Rock to be nationalised – but why not something of worth to us, like the energy companies?

Yeah, the inevitable has happened.

Nationalised in all but name a few months ago, the final act of consummation will take place tomorrow…

Temporary public ownership was how the poor Darling Chancellor was left spinning it today, Prime Minister Brown doing his Macavity schtick.

Here’s something I never thought I’d see NuLieBore doing:

Nationalisation will be pushed though parliament with emergency legislation on Monday.

But hey – gotta save the capitalist system! It’s a different story when it comes to rescuing the productive economy – think of those million manufacturing jobs lost since 2001, the companies that move overseas in search of cheaper labour…

As Neil Clark has said, remarking on today’s news and the first month of The Campaign For Public Ownership:

now that the rubicon has been crossed, why can’t the government also announce that it is renationalising the railways and the other public utilities and assets flogged off in the last 29 years? Nationalisation ought to be an integral part of the government’s industrial and economic strategy not a ‘last resort’

Earlier, the PM had spoken in support of Scottish Labour’s munchkin-like leader, Wendy Alexander, and her stance towards a review of Scotland’s devolved powers. Which means: Brownie came out for more devolved powers for Scotland and more devolved powers for Wales. (What’s missing here, folks?)

“There is an issue about the financial responsibility of an executive or an administration that has £30bn to spend but doesn’t have any responsibility for raising [that].

“In any other devolved administration in the world, there is usually a financial responsibility that requires not only the spending of money by the administration but also its responsibility to take seriously how it raises money.”

Ironic that he said this after letting the Treasury bail-out the financial sector, massively adding to public borrowing…

On devolution, at least, his move was clever – the awkwardness over his Scottishness, his “Britishness” drive, and his support for the Union (of Scotland and England, and no other…) – all swept aside by what was to follow…

The Tories are gunning against nationalisation of the ailing bank – despite the fact that just about every establishment institution has said it’d be the best thing to do, from the Economist to the Liberal party…

The bad news is that this is nationalisation in a state capitalist style – jobs will be cut under the rule of Ron Sandler, the Lloyd’s man appointed boss of the Rock by Brown. Will Unite put up a fight? I’m sure the workers of Northern Rock will – they’ve kept the bank going, soldiering on in these uncertain times.

Other bad news is for all those small shareholders – many current and former NR workers and customers from when the bank was a mutual – who might get little out of it. Now, I am inclined to say, tough shit – why haven’t you sold them by now?

But that would be cruel, after all, the government had been signalling that a private deal was on the cards. And after all, socialists believe that small shareholders should be compensated fairly. The big shareholders (other City institutions) should be told to go take a flying fuck at the moon… (I understand there aren’t too many in the case of Northern Rock.)

To finish, I quote in full tonight’s post by John McDonnell, leader of the Socialist Campaign Group of backbench Labour MPs, in which he comments on the Agency Workers Bill and future union support for New Labour:

Next Friday we reach the crunch date in Parliament on the Agency Workers Bill. For years New Labour has blocked every attempt so far through European legislation and in the UK Parliament to introduce legislation to give agency workers the same protections in law as other workers. This has meant not only that agency workers have become the victims of often grotesque exploitation but also that they have been used by ruthless employers to undercut the wages and conditions of other workers.

Last year Government ministers blocked my Trade Union Freedom Bill which would have given all workers basic trade union rights. This week the Government is attempting to undermine the Agency Workers Bill which is scheduled for debate as a private members bill on Friday. This time the Government is trying to prevent a vote on the Bill by offering a sop of a deal it has cooked up with the employers’ CBI, proposing to set up a commission of inquiry “to review the rights of temporary and agency workers.”

This is a typical New Labour grubby tactic aimed at stalling, preventing or at the last ditch watering down the effectiveness of any legislation. We have had years to study the rights of agency and temporary workers and years of exposing the exploitation they face.

In the Labour anad Trade Union movement we have been waiting over a decade for the Government to introduce basic trade union rights for these vulnerable workers who are mostly women and migrant workers. Addressing this issue was a core commitment in the famous Warwick agreement between the unions and New Labour.

To renege on this commitment once again will call into question in the minds of many trade unionists why their trade union remains affiliated to New Labour. For many Labour Party members the creation of the alliance between the New Labour leadership of Gordon Brown and unscrupulous employers to undermine this legislation begs the question why Brown and his followers are in the Labour Party. If they want to serve as the electoral voice of big business they should have the honesty to leave Labour and set up their own pro business party.

The debate over the Agency Workers Bill has become critical not only to the future of these vulnerable workers but also potentially is becoming a critically important test for the future of trade unions within New Labour and for the future of the Labour Party itself.

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