Those of a certain age will remember the government’s “Tell Sid” campaign back in the mid 1980’s as Thatcher’s crew started its quest to privatise national, state-owned assets such as the energy, telecoms, water and rail providers. Then later on it was the turn of the customer owned building society’s which were quickly ‘demerged’ into banks to become cash cows for crony capitalists. The process continues today with the NHS which is slowly being carved up to the private sector.
A short article from the BBC here, gives an outline of the ‘Tell Sid’ campaign for those not in the know.
Well, 35 or so years later, how did that policy pan out would you say? Politically speaking, which I don’t do very often I must admit, I class myself a left leaning liberal. So I’m not a card-carrying socialist by any means, however one thing I am and always have been against, is the privatisation of national assets. Anything that is key to the running of a country’s infrastructure such as the supply of energy, clean water and sewerage services, the movement of people and goods around the rail network or the provision of national communications: shouldn’t be left to the whims of the private sector.
To illustrate the point, just think – over the years since privatisation; how many times have we seen the government having to bail out, prop-up or police privatised utility, bus, rail or telecoms companies?
Now today, in 21st Britain, we have the looming gas inflation price fiasco dominating our news channels and increasing the likelihood of fuel poverty not to mention the potential of food shortages due to the lack of CO2 production (see this explainer here), starting to become a real prospect.
Watching bumbling Boris on the news tonight, trying to placate us all and play the matter down, did not fill me with confidence (does he ever?) and I suspect that behind the scenes, the government is running around in a blind panic like headless chickens over the matter.
What can you say? Let the market decide – yeah right!
PS: A tip of the hat towards this article from Jason Beattie of The Mirror which sums up my thoughts on privatisation.