Newly-elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to set out details of his plan to renationalise the railways at next week’s Labour party conference.
Corbyn, who has previously said the railways should be renationalised along with Royal Mail and other entities previously owned by the government, is expected to reveal plans for bringing the railways back into public ownership by regaining control of franchises as they expire.
“On this issue it won’t work to have a nearly-but not-quite position,” Corbyn said yesterday.
“Labour will commit to a clear plan for a fully integrated railway in public ownership,” he told the Independent on Sunday.
Corbyn’s shadow chancellor of the exchequer, John McDonnell, has also backed public ownership of energy companies and banks.
McDonnell told the Observer newspaper yesterday that recent sales of government shares of Royal Mail and Royal Bank of Scotland were “complete rip-offs” for the taxpayer.
He also said that he would “love to” bring BT back into public ownership, but it is now “too late”.
A YouGov poll conducted last month found that 58 per cent of voters backed renationalising the railways, water companies and other utilities.
But the Adam Smith Institute published a new report over the weekend arguing that, based on the outcomes of utility privatisation for the government, shareholders and customers since the 1980s, there is “no case for renationalising the utility sector”.
“It is clear that while utility privatisation is not a perfect solution, it is infinitely better than stultifying public sector ownership,” said Nigel Hawkins, the author of the report and a senior fellow of the Adam Smith Institute.
He added: “It is inconceivable that the massive level of utility investment over the last quarter century could have been undertaken if public ownership had continued.”
Adam Smith Institue director Eamonn Butler agreed, adding:
“Some of us remember what public services were like before privatization – the three-month wait to get a phone line, the curled-up British Rail sandwiches, and the annual power cuts from an electricity board that couldn’t cope. We do not want to go back to the dismal lack of customer service of nationalised services.”
WHAT WOULD A CORBYN GOVERNMENT OWN?
Corbyn has said that if he were Prime Minister, he would put National Grid – Britain’s largest utility provider – back into public hands
Corbyn has indicated that he would like the government to have a “controlling interest” in the so-called big six energy companies: British Gas, SSE, E.ON, RWE npower, Scottish Power and EDF
Corbyn’s first major policy announcement is expected to come later this week, when he calls for full renationalisation of the railways
Corbyn has staunchly opposed the privatisation of the healthcare system
The banks and postal services could be under threat, too; Corbyn’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell has slammed the recent sales of Royal Mail and Royal Bank of Scotland as “complete rip-offs”