By Conor Holohan
Last week the Labour Party held their first annual party conference since they stunned the British electorate in June. Despite what their pseudo-Trot speech police Momentum say, Labour did not win the snap election. Regardless, every onlooker could not help but be taken back by the large volume of people prepared to go out and vote for Jeremy Corbyn. This annual conference has been a reminder of just how damaging for our economy and our working people it would have been if Labour had won.
During the conference, the shadow chancellor John McDonnell announced that, if in government, the Labour Party would bring rail, water, energy, and the Royal Mail into public ownership. In addition to this they would bring into public ownership all existing PFI contracts. John Appleby of the Nuffield Trust has said that the bill of nationalising existing PFI contracts alone would cost in the region of £50 billion.
Revolutionary ideas these are not. I am not going to patronise you and pretend that I am old enough to remember the 1970s and the realities that come about when these idealistic policies are given a mandate to become law. But ring up one of your relatives, ask them about the rolling blackouts, the stacks of unburied dead bodies. Ask them about having to buy everything from a telephone from a gas cooker from the government. Ask them about how this nation was known as the sick man of Europe. The country, on its knees before the politicised union leaders, who cared nothing about those who relied upon them as the only providers of basic services. To re-nationalise these industries would be to deprive yourself from choice as a consumer, and put you, your water, and energy supply at the mercy of union leaders like Len McClusky, who describes UK strike laws as ‘artificial’.
When Tony Blair fought to abolish the public ownership element Clause 4 he did so because he knew that, if the Labour Party were to be trusted with the economy again, they would have to stop blindly pursuing a programme of state ownership. Throughout the 1980s Margaret Thatcher brutally murdered big state politics, and was continuously rewarded for doing so. When Tony Blair accepted that individuals deserve choice, and make better choices than civil servants, he too was continuously rewarded by the electorate.
Look at the London Underground. Constantly we hear that tube staff are planning or threatening industrial action. When it takes place, London is ground to a screeching halt and the city economy and many workers are the ones who lose out. You’d assume that those who work on the tubes must have some appalling wages or working conditions, but they do not. They earn just short of £50,000 a year, a wage which most public sector workers would dream of, even in London. Yet because they have this monopoly of power over the city, the tube bosses are more than happy to severely disadvantage working Londoners for their own benefits. Not to mention the ongoing Uber debacle, where in a moved backed by unions, the Labour London Mayor wishes to deprive Londoners of a cheap and convenient lift in order to protect the overpriced and antiquated black cabs.
During and after the conference various Blairite characters have said publicly that the Labour Party is ‘gone’. On the contrary, state ownership, higher taxes, and massive borrowing is exactly what the Labour Party does. In fact, the Labour Party is back, doing what it was created to do. It was Tony Blair who morphed the Labour Party into something unrecognisable, not Jeremy Corbyn. The real problem for Labour is that these socialist ideals no longer appeal to the working class that they claim to be the champions of. After decades in the wilderness, socialism is back on the ballot paper, but its supporters are no longer those on the poverty line, but the idealistic middle classes and their entitled student offspring.
Next time you are called upon to vote in a General Election, vote to empower yourself as a consumer, not to deprive yourself of choice. If one company doesn’t deliver you a service you enjoy, you may change to another provider, whereas the public ownership model forces you to accept what the government deems acceptable for you have. Surely, you’re big and ugly enough to make your own decisions.