Ownership does matter                                                 


  July 2001  
Mutual ownership of public services
  Book Review      
    The ownership of public services does matter says a pamphlet called “ Ownership Matters: New mutual business models” published by the new mutual think tank Mutuo.  After years of being told that ownership doesn’t matter and that regulation is all, it’s good to hear the contrary view being  put.  Written by journalist Ian Hargreaves and others, it confirms that privatisation has been a disaster.  In the rush for profits, service quality has plummeted.  On the railways, public safety has been disregarded.  In the authors’ view, under nationalisation Governments were also bad at running public services.. Whilst it’s true that BT and British Gas were dreadful, BR was not.  Many would like to see Railtrack nationalised. This will not happen. However, other areas of state provision are still far from satisfactory.  The NHS is over-bureaucratic, over centralised and unresponsive to those in need.  That’s true in social care, housing and education too.  So is it time to look at another way of providing these services; - the mutual way?   
   Mr Hargreaves comments, ‘The Blair Government’s attempt to discover a ‘Third Way’ in politics identifies two “failed ways” i.e. privatisation and nationalisation but denies the significance of the ownership question.  Unless this is addressed, the ‘Third Way’ will continue to be a political cul-de sac.  Ownership is crucial in determining the quality of service that the public gets.’  This pamphlet advances the case for the mutual ownership of public services..  Well written, it makes a powerful argument for replacing rapacious private firms with community-conscious social enterprises.  
      Ownership Matters: New mutual business matters” by Ian Hargreaves,  Cliff Mills and Jonathan Michie   



This article was published in the CHARTIST July/Aug 2001     

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