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item0079A  1090, 1091

1090   16 May 2005  

Capitalism
simply means the supremacy of private property power

The maverick features of "capitalism" were on show again this week, for all to see.  For it simply means "plutocracy" - that is, "dominance by rich men..."

Malcolm Glazer, in taking over Manchester United, was content to treat this great members' club as a mere item of private property, an organisation which had put itself into play in the capitalist game, by floating on the Stock Exchange.  That single move made it the target of every merchant venturer, maverick, marauder.  Glazer has played his capitalist cards right, by placating other capitalists - and ensuring that those employed by, and those those supporting, the Club counted for nothing. 

That's capitalism, Folks.  Money talks. Private property rights talk.  And while I reject many of the anti-capitalist proposals of the Old TU Left, my heart is with them - I share many of their value judgments about this seedy dominance by private property.  But it is so powerful that it will require consummate political skills for its defeat...

Lord Clive Hollick was the other marauder, condemned this week by 76% of his shareholders for having milked his own company United Business Media of 250,000 as a personal " golden goodbye" bonus.  But the vote of the shareholders will count for nothing, because the artificial person (i.e. the abdroid, the "company") of which he was Chief Executive and Managing Director had already done "its" deal with him.

Clive Hollick is a nice guy, and a Labour peer: I've met him several times, through the Labour Party and the Labour Finance & Industry Group.  But on this occasion, as a senior manager exploiting the corporate system, he has simply lost his way, his sense of principle.  He says he will take the money - "I would not have accepted the bonus if I thought I did not deserve it."  

Bollocks, CliveDeserve it? As the Financial Times said last week, you were only doing your job, for which you were already paid many hundreds of '000 a year.  It's sheer, unmitigated, greed, Clive, and you know it...

bullet What is my cunning plan?  Read
Tame the Corporations.
                                                                                                       STOP PRESS!  17/5 Clive Hollick's sense of decency got the better of him in the end: he has agreed to give up his bonus after all - read the full story.

Do you share my take on this issue - the arbitrary dominance of private property?  Drop me a line

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1091  16 May  2005  

Public Primacy
drawing the line

This is to put down a marker with you, for future debate, for there is no time today.  I acknowledge that the new Labour Government will continue to explore the provision of public services "by contract", both with private companies and charities.  Indeed, I applaud that, for socialists have no interest in engaging State administration in sectors where it is unnecessary - I am with Tony Blair, on that point.  I dissociate myself from the blanket rejection of PFI which occasionally surfaces, on the old Left.

But where is the "right line" to be drawn?  That is the question, and it is an important  one.   It may be a matter of sector (for instance, I consider the out-sourcing of prison construction and management to the private sector is wrong, and should be reversed).  On the other hand, I am perfectly content with the outsourcing of leisure centres, and some NHS specialist treatment centres, given appropriate contract terms (and I recognise, as a lawyer, that those contracts are not easy to draft...).  And it may be a matter of method: I do not approve of 100% bus-service deregulation, but I do approve of "London regulation", where key control powers are retained by the State, yet the buses are privately owned and operated.

The fine-tuning of the sectors, and their constitutional inter-relationship, is a proper subject for socialist inquiry and debate, both nationally and internationally.

  • This will be one of my themes,
    for the coming months.

.... drop me a line

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- is that a deal?  Roger WE