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Public Ownership

Our economy is in a mess that cannot be fixed by cosmetics. The real problem goes deeper than the terrible damage done by the Tories between 1979 and 1997 and by New Labour since 1997.

It is capitalism that is responsible for the destruction of our industries and services, mass unemployment, homelessness and the tragic social problems which follow. We can only begin to solve these problems by attacking their root cause, and that means the eradication of capitalism itself.

The privatising of key industries and services, telecommunications, gas, water, electricity, coal, railways and health and welfare care has devastated our economy, which has been in poor shape for over 25 years.

New Labour's talk of a 'share-owning' or 'stake-holding' society is rubbish. The entire basis on which our economy operates is not only corrupt but fundamentally incapable of meeting the needs of the British people.

The fact is that nearly half (48%) of the United Kingdom's privately-held wealth is in the hands of just 10% of the population. That contrasts sharply with the 8 per cent of wealth held by 50% of the population. The myth of a share-owning democracy has long since been exposed - by a 1993 report which revealed that 87.9 per cent of company shares were owned by only 4% of the adult population!

The sell-off of key industries and services has been a major factor in Britain's economic decline. We see what privatisation has done to our railways.

Privatisation means not only lack of investment, it means low pay, poor conditions, falling of safety standards, the destruction of jobs - and all that, in turn, means higher unemployment and further economic stagnation.

Energy, water, public transport, telecommunications are all vital to any society's welfare. Like health care they are services on which we all depend. They belong by rights to us all and they must be returned to public ownership. This time, however, they must be properly managed, so that our industries and services are controlled BY the people FOR the people.

The Socialist Labour Party is firmly committed to taking all the industries and services privatised in the past 26 years back into public ownership. At the same time we want to see Britain's banks, which recorded over £20 billion profits in 2000, the major oil companies, along with the major insurance companies and other industries and services all taken into public ownership.

With public control and proper management operating for the common good, public and municipal ownership can always out-perform private enterprise.

Nearly 90 per cent of the British people support the policy of taking back the entire rail system into public ownership, whilst the vast majority support the taking back into municipal ownership buses and trams which, together with rail, should be at the heart of an integrated transport system. Experience has shown that privatisation results in chaos and disaster. The solution is a commitment to public and municipal ownership where industries and services are owned and controlled by the people as a whole.