rge Galloway on Privatisation (radio interview)
Date: Tue, 07 Jun 2005 09:11:24 +0500 From: "Iskandar Sahib"
M.P. SLAMS PRIVATISATION
While visiting USA recently, a British MP was most uncomplimentary about
privatisation as promoted by Margaret Thatcher and her American friends.
He also discovered from personal experience how efficient is the news
filtering system in dealing with any information, which questions the
official version of the invasion of Iraq.
As a member of a "friendly" government, MP George Galloway was invited
to be a guest at Congress. That led on to him being given the opportunity
to make some submissions to a Congressional Committee that happened to be
in session. To start with all was well, but then he took the opportunity
to "blow the whistle" on the invasion of Iraq in defiance of the United
Nations, which was still waiting for any sign of the Weapons of Mass
Destruction that her inspectors had spent months looking for.
He then went on to point out that the so-called evidence which was supposed
to have justified the invasion was now universally admitted to be, at best,
invalid, and at worst, known to the political leadership on both sides of
the Atlantic to be fictitious. His warm welcome cooled considerably.
In line with the public claim of Congressional transparency at all times,
his submissions promptly appeared in the Committee Section of the Congress
Website. But as the exploding number of hits on that website rocketed upwards,
most of them congratulating him for having the integrity to say what none of
the American politicians seemed willing to admit, the pro-Bush policy filter
swung into operation. Within less than 24 hours everything related to the
Congressional visitor had miraculously disappeared out of those Committee
That brief exposure, coupled with some similarly embarrassing comments he
made about privatisation during a networked radio interview, resulted in his
U.K. website receiving over 12,000 hits, which is the greatest number he has
ever received for anything, including "blowing the whistle " many times on
matters in his home country. Part of his radio interview follows: -
(Radio Interview with MP George Galloway)
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. George Galloway, Member of Parliament, Member of the House
of Commons in the United Kingdom. What lessons have you learned, if I can change
the topic just for a moment to economics?
[George Galloway] Of course.
[Thom Hartmann] I'd like to get back to the loss of freedoms in the wake of
9/11, but I'm curious about privatisation in the UK. It's all the rage in the
United States. I was over there when you were privatising your railroads, could
you speak to the citizens of America about the dangers of privatisation, please?
[George Galloway] Well, what a way to run a railroad! That's what most people in
the country are saying now, and how's this for a turnaround? British Rail, which
was owned by the state, which was a nationalized railway, was probably the least
loved institution in the United Kingdom when Mrs. Thatcher privatised it. Now,
fully 80% of the people of the country, 80, eight zero percent of the people of
the country want the railways taken back into public ownership because they
realize now that we're paying three times the subsidy to the private owners of
the privatised railways that we were paying to the nationalized railways and
we've got a dirtier, more dangerous, and more expensive service as a result. It
takes longer now to go from London to Birmingham on the train than it does to go
from where I'm sitting in the House of Commons to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and
it's only 110 miles from London to Birmingham. We've had a whole series of
railway disasters caused by people cutting corners to save costs, to make more
profits. We've had delays that would make your hair stand on end; people in the
depths of winter being delayed 5, 7 hours on railway journeys, and we have
rolling stock which has not improved since the public sector days. All that's
happening is that we're giving huge state subsidies to private owners who are
putting it in their pockets.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.
[George Galloway] Now, we are the only country in the whole world that
privatised our Air Traffic Control space; even the United States did not do
[Thom Hartmann] We're talking about it here.
[George Galloway] Yes, you're talking about it. Mr. Blair was ahead of you. He
was ahead of Mrs. Thatcher, who wouldn't have dreamt of any such reckless
measure. And we've now handed over control of our Air Traffic Control space to
people whose primary responsibility, who's very legal and fiduciary duty is to
use their investment to make a profit for their shareholders. That's got to be
legally their first priority; to make a profit for their shareholders.
Now, just like an equally deadly privatisation, though it doesn't sound like it,
it might sound banal, when we privatised the cleaning services in hospitals, we
immediately passed on to companies a duty not primarily to keep the hospitals
clean, but primarily to make a profit for their shareholders. The result has
been an explosion, a veritable explosion, in re-infection rates; so-called MRSA
which is a kind of super bug mutant, which is actually killing 10,000 people a
year in Britain. And there are many hospitals, including the one in my own
constituency, miscalled the Royal London Hospital, though you'd never find a
member of the royal family in it, I can assure you, where you're as likely to
come out sick as you are to come out cured because of the state of the cleaning
services in the hospitals. And that's directly linked to the privatisation of
So I say to the people of the United States that the rest of the world is
falling out of love with privatisation. Some things are too important to be left
to the private sector. And just as some things are too important or specialized
to be left to the public sector, nobody's saying that every cafe or fish and
chip shop on the corner should be owned by the state - that would be absurd. But
there are some things like Air Traffic Control, like national railway networks,
like the cleaning of hospitals, like the teaching of our children in schools,
which are too important to be left to people who are doing it for profit.
Later in the interview MP Galloway was asked if he knew that his remarks to the
Congressional Committee had disappeared?
(George Galloway) Yes, so I've been told. Just vanished. They've just been
airbrushed from the, from the record. And in a way, if you saw the testimony,
you'd know why. Because what I managed to do, and I thank God for the breath
that he gave me to do it, was blow away the smokescreen that these people are
trying to throw up to divert attention from what they are really doing.