner, but I’ve no doubt that Jacob Rees-Mogg probably believed in it. He started his career as an aspiring MP campaigning for the seat of a Scots fishing town. He proudly announced that he was standing on a platform of trying to convince the local people that an unelected, hereditary upper house was actually a great institution. Obviously he didn’t succeed, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the SNP vote didn’t increase in that constituency as a result.. Blair reformed the House partly by appointing some of its members, and subsequent Prime Ministers have done the same, so that the number of peers is now 800-odd, far more than the House of Commons and even the governing political assembly of the Chinese Communist party. The peers get an allowance for turning up, and so there have been scandals and accusations that many of them just stick their head through the door long enough to claim their cheque before zooming off to business elsewhere. And the opposition objected at the time that Blair’s reform was hardly democratic. He was denounced as a new Cromwell, who was packing parliament with his supporters, just as England’s Lord \Protector and the butcher of Ireland had done during the Interregnum.

The suggested alternative was to transform the upper house into a senate like America’s. It would still have the duty of checking and amending legislation, but would be elected. According to Private Eye, there was no real enthusiasm behind this idea. People didn’t want to have to go through another round of elections, and the lack of popular support for such a chamber would mean that only mediocrities would serve in it. This must have been the view of the powers that be, or something similar, because the plan seems to have vanished soon after.

.I believe that the current House of Lords needs to be cut down, and no, I don’t want membership of the House to be by prime ministerial appointment. But I also don’t see any point in reforming it radically. The precise nature of the House of Lords doesn’t actually bother me to anywhere near the extent that this country needs a return to the social democratic consensus pre-Maggie. Privatisation has failed, and the Tory welfare reforms are leaving people cold and starving. We need to renationalise the utilities and the railways, as well as the NHS, which should be properly funded. We needed to reverse the destruction of the welfare state so people aren’t left dependent on food banks and private charity to feed themselves if they’re unemployed or disabled. And we need to make sure working people are paid a proper wage for exactly the same reason, not to mention nationalising the energy companies so that people pay less for the fuel and electricity bills and aren’t faced with the decision whether to heat their homes, pay the rent or eat. All this is far more pressing and important than tinkering with the constitution.

But I think the mooted reform of the House of Lords is another example of Starmer wishing to emulate Blair. And Blair wanted to make Britain more like America. But our political system is different. It’s parliamentary, not presidential, and that does apparently affect the results of Blair’s reforms, including his changes to the judiciary. There’s a very interesting video of David Starkey explaining this, put up by the New Culture Forum. Starkey is, of course, a terrible old reactionary while the New Culture Forum are the cultural wing of the Institute for Economic Affairs, a right-wing Buxton Street think tank that wants to privatise everything Thatcher, Major and Blair haven’t already sold off, including the NHS. But Starkey makes a very good case for the incompatibility of British and American constitutional systems.

But most of all I’m afraid that this constitutional tinkering is in lieu of practical policies, that will make a real difference to Britain’s poor and working people. Such as the return to proper, socialist, or at least social democratic politics. Blair changed the constitution, but didn’t change Tory government policies. He just carried on with them once he was in power. In fact, he ramped them up and went much further in the privatisation of the NHS than the Tories had dared.

And I’m afraid Starmer will do likewise.

We Own It Appeal to Send Letter to Transport Minister to Take West Coast Railway into Public Ownership

December 2, 2022

And now, after the sketches of various TV presenters and characters, here’s some serious stuff. Don’t worry if you like the art, I intend to put some more of it up later.

I got this email from pro-nationalisation, pro-NHS organisation We Own It on Wednesday appealing for people to send a form letter they have created to the transport minister to take West Coast railway out of Avanti’s hands and into that of the state. The email runs

‘Dear David,

The governments of England, Wales and Scotland have been forced to take five of our railway lines into public ownership in the last few years.

Now you have a HUGE opportunity to make it SIX. Let’s bring the West Coast Mainline into public ownership.

Can you send our letter to the Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, to demand he save Christmas for millions of passengers and take it into public ownership?

Take 2mins to send the letter to the transport minister

The private company running the West Coast Mainline, Avanti, is doing such a terrible job that the government has said they may take it into public ownership.

The transport minister said in October that a publicly-owned operator is ready to take over if Avanti does not improve the service.

It is clear that the service is not improving – even though they paid out millions in profits to shareholders last year.

Now even right-wing papers like The Times are acknowledging that the publicly owned East Coast Line is doing a much better job than the West Coast Mainline.

It took We Own It supporters like you – alongside our allies at Bring Back British Rail (BBBR) – to force the government to take the East Coast Line into public ownership in 2018.

Now you have an opportunity to force the government to do the same for the West Coast Mainline.

We know sending them our letter can work – because it has worked before.

Demand the government take more of our railway into public ownership

You know our trains would be run much better in public ownership.

Instead of money being sucked out by private train companies, profits can be invested to cut our fares and make sure trains run on time.

Train drivers’ union, ASLEF, just revealed this week that £3.2 billion has been syphoned out in profits from our railways. 

That money could have been used to cut fares and make sure our trains run on time.

And it could have been used to pay our rail workers who kept our country running during the pandemic what they deserve.

But you can force change on this issue now.

We Own It supporters like you – side by side with our allies at Bring Back British Rail (BBBR) – forced the government to take the East Coast Line into public ownership when it was failing passengers.

With Avanti now failing to run West Coast trains properly, you have a unique opportunity to get another BIG WIN by forcing the government to step in.

Take 2mins to send our letter to the Transport Secretary now

This action can make a big difference. Send the letter to Transport Secretary Mark Harper and share the link with your friends and family and ask them to send the letter as well.

Thank you so much for everything you do to make sure our railways work for people, not profit.

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

I’ve signed it, because everything it says is correct. And the quotation from ASLEF shows that we need the unions not just to protect workers’ jobs, but also to provide proper information on the destructive effects of privatisation rather than Tory propaganda. If you also feel as I do, please feel free to use the links and send the letter as well.

Email from We Own It Asking People to Share Their Petition for Publicly Owned Energy Company on Social Media

November 18, 2022

This is another message I got yesterday. However, I’m not on Twitter, Whatsapp or Facebook, so I’m sharing it here, and letting those who are on those social media share it if they wish.

‘Dear David,

Today Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt announced their plan for ordinary people to pay for the cost of living crisis while the rich get richer. 

You know this is wrong. There is another way – and taking our energy into public ownership should be top of the list. 

That’s why you signed the petition calling for public ownership of energy NOW! Can you share the petition to show Sunak and Hunt that the public sees through their spin?

Share on Twitter

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Share via Whatsapp

Share via email

While millions of us struggle to afford food or heating, Moët, the luxury champagne brand, has announced unprecedented demand.

So who’s popping champagne corks right now? It’s the shareholders who own our privatised utilities and services.

This quarter BP raked in a whopping £6.9bn, and Shell has taken £26bn this year. Meanwhile, millions of us are holding off turning the heating on in the face of astronomical bills. 

Today Hunt announced that the windfall tax on energy company profits will be raised to 35%, but this is nowhere near enough. From April, the government is raising the energy price cap to £3,000 – meaning households spend even more on bills. 

Share on Twitter

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This is the moment to let as many people know as possible that it doesn’t have to be this way. 

By sharing the petition calling for public ownership of energy, you can make it clear that there is a real alternative. Right now, the government has the power to: 

  • Introduce a permanent windfall tax on oil and gas companies like Shell and BP, at a rate of 56% (on top of corporation tax)
  • Stop wasting money bailing out failing energy supply giants – set up a publicly owned energy supplier instead
  • Bring the privatised monopolies of the National Grid and regional distribution into public ownership
  • Set up a new state-owned renewable energy company to help tackle the climate crisis

Sunak and Hunt think they can get away with their choice to protect profits over people. By demanding an alternative, you can show them that the public sees right through this!

Share on Twitter

Share on Facebook

Share via Whatsapp

Share via email

We will only get louder with our call for public ownership as the real solution. 66% of the public already agree – let’s get that even higher. 

THANK YOU for signing and sharing the petition. Together we’re reaching more people every day, challenging the stories told by politicians and companies.

You’re helping to spread the message that public ownership is the answer, not austerity. 

Solidarity, 

Cat, Alice, Matthew, Kate and Johnbosco – The We Own It team

PS You can also share the petition by visiting our website and copying the link here: https://weownit.org.uk/act-now/public-ownership-energy-petition

Thomas Sowell Attacks British NHS Because Scared of Rise of Socialism in America

October 23, 2022

I thought so as soon as I saw his wretched video attacking the NHS yesterday. It struck me then as the act of a frightened man trying to discredit a rival political and medical institution. Yesterday Black American conservative Thomas Sowell put out a short video, just under five minutes, urging Americans to choose the American healthcare system over the British because it was better. Er, no. On so many levels. The American healthcare system is so dire that when Thatcher sent her personal private secretary Patrick Jenkin to America to see how it worked so she could do it to Britain, he joined the full-on cabinet rebellion against her when she tried to privatise the NHS. Yes, private American hospitals don’t have the crowding, and I dare say have more choice, than the NHS but that comes at a price. And more and more Americans are unable to afford it. As a result, good, hardworking, severely normal Americans have to say up years before they can afford the hospital care for American mothers to give birth. There is also a much higher infant mortality rate than Europe. Our NHS is no longer the world’s best because it has been comprehensively run down by the Tories and Blairite Labour for decades. But it’s still better than the American system. And the private American system is in crisis. Robert Reich put up a post on YouTube about how it’s falling apart. I’ll try to find it. A friend of mine trained as a doctor, and according to him, American private hospitals are being kept afloat by American public subsidies. As for the utilities, a number of American states have state-owned electricity companies that produce power more cheaply than private firms. In that sense, Reaganite capitalism is failing.

Now Sowell has put out another video with the title that more Americans are falling for socialism. ‘And it’s bad’. Naah. America has a very respectable socialist tradition going all the way back to the Knights of Labor in the 19th century. From what I can see, socialism may even have been stronger in the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It seems that former president Barack Obama has also stirred things up a little by saying that America needs single-payer healthcare. Of course, it’s a bit rich that he says that now, when he refused to implement it in office and went for Obamacare instead, which is based on a Republican plan from Newt Gingrich. What the west needs is a return to the social democratic consensus of a strong welfare state, properly funded public healthcare, nationalised utilities and strong unions. The consensus that gave Britain a rising standard of living up to the 70s. A form of politics that could and should stop the movement to the far right as immigrants get blamed for the poverty caused by neoliberalism. But obviously even this mild form of socialism is anathema to someone like Sowell, who’s a fan of the discredited economics of Milton Friedman.

Monetarism died in the late 1980s. Reaganomics and Thatcherism have run their course. And the Tories have run out of candidates for prime minister so they’re recycling old ones like Johnson and Rishi Sunak.

Hurrah for socialism and down with neoliberalism!