A sure fire way to get the utilities back into public ownership and the less costly way.
Yes I admire the ambition of the Labour Party Manifesto and it’s aim to get the utilities of Gas and Electricity back into public ownership. Success of this would lead to a more prosperous and fairer Britain and it would be the start of a new era for Britain. Yes it is high time to reverse the privatisations of Margaret Thatcher and John Major which would put Britain on track again. However the scale and the cost of the task is dauntingly enormous and Thatcher knew how difficult it would be to ever go backwards. She tried to make her privatisations irreversible in an attempt to frustrate any attempts to ever develop socialism in Britain. She thought that she had had the final word but despite this there was a fundamental flaw in her plan and one which the Labour Party could exploit if it is savvy enough.
Thatcher and Major sold the idea of private ownership of these companies to the public through ideas and statements suggesting that increased competition would ensure fairer pricing and pay the dividends of shareholding. Shareholding and the idea of shareholders was promoted to the working classes as a progressive step. However this now seems outdated in a society where many of the working classes now use food-banks for support and to supplement low incomes. To most the ideas of shareholding seem a ridiculous notion nowadays. Nowadays it would be better to think of ideas of stakeholding through socialist economic principles as a preferred option to shareholding which would pay dividends to all and these are the ideas gaining momentum at the moment through the ambitions of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.
We were assured by Thatcher and the Conservatives – incorrectly- that we would all benefit from the increased competition of the market forces and the idea that one single company was not solely responsible for supply – hence a number of smaller companies all supposedly in competition with one another would ensure better deals for consumers. The idea that the consumer was free to choose and select at will. It has since been proved that these ideas simply do not work and the consumer is no better off – in fact worse off and when you factor into the equation that the profits that these companies make actually benefits no one except the privileged shareholders then you realise that in fact every UK household is in fact far worse off since if these were publicly owned everyone would benefit from lower, fairer, less confusing prices and the benefits of having fiscal returns paid to back into the UK economy.
What Thatcher and Major were attempting to do by these types of stealthy privatisations was to actually shut the door completely on socialist style economics and make it very difficult for socialism to ever function correctly in the UK. Until recently this has been considered a fait accompli. However in these ambitions there is one fundamental flaw and weakness – a dormant ticking bomb which if it were to explode could undo all that Thatcher and Major tried to achieve. You have only to look for it. I believe that I may have found it. The fundamental weakness in Thatcher and Major’s plan lies in the principles at the heart of their overhaul: competition.
A new Government run Company for the Supply of Gas and Electricity
Now let’s imagine that if the Labour Party were to try a new approach with a revised Manifesto Pledge. Instead of actually using public funds to buy back Electricity Providers it actually choose a less costly option of making a Manifesto Pledge to set up it’s own Government run Company for the supply of Electricity and Gas. Now imagine that it could provide this service at a comparable if not cheaper price than other providers. That the service was on a not for profit basis so it actually would not pay dividends to shareholders but would instead return a proportion of it’s profits to the public purse for the benefit of every UK citizens. So you would be using competition – the very principles on which Thatcher forced acceptance of her privatisations in order to drive out the privately owned companies. Hence market forces would suggest that consumers would go to where they believed and recognised that they got the best deal. Hence take away all the customers from the privately owned enterprises by presenting them with significantly better deals and get them to grow the publicly owned enterprise hence putting out of business the now redundant private companies the result would be that a Labour Government would not have to pay off shareholders to get these companies back into public ownership – they would simply go out of business. Good riddance. What I am suggesting that you could win customers support and loyalty for ideas of public ownership and socialist economics by helping them get a better deal and showing them a demonstration in real terms that this makes more sense both for themselves and for Britain. In this way it is a pragmatic solution to an idealistic goal of installing socialist economic principles in the UK that would have little real cost to the taxpayers but show a very good return almost immediately for a proportionally small investment. The public will start to see benefits straight away – benefits to them as individuals through a fairer pricing and later they will see the benefits as the economy and infrastructure of Britain grows including funding benefits to the NHS and other public services.
This is a strategy for Labour to win the debate on public ownership through making real differences straight away to people’s finances and abilities to cope and pay the bills. It would be a battle for the public ownership of the utilities won through the principles of competition, ethics and social responsibility and this is how it could be sold to the public. People wish to see responsible companies and fair returns. People no longer wish to be exploited by fat cat shareholders demanding ever more percentage of profits whilst consumers pay the price for their greed and when you also factor in that these proposals contain elements of social responsibility and fairness ( hence socialist principles ) and that it can be seen to immediately benefit the individual then it’s a sure fire winner.