From 1979 onward, Conservative governments began selling off the nation's publicly-owned transport and utilities, bringing them under private control.
As shares in the newly-privatised companies went on sale, Thatcher's government promised an 'ownership revolution', in which we could all own a stake. The sale of British Gas shares in 1986 was accompanied by a TV advertising campaign, in which the fictional character 'Sid' was urged by his friends and neighbours to invest at "affordable" prices before the deadline.
Although millions did indeed sign up for the new shares, many of these new shareholders “stagged” their share issues, selling them on at the end of the first day’s trading for a decent profit.
Levels of individual share ownership have continue to fall, with an increasing share of the privatised industries instead snapped up by overseas buyers- often at bargain prices.
We need to call time on the failed experiment of privatisation, and develop a way forward that puts people first. We do that by running utilities and rail in the public interest, and making them accountable to the public who use and work on them.
The Co-operative Party's new report ‘Democratic Public Ownership for the 21st Century’ explains how modern democratic public ownership can work in practice.
Our report sets out how we can achieve democratic public ownership of water, energy and rail− putting an end to privatisation, and learning from past experiences.
Fundamentally, it’s about accountability; ensuring that the voice of customers, staff and the taxpayer are at the heart of how these industries are run, and that services are shaped around the interests of the people who use and work in them.
Be part of campaigning to make the plans a reality: