Nationalisation is popular. So popular, in fact, that even the Tories are doing it.
Following decades of failure on Britain’s privatised rail system, the Conservative government this week announced its decision to bring the East Coast line back under public control.
This latest franchise collapse on the East Coast Mainline is a major embarrassment for Tory transport secretary, Chris Grayling, and the rest of his privatisation-loving party. The current Virgin-Stagecoach partnership are now the third lot of parasites on this line to be rescued by taxpayers.
Labour movement leaders rightly welcomed the decision, noting that the next step is surely now to (re-)nationalise the whole railway system.
“Virgin East Coast has been taken into public ownership again after private firms did a smash and grab with taxpayers money,” stated Steve Hedley, assistant general secretary of the RMT. “We need a totally nationalised railway now.”
“Grayling would have rather walked barefoot on broken glass than do what he has done today,” noted Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of the TSSA railway union. “Yet, bringing the East Coast Mainline into public ownership, proves Jeremy Corbyn is dead right about the need for our railways to be publicly-owned!”
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, even joked on Twitter that the Tories were helping to carry out Labour’s manifesto.
Good to see Grayling implementing first stage of Labour’s Manifesto promise to renationalise the railways. I think I’m right in saying that he’s now nationalised more railways than any Labour minister in 6 decades. Come on Chris, East Coast line today, the whole system tomorrow.— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) May 16, 2018
But the East Coast fiasco is only the tip of the iceberg. Privatisation has been a disaster across the board. If it’s not rip-off gas and electricity prices, then it’s the corruption within the outsourcing industry. No wonder over three-quarters of the public support the demand for nationalisation of the railways, water supply, and energy providers.
Our lives are now dominated by a handful of monopolies and banks. These giant corporations control the economy - whilst also running it into the ground!
For ordinary people, it’s been a decade of crisis and austerity. For the fat cats at the top, however, it’s been a decade of mega-profits, eye-watering pay, and massive bonuses - all at our expense.
Restore Clause 4!
It is for all these reasons that, this year, we helped to launch the Labour4Clause4 campaign. Clause 4 was introduced into the Labour Party constitution a century ago, in February 1918, in order to commit Labour to fight for common ownership and the socialist transformation of society.
100 years on, the time is ripe for Corbyn’s Labour to once again commit itself to this cause by restoring this historic socialist clause. We need to bring back Clause 4.
To help comrades in raising these ideas and arguments throughout the labour movement, Socialist Appeal have published a new pamphlet, which makes the case for nationalisation and the restoration of Clause 4.
Nationalisation: Why we need it provides a collection of articles examining all the different aspects of this question.
We provide the history of Clause 4, from its introduction to its abolition by Blair. We make the case for Clause 4 today, answering those critics who say that it is ‘backward-looking’ and ‘old-fashioned’. And we explain the way forward for Labour, pointing out the limitations of Corbyn and McDonnell’s current proposals regarding nationalisation and the wider economy.
The pamphlet has already been going down well at trade union conferences, demonstrations, and labour movement meetings. There is clearly a thirst for a genuinely radical alternative to the market and the profit system.
Help us in the fight for socialism by buying your copy today through our online bookshop, Wellred Books.
If you want to get more involved with the Labour4Clause4 campaign, please also:
- Add your name to the campaign statement.
- Pass the model motion in your Labour Party CLP or trade union branch.
- Follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.
- Donate to the campaign.