Posts Tagged ‘nationalisation’

Three quick thoughts on the Labour manifesto leak

11/05/2017, 03:33:23 PM

by Kevin Meagher

1. The butler did it…Or perhaps he didn’t

So who leaked it? Who benefits from Labour’s policy commitments spilling out over the evening news bulletins in one big, tangled heap? No-one, is the answer. It’s unlikely too many of Jeremy Corbyn’s internal opponents (is ‘enemies’ too strong?) would have been privy to the working draft and just as unlikely they would deliberately sabotage the campaign. The mood on the right of the party is ‘let Corbyn fail on his own terms.’

Did someone in his team think it was a useful tactical ruse? Perhaps to strong arm critics who would prefer a more hard-headed manifesto with fewer uncosted commitments? (The idea being that if they’re in the public domain there can be no rowing back in today’s Clause V meeting of party grandees that agrees the final cut). Again, what we see doesn’t bear that out. The contents are, frankly, much less swivel-eyed than many expected.

Was the document leaked to cover-up something more damaging? Again, that doesn’t ring true. There was nothing going do disastrously wrong yesterday that warranted slapping the proverbial ‘dead cat’ on the table. Indeed, Jeremy Corbyn’s cancelled appearance at a poster launch this morning, gives the clear impression the leadership knew nothing of the leak.

As ever, never overlook bog-standard, garden variety incompetence, either because it’s innate to a surprisingly large number of people working in politics, or, quite possibly, through fatigue. In his book on the 1997 election, ‘The Unfinished Revolution’ the late Philip Gould recounts leaving a set of poster designs in Euston station before catching a train. When the horror of what he’d done dawned on him, a party staffer was hurriedly despatched to retrieve them. Luckily, they were still where he’d left them.  Sometimes in politics you’re lucky and your mistakes aren’t realised. And sometimes you’re not.

2. Whisper it, it’s not that mad
(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Sorry Nigel, nationalisation is not against EU Law

02/10/2015, 05:25:51 PM

by Sam Fowles

Nigel Farage thinks EU law prevents nationalisation. Ironically he seems to have got this from a recent post on Left Futures by Westminster University’s Danny Nicol. Professor Nicol argues that the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) and EU liberalisation directives prohibit renationalisation of energy utilities, as proposed by Jeremy Corbyn.

Professor Nicol raises an important point. The EU probably encroaches on the sovereignty of member states to its most egregious degree when it comes to market liberalisation. Art. 176 TFEU commits member states to the expansion of markets.

I have a lot of respect for Professor Nicol and recommend his excellent book. But I can’t help but feel that, in this instance, he has reduced a complex area of law to a zero sum conclusion. There are many forms of “nationalisation” that would never be touched by the TFEU (such as taking utilities into municipal control, as has happened in Germany). Furthermore, EU law wouldn’t prohibit the sort of nationalisation proposed by Mr Corbyn.

Let’s be clear, the Corbyn plan isn’t for complete nationalisation. Mr Corbyn wants to nationalise the grid (the infrastructure that transports gas and electricity from generator to supplier), the “Big Six” energy companies and the railways.

EU law explicitly protects the right of member states to nationalise industries. Art. 345 TFEU states “The Treaties shall in no way prejudice the rules in Member States (MS) governing the system of property ownership.” In his book Professor Nicol argues that this provision has recently been ignored by the ECJ. This is largely correct but it does not justify the conclusion that it will always be ignored.

Art. 345 remains in the treaty. It is possible to generally promote liberal markets and operate some industries as national monopolies. Arts. 176 and 345 are not mutually exclusive. The ECJ has often been tolerant of member states accused of violating the treaties if their actions are “proportionate“, i.e. for a legitimate aim (which would include one endorsed by the electorate) and effective, but not excessive, in achieving that aim. Assuming that nationalisation was prominent in Mr Corbyn’s manifesto, conducted on a transparent timetable and proper compensation was paid, Mr Corbyn would have a strong case based on Art. 345.

But even without Art. 345 EU law would not prohibit the Corbyn plan. Professor Nicol relies heavily on Art. 106 TFEU. But this provision doesn’t ban nationalised industries. It simply regulates how they can behave in relation to other enterprises. In essence, enterprises with a dominant position in the market due to state action cannot use that position to behave unreasonably. The ECJ will only intervene if Art. 106 is breached.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

I’m a Socialist. I’m on the left. I’m backing Liz Kendall

17/06/2015, 04:51:28 PM

by Daniel Charleston Downes

I remember the first time that I read Karl Marx. I studied sociology at university and I remember reading it and my world view falling apart. Up to that point as a grammar school boy who used to stay up all night reading biographies of Thatcher and her cabinet, I thought I had a pretty good idea of which way my political ideology was going to pan out. Marx blasted that apart, he guided me through the Matrix.

I went on to devour other Marxists texts becoming obsessive about theory and ideology. Even at this stage, the high point of my intellectual journey into socialism, I felt uncomfortable with the Occupy movement and other far-left protest groups. I had become a religious zealot, as far as I was concerned I had found the Promised Land, the task now was to take as many people there with me as possible. I didn’t understand why everyone else was so angry, aggressive and insular.

The left hasn’t changed since then, at least not the hard left. It is still a movement that clings more to the processes of socialism (nationalisation, higher taxes for the rich, no private investment in state services etc.) rather than the values. Most of the time it feels as though these ideals are held religiously without any acceptance of challenge, the lack of flexibility has allowed the left to stagnate and fall apart. The lack of fresh ideas or an optimistic vision has seen the left become a rock for tenacious veteran campaigners and a disenfranchised and destructive youth.

Jeremy Corbyn represents for me the huge errors that the left has made over the last 50 years. He, like many others, is an apologist and even supporter of ‘socialist’ dictators in South America. His passion for the disenfranchised leads him to make peculiar and outrageously inaccurate statements about radical Islamic militants in Hamas and Hezbollah. He clings, like many others, to the nostalgic dream of nationalisation without a clear vision of what can be achieved by a larger state.

Corbyn’s aggressive anti-Israel stance is, in a typical leftist fashion, both inconsistent with his support of nations where human rights abuses take place in the name of socialism and drifts often into anti-Semitism. I have no affiliation with leftist organisations that see wealth and power as evil and place Jewish people in their narrative as always having both.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon