So, what’s Labour’s alternative to this disastrous Tory government? What will it offer us, the poor bleeding electorate? What are its priorities? Oh we know, now: nationalise everything. Great.
The NHS is falling to pieces, social care is in crisis, police numbers are falling and crime is rising and people’s working age benefits are being cut. And what does Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell propose to do? He wants to take the water companies, the power companies, the Royal Mail and the railways back into public ownership. He wants to turn them into co-operatives, controlled democratically by the workers or, in other words, Len McCluskey. I can barely wait.
I always worry when I read the leaders of the hard left refer to democracy because in reality they mean the exact opposite. My old union, PCS, is now controlled from top to bottom by a hard left rump that makes Corbyn and co look like the Lib Dems. Everyone is elected every single year, even though you only have to ultra left lists to choose from. It is all but impossible for independent candidates to even stand for office because they require branch nominations to get on ballot papers and when the comrades control all the branches this is not as simple as it seems.
Of McDonnell’s nationalisation list, I’ll agree that the railways should gradually return to public ownership. I say gradually because all you have to do is wait for the individual franchises to expire and the government start running them. The rest, I am not so sure about. We all complain that our water, gas, electric bills are too high and indeed they often are. But does anyone really care who owns the utilities as long as they provide good services at the lowest possible costs? The government has the power to legislate to control bills so why not do that?
I do not hear people chatting in the pub about the benefits of returning the Royal Mail to the public sector. In fact, I have never once come across anyone who sees this as some kind of priority, not when there are people living and dying on the streets. Honestly, I think we as a society have moved on from the Labour years of nationalising everything and the Tory years of flogging everything off.
In any event, McDonnell’s desire to nationalise everything merely confirms that his is the old politics of the 1970s, the politics of envy and the crazy idea that the state is always best at everything. His is reheated Bennism, based entirely on Tony Benn’s simplistic sloganising as opposed to serious policy making, the very Bennnism that gave us Margaret Thatcher.
Peak Corbyn has passed now and I doubt that a promise to nationalise the water company will take the old boy back on top again. Rather, people, including the young who were taken in by Corbyn, not realising he was a hard Brexiter just like the Tories he despises.
For the life of me I cannot see why people would want to accompany Corbyn and his elderly comrades in a journey back to a world where society was almost destroyed by a woman who said it never existed in the first place. And anything John McDonnell thinks is good simply can’t be.