‘Tory future does not work – march for one that does’ Tribune

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To celebrate the survival of Tribune, a year after they became fully independent of external financing, Think Left is reblogging their editorial.  It is our way of showing our support for the Oct 20 march as well as our support for this vitally important newspaper of the left.  Subscription and donor information available here.

Tory future does not work – march for one that does

Once again, the labour movement has taken to the streets to march for a future that works. It is a simple demand, commanding universal support

by Tribune Editorial
Friday, October 19th, 2012

Once again, the labour movement has taken to the streets to march for a future that works. It is a simple demand, commanding universal support. No politician or political party, let alone a government of two political parties, would gainsay it. Yet it is universally understood that the future does not look like working for a very long time indeed. Except for the rich who are getting richer, the mass of the people in the countries of Britain will continue to see the quality of their lives deteriorate.

Recognition that it need not be necessarily so is widening. But the lack of courage in politicians from the British Labour Party to social democrats worldwide to face up to the fact that capitalism has reached an historic breaking point holds back the chances of a radical alternative. While David Cameron uses an otherwise empty conference speech to demonise benefit claimants – an instinct he shares with Labour’s own conservative wing in Progress – Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats continue to prop up an austerity drive that is killing growth and devastating public and welfare services. Ed Miliband issues a “One Nation” call to arms but gives little indication of where the weapons are and on what ground will the issue be fought.

Five years after the start of the current financial “crisis”, we have learned the extent to which the crisis applies only to those outside the financial elite of those whose irresponsible greed caused it in the first place. The unions who represent those hardest hit recognise the need for a new, fairer and more just economic order. Not just for the justice and benefit of their members but, as ever, for the national economic wellbeing and commonwealth of communities. They will be derided by Conservative voices for having the temerity to take to the streets to voice their justified concerns.

For the Tories are proving with every passing day that they are the party of and for the rich, a party not of one nation or even all the nations of Britain but a party of a small part of one nation: the English south east. Quite where the Lib Dems stand after watching their “brakes” on the worst excesses of George Osborne being burned through one after another is a mystery, unless political annihilation is their only true goal.

The International Monetary Fund should be marching with the unions for a future that works. Its senior representatives have pronounced that austerity is harming the world economy, warning that it is not the way out of the economic crisis but the route to a vicious cycle of decline. Mr Miliband has shown he understands the problem. He needs to show he accepts the solution.

 

Labour should commit to public ownership of the railway as recommended in new report

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Tribune, 13th July 2012 published ‘Blueprint for Britain – rebuilding our railways’ by Ian Taylor – a radical new report on our railway system, offering a solution to the problems caused by privatisation. http://www.tribunemagazine.co.uk/2012/07/blueprint-for-britain-rebuilding-our-railways/

The Rebuilding Rail research sets out a strategy for a future Labour government to re-integrate rail operations and infrastructure, phase out franchising and give a democratic role to passengers, the rail workforce, and elected local and regional authorities…  It is conservatively estimated that £1.2 billion of public money is lost each year as a direct result of privatisation and fragmentation – enough to fund an 18 per cent cut in fares if those sources of wastage were removed by reunifying the railway under public control.

The private sector has failed to deliver the promised innovation, investment, or efficiency. For example, the costs of backroom staff have increased 56 per cent per train kilometre, even after adjusting for inflation. But the privatised railway could be progressively reformed at little or no short-term cost while realising substantial savings in the medium term.

The Labour Party could make a number of popular commitments before the next general election, including:

* Money saved from re-integrating Britain’s railways will be used to lower fares.

* No new franchises will be let under a Labour government.

* All existing franchises will be reviewed to assess whether taxpayers and farepayers would receive better value for money by buying them out

*  A Labour government will reduce dividend leakage, including a 50 per cent tax on dividends from train operating and rolling stock companies.

*  Labour will campaign against the European Commission’s intention to force member states to open domestic passenger services to competition.

* There will be a planned programme of investment in publicly-owned rolling stock that would help to rebuild domestic train-making capacity.

There is a clear need for the different parts of the railway to be managed as a coherent whole, to ensure that infrastructure, services and rolling stock are managed and developed in an integrated way. This would provide a single railway entity for national government to deal with; achieve greater efficiencies; and remove many of the costs of the fragmentation between train companies and Network Rail….

The gradual acquisition of national rail passenger franchises would not require significant expenditure…. For those franchises already let, reacquisition could be done as contracts end, or at contract break points, or by tighter enforcement of franchise conditions. The phased accretion of passenger franchises into GB Rail Network and Operations would provide a comparator against which remaining private operators could be benchmarked and the benefits of the new approach could be proved….

The revenues from these profitable routes would be captured by the rail industry instead of leaking out in dividend payments to shareholders (in many cases, the state railways of other EU countries), and used to invest in the network, to keep down fares and to cross-subsidise the less profitable socially valuable parts of the network.

When several billions of pounds of public money are flowing into the railway each year, and when tens of billions of pounds of public money are underwriting the railway’s debts, proper public control of the railway is called for.

Other countries in Europe still regard it as quite normal that a public service as important as the railway should be appropriately managed through public ownership in order to realise the broad economic, social and environmental gains which rail can deliver.

This report documents in detail a route to achieve that and, moreover, shows how it could be done at a saving to the public purse of more than £1 billion a year.

Ian Taylor is director of Transport for Quality of Life. The Rebuilding Rail report is available for download at www.transportforqualityoflife.com

‘ Privatisation has done untold damage to the rail industry, undermined safety and handed guaranteed, risk-free profits to operators for whom dividends are the only priority.’ – Bob Crow, General Secretary, RMT

‘… we now have the dearest fares in Europe and yet…. We are shelling out £4 billion a year in subsidy (compared with £900,000 a year for BR), while also picking up the annual bill for Network Rail’s debt mountain of £27 billion.’ – Manuel Cortes, General Secretary, Transport Staff’s Association

‘[The report] demonstrates how the franchise system benefits accountants, lawyers and consultants – to the detriment of passengers and taxpayers.’ – Mick Whelan, General Secretary, ASLEF

‘Public ownership would bring a political commitment to ensure rail plays a part in advancing broader public policies, such as environment, social mobility, poverty and housing.  This report rightly shows that a publicly-owned rail industry serving the needs of communities, businesses, manufacturing and the economy is achievable.’ – Diana Holland, Assistant General Secretary, Unite

 

‘Privatisation of rail is a privatisation too far’ – Margaret Thatcher

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Renationalise the Railways (Julian Gilbert)
Renationalisation of Utilities -Water (Pam Field)