METRONET, the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) within London Underground, has collapsed financially after years of failure to provide services required by the capital’s transport system. It is about to go into administration.
Aslef general secretary, Keith Norman, said yesterday that it would be ‘perverse’ for Gordon Brown to fail to admit that the PPP experiment has been tried and found to fail.
However admitting a PPP failure is just what Gordon Brown will not do, since he is the architect of the use of the PPP by Labour governments over the past 10 years.
He took the PPP and the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) over from the Tories, as the ideal way to privatise state owned companies and hand them over to big business. The appearance is a cut in state expenditure. The reality is an even greater state expenditure over numbers of years of payments to the banks, plus having to bail big business out when the private end of the ‘partnership’ goes broke.
When these companies can’t do the job that they contracted to do, the government, as it has continually done on the Main Line railway, is asked to pay billions in subsidies to prevent private companies going bust.
Norman continued yesterday to try and persuade Brown that he must admit that he is wrong. ‘Gordon insisted that PPP was the way forward for London Underground. . . I hope the Prime Minister will be big enough to accept that the problem is not Metronet – but that there are inherent failings in PPP as a concept.’
Again Brown will make no such admission. He is too busy extending the use of the PPP and the PFI as the tool to privatise the entire state owned economy. He is therefore prepared to spend many billions bailing out private companies to avoid renationalisation.
The Aslef leader insists correctly that PPP is ‘an inherent contradiction’ – and that ‘there is no “partnership” between the public and private sectors. . . Private capital is driven by utterly different concerns than public investment. One is about making money; the other is about providing service.
‘PPP is a failure to reconcile two opposites. It is time it was ended not only in the rail industry, but in the UK economy as a whole.’
Aslef is correct Labour and capital cannot be reconciled, there is a continuous class struggle between the two irreconcilable opposites.
The RMT rail union stated yesterday that ‘Metronet should get no more public money’ and that the PPP was a scam through which companies like Metronet live off the public purse to ‘cover cost over-runs’ to avoid bankruptcy.
It added; ‘Metronet is seeking £992 million for overruns for the first seven and a half years of the BCV contract alone, and is expected to file a similar claim for its sub-surface lines contract.’
RMT general secretary Bob Crow declared: ‘Metronet, and the PPP scam that has already allowed them to siphon millions out of the Tube network, have clearly failed and it is clearer than ever that these contracts should be brought back in-house before any more damage is done.’
Both rail unions are unanimous that the PPP and the PFI are schemes to enrich big business at the expense of the working class.
Both the TUC Congress and the Labour Party conference have demanded that the government ends the PPP and the PFI, and halts its privatisation programme, and renationalises the Main Line Railways.
Blair and Brown have defied both conference decisions. Surely it is time for the two main rail unions and the TUC to recognise in practice that Labour and capital are irreconcilable opposites by commencing a campaign of industrial action to demand the ending of the PFI and the PPP, and the renationalisation of the Main Line railway.
The campaign must seek to bring down the Brown bosses’ government and bring in a workers government to carry out the required socialist policies.