In favour of a form of nationalisation – but with the co-operative dividend

I encountered an incisive summary of why nationalisation is a good idea – even though, personally, I consider it, as usually understood, often, less than ideal…

There are five reasons in favour:

Privatisation has failed

Public ownership would save billions

Public ownership is successful

Public ownership is popular


All of which I certainly agree with – and there are many additional reasons in favour in the same article here.

My ‘but’ is that I’d prefer a compulsory co-operative to compulsory nationalisation.

And I’d also like politicians to understand money rather than subject their ‘public ownership’ nationalised industry to arbitrary spending constraints – because there is all of a sudden, no money – or simply tax receipts have reduced.

The current system has actually been a benefit of, for example, the privatised railways. Once the government has committed to spending, the private companies are in the driving seat and able to sue the government if they do not deliver.

And, as we all know, Virgin has been able to lever this scheme to their advantage.

With an arms-length co-op, co-ops could certainly, if required, do the same – but with a straight nationalisation, they could not.

Co-ops give the opportunity for basic local and democratic control but without the arbitrary withholding of funding after the sudden realisation that money is ‘too short’!

‘We own it’ need, I’d suggest, to be cognisant that nationalisation will not be a facet of government spending control but simply a system of low down local – and co-operative – control.


  1. Graham -

    Mondragon in the Basque country have been quite successful as a co-operative. Prof Richard Wolff has long advocated what he calls Workers Self Directed Enterprises

    The massive benefits the State gives to private enterprise, most egregiously in privatising the profits while socialising the costs, needs to be changed, and likewise the primacy of “shareholder value”. In fact the whole capitalist icon needs to be toppled if we are ever going to reduce inequality.

  2. Peter May -

    Thanks for the link. I think the ‘capitalist icon’ is a good turn of phrase. It is an icon and we should do less worshipping and more alteration and amendment!

    1. Tom -
      I see Graham beat me to it with the prof Wolff link.
      However, I was late posting this because I was looking for the right one.
      In this one the Prof explains exactly what the different types of socialism are. More importantly, the third type has come about largely since our last ‘go’ at nationalisation belongs to the second type. Labour will not be going down that route again.
      Mondragon are currently advising Preston how to set up a region bank.
      Also I would suggest consulting the two latest books from Paul Mason, Postcapitalism and A Clear Bright Future.
      These overlap Aaron Bastani’s book, Fully Automated Communism.
      Education is the only way for progress. That’s what I’m trying to do for myself.

  3. christine bergin -

    I am a big fan of Credit Unions and any Mutual businesses that fill my needs. I shop with the local which has Fair Tax accreditation. I dont own a TV so Phonecoop provides my internet and phone needs. If there were more coop type businesses around I would prefer to patronise them. It may seem more expensive to use mutuals but the social benefit is worth it. I am fortunate enough to be abla to afford it.

    1. Peter May -

      I agree tho’ I don’t see why mutuals should be any more expensive – think of John Lewis ‘never knowingly undersold’ – though it is clear it doesn’t apply to Waitrose! Indeed for groceries I suggest the Co-op is more attractive since, whilst it too is expensive, if you’re a member it is easy to build up a reasonble dividend…

  4. Graham -

    Mutuals and the like may be more effective in limiting obscene levels of remuneration for executives. JL has a rule such that “The pay of the highest paid Partner will be no more than 75 times the average basic pay of non- management Partners, calculated on an hourly basis”. It’s still quite a lot at over £1m though is “only” 55 or 66 times the average, depending on how it’s calculated.

    The Ecology BS also has a rule limiting the ratio to 8 times “the lowest full grade”. It’s currently 5.44.

    (from their Annual Reports)

    1. Peter May -

      I agree. Your conclusions are why I always vote against everything in the annual meeting for the Nationwide BS – they could keep an extra branch or two open if they didn’t pay the Ceo so much – but of course I get told the real BS – that they have to compete in the market for all these fabulous people.
      These seem to be people who know how to get banks, or even building societies, bust…

  5. A. Pessimist -

    Why does the BBC have a headline article and video on its UK News website this morning giving the CEO of one of the largest energy companies an opportunity to argue against public ownership, and claim that it will delay greening?

    Of course it might actually reduce his personal remuneration, but hey ho.

    The BBC seems intent on facilitating a Johnson victory.

Comments are closed.