Well, it\’s not quite Dover, just the port, but sure, flog it off:
The Port of Dover is being recommended by Government advisers for sale to the French authorities.
It\’s not like they\’re going to try and pack it up and take it home now, is it? The value of a port lies in, umm, where that port lies.
But much more fun is this:
Chief executive Bob Goldfield said: ‘The time is right for the voluntary privatisation of Dover. We want to invest around £400million on a second terminal and need to invest in the existing terminal, but are unable to because of public sector borrowing constraints. We want to throw off the shackles.’
One of the arguments used about government ownership of things is that only government will invest the right amount in them. You know, business is all too short term, the lust for profits means no one thinks beyond the end of their nose and only government, those wise and omniscient beings who run it, can properly take the long view.
Well, yes, but: that\’s not how it works out in practice, is it?
The water companies were constrained in their investment plans by the amount being borrowed and splurged on paying for redundant miners. BT ditto….and here the Port of Dover is constrained by the amount Gordon Brown has pissed away over the years. Even under a Prime Minister who still ran a deficit at the peak of the boom (on the basis that government could and should invest in infrastructure) couldn\’t provide the cash to expand a port.
The truth is, you see, that government has a much shorter investment horizon than business: what money there is needs to be spent on winning the next election, not building the infrastructure the country might desire or require.
One of the arguments in favour of privatisation is exactly that government does not think long term.