Sunday, 11 October 2009

Gordon Brown - He Loves That Privatisation

I thought I would give myself a day before blogging about the recently announced £16 billion sell-off of public assets, which is the Government's latest economic wheeze. I thought it might make it seem more like common sense.

Didn't work.

So, you're facing an annual £175 billion deficit. Frankly, unless you start selling off the entire state, asset sales aren't going to make much of a dent. They particularly aren't going to make much of a dent if you are selling off some services (British Waterways is on the list, for example) which, one presumes, you are then going to have to lease back in various forms, or at least pay to use.

Whichever way I look at it, frankly it seems like a bit of a firesale to private companies - the kind of companies who have already benefited massively from Gordon Brown's reign under PFI contracts, PPP and various other dodgy financial instruments which have been used to channel public money into private pockets. The Lib Dems at least have pointed out that, if you think the sell-off is a good idea (which all three establishment parties seem to) you at least should try to get good value for the assets - i.e. not sell them off at the bottom of the market when you don't actually need to.

All in all, very strange...and another example of the way in which the UK's response to the financial crisis seems to be more and more mirroring Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine" analysis - the idea that global capitalism now takes advantage of crises - whether financial, social or natural - to privatise everything in sight. Spare a thought in particular for the workers at the Dartford Crossing. Not only did they put in a large amount of work towards a failed attempt at employee ownership earlier in the decade (exactly the kind of thing that any Government supported by the Co-operative Party should be supporting, of course), now even the asset they are working with has been shipped off into private hands.

We have to stop this wave of privatisations - and stop them now. The answer to this crisis lies in public investment and support for greater economic democracy - not cuts and privatisation.

P.S. I haven't even covered the sell-off of the student loan book here - mostly because I am still trying to wrap my head around what that means, what dodgy ways whoever buys it is going to make profit out of it, and how exactly it is going to hurt people like me who still have lots of outstanding student loans....

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