Connections: here’s why privatised water wants LABOUR to help it avoid nationalisation

A reminder: Thames Water wants Keir Starmer and his Labour Party to support their decision to put money into shareholder dividends rather than into stopping them from pumping millions of tonnes of faeces and other sewage into our once-clean rivers and coasts. He probably will support them because he’s a right-winger who supports profit for the few over the well-being of the many.

Were you shocked to learn that a privatised water firm that is in deep financial trouble has approached the Labour Party to help it avoid being re-nationalised?

This Writer wasn’t.

Here‘s the dope:

Liv Garfield, the boss of water giant Severn Trent, is trying to bring a taskforce of utility bosses together with the Labour party in a bid to head off the threat of nationalisation.

In an email sent to other utility CEOs which she describes as “sensitive” and “highly confidential”, the £4 million a year Garfield [writes] “One idea we believe might be attractive to the Labour leadership is re-purposing utilities and utility networks into a new breed of declared social purpose companies – companies that remain privately owned, who absolutely can (and should) make a profit, but ones that also have a special duty to take a long-term view.”

Garfield, one of a handful of female bosses of FTSE 100 companies, warns her colleagues: “The Labour leadership is aware we are soft testing various ideas but have asked us to keep it highly confidential so please don’t forward this email.”

The email seems to include comments from a Labour representative in support of Ms Garfield’s ideas.

In other words:

Putting aside the Breakthrough Party’s electioneering, we can see that the sentiment about Labour is correct. If you want further proof, consider the following “before/after” video clip showing Keir Starmer lying about nationalisation, not once but twice:

Let’s pause for a moment to remind ourselves of why the privatised water firms are facing possible renationalisation. First, the pollution:

Now the profit-driven debt. Here’s The Guardian:

In a little over three decades, Thames Water, the biggest water and sewerage company in England, serving 15 million people, has transformed from a debt-free public utility into what critics argue is a privately owned investment vehicle carrying the highest debt in the industry.

Over those years … its executives and the shareholders and private equity companies who own it have presided over decades of underinvestment, aggressive cost-cutting and huge dividend payments.

The symptom of these decades can be seen in the scale of sewage discharges, the record leaks from its pipes and the state of its treatment plants – which are now at the centre of a criminal investigation by the Environment Agency into illegal sewage dumping and a regulatory inquiry by Ofwat.

Privatisation – which was intended to lead to a new era of investment, improved water quality and low bills – turned water into a cash cow for investment firms and private equity companies.

Charts accompanying the article show how Thames Water has built up £14.3bn of debt, while at the same time handing out dividends totalling £7.2bn. One owner, Australian “infrastructure asset management firm” Macquarie, took out £656m in dividends in 2007, when profits were a fraction of that at £241m.

How could it produce any statement of profit at all? Easy: borrowing. Money for equipment and day-to-day running was borrowed while the cash paid in bills went into shareholder bank accounts (as described by economise Richard Murphy here).

It is this situation that Labour is being asked to support – and which, from the tone of Ms Garfield’s email, it does.

Should we be shocked? No. We should not even be surprised. Labour is not the socialist, “for the many, not the few” endeavour it was intended to be when it was founded. In just three short years, Keir Starmer (the serial liar – as demonstrated above – who is currently in charge of that party) has perverted it into the opposite of what it was.

Where Labour would once have been expected to suspend anybody suspected of sexualising children while police investigate, Starmer’s party puts them up for election:

(Odd, that. When This Writer stood for a council election, my Labour membership was suspended within days of the poll, after the party accepted entirely false claims that I was an anti-Semite. Clearly, the party currently runs a “one rule for us, another rule for you” system.)

Labour under Starmer is not opposed to racism. In fact, some say its MPs and leaders are themselves avid racists. Consider the claim against Jess Phillips, below – who apparently whipped up a dogpile on Twitter against the head teacher of a school that isn’t even in her constituency:

And Starmer’s Labour, while still claiming to be a “broad church” that accepts a wide range of political views, is actually becoming more narrow-mindedly right-wing all the time by purging its membership of anybody whose political views are to the left of – well, Mussolini, it seems.

After years of focusing on more overtly left-wing members, Starmer’s leadership has started on what are deemed to be “soft left” figures – causing a stir yesterday (Saturday, July 1, 2023) when Neal Lawson of the think tank Compass was targeted for removal. He wrote about it in The Guardian:

 They wrote coldly to tell me that back in May 2021, I’d committed a crime: retweeting a Lib Dem MP’s call for some voters to back Green candidates in local elections, accompanied by my suggestion that such cross-party cooperation represented “grownup progressive politics”.

Why did I say that, why on earth am I facing expulsion for it, and what might it mean for the future of our politics? I said it for two reasons. First, because the progressive majority in our country is thwarted by the electoral system. Votes on the right go almost exclusively to the Tories, but the progressive vote is always split between Labour, Lib Dems and Greens. Under first past the post (FPTP) the Conservatives win on a minority of the vote, again and again. Cooperation between progressives just makes sense.

Governing with others is better than losing alone… So, why use an uncontentious tweet from over two years ago to move to expel me?

The reason is that the party machine is no longer run in this long and rich spirit of pluralism. It has been captured by a clique who see only true believers or sworn enemies.

In fact, Labour has a standing rule that no party member may voice support for another party. Members on the left have been expelled for that since before Mr Lawson made his tweet. And This Writer has little sympathy because the fact that he did publish such a tweet suggests he may have thought he was one of the privileged clique at the top who are above the rules.

In any case, Mr Lawson doesn’t need (and probably wouldn’t want) my support to deal with this. He’ll have enough support from others – reluctant though it may be in some cases:

“First they came for the socialists…” as Martin Niemoller wrote about the Nazis.

Well, now they have come for Neal Lawson, and he’s lucky that the socialists are still around to speak out for him, even though the party leaders he has supported until now may wish the situation to be otherwise.

And this is the reason the privatised water companies who have vandalised our rivers and coasts are turning to Keir Starmer for help: they see in him a kindred spirit – a fellow vandal.

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