Sunday, 3 May 2009

Thirty Years On

Mrs Thatcher privatised British Telecom, British Airways, British Leyland. But we still have a nationalised British political culture - the reflexive gripe that, if something's wrong with your local hospital or your local school, it ought to be fixed by some secretary of state in a Whitehall department. It never will be. But the way to get some dynamism and creativity into the system is to denationalise the problems, and make them local issues to be solved locally, in a thousand different ways. That's even more important in the present circumstances. As Mrs Thatcher recognised, the British are an inventive people. Unfortunately, though she freed them to apply that inventiveness to their economic endeavors, they are increasingly prevented from applying it to any other aspect of life. And which of today's leaders would ever trust them as Thatcher did?

Mark Steyn, The Unfinished Revolution

16 comments:

electro-kevin said...

Whatever Thatcher did to liberate commerce from the unionists has been taken back by the EU. All manner of legislative and quangocratic interference is deployed against the businessman - Jack Jones would be astonished at what has been achieved.

idle said...

The difference being that the battle against the EU can be won with a single stroke of a pen, e-k. We will not have to watch mounted police against flying pickets.

electro-kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Lakelander said...

Excellent idea for graphic....

electro-kevin said...

The EU is the lawyer's friend.

The battle for the liberation of Britain is agin' British lawyers.

Game over.

(I posit that to even take part in the MEP elections - however one votes - is to endorse and confer power on the EU itself. Each and every cross validates this illegal entity further and further. We need a campaign of spoiled papers)

Philipa said...

Hm yes well some of those were better off nationalised. Privatisation was just a way of raising money for the government by selling us what we already owned.

Can anyone keep up with gas and electric? I've lost the plot with how many schemes there are to pay. I'm sick of being asked to change.

idle said...

"Hm yes well some of those were better off nationalised. Privatisation was just a way of raising money for the government by selling us what we already owned."

Pip, there is so much I disagree with in that paragraph, it's probably best we don't start.

Brantley Liberation Front said...

Steyn's so right.

We always assume that those big important areas like education, health and police have to be controlled by those highly educated boys and girls in Westminster and that there is no alternative.

Imagine having local people controlling local budgets and being accountable for performance and results.

They ain't going to let that happen any day soon....

In the meantime, our local further education college has just spent a cool £60m on redesigning a place that any commercial business would have spent ca £5m on.

Just how can we turn the bloody public sector tap off?

idle said...

BLF, the answer to your question is in the preceding paragraph.

The Tories are going to have to change the culture of public spending and replace it with the culture of commercial operations who are answerable to shareholders.

This will take time, but a relentless pursuit of value for money in every spending department in the land is the only way. The buzzword for this is 'more for less'.

The Tories will have a big majority in a year's time, and they will have to be brave with it. They should rewrite the civil service handbook and remind them that misuse of public funds is not just a sackable offence, but a criminal one, as in America.

Philipa said...

As EK would say, Idle: Ah gawan!

I listen so you might just pursuade me to your point of view.. If you are so inclined. But as it's bank hol you will enounter no argument if you decide to be gloriously idle ;-)

idle said...

The three companies mentioned were BT, BA, BL. Pip, you say "some of those were better off nationalised".

Really? BT and BA became huge international successes, and BL, having been an albatross around the neck of the taxpayer, was never mourned; the most skilled of the workforce ended up working for the improved Rover, and then the excellent BMW. Perhaps you meant Railtrack, which was not mentioned.

Privatisation proceeds went to the taxpayer, insofar as they went to the govt. We had a govt in those days, you will remember, that improved the public finances and gave taxpayers more of their money do with as they wished. The economic benefits were manifest.

"Selling us what we already owned" - Sold only to those who saw that the valuation was such that it was an attractive investment, pip. I was one of the investors. I made money in the long term, and the taxpayer was the recipient of billions of pounds of corporation tax thereafter. I can't see that anyone didn't therefore do well out of it.

I don't have gas, but I don't remember being asked to change my payment scheme for the leccy at any time in the past ten years. Perhaps the wife did it, and didn't mention it.

Philipa said...

Yes I was indeed thinking of Railtrack, Idle. Paying £154 for a return trip from Bham to London when another company charges £32 for going further just rattles my cage. This is just an abuse of a free market. You see, I liked the fact that essentials were controlled, affordable and available to all. Like water, health care, power, bin men, roads, social housing and public transport. I thought Beeching was a travesty. Ok I think I'm ranting, sorry. I just don't think the 'free market' is the answer to all ills, the golden aim of a glorious society. I just don't. I truly and wholly believe in a melding of social care structures and free market capitalism. I think that's what we had and I don't think the answer is to swerve from far left to right. So I wouldn't get rid of social benefits for single teenage mums as EK seems to want to. I'm middle of the road.

You see, when it comes to essentials we all have to partake, we are all customers. So why does the dosh for such things have to go offshore? We should own it!

I did own the things they sold off, I did own a part of it. But only those with money to pay for the shares own it now and as you say made a nice little earner off something that was stolen from me. I object!

I completely disagree with the privatisation of air traffic control as a threat to national security and this issue is where I was most interested in your comments. I object to Russia or China or the French controlling our airspace. Call me old-fashioned but I just do.

idle said...

I must say I think you are wrong-headed about the privatisation thing, pip. These companies were not stolen from you; they were floated into private ownership (often with a golden share retained by the taxpayer), and the fair price proceeds (including your share) went to the national coffers. If you have a pension, you will own part of them now. The companies, released from the shackles of inefficent govt ownership, flourished.

The railways have been an exception, but I believe the rule is proven.

I doubt that the privatisation of air traffic control is of any national security concern at all; following your logic, no foreign aircraft or foreign aircrew, or civilian British aircrew should be allowed to take to the skies in UK airspace.

My bet is that since 9/11 there has been a greatly increased government oversight on all these matters, to the highest degree of safety possible.

Philipa said...

Many thanks for your thoughts, Idle. I shall ponder.

Philipa said...

But when Broon sold off our gold reserves and trashed pensions I felt that was stolen too. Blair spent tax payers money and lives in an illegal war and should be impeached IMHO. Perhaps I just generally feel ripped off and lied to by successive governments.

idle said...

What you have, pip, is a problem with modern government. I share it.

Things should start improving, albeit slowly, from next May.