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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19 Responses to “Voters want public ownership – politicians need to listen”

  1. Neil Armstrong

    The Cons are so obsessed with selling of public assets,
    As a member of the Green party I agree with them to keep it in public hands & improve it for all the travellers.

  2. littleoddsandpieces

    Two Thirds want energy companies back into public ownership, but not even 6 per cent vote Green, that is the only party in England close to power that offers nationalisation of all utilities and railways.

    The Greens could get 326 MPs and be a majority government in 2015, if they parked cars legally around railway stations and power stations with the truth that the poorest 20 per cent income of all ages will starve all the more with any other party in government in 2015.

    For the first time since brought about,

    many women born from 1953 and men born from 1951


    and three quarters of the rest will get far far less

    than even now on lowest level of all rich nations bar poor Mexico.

    No I am not a member of The Greens, that I despair will not put on billboards around town centres throughout England, their unique and new policy set that solves poverty for all ages, ends starvation and leaves all citizens with a full state pension:

    – universal, automatic Citizen Income, non-withdrawable

    to the level of the basic tax allowance

    – Full state pension for all citizens, never mind their National Insurance contribution / credit history, leaving no citizen with no food and fuel money forever in old age as coming with the flat rate pension.

    As Gandhi observed that People’s Politics Are Their Daily Bread, this would give the Greens the 13 million who struggle to make ends meet, the 2.6 million pensioners on far far below or on the breadline, and those 50-66 facing a penniless future forever in old age.

    Bear in mind 15 million did not vote in 2010, which is double all the voters for all the parties put together, then The Greens do themselves no favours in not telling people what is to befall them with the flat rate pension, that only The Greens offer the least hope for the poorest people.

    With nationalisation of power from being owned by foreign governments, comes the chance of people not dying each winter, of all ages, from being in unheated homes they cannot afford to turn on the central heating, however cold it gets.

    As I know only too well, a home without central heating is colder than outdoors.

    With benefit or state pension I cannot access Winter Fuel Allowance.

    Like so many women, our average works pension, early retired under the massive austerity job cuts, is within 4 per cent poorest income.

    Yet we have lost most council tax benefit when devolved to cash strapped councils.

    When The Greens’ Leader says it was unfortunate that Council Tax could not be risen 4 per cent in Brighton, where The Greens rule, I hear that in despair, because it is the poor who are hit by Council Tax heavier than any other income level.

    Bearing in mind the poor as a percentage of stagnant or ever less money, who have been hit with a near 70 per cent inflation rate for energy bills and just about the same for food prices, in comparison with all other income levels.

    Ms Bennett would not tell us that The Greens intend to end National Insurance contributions, so saving the working poor (the bulk of those in poverty) 12 per cent off wages each year.

    Nor that The Greens intend to replace Council Tax with a Land Tax, and not tell us if that will be less or more for the poor.

    If The Greens want to win big, the poor are their best chance.

    So answering our questions on the new manifesto for 2015 general election would bring far more than the single MP in Westminster.

    But no matter who I contact by email, all I get is some bland generic answer, without specifics.

    No party represents the poor, who may indeed be a third of the population today. So if The Greens want to benefit (no pun intended) from their new and unique policy set voted in their Spring Conference, then please tell the poor the specifics you offer.

    Or else the poor will again not vote for any party and keep on dying from the cold and from hunger, of all ages. And suicide when left penniless.

  3. JohnRich

    Oh Yes !!

    Let’s have BT re-nationalised and we can all go back to those wonderful days of ordering a telephone line (you were only allowed one), waiting 3 months for it to be installed and then being able to choose between a black or cream phone.

    Wonderful days. LOL

    There was a very good reason why privatisation was so popular 30 years ago – the nationalised industries were an inefficient stalinist nightmare.

  4. Kryten2k35

    And times have changed. These businesses are more popular and profitable on such a great level.

  5. GhostofJimMorrison

    Maybe, but times have changed and you know it. Public companies can be, and indeed are, ran as efficiently and productively as any private company. There would be no return to the bad old days.

  6. Glen Shaky Shakespeare

    Vote Green, get Cameron. That is the reality under FPTP. They currently have 1 MP and that is not looking so secure in Brighton for next year. Elections under FPTP are a horse race. Tory or Labour. You choose. The Greens are free to dream up any policy they feel like at any given time as they know they will never be in a position to implement those uncosted policies. They are not hindered by the constraints of reality. Please wake up and smell the coffee. The Greens would rather Cameron stayed in power in order to further their own narrow agenda. They are cynical in the extreme.

  7. blarg1987

    Granted no system is perfect, however lets look at the other issues, do you have a say over who puts in the telephone line, or how much money you pay to maintain that line?

    The same goes with the utilities, yes you decide who you buy your electricity, gas and water off, but you have zero say on who puts in or maintains those services.

    We were sold the lie of better quality and cheaper service provision and greater consumer choice, however we do not have that in all services do we?

    Your buses are local monopolies, your water and sewage are the same.

    Yes BT had its flaw, but part of the problem was lack of investment in the first place.

  8. Leon Wolfeson

    BT is already nationalised in many ways, of course – there’s strict control over their infrastructure and pricing.

  9. Guest

    Copypasta and hamas-liking sites again? Sigh.

  10. madasafish

    Of course, if the Government renationalises the railways, and the energy companies and runs them not for profit, it will have to:
    1. fund the purchases.
    2. Fund the investment needed for the future as there won;t be any profits to fund them.
    3. Fund the investment in insulation for the poor currently funded by energy companies (who have been fined if they don’t).

    So an article which fails – utterly – to mention money when it proposes such a strategy is utterly without any foundation in reason.

    I take it George Woods thinks money is something that grows on trees? Anyone who proposes such a radical change as he does, must surely have done some sums. The fact that he does not share those sums with us tells us all we need to know about the thought processes used to arrive at such a policy.

  11. blarg1987

    The money can be found from direct borrowing (governments can borrow money at far lower rates compared to private companies)

    This can then be used to invest in rail and energy, and be paid back over its lifetime.

    Besides, the savings will be generated from not having to pay so much in subsidies to both the railway and energy sector.

    Compulsory purchase wont be required as all the state have to do is ask for its money back from the energy and rail industry after all taxpayers have subsidised both.

  12. robertcp

    Elections under FPTP are two-horse races but many of them will not be Tory v Labour in 2015. Many voters will have a choice between wasting their vote or guessing who is in first and second place. How dare the Greens stand for election and ask people to vote for them!

  13. robertcp

    Unfortunately you are right, some people on the left never seem to even consider how much a policy will cost or if there will be unintended consequences.

  14. dan ash

    Poor argument using BT as an example. In the 80s all phone exchanges were analogue, meaning the business of installing lines was labour intensive. Since then we’ve entered .a digital world (nothing to do with privitisation) meaning that usually the work that had to be done manually is now done largely with a few clicks on a keyboard.

  15. swat

    I’m trying to think which Party you’re refering to. It certainly isn’t the Labour Party otherwise it would be in their Manifesto Committment for 2015, when its published. And I bet it isn’t.

  16. Cole

    And let’s remember the central point: privatisatiion is very unpopular. It has been driven by a greedy elite who want to make money out of everything, regardless of the consequences. BT was one of the better privatisatiions; many have been a total failure for consumers. And there is no mandate for what the government is currently doing with the NHS.

  17. Leon Wolfeson

    So you deny fiat currency exists now?

    There IS a money tree, and we’re looking at deflation because we’re refusing to use it!

  18. Leon Wolfeson

    That’s a sucker bet, no deal.

    Labour is shying away from policies which are moderate left and poll well, sadly.

  19. robertcp

    I am very sceptical when people talk about money trees. We are in this mess because bankers stopped using their common sense.

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