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By a Labour Party member
I have recently read a pamphlet, produced by the Fire Brigades Union, which made an excellent case for renationalising the big energy companies. Matt Wrack, the FBU General Secretary, points out in his introduction that fuel poverty is a blight on the lives of many and that 25,000 people die of cold every winter.
This is a consequence of high fuel bills and inadequate insulation of homes. There are many that have to choose between heating or eating and there are roughly 5 million people living in fuel poverty.
The pamphlet points out that when the energy sector was publicly owned, there was a 25% reserve in capacity, in case of extreme weather and other kinds of emergences. Today, electricity supply has only a 4% reserve. A number of industry experts believe that this will result in blackouts in the future.
This pamphlet was written in response to public anger at price rises in gas and electricity in 2013. At the time, the Labour Party leadership still believed that the energy sector should remain in the private sector, albeit with regulation. Like with the Banks, regulation proved to be virtually non-existent. With the election of Corbyn as party leader, re-nationalisation of the big energy firms is a manifesto commitment and if opinion polls are right, it is proving popular with the electorate.
In my opinion, all the privatisations are proving to be a disaster. The Tories turned public monopolies into private ones and sold them for a song. The pamphlet quotes an energy economist who described the energy companies of ‘sweating’ inherited assets. Privatisation was also about sweating its workforce. It is time that a Labour Government ensures that the bosses do some 'sweating' for a change.
It is time that Labour nationalised all the privatised industries, with compensation based only on proven need. Take Stagecoach, the bus and rail operator. Two people own almost half of the shares in the company and they have made a fortune, by buying chunks of former publicly-owned passenger transport companies. Big profits have been made by buying cheap and 'sweating' the staff and passengers alike. In my view, these people shouldn’t receive a penny in compensation.
I regard this pamphlet as one of the best I've read that has been produced by a national trade union. On the last page, there were footnotes and it stated that the authors were Mick Brooks and Michael Roberts. I should have guessed!
July 23, 2018
The FBU pamphlet is available as a download from: