Blimey, Seumas wants to nationalise Vodafone

The case for public ownership of basic utilities and services – including electricity, gas, water and communications infrastructure – is overwhelming. It’s also supported by a large majority of the country’s voters. But it’s taboo in the political mainstream.

44 thoughts on “Blimey, Seumas wants to nationalise Vodafone”

  1. It’s Seumas, he wants to nationalise everything.

    I also love when you see “the case for X is overwhelming” in the Guardian, you know they are not going to try and make the case or explore any conter arguements as their mind is made up and closed to anything else.

  2. I fear that all this stuff with the energy companies is where this is all heading.

    Taxed and regulated to the hilt, Red Ed now wants to tell them how much they can charge for their product and has promised to do so if he gets in charge.

    At that point, which part of it isn’t, in effect, nationalised anyway?

    All very depressing, really.

    I do have to disagree with Seumas’ sub-header which mentions a “Thirty year failed experiment”. I can’t speak for everyone but I’ve generally been very satisfied with the service and the cost of my energy bills in the twenty years or so that I’ve been a bill-payer.

    It’s only the last few years when prices have gone up a bit steeply.

    Now, what changed in those last few years, I wonder?

  3. A petrochemical plant is a “basic utility”?

    And, frankly, 2800 jobs, even in Scotland, even in manufacturing, isn’t as much as many of the commentators seem to be making out. Okay, it’s a lot for the local area but this is a capital intensive rather than a manpower intensive industry?

    £300 million to be invested just for the gas plant?

  4. The politicians of all three colours are such dishonest wankers.

    The Climate Change Act of 2008 guarantees these huge bills and all three parties were competing to be the “most green” – now the bills are here, it’s the energy companies fault.

    What utter cunts…

  5. Odd that a Communist wants the State to seize control of everything. Think of that power – one source of supply, and if you piss off the State you can be cut off. Shameless must be wetting his pants with excitement at the thought.

    I think the Guardian is hoping the majority of the population has either forgotten how totally shit the nationalised utilities were, or they weren’t alive then.

  6. I think Anthem is right that they are effectively nationalised anyway; the state already has huge control. However, they are a nice scapegoat; if they manage to do anything the state doesn’t like then the managers get summoned to be insulted by the posturing halfwits in Westminster.
    Nationalise them; then when prices continue to rocket and the lights still go out it’ll be clear whose fault it is.

  7. @Rob – “I think the Guardian is hoping the majority of the population has either forgotten how totally shit the nationalised utilities were, or they weren’t alive then.”

    Absolutely. I was a mere nipper in the seventies but I do remember the power cuts. A bit of nuisance, they were.

    Imagine the scale of the disruption in this day and age when almost everything relies on an uninterrupted supply of electricity.

    We probably won’t see it from the BBC but a bit of archive news footage from the “glory days” of seventies socialism wouldn’t go amiss right now.

    Union strikes every five minutes, bodies stored in factories, bins unemptied for months.

    Ahh, them were the days. Brings a tear to my eye.

  8. The renationalised east coast main line managed to generated one-quarter of all complaints for the whole rail network, for each of the last two reported years, despite the far greater number – by an order of magnitude, using commuter networks. › Money › Consumer affairs. also‎
    It is one of the least punctual companies – “The East Coast is the worst performing train company in terms of punctuality. Only 82.8% of services arrived on time in the period up to 31 March 2013, compared with 97% of services provided by C2C (in Essex)” (see,
    Seumas applauds “its reliability, value-for-money, popularity” – perhaps he doesn’t read The Guardian or BBC news columns, just the opinions?

  9. With the posturing of the politicians and the cries of the media, what company would choose to invest in the UK?
    Personally I’ll be looking to base my business in a more business friendly country – one that uses law rather than politicians morals to decide taxes – with perhaps less chance of power cuts.

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    You know what else has a case that is unarguable and is supported by the majority of people? The death penalty. Some policies are just a lot more complicated when it comes to implementation than a simple sound bite or polling question would indicate.

    Although Seamus is probably fine with the death penalty. Or would be once he was in power.

  11. Well, that’d end the Vodafone profits/tax argument, anyway. At least you know where you are with nationalised industries. It’s how much subsidy’s required.

  12. Martin Davies,
    Unless your business venture is a utility company, or in a heavily regulated sector, the UK remains a safe place to do business in terms of political risk. There’s lots of blustering from MPs but very little in the way of concrete action.

  13. @Rob

    “Think of that power – one source of supply, and if you piss off the State you can be cut off. Shameless must be wetting his pants with excitement at the thought.”

    Indeed. When I went to work for BT a few years after privatisation, I spoke to plenty of the old guard – polite and charming to a man – who told stories of cutting people off who complained, or that they just didn’t like.

    Having always working in private companies, most of whom were the subject of these disconnections, I was amazed. They seemed quite proud of the fact that people they had prevented from doing business had subsequently been bankrupted.

  14. SBML

    Whether ECR is the most profitable or not depends on how you view the convoluted nature of railway financing, I have seen an estimate that were it a franchise it would be in receipt of a large amount of revenue support. To be fair it has some inherited problems left by the early surrender of the franchise by the previous operator, that was why it was placed under direct management rather than another franchise, no one was keen to take over and the government feared another round of bad publicity if someone did. The same sort of mess has happened with the West Coast Main Line too of course, although in that case as a result of mismanagement by the sort of state functionaries that Milne no doubt approves of.

    As I have said here before the real problem with the railways is not one of who owns it so much as who runs it and how. As a very large part of the historical problems of Britain’s railways are due to state incompetence and abuse – such as not reimbursing the private companies fairly for their losses during WW1 under state control and then forcing an unwieldy grouping on them, repeated in 1948 with nationalization – I think it is fair to say that whatever the shortcomings of part private operation have been, re-nationalization is not the answer.

  15. As well as cutting off businesses–which they can do now–they want smartmeters so they can cut your individual home off at the push of a button without blacking out an area. That is why smartmeters are popular with political scum all around the world.
    Oh yes–they will need them to run their crappy “green” piddle-power network–but that is only one reason–smartmeters give them vastly boosted powers of coercion–don’t pay (tax surcharges as in Greece) or don’t obey (won’t co-operate with ID card say) well then freeze in the dark until you do. Much cheaper than jail and your own family will curse you–no fridge/telly/computer/cold etc.

  16. When it comes to driving up quality and driving down prices, even heavy regulation is a poor substitute for competition.

    So here’s my Regulation vs. Competition Wizard:

    1) Could the product/service routinely kill the user if poorly-produced?

    If Yes, regulate very heavily indeed. If No, go to 2)

    2) Is there sufficient competition in the sector?

    If Yes, leave it alone ffs. If No, go to 3)

    3) Can the sector become truly competitive?

    If No, regulate heavily. If Yes, go to 4)

    4) Regulate incumbents heavily. Regulate new entrants lightly. Once the sector is truly competitive, walk away.

    In summary, if a sector can become truly competitive, let’s encourage that. If not, let’s regulate it heavily.

    Nationalise nothing.

    Utilities (for example) can’t become truly competitive, so they need to be heavily regulated, but not nationalised.

    Because the solution to oligopoly is not monopoly.

  17. “Utilities (for example) can’t become truly competitive, so they need to be heavily regulated, but not nationalised.”

    I think that only water supply could be said to be a natural monopoly, surely energy with so many potential sources and sellers is ideal for running competitively.

  18. Rob,

    I think the Guardian is hoping the majority of the population has either forgotten how totally shit the nationalised utilities were, or they weren’t alive then.

    The problem is that the Guardianistas are never exposed to the harsh realities of nationalised industries so they just don’t believe it can be as bad we make out. In your example of BT before it was privatised, they would have called up their mates and been made a priority for a phone while the rest of us waited 9 months and then had to suffer a party line.

    They got to travel first class on BR so didn’t notice the filth and if the train was late then at least they were comfortable not sweating away in cattle class.

    Does anyone think they Guardianistas of Venuzuela are going without bog roll?

  19. First up, I must say – even for a lowly rag such as the guardian, this article is preposterously substandard. Seumus’s effort was cribbed from belongs to grade school year 8.

    But hey ho.

    Yeah right on Seumus, Communism really works for you, if you are a party member but it didn’t work out too well for the proletariat.

    On energy companies, the government needs to get out of the way. Wait! Oh no but it can’t! Ed, RED ED, Nicko Dave and the Westminster crew say: “we’ve got to green the world and Britain is going green first!”

    Unilateral industrial suicide – the guardian swears by it.

    Lights out everybody.

  20. I think it’s time we all started a campaign for the NATIONAL FOOD SERVICE.

    All food producers and sellers, regardless of size, to have their stocks, connections, distribution chains, outlets etc seized and run by the government. After all, if it works for medicine and energy, surely food is far more important than either of those?

    I’m sure the voters will be one hundred percent behind it, especially when Seamus and Edward stand on the soapbox in any high-street and country and explain to the voters how they will be able to use their new ration books. Fantastic! Surefire vote winner.

  21. Seamus Milne isn’t a real person, is he?
    Surely he is just Rik Mayall seeing out his retirement with a satirical People’s Poet, ‘Rick’ from the Young Ones.

    it can’t be a genuine piece, can it?

  22. Stuck-Record,

    The ration book is a goal not a bug or failing. A perfect way to make us all eat our 5-day on near starvation diets to appease the health freaks. They could even make it electronic that way that can inflict the health food of of the day instantly.

  23. “A petrochemical plant is a “basic utility”?

    A “basic utility” is whatever Big Brother says it is.

  24. SimonF

    I’ve found it a fairly successful way of bringing home the realities of rationalisation to people have otherwise assumed that the government is brilliant at everything: NHS etc.

    If mention is made of the evils of profits, then the food chain is piled with them. Every step of the chain from farm (wherever it may be) to the consumer has a markup. So, by the logic that is used to advocate the nationalisation of energy, health and anything else, this change should be seized and run, profit-free, by the good old government.

    See the scales fall from their eyes, however, when you point out that the Artisan bread that they buy at the Sunday farmers market will be unavailable as it is a wasteful use of resources; ten loaves could be made in its place. Also, the love little ethnic Cornershop at their door will close after the owners are imprisoned as profiteers.

  25. “However, the costs of privatisation have created a powerful counter-momentum in Europe (and even more so in Latin America) to bring services, resources and utilities back into the public sector”

    Latin America as a model for service provision? Really?

  26. The article is one of the most moronic I have read even by the Standards of the Guardian (Low) and Milne himself (even lower) – as Edward (2.50pm) points out a 14 year old could argue him into a cocked hat. It’s remarkable this paper still has an audience when it’s peddling this kind of nonsense.

  27. It’s remarkable this paper still has an audience when it’s peddling this kind of nonsense.

    it’s noticeable that the grauniad, that did used to occasionally provide some kind of left wing argument, even when it was barking, that could provoke debate, now reads like it’s being written by the lower sixth trying to ‘do socialism’

    Mind you, it’s better than the Staggers. That now reads like a right-wing parody of a commune’s self-published magazine.

  28. Sam (#30) 5.57pm

    Absolutely – But the likes of Monbiot, Toynbee and Milne are just beyond parody. I was left wing at the age of 15 – but then over the course of the next 5 years entered the real world. The sad thing for many of these journalists is that process never seems to have occurred. As you say, even in the 1980s there used to be some coherence to the arguments – now blind assertion, such as the self evidently absurd contention that ‘a vast majority want the country turned into North Korea’ (which is what Milne’s argument amounts to) seems to be the order of the day.

    The Statesman has been going downhill for years, culminating in its editorial takeover by Al Qaeda frontman Mehdi Hasan, now of the equally spurious Huffington Post. I’d say its a parody but parodies are normally humurous. The staggers is as funny as a cancer diagnosis.

  29. “Latin America as a model for service provision? Really?”

    It’s a splendid model. Of what not to do. Until the telecomms industry was opened up to competition here in Costa Rica, it was lagging years behind world standards and in danger of becoming unutterably shite (everything was still GSM and before that was TACS until 2004 or so.) Now even though it’s imperfect, there’s five or six cellular providers and things work just fine, with 3.5G/UMTS as standard . The power company is a monopoly, on the other hand, and it’s awful. There are moves afoot to fully privatise it but they’re stalled until after the election in the spring because the disgusting unions are cutting up rough. But everyone looks at Venezuela and breathes a sigh of relief that at least we didn’t get lumbered with a Chavez. There’s three supermarkets within walking distance of home that would not look out of place in the US or UK, plus innumerable little corner shops and boutique thingies. Nicaragua, on the other hand, is a Third World country and looks like it. The extent to which things work in this part of the world is determined largely by how little State involvement they suffer. Chile/Costa Rica/Panama/Uruguay good. Bolivia/Ecuador/Nicaragua bad. Argentina v. bad. Haiti/Venezuela catastrophic.

    Ho Chi Milne should be accorded roughly the same consideration as an unrepentant Hitler supporter in the 1950s.

  30. “Ho Chi Milne should be accorded roughly the same consideration as an unrepentant Hitler supporter in the 1950s.”

    I guess he’s not because the USSR spent a ton of hard currency on PR in the West in the period 1950-1989.

    And now we’ve got their ex-sponsorees and their groupie acolytes like Laurie Penny acting as Stalin’s zombie sockpuppets without a hint of shame.

  31. “Seamus and Edward”


    Nay lad, you do me a disservice – mortally wounded I’ll stagger on and will not hold it agin thee, here’s me thinking we were alus kindred spirits of the small ‘c’ variety.

    I like coal but not the dark,
    I like Thorium but never Uranium,
    I like gas piped to the house for domestic heating and cooking,
    I like to feel the wind on my face but not for turning those damnable whirlygigs,
    I like England green but not greenpeace,
    I like CO2, it in a small way it helps to keep the earth warm and greenest.

    I like efficient administrators preferably unpaid but not social engineering freaks who control and seek domain over me.
    I like very small government and I want to have a say, Switzerland is my model.

    I hate crony capitalism, investment bankers, QE and Goldman Sachs alumni, I abhor the left even more,
    I seek sovereignty for my nation and want control of our borders.

    I want government to work for me, not for Brussels and the powers that be,
    I want my land saved for my lineage not for an AfroAsian culture rampant.

    I love the world but do not want the dregs of it sleeping on all our doorsteps.
    We chastise the righteous and rise to praise the weak willed, the louche and empty headed rattle of celebrity culture.

    We herald the new dawn of stupidity,
    where reason is frowned upon,
    and the nihilism of the pompous left wing is imbued with a religiosity and of gravity.

    We teach our children pap and coddle them to an early grave.

    That’s no future.

    There is more – but less is more.

  32. David Gillies

    To add to your list – Brazil bad*. Nicaragua was an example of not so much state interference, but a kleptocracy under the Somozas.

    * They’re doing OK at the moment thanks to high commodity prices, but the rest of their economy is riddled with stupid government interference. When the commodity boom ends, it will be bad.

  33. @ ken
    The last Somoza was thrown out in 1979, same year as Jim Callaghan. Are you blaming Wilson and Callaghan for the post-2008 recession?

  34. Stuck-Record, another example to add your list of profiteers is that of perfume manufacturers and other such branded products. Probably not such an easy example because many against profiteering are against class and so against such expensive symbols of class. But I’m sure that you will find even in radical feminists the odd one who likes expensive shoes, or handbags, or perfume. But then the ones who do like them are probably champagne socialists who you can’t persuade that their thoughts are illogical because their whole life is based on illogical beliefs.

  35. Well, on the bright side at least he isn’t cynically using murdered children to lead a (wrong) attack on a Conservative politician.

  36. SadButMadLad.

    Everyone’s a profiteer. Especially those nurses and doctors, profiting from the misery and disease of others. Why don’t they work to only cover basic bills. Some even have savings! The Bastards!

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