Wednesday, 15 August 2012

One Barnet - An article on privatisation that Richard Cornelius really should read.

What newspaper do you think the Leader of Barnet Council reads over his Shreddies in the morning? I would doubt that Richard reads The Morning Star, or even the Guardian. As such, it is unlikely that he gets too much input on the dangers of outsourcing and privatisation as he munches away and sips his Earl Gray.

So what newspaper would Richard read? I'd put him down as a Daily Express man myself. He doesn't really seem to do detail, so that means the Times and the Telegraph are unlikely. He doesn't seem like a Daily Mail man to me either. If he does, I sincerely hope he reads the article on page 12 by Ross Clark, the political commentator. As we all know the Express is rabid right and it's commentators are not socialists. Mr Clark is no fan of unions or nationalised industries. He starts his article in true rabid right form
I briefly worked for British Rail. It was hard then to imagine a worse way of running the railways than this bloated, state-owned monolith. Its trains were rattling, dirty and 30 years out of date. Its bolshie, unionised workforce used every excuse to go on strike and its defeatist management saw its job as managing decline in the least painful way it could.
Expecting a bum for brains article, I read on. What Mr Clark then went on to say, made me realise that even the most rabid Tories are seeing through the myth of private sector efficiency. He later says
In 1995, the last year of BR, the taxpayer paid £800million in subsidies. By 2006/07 that had mushroomed to an astonishing £6.8billion. It has since fallen back to £3.8billion but it is still a ridiculous figure given the efficiencies which privatisation was supposed to bring. We are paying through the nose twice over as passengers and taxpayers while fat-cat rail bosses grow rich on the proceeds.
As the article goes on, it says many things which have been written by the Barnet bloggers about the One Barnet project. Where have we heard this statement before?
One of the main purposes of privatisation was supposed to be the transfer of risk from the taxpayer to companies. The profits have certainly been transferred yet all risk seems to remain with the taxpayer.
Perhaps the grimmest statement, is what happens when private firms find they cannot make any money from contracts
Surprise, surprise, the company then realised that it could profit by accepting the subsidies then surrendering its franchise before the repayments became due. It has just saved itself £800million in this way. Astonishingly no one in government saw it coming.
The privatisation of the rail industry was an unmitigated disaster. Commuters have suffered from terrible service performance. Ticket prices have gone through the roof. As Mr Clark shows, the government is aying through the nose in subsidies and yet the private companies make ever more profits.

All of this is something which Richard Cornelius wants to impose on the people who elected him. Why? Because CEO Nick Walkley thinks it's a good idea and Richard lacks the cojones to argue with him. In an interview in the Hendon Times, Richard says "I'm a natural Conservative, I believe in doing nothing". My advice to Mr Cornelius is this. Turn your Daily Express to page 12 and read Mr Clarks article. Then ask yourself whether you still think One Barnet is such a good idea. I suspect that unless he gets off his backside and starts doing his job, after the next council elections, Mr Cornelius will be able to exercise his "natural conservatism" to the full as he'll be out of a job.

Here's the full article.


baarnett said...

What newspaper?

I'll bet he is devastated by the imminent demise of the 'Dandy'.

baarnett said...

Regarding the railways, it has never been very clear if rail travel should be encouraged or not.

The Treasury often stopped BR from expanding services, and micromanaged fare increases to cut demand, so that 'state assets' like track would not wear out 'prematurely'.

At least private ownership has freed management to offer new services, although lines have become so popular that price rises are needed to keep numbers from expanding too fast.

Scotch Hopper said...

Of course he didn't read it - he's on holiday spending some of his £600k!