The General Corbyn Thread

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The General Corbyn Thread

Post by Stranger Mouse » Fri May 13, 2022 8:16 am

For people who want to discuss every aspect of Jeremy Corbyn when it doesn’t fit into another thread which in the majority of cases recently it hasn’t.

I’ll start by asking a question for those who are disapproving of Jeremy Corbyn. How much of the problems in different areas do you think are Corbyn himself and how much do you think is his more ardent supporters? And if it is his supporters is it a large proportion or a vocal minority of them.
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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Fri May 13, 2022 8:36 am

To be honest, if you think about the average voter, they really didn't like Corbyn. My wife was tempted to vote Labour at the last election and decided not to because of Corbyn (she voted Lib Dem). It wasn't so much about Labour's policies or anything else, they specifically didn't like him.

The reasons for that are somewhat hard to decipher. Most people don't really keep up with the news all that much, and certainly not past the headline a lot of the time. For that reason they're very difficult to move quickly on issues, unless they cut through, but are susceptible to gradual influence over time. So if, as happened with Corbyn, a narrative emerges that he's hopeless, a bad leader, doesn't carry his party with him, is anti-semitic, etc., then eventually that will turn into a strong dislike for him amongst large parts of the electorate. Now, in some respects that image was justified, at least in part, and in others it was grossly unfair. But that's the image that stuck.

Obviously there's a lot more to it than just that alone - Labour recovered some seats in 2017 but still came second. In part that was because Theresa May was so hopeless at campaigning, whereas Corbyn was reasonable at that point, but also Labour benefitted from people engaging more and having a chance to cut through the media unfairness, and actually liking what they saw more than was expected. By 2019, though, the chaos of Brexit had made everyone weary, Corbyn was seen as a silly obstructive Marxist fool who wanted to spend all the money and nationalise broadband for no reason, and people just wanted it over. He was much more of a known quantity by that point, and the electoral focus on him didn't help. Johnson was, in contrast, seen as a jolly lark who could Get Brexit Done, and people liked him. It's no wonder that on the doorstep, people repeatedly cited Corbyn as the reason they weren't voting Labour.

For me, the whole thing is fairly ghastly at the moment. I liked the 2017 election Labour manifesto (and the 2015 one, for what it's worth), but disliked Corbyn a lot (he wasn't a leader by any stretch of the imagination). I think Starmer, by contrast, is a good man but so, so boring, and he needs to start having some actual policies, a vision, something to excite people and make them want to vote Labour. There's nothing at the moment. A windfall tax isn't a policy to help people with cost of living, just to increase government income a bit (and so on). There is, in theory, a potential labour leader who could enthuse people in the way Johnson was (and possibly still is) capable of doing, but with actually decent policies. However, like Jesus, we'll probably be waiting an age for them to turn up.
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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by TopBadger » Fri May 13, 2022 8:56 am

IIRC I voted Lib Dem at the last GE - but that was a tactical vote. I would have voted Labour if they had a chance in these here parts - even with Corbyn at the helm.

That said I didn't really like the guy - His policies didn't grate on me for the most part, but he did. He might have been good on the campaign trail but most people don't see that, most people saw the TV interviews and he was not great on tele. I didn't like the half hearted support for Remain during Brexit. I didn't like the shared platforms with "our Friends" from designated terrorist groups. I didn't like the snail pace at which he deal with issues (like anti-Semitism) concerning his cabal. I didn't like that he appointed the idiot Diane Abbot to shadow cabinet (not a sign of great judgement).

Corbynite polices might sit well at the 'heart' of the Labour party, but Corbyn should never have been the 'head'. He's not a good leader.
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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by IvanV » Fri May 13, 2022 9:19 am

My problems with Corbyn are:

He proposes extensive state-control policies that have been extensively tested and never worked.
He supports right-wing nationalist dictators, just because they oppose the USA, seemingly unable to see that in just about every way that ought to matter to him according to his values as he describes them, they are far nastier than the USA.
He hates the EU because he thinks it's a capitalist plot, and an impediment to applying many of his state-control "solutions".
He would probably take Britain in an authoritarian direction, but I'm unsure whether that's because he's Britain's Nicolás Maduro, or inadvertently because that's the only way he'd get his state-control policies past the institutions that impede them.
He is charismatic and so attracts support, even though in every other way he seems to be so stupid.

I think he only got elected leader of the Labour Party for similar reasons that idiot-savant Chauncey Gardiner (played by Peter Sellars) got elected president of the USA in the film Being There. If you haven't seen it, I strongly recommend it. I think it's even more brilliant than Dr Strangelove.

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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by lpm » Fri May 13, 2022 9:25 am

Contempt for Corbyn has grown since 2019. People always reinterprete their past beliefs by adding on hindsight and absorbing a narrative.

Crushing Corbynism at every opportunity is a big vote winner for Starmer. Makes him look tough, decisive.

Corbynites should let him. They enjoy being martryed more than they want to help people.
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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by Brightonian » Fri May 13, 2022 10:57 am

IvanV wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 9:19 am
My problems with Corbyn are:

He proposes extensive state-control policies that have been extensively tested and never worked.
He supports right-wing nationalist dictators, just because they oppose the USA, seemingly unable to see that in just about every way that ought to matter to him according to his values as he describes them, they are far nastier than the USA.
He hates the EU because he thinks it's a capitalist plot, and an impediment to applying many of his state-control "solutions".
He would probably take Britain in an authoritarian direction, but I'm unsure whether that's because he's Britain's Nicolás Maduro, or inadvertently because that's the only way he'd get his state-control policies past the institutions that impede them.
He is charismatic and so attracts support, even though in every other way he seems to be so stupid.

I think he only got elected leader of the Labour Party for similar reasons that idiot-savant Chauncey Gardiner (played by Peter Sellars) got elected president of the USA in the film Being There. If you haven't seen it, I strongly recommend it. I think it's even more brilliant than Dr Strangelove.
Ditto re Being There. One of the first videos I ever rented, and I mostly chose it at random (I'd never heard of the film).

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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri May 13, 2022 12:16 pm

I'm no big fan of Corbyn but he doesn't half provoke people who pride themselves on being sensible to chat some absolute sh.t.

State control of utilities like electricity, water and railways is pretty normal in Europe, the US and Canada. The Tory privatized system is the oddball. There's nothing Venezuelan about renationalisation. You can tell because the Tories have basically done it with train services.

The 2019 manifesto's plan to treat internet as another utility seems very prescient with hindsight, given the events of the pandemic. (I don't see why it should be free when water and electricity are paid, though.) Privatization has totally failed to provide rural broadband. It would also be canny electorally: Labour voters are young and educated, and they want decent internet so they can work and play from home. If you want rural areas to stop being a blue desert, you need to fix that.

I'm sure we all agree that austerity has been disastrous in both humanitarian and economic terms, so ending it and treating the poor with respect and dignity shouldn't be controversial. Despite everything the UK is still a huge economy with loads of resources sloshing around, they're just in the wrong places because the status quo doesn't encourage effective redistribution. Corbyn's Labour also had some good ideas to reverse the generational accumulation of wealth that's eroding UK society and politics.

The UK doesn't have to be an unpleasant basket-case to live in. The most cursory of international perspectives identifies the same kind of areas Corbynites did as targets for reform.

His foreign policy is absolutely wack, though. I have zero time for leftists who see anything worthwhile in the modern state of Russia, for instance. And the choice of him and his supporters to focus on the politically-motivated exaggeration of anti-Semitism, rather than the real problems that co-occurred, was appalling.

He clearly wasn't a popular leader with MPs. I was abroad when he became Labour leader and was shocked by how much of the "centre" of the party was briefing against him in the right-wing press, supporting their lies and smears and nonsense. If Labour want to be electable, bigging up the leader and their vision is the way to go. Unfortunately, much of the party put their ideological purity over convincing voters - despite which he got more vote share, in both elections, than Gordon Brown or Ed Miliband, so if you want to present Corbyn as an electoral disaster do bear in mind that they were even worse. (IIRC polling showed strong support for Corbynite policies amongst voters blinded to which party was proposing them, but the Corbyn brand was off-putting.)

And for avoidance of doubt I've never voted for him. The only party I've been a member of is the Greens, and my overseas registration is in the kind of posho town where the LDs' "lAbOuR cAn'T wIn HeRe" shtick is actually true, and I'm not above tactical voting.
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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri May 13, 2022 12:17 pm

lpm wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 9:25 am
Corbynites should let him. They enjoy being martryed more than they want to help people.
I assume you mean the remaining Corbynites who still bang on about him these days, because obviously that's absolutely untrue of many people who supported him at the time.
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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by headshot » Fri May 13, 2022 3:54 pm

I though Corbyn was a pacifist. Who the f.ck made him a General??

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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by Martin Y » Fri May 13, 2022 5:05 pm

headshot wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 3:54 pm
I though Corbyn was a pacifist. Who the f.ck made him a General??
Thanks to this thread I'm going to picture General Corbyn from now on.

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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by Herainestold » Fri May 13, 2022 8:27 pm

Martin Y wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 5:05 pm
headshot wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 3:54 pm
I though Corbyn was a pacifist. Who the f.ck made him a General??
Thanks to this thread I'm going to picture General Corbyn from now on.
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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sat May 14, 2022 12:02 am

He's in the Belarusian army. Head of communications.
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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by EACLucifer » Sat May 14, 2022 12:33 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 12:16 pm
politically-motivated exaggeration of anti-Semitism
Do you want to elaborate on this claim?

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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by EACLucifer » Sat May 14, 2022 2:54 am

Stranger Mouse wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 8:16 am
For people who want to discuss every aspect of Jeremy Corbyn when it doesn’t fit into another thread which in the majority of cases recently it hasn’t.

I’ll start by asking a question for those who are disapproving of Jeremy Corbyn. How much of the problems in different areas do you think are Corbyn himself and how much do you think is his more ardent supporters? And if it is his supporters is it a large proportion or a vocal minority of them.
It's not just Corbyn, it's the general political millieu he's from - including elected politicians like Abbott and McDonnell, other political operators like Milne, and campaign groupts like STWC and the links with the SWP, along with alt-media old and new.

And in general, the problem is a reflexive anti-Westernness left over from Cold War far leftism, borrowing from Soviet propaganda at times, including ideas from Soviet antisemitism, and a notion of Imperialism and Colonialism that cannot recognise those phenomena when conducted by anyone that is not - in their interpretation - Western, eg China, the Russian Empire/Soviet Union/Russian Federation, Iran and so on.

In short, the kind of people that don't agree with Western media, and so will instead happily appear on Russia Today and Press TV.

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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by Millennie Al » Sat May 14, 2022 3:11 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 12:16 pm
Privatization has totally failed to provide rural broadband.
However, it has totally succeeded in providing urban broadband. If you look at the history of telephony, you'll find that almost all service was provided by state monopolies and was very bad. The main exception was the USA, where AT&T was a private monopoly and had to be broken up. Of course, the real problem is monopolies, but nationalised companies are pretty much guaranteed to be monopolies and governments do not have the same conflict of interest in regulating private companies.

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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by lpm » Sat May 14, 2022 7:22 am

All the people in rural areas with broadband will be surprised to learn they don't have broadband.
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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by Woodchopper » Sat May 14, 2022 7:26 am

And in general, the problem is a reflexive anti-Westernness left over from Cold War far leftism, borrowing from Soviet propaganda at times, including ideas from Soviet antisemitism, and a notion of Imperialism and Colonialism that cannot recognise those phenomena when conducted by anyone that is not - in their interpretation - Western, eg China, the Russian Empire/Soviet Union/Russian Federation, Iran and so on.
Rather than Cold War leftism, better to say1980s leftism.

Earlier generations tended to be adamantly anti-Soviet. For example the 1945-1951 Attlee government played a key role in both the foundation of NATO and the development of UK nuclear weapons. The Wilson governments presided over the construction of Polaris.

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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by EACLucifer » Sat May 14, 2022 7:34 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Sat May 14, 2022 7:26 am
And in general, the problem is a reflexive anti-Westernness left over from Cold War far leftism, borrowing from Soviet propaganda at times, including ideas from Soviet antisemitism, and a notion of Imperialism and Colonialism that cannot recognise those phenomena when conducted by anyone that is not - in their interpretation - Western, eg China, the Russian Empire/Soviet Union/Russian Federation, Iran and so on.
Rather than Cold War leftism, better to say1980s leftism.

Earlier generations tended to be adamantly anti-Soviet. For example the 1945-1951 Attlee government played a key role in both the foundation of NATO and the development of UK nuclear weapons. The Wilson governments presided over the construction of Polaris.
I did say far leftism, but yes, I agree. It's specifically derived from pro-Soviet far left positions, and because picking a side and cheerleading for it in the Cold War - either side - will result in ideological contortions, the fact that Russia is now a reactionary, revanchist, right-wing autocracy does not alter that position, just as the fact that Iran massacred socialists didn't stop Corbyn for working for their propaganda channel.

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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sat May 14, 2022 8:25 am

lpm wrote:
Sat May 14, 2022 7:22 am
All the people in rural areas with broadband will be surprised to learn they don't have broadband.
Yeah, but it's often very sh.t. Speed and reliability are also important, not just the cable. The UK is one of the worst countries in Europe for average speeds anyway, but in rural areas it's even suckier.
https://www.fwi.co.uk/news/rural-areas- ... s-mps-warn
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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by IvanV » Sun May 15, 2022 3:31 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 12:16 pm
State control of utilities like electricity, water and railways is pretty normal in Europe, the US and Canada. The Tory privatized system is the oddball. There's nothing Venezuelan about renationalisation. You can tell because the Tories have basically done it with train services.
What is Venezuelan is the scope of renationisation he seemed to indicate. Venezuela has destroyed or badly damaged things by nationalising them, including the monopoly oil company.

The 1960s/70s labour party also destroyed or badly damaged things by nationalising them, including the shipbuilding industry and the automotive industry.

There are things that the private sector does badly, or where it is not economic to try and write and enforce a contract to get them to do what you want them to do.

I can point you to papers demonstrating the improvements in efficiency and reduction of final average cost to the (engaged) customer with each stage of unbundling and introduction of competition into the potentially competitive bits of the network energy industries. Or you can google David Newbery's bibliography, he wrote most such stuff, and was for a period the most cited energy economist in the world. (Statement of interest - I have worked with him from time to time.)

When BT was in the public sector, there was a 2 year waiting list for a telephone line, even though it was profitable to provide people with telephone lines. That ridiculous situation vanished exceedingly quickly when they were privatised. Clearly considerable benefits come from competition, and monopoly networks still need to be regulated. Maximum benefit to customers comes from unbundling so as to separate out the necessarily or practically monopoly bits, and and allowing competition in the other bits, while safeguarding that competition. And yes there can be problems with people trying to rip off the unengaged part of the customer base. That happens even in things like insurance.

Clearly the private sector is not a charity and will not provide loss-making services like rural broadband, when the cost of its provision exceeds what can reasonably be earned from it. Public sector companies, told to provide universal service, do it by cross-subsidy, but typically in a non-transparent way, so you don't know whether the overcharging of other people is to the minimum extent necessary to provide universal service.

I think Chile was the first country to have the idea of competitive tendering for the provision of fixed telephony services in rural areas. It's transparent, it's efficient.

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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by Woodchopper » Sun May 15, 2022 7:49 pm

IvanV wrote:
Sun May 15, 2022 3:31 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 12:16 pm
State control of utilities like electricity, water and railways is pretty normal in Europe, the US and Canada. The Tory privatized system is the oddball. There's nothing Venezuelan about renationalisation. You can tell because the Tories have basically done it with train services.
What is Venezuelan is the scope of renationisation he seemed to indicate. Venezuela has destroyed or badly damaged things by nationalising them, including the monopoly oil company.

The 1960s/70s labour party also destroyed or badly damaged things by nationalising them, including the shipbuilding industry and the automotive industry.

There are things that the private sector does badly, or where it is not economic to try and write and enforce a contract to get them to do what you want them to do.

I can point you to papers demonstrating the improvements in efficiency and reduction of final average cost to the (engaged) customer with each stage of unbundling and introduction of competition into the potentially competitive bits of the network energy industries. Or you can google David Newbery's bibliography, he wrote most such stuff, and was for a period the most cited energy economist in the world. (Statement of interest - I have worked with him from time to time.)

When BT was in the public sector, there was a 2 year waiting list for a telephone line, even though it was profitable to provide people with telephone lines. That ridiculous situation vanished exceedingly quickly when they were privatised. Clearly considerable benefits come from competition, and monopoly networks still need to be regulated. Maximum benefit to customers comes from unbundling so as to separate out the necessarily or practically monopoly bits, and and allowing competition in the other bits, while safeguarding that competition. And yes there can be problems with people trying to rip off the unengaged part of the customer base. That happens even in things like insurance.

Clearly the private sector is not a charity and will not provide loss-making services like rural broadband, when the cost of its provision exceeds what can reasonably be earned from it. Public sector companies, told to provide universal service, do it by cross-subsidy, but typically in a non-transparent way, so you don't know whether the overcharging of other people is to the minimum extent necessary to provide universal service.

I think Chile was the first country to have the idea of competitive tendering for the provision of fixed telephony services in rural areas. It's transparent, it's efficient.
There's a big difference between telecoms being run in the same way as a government department, and state ownership of a private company (eg the government owns a significant proportion of the shares).

As Bird writes, the latter is quite normal in Europe, for example the Swiss government owns 51% of Swisscom (the largest Swiss telecoms company), the Swedish government owns 40% of Telia which operates across Scandinavia. Swiss, Swedes or Finns don't have a two year wait for a telephone.

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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by Millennie Al » Mon May 16, 2022 1:58 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sat May 14, 2022 8:25 am
lpm wrote:
Sat May 14, 2022 7:22 am
All the people in rural areas with broadband will be surprised to learn they don't have broadband.
Yeah, but it's often very sh.t. Speed and reliability are also important, not just the cable. The UK is one of the worst countries in Europe for average speeds anyway, but in rural areas it's even suckier.
https://www.fwi.co.uk/news/rural-areas- ... s-mps-warn
The speed and quality of rual broadband is irrelevant to whether nationalised broadband would be better. I have no doubt that a nationalised broadband could provide equal quality to urban and rural areas - because providing very bad quality is easy. The whole reason why towns and cities exist is that there are absolutely vast economies of scale from having people living near each other. Those who choose to live more remotely do so either because of their personal preference, which is their responsibility and I cannot see why the rest of us should pay for their choice, or because the nature of their work demands it (i.e. things like farming). The solution for the latter is for such people to include the extra cost in the proce of their products so that it is fairly distributed.

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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by IvanV » Mon May 16, 2022 8:40 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Sun May 15, 2022 7:49 pm
There's a big difference between telecoms being run in the same way as a government department, and state ownership of a private company (eg the government owns a significant proportion of the shares).

As Bird writes, the latter is quite normal in Europe, for example the Swiss government owns 51% of Swisscom (the largest Swiss telecoms company), the Swedish government owns 40% of Telia which operates across Scandinavia. Swiss, Swedes or Finns don't have a two year wait for a telephone.
But what happened in Venezuela was far from just nationalising utilities, it was widespread nationalisation and state interference in the economy. And my comparison between Corbyn and Venezuela came from my understanding that he wanted to do an awful lot more than nationalise parts of the utility sector.

I acknowledge that you can have a very civilised and thriving country with state-owned/participating utilities. There are demonstrable gains from certain forms of unbundling and private entry to parts of the supply chain in some of the utilities, especially energy and telecoms. But in the broad scheme of things, these are relatively small gains in a wealthy economy where even state-owned utilities are reasonably well managed, as opposed to South Africa, say. We can point to all sorts of ridiculous nonsense that goes on, for example, in Belgium. But overall Belgium has a rather higher standard of living and lower inequality than here. So you can get away with not seeking every small gain. It isn't on the scale of the nonsense that goes on in Venezuela that has made them a great deal poorer, or in South Africa such that they have widespread power cuts all the time.

These particular situations you cite, the part state-owned company does experience some market discipline, and normal access to capital, because of the interest of the minority private capital. The private minority shareholders will in practice will have more leverage than a minority shareholder would in a private company. Because if the government abused its position, or the company failed to behave with some kind of commercial normality, the minority shareholders would run away/refuse ever to buy in, etc. Unfortunately Britain seems to have very little idea how to do this kind of public/private cooperative arrangement. Or there is something very wrong with our wider institutions to facilitate it. Or something. We invented some other kinds of PPP which didn't work very well.

If you want to see examples where a state-owned company isn't very different from a government dept/agency situation, then you don't have to look very far: National Highways (formerly Highways England and before that the Highways Agency) and Network Rail. Both of these are subject to annual budget votes of funds, and may borrow only from the National Loans Fund, just like a government department. They do each have a regulator/monitor between them and the departmental owner, to try and create a situation similar, for example, to privatised electricity distribution companies. It doesn't seem to work. I don't claim to know a better answer to these. I have never claimed/thought that privatising them was a good idea.

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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Mon May 16, 2022 8:47 am

There are obviously different measures of standard of living, but for at least one of them, HDI, the UK is pretty much exactly even with Belgium, with the UK a touch higher. On several other metrics, the UK does better than Belgium.

Certainly though it is true that Belgium is markedly better with regards to income and wealth inequality - it tends to be amongst the best nations for this, whereas the UK is roughly similar to Tajikistan.
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Re: The General Corbyn Thread

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Mon May 16, 2022 8:57 am

IvanV wrote:
Mon May 16, 2022 8:40 am
Woodchopper wrote:
Sun May 15, 2022 7:49 pm
There's a big difference between telecoms being run in the same way as a government department, and state ownership of a private company (eg the government owns a significant proportion of the shares).

As Bird writes, the latter is quite normal in Europe, for example the Swiss government owns 51% of Swisscom (the largest Swiss telecoms company), the Swedish government owns 40% of Telia which operates across Scandinavia. Swiss, Swedes or Finns don't have a two year wait for a telephone.
If you want to see examples where a state-owned company isn't very different from a government dept/agency situation, then you don't have to look very far: National Highways (formerly Highways England and before that the Highways Agency) and Network Rail. Both of these are subject to annual budget votes of funds, and may borrow only from the National Loans Fund, just like a government department. They do each have a regulator/monitor between them and the departmental owner, to try and create a situation similar, for example, to privatised electricity distribution companies. It doesn't seem to work. I don't claim to know a better answer to these. I have never claimed/thought that privatising them was a good idea.
As a former employee of one of these companies, I can safely say you're not correct here. Network Rail is funded in five-year blocks, decided upon by the ORR, and the amount allocated is legally binding. They are not allocated money annually. Having moved onto a different public sector organisation which is much closer to being a government agency, Network Rail is pretty far from being that.
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