PRESS RELEASE ON THE NATIONALISATION OF NORTHERN ROCK
FROM THE CAMPAIGN FOR PUBLIC OWNERSHIP
The Campaign for Public Ownership welcomes the government’s decision to nationalise Northern Rock. But in truth this was a move that should have been taken months ago, before a penny of taxpayers money was pumped into the bank.
For the last 29 years, British governments of both Conservative and Labour persuasion have put the interests of capital, before those of people. It’s time the pandering to banks and big business ended. If the government can bring a failing bank into public ownership, why can’t they do the same to Britain’s railways and public utilities? The vast majority of the public would like to see renationalisation back on the political agenda, yet their wishes are ignored by our political elite.
Proponents of privatisation claimed that the selling-off of Britain’s public utilities, public transport and infrastructure would improve efficiency and benefit the consumer. In fact, the opposite has occurred. Britain‘s privatised railways are the most expensive in Europe, despite receiving four times more in taxpayers subsidy than British Rail. As prices have rocketed, services have deteriorated with commuters who have paid thousands of pounds for their season tickets being forced to stand in toilets. Railways in Britain are no longer run as a public service as they are in the rest of Europe, but in order to maximise profits for shareholders.
British householders meanwhile face massive hikes in gas and electricity prices imposed by privately owned utility companies, such as Npower, which recorded profits of £377m in 2007. Yesterday, the Sunday Express revealed that British Gas, which recently imposed a 15% price hike on its customers is making £1,200-a-minute in profits. Thirty years ago, utility bills were a very minor item in the household budget, now millions of Britons are struggling to afford them.
It’s clear that while proving a bonanza for the banks and wealthy shareholders, privatisation has been a disaster for the majority of the British public.
Northern Rock’s nationalisation should not be a ’one-off’ temporary measure but the start of a new programme of public ownership.