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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Digby’s worried about being purged?

No, this isn’t about Mr Blobby’s fear of being chucked out of NuLiebore – he didn’t join. Perhaps it wasn’t anti-union enough for him…

No, the fat cat is worried about a crackdown on tax dodgers will affect the UK’s status as a tax haven for rich bastards.

You guessed right – I don’t like the guy:

Digby Jones, the trade and investment minister, has warned that plans for a tax crackdown on non-domiciled foreigners living in the UK threaten London’s role as a world finance centre.

The former CBI director-general broke ranks with the official government line in a candid interview with the Financial Times.

Lord Jones said the tax changes made it harder for him to sell Britain as a destination for skilled foreign workers and inward investment.

The minister, who said he was not consulted on the change, added: “I can give you five reasons as to why you should invest in Britain before you go and invest anywhere else in Europe. But maybe there were seven and now there are five.”

He admitted that a lot of people from the City had told him it was a serious issue for the financial services industry.

Lord Jones had been frequently asked about the tax changes on trips to India and the Gulf. He feared they had reduced the attractions of Britain as a destination for skilled people.

“It has caused people to say ‘Does this mean you don’t want us?’,” he said, adding that there was a danger such changes meant the UK would lose its “badge as the place to come and bring your skill and work hard in the developed world“.

“I don’t want to be in the position where one morning we wake up and people are saying ‘Digby: no matter how good you are at doing what you do, the product isn’t as good as it was’.”

His warning follows intensive lobbying by the City, which is concerned that overseas investors and executives will pull out of the UK if Alistair Darling, the chancellor, goes ahead with the crackdown.

The Treasury is consulting on proposals to raise an extra £650m a year by charging foreigners living in Britain for more than seven years £30,000 annually if they wish to keep their foreign income out of the UK tax net.

Wealthy individuals would also be hit by the closure of loopholes that allowed them to escape tax on UK assets held in offshore trusts.

Lord Jones said the fact that the £30,000 would kick in only after seven years meant the UK would remain appealing to many young people from abroad who wanted to spend time in the UK.

He said paying £30,000 to keep non-UK income out of the UK tax net might look fair to many people. But non-doms were also worried about the possibility of greater intrusion into their affairs by the tax authorities.

“It’s also a ‘How much do you want to know about me?’ bit, as well as the £30,000,” he said.

“We’ve got to get the message across to these people that it’s seven years before this begins to bite.”

David Lewis, Lord Mayor of London, told the chancellor this week that he had found real anxiety over the proposed changes in many meetings with the financial community. He said: “Many people cannot understand why we are risking the loss of so many talented people from the UK who produce so much business for the UK and so much tax for the Treasury and employ large numbers of staff here, for the sake of the possibility of a relatively paltry tax receipt by the Treasury that it will probably never actually receive.”

Lord Jones, one of several non-political ministerial appointments made by Gordon Brown when he became prime minister, said he had not been consulted on the proposals before they were announced in October’s pre-Budget statement.

He had relayed what inward investors and businesses were saying to the prime minister and the chancellor.

Brown bows down to bosses

The reaction to Brown’s arselicking from two of my favourite daily papers:

During a subservient speech to bosses’ organisation the Confederation of British Industry, Mr Brown found himself rapped by director-general Richard Lambert, who complained that the “mood music” on public-sector “reform” was muted.

Mr Brown acted quickly to reassure him, insisting that “private-sector involvement in the public sector will be an increasing feature of our economy,” with a particular focus on the benefits service.

A Civil Service union PCS spokesman said: “This is yet another rehash of the same old policy.

“What the government should be concentrating on, rather than a dogmatic policy of privatisation, is the work that its own workforce has done in achieving the lowest unemployment in a generation.”

He added: “The public sector has consistently outperformed the private sector in getting people back into work.

“Rather than cutting jobs and privatising services, the government should be giving the public sector the resources to deliver.”

from The Morning Star

(Note, PCS members at the Department of Work and Pensions are to strike over below-inflation pay, it was revealed yesterday.)

YESTERDAY Gordon Brown attempted to revive his political credibility, severely damaged after the Northern Rock and Child Benefit details crises by delivering a speech to the only constituency that matters to him, the CBI bosses.

He began at his smarmiest: ‘It is a privilege to be here to address you this morning; to see the CBI so well supported by so many impressive companies like that of your own President. . .’ etc, etc.

He added his declaration of loyalty concerning the effects of the US sub prime mortgage crisis. ‘And it is precisely because of these new short term and long term global challenges that every government in the world has to look afresh at what it can do to support business.’

This turns out to be hammering the working class and the poor in every conceivable way as the CBI and the government work ‘more closely together for Britain . . .’

He added: ‘Earlier this year when inflation threatened to increase in the wake of oil and utility price rises, we took the difficult decisions to bear down on inflation and by staging public sector pay, keeping average overall awards at 1.9 per cent, we supported inflation moving back to target.’

‘We’, the bosses and the government took the difficult decision to starve the workers!

He pledged that the workers would carry on paying for the crisis. ‘And I assure you that we will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure that in future we maintain our hard won stability. We will take no risks. There will be no irresponsible relaxation of pay discipline, no unfunded spending commitments, no unaffordable promises and no short-term giveaways . . .’

He pledged a public private partnership in which the government ‘each year to 2017 will invest £20 billion a year in transport – double what was spent a decade ago. And having opened the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, we will now proceed with a unique partnership between business and government: the £16 billion investment in Crossrail.’

This is tens of billions straight into the coffers of the bosses and the banks.

He added, about the gripe that the CBI has about capital gains taxes: ‘we will continue to listen and discuss with you the representations we have received about capital gains tax, ensuring that we maintain reforms for a fairer and simplified system that rewards enterprise.’

He pledged that light touch health and safety regulations that have turned the building industry into a killing field would continue.

For the NHS and education it is to be more privatisation. ‘The new Council for Educational Excellence also contains business leadership so that standards in the schools can reflect the needs of business for the future. And last week we announced our intention to set up a new forum for the private sector to make sure their contribution to the NHS continues to grow – and to represent value for money for patients and taxpayers.’

He says chillingly: ‘Of today’s 6 million unskilled workers in Britain we will soon need only half a million – over 5 million fewer.’

It turns out that these 5 million workers ‘have a duty to make themselves employable’.

‘Indeed while in the old days the obligation was on the unemployed to find a job, in the new world the obligation on the unemployed should be not just to seek work but to train for work.’

It is to be compulsory labour through cutting benefits.

He added: ‘In the old days the government ran the whole welfare system through separate jobcentres and benefit offices. In the new world, Jobcentre Plus . . . will ask private sector agencies and charities to play a central role.’

It is to be unlimited aid for the bankers and capitalists, from public private partnerships pouring billions into their coffers to the lightest of light touch health and safety regulations. For the workers it is beat, beat and beat again.

Workers must step up the struggle to bring down this bosses government and replace it with a workers government that will resolve the developing crisis of capitalism in favour of the working class by expropriating the bosses and the bankers.

from The News Line

CBI ‘not out to privatise NHS’ shock

[Tuesday]

Those nice, caring (cough) people at the CBI have published a report calling for the privatisation of bits of the NHS.

Oh, sorry, that’s wrong. Don’t say that. The official line is:

“Outdated” GP services should be overhauled to extend opening hours and be more flexible, business leaders say.

The Confederation of British Industry says businesses lose 38m working hours and £1bn a year because employees have to visit their GP during working hours.

It’s not the money, though. It’s the health of working people that concerns the CBI!

But doctors suggested the CBI hoped to benefit from any privatisation of the health service – a charge it denies.

No, surely not. The CBI campaigning for its members to be able to buyout the NHS? Never.

It comes as the government launches the latest stage of its NHS review, hinting it had sympathy with the CBI position.

[…]

John Cridland, deputy director general of the CBI, who said the report was not about wanting NHS privatisation, said there was a lack of innovation in primary care.

There, you see innovation – that’s what concerns the CBI. They’re keen for things to be innovative and flexible.

It’s not about their members profit margins, it’s about serving the people! (That’s why Comrade Digby joined the Brown administration.)

Dr Laurence Buckman, the cynical chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP’s Committee asked the following cynical question:

“Is it possible that the CBI is hoping that its members will be able to take part in future privatisation of the health service?”

Gee, how could anyone think that the CBI want to help big business steal our health service?

Shame on them.

Don’t they know that the CBI is a philanthropic organisation that campaigns to help working people and is not at all concerned with the desire of big business to profit from our public services?

Responding to the CBI report, Health Secretary Alan Johnson said: “We need to tackle this issue…. we need a health service for the 21st century.”

He said the NHS review would focus partly on access to GP care.

Sir Ara Darzi, who is in charge of the review, will also be holding a specific conference in the next few weeks on the future of primary care.

This will look at improving patient access, such as locating GPs in gyms and supermarkets, with companies including Virgin, Boots, Bupa and Lloyds Pharmacy due to attend. [Emphasis added.]

It’s no good, I can’t keep up the sarcasm any more…

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