Every publicly-owned going concern sold by the Tories represents a quick profit now, but a loss of regular income in the future.
It is irresponsible.
Of course, some publicly-held assets, like our shares in Lloyds Bank, were only bought up to stop the business going bust but, as this article was being written, the government announced it would not be selling Lloyds shares as expected because of “economic turmoil”.
And then there’s the fact that the Tories have been under-selling shares in public assets – selling them off cheaply to their friends in the city.
Because that’s where these shares are going. There haven’t been any major ad campaigns to encourage members of the public to become shareholders, as there were during the privatisations of the Thatcher years. That was a gimmick for the time, a bribe to get the rank and file to accept the sale of their property into private hands.
So the taxpayer has certainly been shortchanged by the sale of the “family silver”.
But not because it has been sold at a record pace.
Simply because it has been sold at all.
The government has been accused of shortchanging the taxpayer by “selling the family silver at a record pace” after new analysis showed a record £26.4bn raised last year through privatisation.
A final 30% state holding in Royal Mail, 11bn shares in Lloyds Bank and a stake in Eurostar were among the assets sold by ministers in a bid to pay down debt and balance the books.
The multibillion pound bonanza, details of which were compiled by the Press Association, dwarfed a previous high point in 1987 when Margaret Thatcher’s government raised £20bn selling off blue chip names such as British Airways and Rolls-Royce.
This time round, the Treasury dismissed suggestions of a politically inspired “fire sale” and promised there would be more disposals to come. There is speculation that Channel 4 is among those in the future firing line.
“Central to our plan to fix the public finances is the sale of government assets to help pay down the national debt and ensure economic security for working people,” a Treasury spokesman said.
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