2 February 2020
Privatisation has failed for 40 years. From the rail rip off to Richard Branson suing our NHS, from academisation to polluted rivers and beaches - the public is sick of it. We want public services that work for people not profit.
We’ve seen just this week how a consensus has emerged on the railways. The government has had to bring the disastrous Northern Rail into public hands. Privatisation on the railways has been catastrophic - and everyone realises this now.
But it’s not just on the railways. A majority of the public want to see the NHS, schools, utilities, prisons and public transport in public hands too. They realise that the exact same reasons we want to see an end to rail privatisation applies to other public services as well.
If you accept that the railways are a natural monopoly, without any real consumer choice, you have to accept the same for water and for energy.
If you accept that the money we pay shouldn’t be lining shareholder pockets on the railways, you have to accept the same for our NHS and the justice system.
If you accept that the railways are a network where it makes sense to cross subsidise investment, so everyone has a service wherever they are, you have to accept the same for buses or the Royal Mail, or broadband.
And if you accept that passengers deserve accountability on the railways, you have to accept the same for our schools or council services.
Between 2017 and 2019, support for public ownership increased. Support for bringing the railways and water into public ownership has increased by six points. Support for renationalising the Royal Mail has increased by seven points. And support for bringing buses into public ownership has increased by nine points.
Support for public ownership crosses political divides. Whether people voted Remain or Leave, Conservative, Labour or Lib Dem, more people support public services being in public ownership than want them to be privatised.
And not only is public ownership hugely popular. It just makes good economic sense. Right now, we’re wasting £13 billion on privatisation every single year. That’s £250 million every week. That’s why public ownership is the norm across so many European countries - from Scotland’s water to France’s Post Office and from Switzerland’s railway to Denmark’s wind power.
It’s time we ended the farce of privatisation once and for all, so shareholders can’t keep siphoning off profits from staggering fares, eye-watering bills and shoddy services. It’s time we ended the farce because privatisation has totally failed to tackle the challenges of the 21st century - most of all the climate emergency. If we’re serious about getting people out of cars and planes, conserving water and transitioning to renewable energy, we have to bring our vital services into public hands.
Public ownership has never been more relevant, popular, or needed.
That’s why we’re thrilled that three of the candidates to be the next Labour leader, and three candidates in the running to be Labour’s next deputy have committed to public ownership in ten key sectors - the NHS, schools, water, energy, the railways, buses, the justice system, Royal Mail, council services and broadband.