Margaret Thatcher has backhanded Britain from beyond the grave. The former Prime Minister’s privatisation of the UK’s vital infrastructure has now resulted in the states of China and Qatar, along with other foreign corporations, securing a majority stake in our gas pipe network. And much of the world will profit from this, straight from the pockets of people in Britain.
In 1986, Thatcher privatised British Gas. The publicly owned institution’s responsibilities included maintaining the nation’s gas pipes. Until a deal announced on 8 December goes ahead, for-profit company National Grid plc enjoys full control of the natural monopoly. Soon, however, a 61% stake (valued at £13.8bn) will be sold to a consortium of companies [paywall]. These include German firm Allianz Capital Partners, the China Investment Corporation (CIC, a state-owned wealth fund), the Australian bank Macquarie, and the state-owned Qatar Investment Authority.
A kick in the teeth
A variety of foreign nations and companies will benefit from the deal, at the ongoing expense of Britain. Thanks to Thatcher’s privatisation and her predecessors continuing the policy.
Britain loses out because the gas distribution service is guaranteed to profit with fixed returns, as asserted by public service union Unison in The Guardian. Foreign states and corporations offered a “stupendous price” because it’s a risk-free investment.
The privatisation of essential services looks like a straight-up scam. The net income of National Grid plc in 2015 was £2.1bn. Rather than being reinvested to benefit people in the UK under public ownership, these profits are feathering the nests of rich shareholders.
Tory ideology forbids the British state from owning our key infrastructure. But not the Chinese or Qatari states: https://t.co/7V0WpwY7VV
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— GeorgeMonbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) December 9, 2016
Privatisation of essential services like healthcare, our railways, or gas pipes is the gift that never stops giving for the new owners. We still need to use these services, so are forced to rent them back at a higher price. Tollgates are set up between us and the infrastructure and services we need to exist in a modern economy. Rather than paying for our energy together, we are handing money to wealthy shareholders. Let’s end the con.
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