The BBC identified 12 key issues for the Labour party’s manifesto in preparation for the December General Election.
Not wishing to take anything away from NY Brit Expat’s cogent analyses, I wanted to reflect on one item, the potential for re-nationalizing of key sectors in the US 2020 election context, since progressive Democratic candidates have promised “big structural changes”
The question here is what would converting “Rail, mail, water, and energy into public ownership” mean in the US national context.
I don’t want to necessarily subscribe to DSA positions and the advantage of choosing #7 below is to set aside for the moment a discussion of US national health-care as well as a variety of industries, even as some of that discourse is familiar in degree to some US presidential candidates. In a country that pays $100 million for POTUS* to play golf, demands that you show your math for healthcare costs approaches absurdity.
Nor do I want to endorse specific proposals from US candidates, even if a presidential election is a kind of “marketplace of ideas” in the primaries, and the party platform does have quite the same set of obligations for legislative policy as a UK party manifesto.
However it should be possible to return to the kinds of industrial policy and national planning that allowed the US to help win WWII.
Assuming US Democratic party unity and a 2020 victory with widespread state-level majorities, the current chaos of privatization will be reversed and socialization implemented to reverse Trumpist actions.
What would bringing UK rail, Royal Mail, water and energy industries back into government ownership signify for US nationalization policy
- In the UK, returning British Rail to centralized ownership could reduce the usual capitalist chaos created when it was broken up into regional companies.
“This will enable us to make fares simpler and more affordable, rebuild the fragmented railways as a nationally integrated public service, cut the wastage of private profit, improve accessibility for disabled people, ensure safe staffing levels and end driver-only operation.”
- In the US, perhaps real infrastructure development and national high-speed rail planning could occur.
- In the UK, The Royal Mail’s postal banks will be further integrated into small business development.
- In the US making the quasi-nationalized USPS into a postal bank and a municipal broadband hub provider could radically change an entity that Trumpism has proposed to eliminate completely.
Water and Energy
“In the UK, profit has proved a poor regulator for use of our natural resources.”
The whole CBI analysis is based on the upfront cost without considering any value or benefit from the assets. The water companies, for example, would be expected to provide an income from customers’ bills, which should pay to service the debt and even provide some money to the government on top of that.
If the nationalised industries would be significantly better run by the public sector than the private sector, the benefits to the nation would be considerable. If not, then the opposite would be true.
- Whether it is the trillions of litres of water lost through leakages, barriers to renewable energy connecting to the grid or the billions of pounds of billpayers’ money being siphoned off in dividends to wealthy shareholders,Tory privatisation of our utilities has been a disaster for both our planet and our wallets.We will put people and planet before profit by bringing our energy and water systems into democratic public ownership. In public hands, energy and water will be treated as rights rather than commodities, with any surplus reinvested or used to reduce bills. Communities themselves will decide, because utilities won’t be run from Whitehall but by service-users and workers.
- in the UK We will put people and planet before profit by bringing our energy and water systems into democratic public ownership. In public hands, energy and water will be treated as rights rather than commodities, with any surplus reinvested or used to reduce bills. Communities themselves will decide, because utilities won’t be run from Whitehall but by service-users and workers.Public ownership will secure democratic control over nationally strategic infrastructure and provide collective stewardship for key natural resources.
- In the case of energy, it will also help deliver Labour’s ambitious emissions targets. Whereas private network companies have failed to upgrade the grid at the speed and scale needed,publicly owned networks will accelerate and co-ordinate investment to connect renewable and low-carbon energy while working with energy unions to support energy workers through the transition.
- Water and Energy sectors in the US have similar issues in learning the failure of profit incentives, aside from Trump’s idiocy of wind turbine cancer.
- Nationalizing in the US could promote a profound change in terms of regional water and quasi-public utilities as well as cross-subsidizing rural and urban universal service, as well as developing a more sustainable grid.
- Re-regulating water and utilities as well as energy and mineral extractive industries by public ownership will address what has become the onward rush of the climate crisis.
This is the BBC’s list of 12 main points of the Labour manifesto
1. Increase health budget by 4.3%
The party also wants to cut private provision in the NHS.
2. Hold a second referendum on Brexit
Labour will renegotiate a new Brexit deal within three months, and hold a referendum on the deal or Remain within six months
3. Raise minimum wage from £8.21 to £10
It would boost anyone over the age of 25 earning the minimum wage, known as the National Living Wage.
4. Stop state pension age rises
Pension age would remain at 66 while retirement ages for those in arduous and stressful jobs will be reviewed.
5. Introduce a National Care Service
Provide “community-based, person-centred” support in England, including free personal care.
6. Bring forward net-zero target
To put the UK on track for a net-zero carbon energy system within the 2030s.
*7. Nationalise key industries
The party will nationalise the so-called big six energy firms, National Grid, the water industry, Royal Mail, railways and the broadband arm of BT.
8. Scrap Universal Credit
Start work on a new benefits system to replace controversial benefit.
9. Abolish private schools’ charitable status
There are also plans to scrap tuition fees and bring back maintenance grants for the poorest students.
10. Free bus travel for under-25s
Labour will also bring the railways back into public ownership.
11. Give EU nationals the right to remain
It will mean EU citizens in the UK no longer have to apply to continue living and working in the country.
12. Build 100,000 council homes a year
Start a rapid programme of homebuilding.
labour manifesto labour.org.uk/…
- A new £400bn “national transformation fund”, paid for through borrowing, would invest in infrastructure and low-carbon technology. There would be a mandate to lend in line with climate goals and productivity.
- The railways, broadband infrastructure, postal services, energy utilities and water would be put in public ownership, paid for by issuing government bonds.
- Free full-fibre broadband would be available for all by 2030.
Labour wants to increase spending, change who spends the money and what the money is spent on. There is no doubt it is a tall order.
To end Whitehall’s dominance, much of the spending will be devolved to the major cities and local councils. A 10-year green transformation fund costing £250bn will be used to upgrade energy, transport and other networks.
More borrowing will support a broad sweep of nationalisations covering areas of the economy considered to be natural monopolies, with free broadband being the biggest giveaway, funded by a capital investment of about £40bn, and £5bn a year to provide the services for free, says BT.
I’m wary of attacking the BBC but this is utterly insane.@BBCNews has edited out the audience laughing at Boris Johnson when questioned on trust.
The first part is the actual footage, the second is from BBC News at 1pm today… pic.twitter.com/lQAE1Y3M6A
— Hasan Patel 🌹 (@CorbynistaTeen) November 23, 2019
— Anthony Cutler (@anthonyncutler) November 13, 2019