Labour plot for utilities state ownership ‘to send bills SOARING’

25th September 2018
labour conference

LABOUR plans for sweeping state ownership of utility firms threaten to send bills soaring and destroy pensions and savings for millions of households, business leaders warned tonight.

The Confederation for British Industry and other employers’ organisations raised the alarm about the potential for economic mayhem under a Jeremy Corbyn-led government after proposals for the biggest nationalisation drive in the country’s history were unveiled at the Labour conference yesterday.

John McDonnell told the gathering in Liverpool of his “radical” ambitions for seizing control of Royal Mail, the railways and the water and energy and energy industries.

“It’s time to shift the balance of power in our country,” the shadow chancellor said.

Claiming Labour was “ready to build the future,” he added: “We’ll be proud to call that future socialism.”

Low-tax campaigners said his hard-Left blueprint would mean “abject misery for families and businesses” while the Tories calculated his proposals could cost households more than £2,000 a year in higher utility bills.

Business groups warned the “ideological” plan would scare off investors and lead to a “double whammy” on savings and pensions due to a collapse in share values.

Mr McDonnell set out his 1970s-style socialist plan to transform the economy in a five-year term in office in his keynote speech to the Labour conference.

He claimed the party was “ready” for a general election and to implement a “radical” economic programme.

“At the heart of our programme is the greatest extension of economic democratic rights that this country has ever seen,” he said.

Mr McDonnell promised measures to force large companies to give a third of seats on company boards to employees and pay profit dividends to staff.

He added: “We are extending economic democracy even further by bringing water, energy, Royal Mail and rail into public ownership.”

Labour’s plans would be far more radical than the nationalisations of the 1960s and 1970s because they would put workers and local councils in charge of public services, the shadow chancellor claimed.

He added: “Nationalisation will not be a return to the past. We don’t want to take power away from a faceless directors to a Whitehall office, to swap one remote manage for another.”

Vowing to take the water industry back under state control, he promised “a new publicly-owned water system that puts this essential service back in the hands of local councils, workers and customers”.

Details of the plans for the industry showed that staff would keep their jobs “except for senior executives and directors, whose posts will be re-advertised on dramatically reduced salaries capped by our 20:1 pay ratio policy”.