"Consider the experience of the last few weeks. At the weekend, new evidence emerged that the six private companies which control Britain's gas and electricity have been holding regular closed meetings and colluding to drive up prices and keep out competition, while preparing to declare record profits of £4.5bn - and this when only 4% of their customers believe they get the good deal that market competition was supposed to deliver. Britain's privatised utilities continue to do their best to confirm the 18th century economist Adam Smith's view that "people of the same trade seldom meet together ... but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices". Meanwhile, over the Christmas and New Year holidays, 200,000 passengers were left stranded because of overruns by the private contractors still tied to Network Rail and because private train operators in an expensive, overcrowded and fragmented industry didn't find it profitable to run services.
But despite such manifest failings, the government and wider political class is locked into an ideological mindset which can't conceive of a modern socialised alternative.
The Northern Rock implosion has highlighted the real nature of what's called the free market in modern capitalist economies - neither free nor transparent, and utterly dependent on state support."
Read the rest of Seumas Milne’s excellent piece on the reality of today’s ‘free market’ here. And if you think something needs to be done about this scandalous situation, then please lend your support to the new Campaign for Public Ownership.