Posts Tagged ‘The Herald’

We Own It: Hacks Waking Up to Failure of Privatisation

September 30, 2021

I’ve said many times on this blog that Thatcher’s privatisation of the utilities and the railways has been an utter, complete, unmitigated failure and that these services should be renationalised. I am very pleased to say that a number of mainstream hacks are finally waking up to this. I got this email from anti-privatisation, pro-NHS group ‘We Own It’ reporting that journos on the Times, Torygraph, Herald and the Guardian have written pieces criticising privatisation. They also describe how various rail companies have had to be renationalised, and that nationalisation is part of Labour’s Green New Deal and Shadow Transport Secret Jim McMahon supports the renationalisation of the railways. It also castigates Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves for opposing nationalisation on ideological grounds, even when they claim the complete opposite.

“Dear David,

People are waking up to the fact that privatisation has failed the UK for nearly 40 years.

In the Times, Jon Yeomans talks about Thatcher’s sell offs, saying “More than 30 years later, Britain lives with the consequences of that 1980s revolution. From buses to trains to energy, there are signs that the wheels may be coming off.”

In the Herald, Lesley Riddoch asks on behalf of frustrated Scots “Is there any way to escape privatised Britain other than independence?”

Scotland is bringing its railway into public ownership.

Wales is bringing its railway into public ownership.

The East Coast line was brought into public ownership in 2018 (it’s now run by the government’s operator of last resort).

The Northern franchise was brought into public ownership in 2020.

And this week Southeastern, after defrauding the government of £25 million, has also been brought into public hands.

As the Telegraph (yes, the Telegraph) says “the Southeastern debacle exposes the failure of Britain’s rail privatisation”.

It’s not just rail – with Covid, the bus ‘market’ (never much of a market) is collapsing.

The Guardian comments on the proposed merger of Stagecoach and National Express, saying “Passengers, who have seen rail fares rocket and local bus services wither, may also hope this signals the end of a chapter when a few could profit so enormously from an essential public service.”

Meanwhile Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, who has committed to re-regulating the buses there (a victory of our campaign!) comments about himself and Mayors Tracy Brabin and Dan Jarvis “Between us we are rolling back the 1980s, we are overturning the Thatcher legacy.”

At the Labour party conference, shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband talked about the Green New Deal, committing to “a green Britain where public and alternative models of ownership play their proper role in making the transition affordable, secure and fair.”

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon confirmed his support for public ownership of rail and buses.

And Labour delegates voted for a Green New Deal, including public ownership of transport and energy, with speech after inspiring speech explaining why this is needed.

Despite all of this, Keir Starmer (who hasn’t responded yet to our open letter) and his shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves have said they don’t support nationalising the energy supply companies. They’ve said they don’t want to be “ideological” about it.

But the truth, as Cat writes in the Guardian today, is that privatisation is an extreme ideological experiment that has failed us all for decades, and people have had enough of it.

When the Times, the Telegraph, the Herald and the Guardian are questioning privatisation, when more and more of our railway is being brought into public ownership, when Mayors are re-regulating buses, and when the energy market is in crisis – there’s a shift happening.

On moral and on economic grounds, privatisation just isn’t making sense anymore.

Don’t tell Sid

Cat, Alice, Johnbosco, Matthew, Zana and Anna – the We Own It team

PS Who’s Sid? In 1986, when Thatcher sold off British Gas, the company was floated on the stock market, accompanied by the famous ‘Tell Sid’ advertising campaign.

This shows precisely how out of touch, far right and ideological Starmer and Reeves are. They’re still pushing Thatcherism when it’s increasingly obvious that Thatcherism is dying. As for the Tory privatisation slogan in the 1980s, this was ‘If you see Sid, tell him’. It was a hidden gibe at Sidney Webb and the Fabians, who advocated the nationalisation of the utilities. Now it seems Sid is may just have the last laugh yet.

If you see Maggie, tell her: privatisation is disaster.

Fluck and Law’s 1987 Caricature of Rupert Murdoch

March 16, 2016

I found this grotesque photo of Fluck and Law’s rubber model of the Dirty Digger in Private Eye’s issue for 22nd July-4th August 2011. It was originally done for their issue 667, of July 1987. This marked the decision of Lord Young, Maggie Thatcher’s Trade and Industry Secretary, not to refer the Digger’s attempts to take over the Today newspaper to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. The censor flash is mine, as the original is very explicit, and I didn’t want to put anything that might be considered too indecent up, one consideration being that such imagery can be used as pretext for blocking the site because of its political content. The good Mr Pride had experience of this when some people were finding their attempts to go to his page blocked because of ‘adult content’. It does indeed have such, but not in the sense his detractors meant. And I’m not willing to let the same excuse be used to stop people looking at this site.

Apart from its historical context, it’s pretty much what Murdoch has been doing to British media, culture and politics ever since he was allowed to take over the Herald and turn it into the Sun in the late ’60-’70s.

Fluck Law Murdoch

Vote Labour to Get Murdoch Out!

April 22, 2015

According to the Indie, Rupert Murdoch has told the hacks in News International to redouble their efforts to stop ‘Red’ Ed Miliband getting into No. 10. The paper quoted the Dirty Digger as saying, ‘If he gets in, we’re finished.’

In my opinion, this is another reason why every decent person in this country should go out and vote for Miliband.

Murdoch, and to a lesser extent the other Fleet Street press barons, have been a pernicious influence on this country, and indeed, across three continents, ever since he turned up in the 1970s to buy the Herald, as the Sun then was, and then the Times. The quality of the journalism went down, while extreme nationalism went up, along with an extremely anti-working class bias. Recent biographies have Murdoch have pointed out that his goals have been consistent, despite him notoriously changing from supporting one party to another. He has always demanded the destruction of trade unions and the privatisation of the NHS, as well as gaining a monopolistic control of the press and television networks for himself. Hence his frequent rants at the BBC, parroted ad nauseam by his obedient puppets in the Sun and Times. He’d like that sold off too, to be bought either by himself, or for his companies to fill the broadcasting vacuum left by its demise.

In the 1980s and for part of the 1990s he loudly promoted Maggie at every opportunity. Then he decided that Tony Bliar would be far more agreeable to his ambitions, and so switched allegiance to New Labour. Commenters have described Blair’s concern for the opinions of the press barons as entirely malign. Murdoch was an unseen, spectral presence at every cabinet meeting with the Prime Minister wondering how the latest policy would go down with Rupe, and he was also keen to win over Dacre and the Mail. Blair himself probably didn’t need much help in pushing Labour towards pretty much the same neo-Liberal economic stance as the Tories, but Murdoch’s assistance acted to encourage him further to move in that direction.

The press sees itself as the ‘Fourth Estate’, holding politicians to account in the absence of more effective political checks and balances. But the Indie’s columnist reporting Murdoch’s remarks today turned this assumption on its head. Rather than promoting democracy and political accountability, they had actually worked against it by manipulating public opinion.

If, despite Murdoch’s best efforts, the Tories lose this election, it will mean that the press has lost some of its immense power. And that will actually be good for democracy.

So, let’s get Murdoch out of No. 10. Vote for Miliband!