George Galloway MP
That would be the transport that once upon a time was wholly controlled by Government bodies, so Galloway’s targets are the rail industry, and air traffic control. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, what has been sold off is not the whole of what was publicly owned, and in the case of Network Rail (NR) the company is now unequivocally back on the Government’s books.
That does not deter Respect’s sole representative in the Commons, who took to Twitter yesterday to berate anyone even considering sell-offs to be anything but A Very Bad Idea Indeed: “Some things are too important to be left to the private sector: air traffic control and railways are among them. £5bn in tax money to spivs”. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point. So do go on.
And on the subject of the railways, he does indeed go on: “time for a change on Britain’s railways. Public ownership, investment, price control, diversion of freight from road to rail. Common sense”. But NR is already in public ownership, most investment in the railways is done by NR, many fares are regulated - or controlled, if you like - and an expansion of rail freight is under way. Perhaps he has another card to deploy?
Well, yes he has, and the ultimate Galloway trump card is safety: “we pay 5 billion to private operators to run a service we used to own and they run it more expensively, less efficiently, and more dangerously”. Hold it right there. We can debate costs and measures of efficiency, but “more dangerously”? Someone is having a laugh here. We need only to look at the last decade’s safety performance for air and rail.