Sunday, November 30, 2008
'Free market' fanatics call for Welsh water privatisation
You couldn’t make it up. You would have thought that after the disaster of railway privatisation the free market loons of The Adam Smith Institute, who came up with the whole barmy idea in the first place, would have done the honourable thing and left public life for good. But no, they’re still at it. The battiest think tank in the world wants to see the publicly-owned Glas Cymru- the company which owns Welsh Water subjected to the “disciplines of private sector ownership”. And we all know that that will mean: profits for the few, but much higher bills for householders.
In his brilliant post 'English Water, anyone', Charlie Marks writes:
Though Glas Cymru may not be perfect, it looks a damn sight better than what we have in England! We are being told that the only way to lower our bills is to have the profiteering water companies competing with each other. We have this with our gas and electricity suppliers - but do our bills come down? No, they compete with each other to squeeze as much money out of customers!
Privatisation has been a disaster. Public assets sold off at knock-down prices to the friends and sponsors of the governing party (Tories, now New Labour). Prices have been allowed to skyrocket -natural monopolies are milked for profit by colluding suppliers in gas, electricity, and railways. Rather than seeing greater private investment in our railways, more public money is invested in rail than ever before!
The likes of the Adam Smith Institute can try all they like to convince the public of the benefits of handing public resources over to big businesses. Their nonsense is only heeded by those politicians hoping to get cushy non-jobs in business after they leave office.
We need to return the privatised utilities to public ownership and democratic control, with the involvement of workers and consumers in the process of management.
Surveys of public opinion have never found a clear majority in favour of privatisation - and with the credit crunch being perceived as resulting deregulation and demutualisation, more and more people will begin to see the necessity of reversing the neoliberal era.
Privatisation of water and sewage services did not take place in Scotland or Northern Ireland. Scottish Water is owned by the Scottish government and both the incumbent nationalist party and the opposition Labour Party are committed to the company remaining in the public sector. The Scottish Tories are for privatisation, but are at pains to point out they don’t want what has happened in England! Northern Ireland Water priovides water and sewage services in the six counties; like Scottish Water it is still part of the public sector.
So, there’s Northern Ireland Water, Scottish Water, Welsh Water - how about English Water?
You can read Charlie’s article in full at the Campaign for Public Ownership’s website and at his own excellent pro-public ownership blog.
Meanwhile, I see that the Adam Smith Institute have got a new book coming out entitled 'Privatisation-Regaining the Momentum'. That's sure to be a best-seller this Christmas, isn't it?