Britons more likely to support a party committed to public ownership


by Newswire    
2:07 pm - October 7th 2013

      Share on Tumblr

A new poll has found that 46% of voters would be more likely to vote for a party promoting public ownership instead of outsourcing and privatisation by default.

Only 11% of voters were less likely to support such a party, suggesting that the centreground of politics has shifted away from privatisation of utilities. 43% said it wouldn’t make a difference to their vote.

63% of Labour voters, 52% of Liberal Democrat voters and 25% of Conservative voters said they would be more likely to vote for such a party. 49% of UKIP voters would also be more likely to vote for a party with this policy.

The poll was conducted by Survation for We Own It, a new campaign group calling for public ownership to be the default option for public services. The group is campaigning for a Public Service Users Bill to give service users a voice in the process of contracting out and selling off public services.

The Bill would require local and national government to look at public ownership best practice before outsourcing or privatising services. This would mean that the public would be consulted before the Royal Mail was sold off, or before railway services were contracted out, for example.

Here are the full Survation poll details (PDF).

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author

· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: News ,top

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


What does ‘public ownership’ mean here? Putting it under control of a government department or similar body, or making it a co-operative?

2. George Hallam

Britons more likely to support a party committed to public ownership

Like Lewisham People Before Profit.

That has certainly been our experience.

It is not easy for a small party to make an electoral ‘breakthrough, but we look forward to winning some council seats in May next year.

The Survation questions refer to “public service”, but, as UKL suggests, such phrases are ambiguous. I doubt that many of those surveyed will have understood the full implication of the questions put to them.

X can be a “public service”, when:

1. the assets are owned by the public sector, but managed by the private, voluntary or cooperative sector under contract, while funded by the public sector

2. the assets are owned by the private sector but leased by the public sector and managed by the public sector, voluntary or cooperative sector, while funded by the public sector.

3. the assets are owned and managed by the private sector but are heavily regulated in the public interest.

“Public ownership” is an even broader term, which encompasses companies (like some UK banks) with large government-owned shareholdings.

What We Own It means by “public service” is probably a service in which the public sector owns and manages the assets and delivers the service. This could be called ‘nationalisation’. Substitute ‘nationalisation’ for ‘public service’ in the Survation questions and the results will probably change markedly.

GH @ 2:

“Lewisham People Before Profit”

Yet another SWP/Trotskyite front organisation. You always hope that the next big issue will become the catalytic mass movement that sparks the revolution…*yawn*. Get a life.

3. Too lazy to click on the link are you?
Think that people are too thick to understand do you?
Of course those who are most affected by services are the least likely to see what is involved aren’t they?
Those who don’t give a monkey’s, because they have their own private system (Help the Loaded), know better don’t they?

@2 George

That is a scary thought. I might have to consider voting labour for the first time in my life if it might keep you guys out.

@ TONE, 8.30pm October 7

“Yet another SWP/Trotskyite front organisation. You always hope that the next big issue will become the catalytic mass movement that sparks the revolution…*yawn*. Get a life.”

Ideologically hogtied at all? do you prefer “Lewisham Oligarch Profiteering from the People” in your paymaster’s system? The trains are still late, only you end up paying double because said oligarch has at least one fortress mansion and Cayman island bank account…

It seems to me that, in the 21st century, free health and social care, free (or, at least, cheap) public transport and easily accessible broadband are the bare minima for a successful economy. With a healthy, well-informed public who can travel with ease, the possibilities for business expansion would outweigh any costs. Putting public services into the hands of people whose primary interest is to shareholders is exactly the opposite policy. The advantages of private ownership that have flowed from privatisation of telecoms, etc., are welcome; but they have achieved nothing that could not have been done as well or better ‘in-house’, had the will and investment been there. The inability of successive governments to address the necessary modernisation of public services was ‘solved’ by selling them off, and absolving themselves of responsibility altogether. Some services – the ones that the country cannot function without – should be in the hands of the citizens, not individuals or corporations that may have little or no interest in the nation (apart from bleeding every penny they can from it).

8. Louisa Radice

How do the policies of Lewisham People Before Profit differ from the Green Party, who already have a GLA member representing your borough?

9. George Hallam

““Lewisham People Before Profit”

Yet another SWP/Trotskyite front organisation. You always hope that the next big issue will become the catalytic mass movement that sparks the revolution…*yawn*. Get a life.”

I think you must be confusing Lewisham People Before Profit with some other organisation.

We unite people with a range of opinions who oppose privatisation. Our supporters include people on the ‘Left’ but LPBP is far, far broader than that, which can lead to some interesting discussion at times, but we don’t allow this to get in the way of activity.
This means we can’t be slotted into the conventional Right-Left continuum.

What really matters to consumers is not whether the supplier of a product or a service is in “public ownership” but the price, the quality and the reliability of the product or the service. Some of us can recall the experience of 1970s when it was necessary to wait weeks to get newly connected to BT’s telephone service and new telephone handsets were costly and difficult to obtain. During the 1970s, productivity in coal, steel and vehicle manufacture declined on trend. Returning to those times is not an attractive vision and doesn’t get my vote.

No, we don’t want to go back to pre-microchip days when the Halifax Building Society was the world’s largest savings mutual do we?
Give these nationalisers half a chance and we’ll be muffin the mule whilst listening to Saville on the radio and watching Rogue (Thrash ‘em) Bison on Nationwide whilst eating a Vesta curry. Oh, the Mini and the Fiat 500 – Whatever happened to them eh?

The French experience with Crédit Lyonnais, which was the largest bank in France and state-owned since 1945, is an object lesson in showing that public ownership of a major bank ensures absolutely nothing about the quality of the bank’s management or its viability:

“By July 1997, French finance minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn could admit that the bank had probably lost around Ffr100 billion, or around $17 billion, in its colossal spending spree. Independent commentators have suggested that the debacle will end up costing the French taxpayer between $20 and $30 billion.”
http://www.prmia.org/sites/default/files/references/Credit_Lyonnais.pdf

At one stage, Credit Lyonnais had owned the MGM film studios in Hollywood. How was that in the French ‘public interest’?

At one stage, Credit Lyonnais had owned the MGM film studios in Hollywood. How was that in the French ‘public interest’?

Wise move. That way they could oust Giancarlo Parretti and sort out the mess. In 2003 CL was sold to Crédit Agricole which is majority owned by 39 cooperatives.
In 2008 many former savings mutuals in the UK had to be bailed out by the Government. See: Holifax, Northern Sock, Brad Bingo.

Re: Credit Lyonnais:

“the debacle will end up costing the French taxpayer between $20 and $30 billion.”

State ownership of Credit Lyonnais, as the biggest bank in France, didn’t prevent that debacle. It’s a complete myth to believe that state ownership will ensure business assets will be better managed and managed in the public interest by state ownership.

British-Leyland went down the pan despite state ownership. By the time what had remained of it was privatised with the new name of the Rover Group, £3.4 billion of taxpayers’ money had been sunk.

The American equivalent of Britain’s mutualised building associations were the Saving and Loan Associations:

Try:

“The savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s (commonly dubbed the S&L crisis) was the failure of about 747 out of the 3,234 savings and loan associations in the United States. A savings and loan or ‘thrift’ is a financial institution that accepts savings deposits and makes mortgage, car and other personal loans to individual members – a cooperative venture known in the United Kingdom as a building society. In 1995, the RTC had closed 747 failed institutions, worth a book value of $402 billion, with an estimated cost of $160 billion. In 1996, the General Accounting Office estimated the total cost to be $370 billion, including $341 billion taken from taxpayers.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savings_and_loan_crisis

15. Churm Rincewind

My problem with this whole debate is the assumption that public ownership is necessarily superior to private ownership. The state is just as capable of f*cking things up as the private sector (examples too numerous to mention).

There are some things which are better managed by the state – e.g. defence – and some things which are better left to the private sector – e.g. dry cleaning.

The question is, which is which?

“The question is, which is which?”

That’s the sensible question we need to debate. Believe or not, Adam Smith had recognised this challenging issue in his Wealth of Nations (1776):

“The third and last duty of the sovereign or commonwealth is that of erecting and maintaining those public institutions and those public works, which, though they may be in the highest degree advantageous to a great society, are, however, of such a nature that the profit could never repay the expense to any individual or small number of individuals, and which it therefore cannot be expected that any individual or small number of individuals should erect or maintain.”
Source: The Wealth of Nations (1776), Book 5, Chapter 1, Part III or P.590 in this link:
http://www2.hn.psu.edu/faculty/jmanis/adam-smith/Wealth-Nations.pdf

Imagine what would happen if a political party proposed turning the bridges over the Thames in London into toll bridges, or auctioning off the posts of chief constables, or attaching meters to street lamps so those who benefited from the illumination had to pay a charge to keep the light alight.

Try this editorial in Wednesday’s Financial Times – which makes much sense to my way of thinking:
Channel-hopping BBC risks its mandate
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/03737810-3023-11e3-9eec-00144feab7de.html#axzz2hFolK5Py

“Yet if the BBC becomes a commercial media company, it must expect to be funded like one. As an admirer of the BBC and a coral on the reef on which it casts a long shadow, this newspaper believes a publicly funded BBC should play a diminished role while enjoying a secure place in British life. To justify that place, however, the corporation must stick to doing things that others cannot.”

IMO it is lunacy for the BBC to use licence fee money to engage in competitive auctions against bids from rival commercial broadcasters in order to show popular sports programmes which viewers can see on satellite TV, a cable channel, or watch down at a local pub.

18. PottyTraining

You may or may not know this.
For those that don’t and wonder why their train tickets cost so much >>>

The Banks own layers of companies that own and lease-back the trains and rolling stock!
Each layer is taking a guaranteed profit/chunk all the way down to consumer.(subsidised by Govt > taxpayer cash, subsidy.

It is an absolute travesty and again proof of lobbied, bought out bent Govt cronies letting crony corporations make huge profits exploiting the ordinary plebs.

No other country in Europe operates at this level of scamming = most expensive train/commuter travel in Europe!

Like Animals, carted in packed, standing room only, commuter carriages, vexed to the limit. Some elites get a real thrill out of this, such is their complete despisement of ordinary plebs!

19. PottyTraining

@10

BT still has massive monopoly powers over us. I dunno where you are coming from!

Just last month their virtual line monopoly was blamed for the failure of fast rural broadband – whilst screwing millions in £££’s in Govt subsidies out of us!

20. So Much For Subtlety

The poll was conducted by Survation for We Own It, a new campaign group calling for public ownership to be the default option for public services. The group is campaigning for a Public Service Users Bill to give service users a voice in the process of contracting out and selling off public services.

In other words it is just another useless bit of push polling designed to get the answers the paymasters want.

Big deal.

Very sensibly, Ted Heath’s Conservative government took Rolls Royce into public ownership in 1971 to save the company from collapse. The company was turned around and the Thatcher government privatised Rolls Royce Aeroengines in 1988. It is now one of the leading global manufacturers of jet engines for airliners.

21. So that’s why the council doesn’t do jet engines anymore.
20. It’s always useless when you don’t like the results.

23. Trellis, N Wales

@ #22
I remember those council jet engines. Galvanised iron they were.
We used to try and thwart them by filling the inside with rubbish but the council got wind of it and they conducted dawn raids on us. It didn’t stop us though.

Rolls Royce jet engines have been selected for new generation civil airliners:

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a long-range, mid-size wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Its variants seat 210 to 330 passengers. Boeing states that it is the company’s most fuel-efficient airliner and the world’s first major airliner to use composite materials as the primary material in the construction of its airframe. . . The 787 was designed to be the first production airliner with the fuselage assembled with one-piece composite barrel sections instead of the multiple aluminum sheets and some 50,000 fasteners used on existing aircraft. Boeing selected two new engine types to power the 787, the General Electric GEnx and Rolls-Royce Trent 1000. Boeing stated the 787 would be approximately 20 percent more fuel-efficient than the 767,[28] with approximately 40 percent of the efficiency gain from the engines, plus gains from aerodynamic improvements, increased use of lighter-weight composite materials, and advanced systems.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_787_Dreamliner

There was no public debate in 1971, that I can recall, about whether taking Rolls Royce into public ownership would create a “moral hazard”. The issue was more about the likely consequences that would follow if the company was allowed to fail and be asset stripped or bought up by one of its competitors.

25. Trellis, N Wales

@ #24
I remember their washing machines so I’ll never fly in them. Hoover is a name you can rely on – J Edgar made them and ran the FBI.

26. Paul peter Smith

As others have pointed out, nationalised industries can be badly run as can private industry, from the perspective of the general public. The important part is oversight and accountabilty, what reasonable mechanism can be imposed on private industry to ensure it serves the nation as well as itself without strangling profit? And likewise for nationalised industry, how do you instill market discipline onto a political behemoth?
The public is ready for a more nuanced conversation on this subject, we’ve done the full nationalisation thing and vice versa, both leave a lot to be desired.

Trellis, N Wales: “I remember their washing machines so I’ll never fly in them. Hoover is a name you can rely on – J Edgar made them and ran the FBI.”

Your memory is screwed up. Rolls Royce Aeroengines had absolutely nothing to do with Rolls Washing Machines and John Bloom.

Compare what happened with Rolls Royce Aeroengines, which was “nationalised” by the Heath government in 1971, turned around and privatised in 1988, and Marconi, a huge British electronics manufacturing company, which was allowed to wither and sink by the Blair government:

Marconi was once the jewel in the crown of British manufacturing. But disastrous investments have seen some of the worst losses in UK corporate history – over £5bn. The Money Programme investigates how a cautious company with billions in the bank set off on a rollercoaster ride to ruin.

Marconi was once Britain’s biggest and best known manufacturing concern. Until last year it was cheered by the City and its shares soared in value. Today Marconi has become notorious as one of the worst disasters of British corporate history. [BBC website June 2004]
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3087333.stm

28. Trellis, N Wales

Mrs Beynon had a Zinc one. We had trouble years ago when Zinconians were selling pennywhistles as if they the real Proms flutes. It turned out that they were sweets in the shape of the musical instrument that had made coated by the Zinc. Betsy at school discovered the fraud because she loved to suck on them. I say discovered but I mean caught when she tried to do the same with the school orchestra kit. Lost all of her front teeth she did. Very popular with the boys though I can’t think why.

Comparing how Conservative governments dealt with Rolls Royce Aeroengines and how the Blair government just left Marconi to sink tells us a lot about New Labour’s industrial policy.

Of course, New Labour governments had no corresponding inhibitions about engaging in wars of “liberal interventions” to its prohibitive reservations about industrial policy interventions – because of the “moral hazard”, presumably.

There was no problem in finding £10 billions to fund military operations of British forces in Afghanistan and £5 billions in Iraq. But there was no way the Blair government would find a fraction of that money to turn Marconi around.

IMO Labour has a lot of apologising to do for electing Blair as its leader. Btw don’t blame me – I wouldn’t vote Labour when it was led by Blair. Have a look at his retirement home at Wotton Underwood in Buckinghamshire:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/7547835/Tony-Blair-has-blighted-Buckinghamshire-village.html

Who do you think is paying the security costs for that?

29.

But there was no way the Blair government would find a fraction of that money to turn Marconi around.

Hardly surprising. It was pure greed that led an excellent company, when it was chaired by Arnold Weinstock, to try to make a fast buck out of the highly competitive telecomms industry. Also, it would have been illegal for the government to rescue the ailing business.

30:”Also, it would have been illegal for the government to rescue the ailing business.”

C’mon. Without the sanction of the UN security council, it was illegal for British forces to invade Iraq in March 2003 according to an impressive number of authorities on international law:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,3604,909275,00.html

But that didn’t deter the Blair government from invading Iraq. What exactly prevented the Blair government from taking Marconi into public ownership just as the Heath government had taken Rolls Royce into public ownership in 1971?

Correction:

“[Gordon Brown] said the Iraq war had cost Britain £8bn and the total cost to the UK of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had been £18bn, on top of what he repeatedly stressed was an increasing defence budget.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8552593.stm

So it’s OK to spend taxpayers’ money of amounts like that on engaging in wars of “liberal intervention” but illegal for Britain’s government to invest amounts like that in developing business and creating jobs?

It’s Gizmo Proteçionatos Potremous Poutra Poutros EU Boutros.

I really don’t begin to understand why Dacre, the editor of the Mail, is so het up about the Marxist leanings of Ed Milliband’s Dad as an academic at the LSE.

After all, in a 22-page letter, the 29-year-old, Oxford law graduate, Blair wrote to Labour leader Michael Foot in 1982 about how reading Marx had “irreversibly altered” his outlook.

He also praised Tony Benn, agreeing with the left-winger’s analysis that Labour’s right-wing was bankrupt.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/5081798.stm

And that is what led to New Labour, the Third Way vision and the invasion of Iraq.

34

He lied

35: “He lied”

No, really? How could he do a thing like that in a letter to Labour leader Michael Foot of all people?

Anyway, shortly after that 22-page letter, Blair was adopted as Labour candidate for a by-election at Beaconsfield. Blair’s personal manifesto for the Beaconsfield by-election was similar to the notorious Labour manifesto for the 1983 general election, the one later described by Gerald Kaufman as “the longest suicide note in history”. The Thatcher government was re-elected at the election with 140 seat majority in the Commons.

But try:

The first sound of bats flapping in his belfry was heard even before the election, in December 1996, when he told Des O’Connor that as a 14-year-old he had run away to Newcastle airport and boarded a plane for the Bahamas: “I snuck onto the plane, and we were literally about to take off when the stewardess came up to me…” Quite how he managed this without a boarding card or passport was not explained. It certainly came as a surprise to his father (“The Bahamas? Who said that? Tony? Never”), and an even greater surprise to staff at the airport, who pointed out that there has never been a flight from Newcastle to the Bahamas.

A couple of years later, he told an interviewer that his “teenage hero” was the footballer Jackie Milburn, whom he would watch from the seats behind the goal at St James’s Park. In fact, Milburn played his last game for Newcastle United when Blair was just four years old, and there were no seats behind the goal at the time.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2000/feb/23/londonmayor.uk

Old habits are hard to change.

No, really? How could he do a thing like that in a letter to Labour leader Michael Foot of all people?

Probably because he was seeking advancement within the Labour party at the time. If nothing else Blair was very good at telling people what they wanted to hear.

34. 36.
Stafford Cripps wrote to Stalin but that hasn’t affected my views on public ownership.

38: “Stafford Cripps wrote to Stalin but that hasn’t affected my views on public ownership.”

As is often the case, George Orwell’s analysis is illuminating:

English writers who consider Communism and Fascism to be the same thing invariably hold that both are monstrous evils which must be fought to the death: on the other hand, any Englishman who believes Communism and Fascism to be opposites will feel that he ought to side with one or the other.
http://orwell.ru/library/reviews/burnham/english/e_burnh

GB Shaw, HG Wells and Sidney Webb, who were original founders of the London School of Economics, all professed admiration for Stalin.

OTOH Lloyd George, after visiting Germany in 1936 to see the Fuhrer, came back and wrote a piece for the Daily Express saying what a great leader Hitler was for Germany.

As I recall, Stafford Cripps was expelled from the Labour Party.

Tony Blair became a good friend of George W Bush, who has been rated by historians as among the worst of American presidents.

As for public ownership, few suggest turning the bridges over the Thames into tall bridges or turning or proposing that street lighting should be charged to those who directly benefit from the illumination. Apart from a lunatic fringe, who is proposing to take the leading supermarket chains into public ownership?

39.
Part of the job for the British Ambassador to Russia is to communicate with the head of state.

40: Part of the job for the British Ambassador to Russia is to communicate with the head of state.

Lloyd George was a retired prime minister in 1936, not Britain’s ambassador to Nazi Germany, and GBS, HG Wells and Sidney Webb didn’t visit the Soviet Union in the capacity of official ambassadors. At the time of Lloyd George’s visit to see Hitler, knowledge in Britain of the “concentration camps” in Germany was already in the public domain. In the Soviet Union, the Great Purge was a campaign of political repression orchestrated by Joseph Stalin from 1936 to 1939.

It is more illuminating in the present context to note that the German car company VolksWagen started out as a state enterprise in Nazi Germany to design and make a peoples’ car.

“Volkswagen was founded in 1937 to manufacture the car which would become known as the Beetle. . . As of September 2012, the government of Lower Saxony holds 12.7pc of the company’s shares, granting it 20pc of the voting rights.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Group

The combined ownership of VolksWagen shares by the government of Lower Saxony and by Porsche are intended to prevent foreign take-over bids. In the orthodox model of free market capitalism, the looming potential threats of hostile take-over bids and bankruptcy are deemed essential elements of the discipline needed to keep corporate management efficient.

41.
Stafford Cripps (see my comment #38) was the British Ambassador to Russia 1940 – 1942. SC was appointed to take the role by Winston Churchill.
Volkswagon own Rolls Royce Motors (re-named Bentley Motors Ltd). Lord Montague (1866 – 1929) must be turning in his grave at the thought of his mistress’ image perching on the bonnet of a German car.

42: “Stafford Cripps (see my comment #38) was the British Ambassador to Russia 1940 – 1942.”

SC had been expelled from the Labour Party prior to that. With Britain at war with Nazi Germany after 3 September 1939 and the Soviet Union as an ally following the invasion by Nazi Germany on 22 June 1941, it made sense to have a British ambassador in the Soviet Union who was friendly to Stalin’s regime.

The point of my reference to VolksWagen in Germany was to show how state enterprises could be commercially successful long after the businesses were started.

As Aneurin Bevan put it: The Language of priorities is the religion of socialism.

As best we can tell, the priorities of the Blair government were to throw money at the NHS and schools on the principle: Never mind the quality, feel the width, to conduct liberal interventionist wars in distant place and to avoid regulating financial markets under the continuing delusion that boom and bust had been officially abolished.

Presented with the opportunity to act to save Marconi, the Blair government did nothing.

43.
Marconi’s downfall was self inflicted. The firm had sold their MoD contracts to BAe so, as far as the government was concerned, they were just another telecoms company. To paraphrase the French soldier in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, ‘Thank you but we’ve already got more than one.’
Maybe if Britain had concentrated on building better cars rather than deadlier weapons our motor industries would have a healthy export market. Look also at Dornier – Once a builder of bombers, now a major communications satellite manufacturer.

42: “Marconi’s downfall was self inflicted.”

So were the problems of Rolls Royce in 1971 but the Conservative government of the time saved the company from collapse by taking it into public ownership. The company was turned around and privatised by the Thatcher government in 1988.

Rolls Royce Aeroengines is now one of the few global makers of jet engines for civil airliners. That is an example of successful interventionist industrial policy.

The Blair government effectively had no substantive industrial policy. Patricia Hewitt as DTI minister went around telling us why Britain had to join the Eurozone. No wonder the policy of the LibDems in opposition up to the 2010 election was to close down the DTI.

The thing which jumps out at me from the poll is that although a lot of people are indifferent about privatisation, only a really small minority – just 11% – would be less likely to vote for a party that said it wanted to take more services into public ownership. If this poll is remotely accurate, attempts to demonise Ed Miliband for outrageous socialist interference in the affairs of privatised energy companies may fall a little flat.

The other thing is that – far from the hardline free market ideology of some party leaders and activists – Tory supporters really come across in the poll as utterly indifferent to the issue. Unlike for Labour supporters, for whom opposing privatisation actually matters in terms of voting intentions, in the main they really do not care.

Marconi was a worthless dead duck.

“Marconi was a worthless dead duck”

So was Blair.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy: Britons more likely to support a party committed to public ownership | moonblogsfromsyb

    [...] via Newswire Liberal Conspiracy http://liberalconspiracy.org/2013/10/07/britons-more-likely-to-support-a-party-committed-to-public-o… [...]





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.