Voters want public ownership – politicians need to listen

Two-thirds of the public believe energy should be in public ownership. Yet only one party mentions this as an option.

Two-thirds of the public believe energy should be in public ownership. Yet only one party mentions this as an option

Have the facts ever got in the way of a blinkered politician on a mission? This week’s news that the government has sold the East Coast mainline is another reminder of how disastrously wedded the political class is to privatisation.

Here was a successful, popularly run and yes, efficient railway.

It had its flaws, but it also returned over one billion pounds in the five years since its previous owners walked away from their contract, and it did it all while boosting the quality of its customer services and treating its staff fairly.

Due to nothing more than the dogma of the coalition, the public has lost this profitable asset and a Stagecoach/ Virgin joint venture is circling the carcass. What is this if not economic sabotage against the British people?

This of course is nothing new, and it’s always in the face of stiff resistance from the rest of us. Previous research carried out for We Own It proves that the public has stood against the flogging off of East Coast from day one.

In fact, a majority of Conservative voters even supported the franchise being kept public. It’s not just on the railway: across the board, people want public services in public hands.

But new findings this week expose just how great the gulf is between the politicians and the British public. On every single question regarding outsourcing and privatisations of public services, Westminster is dramatically out of step with what the majority of people want.

For example, 79 per cent of the public wants to be consulted before services are privatised or outsourced. Yet only Plaid Cymru and the Greens seem to be considering such a policy.

68 per cent of the public believes energy should be in public ownership. Yet only one party mentions this as an option. Even with trust in politics in the doldrums, it is incredible to see just how out of touch politicians are on these questions.

We’ve turned the data into an interactive tool you can use to explore just where these discrepancies lie.

If after taking a look, you agree with us that it’s high time government stopped treating our public services as lucrative cash cows they can sell on to their corporate friends, then please do join with us by adding your name to our letters to each of the main party’s manifesto writers.

Our message is clear: If the political parties want popular, vote winning policies, then they need to act quickly to ensure their manifestos speak to some of the real concerns that voters have about the future of public services in this country.

At the very least, that means committing now to a Public Service Users Bill – to begin the process of redressing the rampant outsourcing of public services over the past twenty years and giving the people affected a real say.

George Woods is a campaigner at We Own It. Follow him on Twitter

Elsewhere on Left Foot Forward: The success of East Coast shows that another model can work. And that’s why it terrifies the government

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