Privatisation is so 1980s - here's how public ownership could improve your day
People before profit
Whether we're talking railways or the Royal Mail, care work or council services, when services are privatised, things go wrong. Costs go up, quality go down and we lose flexibility, integration and accountability.
Evidence shows that privatisation is not more efficient. In fact, allowing the private sector to run our public services means we waste money on shareholder profits, higher interest rates and the cost of creating and maintaining an artificial 'market' where it doesn't belong.
Plus, people don't believe in privatisation. Despite everything we've been told, most of us want services like water, energy, buses and the NHS to be publicly owned and accountable.
Time to move on
Public ownership, we believe, can be local, regional, national or international. It might mean the public sector (for example in the NHS) or other alternatives like cooperatives (for example in energy) as long as assets as locked for the future. But it should always mean profits are reinvested in better services and that we, the public, have a real say.
Ironically, privatisation used to promise us power for the people. In 1986, the famous 'Tell Sid' advert gave ordinary people a chance to buy a share in British Gas and millions of people did. Margaret Thatcher talked about 'enfranchising the many' in a shareholder democracy - but the statistics show it didn't last. In any case, owning a share isn't the same as being a citizen.
Privatisation isn't looking as cool and shiny as it did in the 80s. As with some of those bad fashions - spandex, shell suits, shoulder pads – it's time to move on.
Your daily routine - with public ownership
With public ownership, your life could be better in countless small but important ways.
You could get up in the morning and make a cup of tea using a kettle powered by a local energy coop. Shower under water from your regional public water company. Jump into the local public ecobus or a driverless car on your way to work. You might take your child to a local authority school run along cooperative lines with lots of parent involvement.
At lunchtime you might take a break in the beautiful public park and enjoy the trees and waterfalls. Or pop by the state of the art public library where old fashioned books mingle with new technology. After work, you log onto 'Placebook' where you can find out what's going on in your community and beyond, and vote on decisions.
In the evening, you head down to Wetherspoons. Luckily it's been turned into a national chain of social enterprises, 'Betterboons'. The drinks are nicer, the food's organic and they offer decently paid jobs for young people.
Instead of having to watch as your public assets are sold off and your services are outsourced to shadowy companies like G4S, Serco and Capita, you could know that public services belong to you. You could have clear information and proper consultation. With digital technology and open data, you could help to make the decisions about your services, your assets and resources, your public spaces.
We pay for public services, we use them, we own them.
Bring on the future
The above is an edited extract from a speech from our founder at our first ever conference. We started a conversation about the future of public ownership in 2030 and beyond. Watch the full version here: