What we think
The cost of wooing business
THE CULLEN report into the Paddington rail crash, which was published this week, highlighted the absolute disaster of rail privatisation. The report pinpoints a "lamentable failure by Railtrack" to respond to "recommendations following previous crashes". It points to the fragmentation of the rail network, the sacking of workers, the lack of training, and the catastrophic failure of management who put commercial considerations first.
All of these are consequences of privatisation. There is one obvious and simple measure the government could take-it could renationalise the whole of the rail network. Such a move would be hugely popular. But Tony Blair refuses to even consider it. Renationalisation does not fit into New Labour's big business agenda. Indeed Blair wants to ram through more of the same privatisation which has led to death, danger and disaster on the railways.
Blair wants to hand over even more of our public services to big corporations, which-just like the rail companies-will make huge profits at the public's expense. Meanwhile the government ditched its promise to introduce a new offence of "corporate killing", which would see firms like Railtrack in the dock for crimes like the Paddington crash. And this week chancellor Gordon Brown announced even more measures to help big business.
He said he would cut the capital gains tax on business from 30 percent to just 10 percent. And he will extend the 10 percent corporation tax-already the lowest in Europe-to more companies. Brown also wants to introduce a US-style "productivity drive". This will mean squeezing workers even harder with longer hours and more unsociable shifts, but with no extra pay. Just two weeks into its second term, New Labour has made it crystal clear that its priority is to govern in the interests of the corporations and fat cats. Meanwhile services, jobs and the lives of working people go to the wall.