Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ticket price rise misery for millions of British rail users

The Daily Mail reports:

Millions of rail passengers face higher than expected annual fare rises of up to 10 per cent as the Government considers scrapping the formula for raising ticket prices.

Commuters and families will feel betrayed by rises which have put ministers on a collision course with rail unions, who vowed yesterday to 'stop the Government in their tracks' if train fares increase and investment is cut.

Passenger groups say UK train fares are already the highest in Europe.

The fares system, imposed by Labour, already guarantees inflation-busting rises by allowing train companies to put up prices each New Year by 1 per cent above the level of the retail price index from the previous July.

However, Conservative Transport Secretary Philip Hammond signalled yesterday this formula may have to be broken - allowing fares to rise even further if, as expected, his department is forced to bear the brunt of budget cuts in the Government's October review of finances.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union, said his union's annual meeting in Aberdeen this week will 'be planning the fightback and a mobilisation of rail workers and rail users that will stop the Government in their tracks'.

He added: 'We could see fares jacked up by as much as 10 per cent while passengers are crammed into ancient carriages running on creaking track.'

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Campaign For Public Ownership's Press Release on the Budget

The Campaign for Public Ownership strongly opposes the new privatisation measures announced in Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s Budget.

The government has announced its intention to sell off the Student Loan Book, the air traffic control system, and the state-owned bookmaker the Tote, in public ownership since its inception in 1928. It also pledges to introduce ‘private sector investment’ in the Royal Mail.

It beggars belief that after Britain’s disastrous experience of privatisation the government, (which also announced this week its decision to sell off the High-Speed Rail link), still thinks that selling off publicly-owned assets is the way forward.

While selling off the family silver may lead to short term financial gains for the public purse, in the long term we all lose out, as we end up having to pay higher prices for basic services.

A truly ‘progressive’ government would not be announcing further privatisation, but instead be embarking on a programme of re-nationalisation. Such a programme should start with the re-nationalisation of Britain’s railways, a move supported by over 70% of the people.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Campaign For Public Ownership's Press Release on the Government's decision to sell the High-speed rail link

The Campaign for Public Ownership strongly opposes the government’s decision to sell the London to Folkestone high speed rail link, which was announced today.
Transport Minister Philip Hammond admits that “HS1 is a national success story and a world-class railway operating to international standards.”. But if that’s the case, why sell it?

Hammond also said: “ The government does not have to run everything directly - we need to take prompt action where private enterprise can provide both a better deal and a superior service to the public." But regarding Britain’s railways, it is abundantly clear that private enterprise has not provided a better deal or a superior service to the public than the state-owned British Rail.

Our rail fares are the highest in Europe, despite private train operators receiving four times more in taxpayers subsidy than British Rail.

Instead of privatising yet more of our rail network, the government ought to be listening to the British public, and bringing our entire rail network back into public ownership.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The tyrants in pinstripe: Neil Clark on the biggest menace to threaten Europe since the Nazis

This article, by CPO co-founder Neil Clark appears in The Morning Star.

Seventy years ago, European countries faced a battle for their very existence as nazi forces swept across the continent.

Now those countries face another battle - against the forces of international capital.

The money men won't be happy until every last publicly owned asset is privatised and in their greedy hands.

Europe's debt crisis, caused in large part by the greed of international speculators, is being used as an excuse for something which the money men and their cheerleaders in the media have long desired - the wholesale sell-off of those assets which remain in public ownership.

As John Foster said in his Morning Star analysis recently, it's a confidence trick so gigantic that it would make even that Olympic champion fraudster Bernie Madoff blush.

Earlier this month, Greece's "Socialist" government announced a major programme of privatisation, including the sale of 49 per cent in the state-owned railway, the sell-off of regional airports, highways and harbours and stakes in the post office and water utilities. The French government has announced a fire-sale of over 1,700 state properties, including many historic castles.

Here in Britain, new Postal Affairs Minister Ed Davey, from the "progressive" Liberal Democrats, has said he is considering the full-scale 100 per cent privatisation of Royal Mail, which has been in the hands of the British state since its inception in 1516.

If the money men have their way then over the next few years, governments in Europe will sell off not only their railways and national infrastructure but hospitals, schools, universities and all other state-owned enterprises.

It's a prospect eagerly awaited by "free-market" fanatics in the media. In the Daily Telegraph, Simon Heffer claims that deficit reduction requires "severe cuts" in the NHS and the privatisation of Britain's motorways. The former editor of The Economist Bill Emmott says that "if this debt crisis were to end up turning Europe Thatcherite, that would be something for us to celebrate."

While Janet Daley, an enthusiast for private provision of health care and pensions, says that the cuts should be seen "as part of an essentially positive, fundamental reconstruction of the way that public services are funded and delivered."

But in reality there will be nothing "positive" about these changes for ordinary people, who will be forced to pay much higher prices for basic services. For the financial elite however, there will be rich pickings.

It's a depressing scenario, but we mustn't lose heart. Things looked pretty bleak in 1940 in Europe, but nazism was eventually defeated.

By organising a mass pan-European movement to oppose privatisation and cutbacks in state provision of health, welfare and education, we can defeat today's anti-democratic, money-grabbing, pinstripe-suited tyrants.

You can read the whole of the article here.