Five reasons not to trust George Osborne with Britain’s national treasures

Worried about privatisation? What to watch out for in Wednesday's budget

 

On Wednesday it’s thechancellor’s ’emergency budget’.

We don’t know exactly what he’s planning. But we do know he seems to be in a hurry to sell off our public services to the private sector as quickly as possible.

That’s why we’ve launched our Top Trumps campaign to draw attention to some of the great public assets that we believe are on Osborne’s hit list. If it has a proud history of success, provides a vital service and makes a profit – we’ve got to keep a close eye on it. The chancellor is probably about to go in for the kill.

1) In May, Osborne announced that he would be selling off £23 billion of our public assets at a CBI dinner. The government is creating a new company to streamline the privatisation process: UK Government Investments (UKGI). UKGI brings together UK Financial Investments (which includes government shares in Lloyds and RBS) with the shareholder executive. The Shareholder Executive is in charge of a portfolio of government owned or part owned businesses, including the Met Office, Ordnance Survey and the Royal Mint, amongst many others. We don’t know for sure whether all or just some of these assets are up for grabs.

2) Under the coalition government, the Liberal Democrats held back some of George Osborne’s plans to sell off public assets. Vince Cable vetoed plans to privatise Channel 4, the Land Registry and the rest of the student loan book.

3) Mark Russell, the head of the Shareholder Executive, is on the record as saying ‘only one or two companies’ owned by the government will never be privatised and that the government is looking at wholly or partly-privatising Companies House, the Land Registry, the Met Office and Ordnance Survey over the lifetime of this parliament.

“Mr Russell makes clear that, unless there is a policy reason for government to own a business, it should look to divest its shareholding if it can realise value for money,” the FT reported. Meanwhile, private investors are already starting to eye up the potential of our profitable public assets.

4) The chancellor has already said that he is selling off the remaining public shares in RBS, and Lloyds. Business secretary Sajid Javid recently announced plans to privatise the Green Investment Bank, and the press is now reporting that privatisation of Channel 4 is back on the table.

5) We know George Osborne won’t wait for our permission or consult us. He doesn’t seem to mind what the public thinks. This government has already sold off a whole range of our services including Eurostar, the search and rescue service, blood plasma – not to mention opening the doors for wholesale privatisation of the NHS and encouraging councils to outsource as much as possible. We know we’ll be the last to hear about our services being sold off. Did you spot George Osborne selling off 15 per cent of Royal Mail shares overnight to bankers? It’ll happen again.

When Osborne goes in for the kill on Wednesday, let’s be ready. Ready to explain why he’s wrong. Ready to fight back. Let’s tell the positive stories about public institutions working well in our hands, making a profit and doing fantastic work.

Sign the petition to stop the sell off.

Cat Hobbs is the director of We Own It. Follow her on Twitter

28 Responses to “Five reasons not to trust George Osborne with Britain’s national treasures”

  1. Torybushhug

    The reason many of us come to lose sympathy for public servants is down to the mass tribunal claiming and sickness culture rife within it. Once again us on the right believe in fairness, genuine fairness, not the sort of world where people so easily exploit society. Seen it time and again, such as Ali Desighs multiple massive claims against The MET which funded his London property empire. Big fat lazy antagonistic negative bloke at kids football spent years constructing his dismissal, keeping meticulous notes, then just as we all predicted managed to win a tribunal and in his 40’s got a massive payout and income for life from his PS employer. Filth and yet so predictable.
    The public get worn down by all these spongers and thieves.

  2. Cole

    Talking of spongers and thieves, polls show the vast majority of us are opposed to privatising our NHS and flogging off public services – often to benefit Tory donors. No sensible economic justification is given for this racket which is, of course, the core mission of the Conservative government.

  3. Vice Squad

    Oh… so you have experienced a charlatan or two and we all must think like hardened Anti-Union Capitalists and exploiters of the vulnerable ?

    If you genuinely believed in fairness and decency you might consider the people who are in desperate need of support who are suffering because of the odd few…

  4. stevep

    If you know fraudulent activity is going on, it is your duty to report it to the authorities. Have you?

  5. Man the Barricades

    When you have a Chancellor who is a self-confessed tax avoider you are liable to discover many other quasi-legal personal money-making schemes. Why don’t you LFF run an article about Osborne’s agressive tax avoidance? On Radio 4 when he reduced the upper rate to 45% he was asked if he would personally benefit from the reduction. He answered “No, I don’t earn enough to be affected”. His salary is £135k and the threshold for 45% is £150k. He has benefits in kind which everyone else is taxed on amonst which are a free house at No 11 Downing St, with all utility bills and taxes paid, a car and a chauffeur with all fuel, taxes and insurances paid, the rent on his £4m house in Notting Hill he no longer needs as he lives at No 11, the income from a £10m trust fund and the income from a 25% share in the family firm Osborne & Little Ltd. No one in the press or media has ever sought to question him about these incomes. Why not? It’s time you at least ran the story and sought answers.

  6. stevep

    What to watch out for in the budget: The same old Tory reverse Robin Hood tactics. Take from the poor and give to the rich.
    All with sleight of hand and smoke and mirrors of course, to make it appear (with the aid of the sycophantic far-right press) that they have done us a favour and we should be grateful for their patronage.

  7. JAMES MCGIBBON

    You sound envious as you have not made an alternative argument and how it would be funded without borrowing from the International bankers.

  8. JAMES MCGIBBON

    The public NHS is hardly performing. I get an appointment after three months and given an X Ray, problem then found and followed by an MRI Scan. Have to wait 5 months for another appointment to get results. Such is the exhaustive waiting list. But hey ho take the pain and keep your sense of humour.

  9. Yvonne Lunde-andreassen

    Please stop talking about ‘government owned’ this and that; THE GOVERNMENT ie the cabinet ie
    a group of politicians temporarily ELECTED to manage THE STATE; they OWN NOTHING but what is personal to them – personally; There seems to be a deliberate evasion/blindness/denial among
    journalists…as if you were afraid to face down reality.

  10. Yvonne Lunde-andreassen

    Please stop talking about ‘government owned’ this and that; THE GOVERNMENT ie the cabinet ie
    a group of politicians temporarily ELECTED to manage THE STATE; they OWN NOTHING but what is personal to them – personally; There seems to be a deliberate evasion/blindness/denial among
    journalists…as if you were afraid to face down reality.

  11. Yvonne Lunde-andreassen

    Please stop talking about ‘government owned’ this and that; THE GOVERNMENT ie the cabinet ie
    a group of politicians temporarily ELECTED to manage THE STATE; they OWN NOTHING but what is personal to them – personally; There seems to be a deliberate evasion/blindness/denial among
    journalists…as if you were afraid to face down reality.

  12. Man the Barricades

    Did you read any of what was written? I guess not.

  13. Man the Barricades

    Did you read any of what was written? I guess not.

  14. JAMES MCGIBBON

    Yes I did read and all you did was moan about Osborne. Give us your alternatives and how you would fund it.

  15. Man the Barricades

    What is the “it” you want me to fund?

  16. JAMES MCGIBBON

    Read what I have writtenl.

  17. Man the Barricades

    All you have written is as follows:

    “You sound envious as you have not made an alternative argument and how it would be funded without borrowing from the International bankers.”

    “Yes I did read and all you did was moan about Osborne. Give us your alternatives and how you would fund it” and

    “Read what I have writtenl”

    Still don’t know what “it” is. Do you? Or are you in another Universe? The article was about the Chancellors budget and the sell off of public assets. What do you want me to fund or are you being deliberately obtuse?

  18. tangentreality

    Why are these publicly owned concerns ‘national treasures’? What a vacuous statement. Whilst the Ordnance Survey does excellent work, what rationale is there for it being owned by the State? It could do its job just as well in the private sector. The same goes for Channel 4 – we already own one State broadcaster, why do we need another? The same applies to the Met Office – why is it publicly owned? It doesn’t need to be.

    RBS and Lloyds, up until their calamitous actions which brought the country to the brink of ruination, were privately owned. Their nationalisation was a last-ditch effort to stop a financial meltdown, and was not intended to make banking a permanent function of Her Majesty’s Government.

    Bottom line: if the State is involved in an activity, it should be out of necessity, i.e. that function cannot be reasonably performed by the private sector. I fail to see why broadcasting, cartography, banking & weather forecasting really need to be the preserve of the State.

  19. wildejamey

    perhaps if the bbc is sold we’ll finally get rid of the regressive TV licence fee – a straight tax on the poor. Most of what it relays is rubbish and/or propaganda anyway.

  20. wildejamey

    I would however like to know why nothing has been done about this over the last 25 years by governments of all persuasions. I doubt if this one will either. They have a history of hitting the wrong people while the real exploiters get off scot free.

  21. wildejamey

    These are all bourgeois parties, including pseudo-Labour, dedicated to upholding the current political and economic system. It is built on exploitation of the vast majority by a minority of the wealthy. The majority btw includes many swivel-eyed rightists and people voting Conservative who genuinely believe they will be better off under an extremist rightist government. All completely conned. If they had the intelligence to sit down and do their sums, they might realize the truth. instead of staying cocooned in a fantasy vision of old imperial glories.

  22. Cole

    Unlike, say, the Mail and Sun. full of unbiased news brought to you by plutocratic foreigners and tax dodgers. And don’t you love it when right wingers suddenly pretend to be interested in the poor?

  23. Cole

    Of course. The NHS is falling to bits, with the likely profitable parts being flogged off. We’ll soon be told that it’s a useless, out of date, socialist system, and that there’s no alternative to an American approach with charges for GP and hospital visits. The Tories voted against the creation of the NHS at its foundation, and they’re determined to get rid of it.

  24. imapolicecar

    I don’t believe what you say is true. Why are you making up this garbage?

  25. Janet T-Tremaine

    Where on earth did you hear that? The Tories have no intention of getting rid of the NHS – but even you should know that it is in crisis and needs a revamp to keep it going at all?

  26. Janet T-Tremaine

    AGREE Yvonne. They don’t seem to acknowledge that the money to repair the neglect and lack of maintenance, early retirements and benefits handed out like candy, needs to come from somewhere. The institutions that are being sold off can be run by the private sector and if fair and open tenders are the method used to select who should be running them, then it is a good solution. The comments further down this thread by
    tangentreality say why Osborne should continue with his plan.

  27. Janet T-Tremaine

    Would you have a rule that everyone who runs for Parliament has to be poor, without assets or his own home, when the/she decides to give up many years of their life to go into politics and public service? That would be plain daft. Osborne already had all that you are envious of BEFORE he became chancellor – it was not paid for by the taxpayer. Also, any chancellor residing at No. 11 gets that house to stay in because of its convenience to his daily business and proximity to the hub of running the country, i.e. No. 10. Are you suggesting that because he has this arrangement he should not keep his family home???? Stupid economics to say the least.

  28. Man the Barricades

    Dont be silly Janet Hyphen-Hyphen, I just think that 27 millionaires in a government is not exactly representative. I am not envious of Osborne whose moral efficacy I despise. Someone who attacks “aggressive tax avoiders” whilst performing the act himself is of very doubtful honesty and is certainly a hypocrite. Even If I agreed that the total cost of the benefits he receives from the taxpayer, benefits that you and I would be taxed upon if our employer gave such benefits, why do you think he shouldn’t pay tax on the rental income from his house in Notting Hill? Why do you think he shouldn’t pay tax on the income from his £10m trust fund? Why do you think he shouldn’t have to pay tax on his shareholding in Osborne & Little Ltd or the £6m sale just done with a company in a tax haven? Your understanding of his situation is as limited as your apparent knowledge of how the vast majority perceive injustice. There’s a lot to bee learned from the Greeks and I would quote you Plato who said “Wealth
    as a social motive is to be mistrusted, and a ruling class which is devoted to
    its wealth, and which owes its position and power to wealth, will substitute
    exploitation for government.” A Chancellor who didn’t even declare a personal financial interest when dropping Corporation Tax to a level below that of Tax Havens like Jersey is to my mind untrustworthy and selfseeking. You really should read more.

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