It annoys the fuck out of me that we stuck to the EU rules to force through privatisations when the rules were purposefully ambiguous to allow a state to become a majority shareholder and in some cases the only shareholder of the transport or energy company.
Deutsche Bahn is state owned and has become the largest rail company in europe.
The EU rule that is difficult to get around is the state subsidisation of energy or transport companies.
Yeah Germany gets a lot of this stuff right. DB is 100% state owned; a lot of their infrastructure is set up so that it’s majority state owned, but with a good slug being listed. This means profits can be made (and must be made, if possible), but the state has control.
But this state control tends to come with limits: they can be entrepreneurial but not wildly risky, and have obligations to provide certain services and training etc.
In the UK we simply privatised profit and kept the downside risk in the public sector. We did it so badly.
I love using the supermarket apps to scan everything on my phone, as I go round the shop and then just pay on the phone too. M&S are the best as you don’t even need to go to the till, you just scan it then pay in app and walk out the door!
It means acknowledging that core functional infrastructure - the stuff that people’s lives rely on, and on which the financial health of the nation depends - cannot be trusted to the fragile whims of capitalism.
It means doing away with the charade of privatisation which is really just cherrypicking-for-profit while public money continues to be poured in the £billions into unaccountable quangos who use it to give themselves massive handouts while neglecting core infrastructures.
It means confronting reality: addressing the herd of room-elephants, comprising catastrophic failure, corruption, decay, incompetence, neglect, greed and relentless political lies.
This is MUCH wider than just rail. Health, water, sewage, power, roads, communications (data, telecoms, post), education, defence, policing - the more they have been privatised (often stealthily and incrementally), the more they are failing to provide fair, efficient, effective services for everyone - and the more that corruption and profiteering creeps-in.
This is always misrepresented as ‘socialism’ but this is not about hand-outs, it’s about the blindingly-obvious fact that a nation is strongest when everyone in it is able to participate and contribute to the full - when that nation is able to run effectively, efficiently and fairly.
Some things just matter far too much to be sacrificed to mindless political dogma, and to the vultures that care only for profit.
[devilsadvocate] The Tories would argue, presumably, that a commitment to public ownership is precisely ‘political dogma’ and that there are multiple examples in this country (second half of the 20th century, mostly) and in many other countries of it failing. Among its flaws, they might claim, are a lack of factors motivating better staff performance, few incentives for innovation and serious limits on investment due to a lack of consensus, not only between political parties but also across the tax-paying population. You might argue that the rail infrastructure needs modernisation and expansion but my brother (the one who lives in the US) hates using public transport and would resent his hard-earned being spent on it. And if he lived here he would have a vote. I am old enough to remember British Rail and British Steel in the 1970s and neither was lovely, albeit in different ways.
I don’t know what the answer is. Germany makes a lot of things work, but it’s hard to disentangle their successes from the very heavy post-war reconstruction, from them having decades of not spending much on their military and from their different governmental structure which is so much more regional. Then again, when I was a regular visitor to one of their big government facilities there was constant grumbling about the politicing needed to get money and, in particular, about the real problems young German scientists had getting permanent jobs. More then one of them ended up working in UK government labs (this before Brexit) for that very reason.
I remember those times too, and I remember the failings, and some of that can never be made to go away, because, of course, Human Nature is A Thing… Equally many contributory factors no longer exist. In any case, we remember those things partly because so much right-wing propaganda relentlessly focussed on them - and never on the successes.
Those old models were certainly investment-shy, but look at the years since - nothing has actually changed, except that underinvestment and fear of innovation (which tend to go hand-in-hand) have got worse!
Were it not for huge amounts of public money being bukkake’d all over (e.g.) rail companies - if we truly left them to the laws of ‘nature’ - they would have vanished years ago, and every inch of track outside London would now be a cycle paths…
So it goes with the rest of it.
There’s never a simple answer because there are always agitating bodies looking to disrupt - destabilise - profit. For me, I can think of no stronger argument than “For the greater good of us all!” - but for Them that argument is absurd to the point incomprehensibility! There’s no way to bridge that gap other than to ignore it and plough-on with what you know to be right…
And yes, I do know where that mindset can lead! Luckily common sense is a thing too…
It’s one model of operating, it still has to bid to run services in Germany and doesnt always win, there’s even a UK company operating a German train service. DB do make half their money from freight in germany not something possible in the UK. DB do run a UK freight service and the Royal Train they invest heavily in infrastructure, unlike the UK who can’t even build a sunglasses fucking High speed line. Their most expensive ticket is less than 4 grand a year, enough to make a uk commuter weep.
Be interesting to see what Labour do in this post Brexit world. I’ll take a bet that they dunt set up a government owned company like DB, able to operate without Ministerial control. Our politicians are addicted to centralised control.
Everything they do has first-and-foremost to be a vote maximiser. If an action meets an urgent and obvious need somewhere but a slightly larger group of people somewhere else (or even a smaller group if they’re somewhere marginal) don’t support it then it won’t happen. They’re not concerned about the public good above what the tabloids want.
By central control, as an example take education. I’m sure you remember the days of multiple exam boards and a diverse curiculum.
Look what happened. First they tried to rate schools by examining the schools, this turned into examining children and at the same time the curriculum became centrally controlled and the exam boards became just one.
I was one of them, fantastic O Level. I also experienced the very peculiar 3 tier Oxford school system, attending the middle school below the john Radcliffe, not to far from the Lakes roads :). I think it’s a Primary now. I think Oxford stopped the 3 tier system, a few authorities do continue it.
At my school they insisted on using JMB as the examining board for O and A levels. If pupils weren’t likely to get top grades they fucked them off to sit their exams somewhere else with the cheerful labelling as being ‘AEB students…’
It was, and the A-level too. But it had a fair bit of ‘teach/discover for yourself rather than learn from the books’ about it. That’s OK if you want actually to understand, say, Archimedes Principle or how optical interference happens. But if you have three weeks to get to grips with what a Brillouin Zone is, or the magnetic vector potential, or the difference between LS and JJ coupling then you’d better be pretty good at standing on the shoulders of giants (i.e. learning from their books) because working it out from scratch took the very smart people who did it years. And you haven’t got years.
Rochdale(Middleton) had three tiers in the early 80’s and was the system I went through. Both the middle school “Durnford” and especially the senior school “Moorclose” were pretty decent. As a result I did better than I might have been expected to at O levels, although didn’t complete sixth form due to overbearing step father reasons. Long term not doing A levels and a degree hasn’t hindered me, however suspect it would do if I was leaving education now.