Saturday, 2 November 2013

dancing with the moonlit knight?

selling england by the pound
I get some of those emails from political parties most weekends. I think they mail out on Saturday expecting they have a better chance of being read. Recently they feature the countdown clock for the next election. 550 days according to the Labour Party.

Enough time for the government to sell off a few more UK assets, I suppose. We've been watching Britain's remaining industries and services drift into offshore ownership.

"Selling England by the pound" may have been coined around 40 years ago, but by now it's largely 'job done'.

The privatised world created an array of new feeding troughs for the privileged. The accompanying outsourced world created offshore opportunities by removing in-country wage packets.

Emerging companies were sold and re-sold so that BA is now Spanish, London's Arriva bus services are German, the original BT cellular network became O2 which is now Telefonica, four of the Big 6 energy providers are German, French and Spanish.

Of course, globalisation brought the service sector to prominence in the UK, with London as a financial feeding centre.

With this early countdown to the next UK general election, there's already much jostling for position, as well as chatter about the futility or otherwise of voting. An ancient lyric from the Who springs to mind: 'Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.'

The catalogue of curious situations continues to develop:
  • Privatising part of the Royal Mail in a way that gave the banks advising the pricing both plenty of shares and an opportunity to sell them earlier than regular punters. Ker-ching.
  • Apparently allowing the largest shareholder in the new Royal Mail to be a Cayman Island based hedge fund. Surely no spivs?
  • Hiding black holes of lost money in pension funds, ultimately creating smaller incomes for those that have saved.
  • Paying off cavalier captains of industry who generally escape with low reputation but lottery winner sized handouts.
  • Allowing a 3rd generation EPR nuclear build to strike energy pricing at around double current rates (£48 vs £92.50). Then index linking it and making it contingent upon the UK taking a second plant somewhere else. Over a barrel perhaps?
  • Watching the energy companies add 10% to their consumer bills, whilst trousering profits so large that an ex Prime Minister even comments about it across his own party.
  • Running the quietly understated UK Asset Resolution bad bank (Britain's 5th largest mortgage lender with some £66bn of loans), but now adding another £38bn of bad bank assets instead into a sub component of RBS.
simplified energy creation and consumption
A bit of an energy gap?

I'm sure there's plenty more examples; I picked finance and energy as starters. We could easily add education and healthcare to the list. No, wait a minute, that's what the politicians are planning.

The thing is, unlike the Who lyrics, we will get fooled again.


Doris said...

It is quite an extraordinary state of affairs clearly put. And there was I thinking the Royal Mail was somehow sacred. I can not believe they can keep the name - and I am not even a royalist!

As for the energy gap I see what you mean. But quite apart from global warming which I think is quite debatable theory, we all need to look at reducing our consumption and treat these resources a bit more preciously. However, that does not mean we can be screwed over and served less energy at a higher price.

rashbre said...

Doris I agree. I'm not really sure what we are doing now. "Royal" Mail as a privatised company. Maybe it will go back to that odd name it had for a while?

And yes, switching off a few more lights should help too. We've just had the neighbourhood street lights replaced but I'm not sure quite how the carbon footprint of the work itself plays into that?

Maybe a (lamp) post one day?