Greens call for nature protection in wake of river report

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Image of the Green Party's Carla Denyer on BBC Question Time.
Image of the Green Party’s Carla Denyer on BBC Question Time.

Reacting to a new report from the Office for Environmental Protection which says: “government will not meet its ambition that most water bodies will be on the road to good condition or else already in that state by 2027,” Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer said:  

“The Green Party wants to see much greater protection of nature in law, and that includes our rivers. 

“We would set up an Independent Commission for Nature that would set targets for nature protection and restoration, enforced through the courts.  

“This would be groundbreaking and make future governments act to protect our waterways from agricultural and industrial pollution. 

“It would allow for the first time the possibility of individuals, communities and conservation groups taking legal action on behalf of nature. Currently, every time our rivers, seas or land is polluted, prosecution is left to hopelessly underfunded quangos.  

“We also need water companies in public ownership and an end to leaking sewage.   

“We need to give space for all of nature to thrive, and that includes protecting our rivers.” 

Continue ReadingGreens call for nature protection in wake of river report

Morning Star: The Tories have wrecked the NHS – but that doesn’t mean Labour will rescue it

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The NHS overtook the economy as voters’ biggest concern in February, according to polling by Ipsos. Small wonder when waiting lists have hit 7.5 million: there can hardly be a person in the country who doesn’t have a friend or relative who has been affected.

And the Conservatives bear a heavy responsibility.

In the decade up to the pandemic, real-terms healthcare spending per head rose on average by just 0.4 per cent a year — in four years it actually fell, despite rising pressures on the service.

That compares very poorly to the record of the last Labour government, which raised spending by 5.7 per cent a year on average from 1997-2010. It even compares badly to that of the Thatcher and Major Conservative governments, which averaged a 2.1 per cent annual increase.

But we should be more cautious than Poulter about endorsing Keir Starmer’s solution.

Starmer and shadow health secretary Wes Streeting have pointedly refused to offer the increases in NHS budgets that the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown governments delivered. Streeting is emphatic that he will not “pour money into a 20th-century model,” instead demanding reforms which, in increasing reliance on the private sector, both mimic existing Conservative policy and are unlikely to make a difference to waiting lists (because private healthcare in Britain recruits from the NHS, so overall capacity will not grow).

Britain’s public services are collapsing under the strain of decades of neoliberal policy. In the NHS, hospitals have been undermined through outsourcing services to the private sector as well as by the cost of PFI debt — both issues with their origins in the Blair years.

To restore our NHS to health, we need a reversal of privatisation and outsourcing and a forced end to all PFI contracts, as well as a significant increase in overall funding to bring us closer to healthcare spending levels in France or Germany.

Continue ReadingMorning Star: The Tories have wrecked the NHS – but that doesn’t mean Labour will rescue it

The truth behind Labour’s plans to ‘renationalise’ rail

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One thing about an incoming Labour government looks great: taking the railways into public ownership. But we won’t actually own the trains, warns SOLOMON HUGHES

LABOUR’S plans to renationalise the rail firms by taking over the train operating companies (TOCs) as their contracts come to an end is a big deal.

These are privately run but very heavily publicly subsidised companies that want to pump cash out of the government and passengers and then pump it into their investors’ hands. They are so keen to get the cash that they are rubbish at running the railways. Renationalising them is a good idea.

But if you want to know how some rail privatisation will continue even after Labour’s plans — and how it will continue to squeeze private cash out of public services, it’s worth having a look at the annual accounts of Eversholt UK Rails Ltd, which were published to zero media interest at the end of last month.

The newspapers weren’t interested in the company’s accounts, even though they showed the movement of millions of pounds from the taxpayer to a Hong Kong billionaire’s company. Passengers also won’t generally know Eversholt even exists, which is part of the trick of privatisation.

When the nationally owned British Rail was privatised in the 1990s, it was broken up into three main parts. The track was privatised and handed over to Railtrack, which had to be renationalised in 2002 after the firm did such poor maintenance that passengers started dying in crashes and train speeds were cut to a crawl.

Different regional TOCs were given contracts to run the services on this track. Labour will slowly renationalise these. But TOCs don’t own the trains: the “rolling stock,” the actual engines and carriages were sold off cheaply to three private rolling stock companies or “Roscos.”’s-plans-‘renationalise’-rail

Continue ReadingThe truth behind Labour’s plans to ‘renationalise’ rail

Public ownership campaigners urge Labour to go further and commit to renationalising rolling stock companies

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Image of an East Coast train
An East Coast train at King’s Cross station

Labour announced this week that it will renationalise the railways, if elected. The party referred to the move as the ‘biggest overhaul to our railways in a generation.’

Under Labour’s proposals, train companies would be brought back into public ownership and run by a new body, Great British Railways, as their privatised contracts expire.

While the announcement has been broadly welcomed, with RMT general secretary Mick Lynch saying a publicly owned rail network is in the “best interests of railway workers, passengers and the taxpayer,” public ownership campaigners We Own It warn it doesn’t go far enough.

Following Labour’s announcementJohnbosco Nwogbo, lead campaigner at public ownership campaign group We Own It, said it was time to “decommission the gravy train.”

“With delays and cancellations rife and some of the most expensive fares in Europe, polls show that over two thirds of us want our railways to be brought into public hands. Labour have rightly identified that the ownership of our public services will be a key issue for voters at this election.

Continue ReadingPublic ownership campaigners urge Labour to go further and commit to renationalising rolling stock companies

Green Party reaction to Labour’s rail ‘nationalisation’ plans 

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Image of the Green Party's Carla Denyer on BBC Question Time.
Image of the Green Party’s Carla Denyer on BBC Question Time.

In response to Labour’s announcement that it plans to renationalise most passenger rail services within five years co-leader of the Green Party, Carla Denyer, said: 

“Greens give an amber light to these proposals. We have long called for full public ownership and significant investment in our railways. The passengers left stranded after cancelled or delayed services or sitting on floors next to closed train toilets are testimony to the failed privatisation experiment of our railways.  

“These proposals though are only for partial public ownership and make no mention of the significant investment that our railways need. They would leave rolling stock and freight in private hands. This should be the first step to completely integrate all our railways into public ownership followed by significant investment that both the rail industry and passengers are crying out for.  

“Too often Labour makes grand policy announcements that are followed by a screeching U-turn weeks or months later. This is why a Labour government will need Green MPs to help keep them on the right track and pushing them to be bolder and do better.”  

Continue ReadingGreen Party reaction to Labour’s rail ‘nationalisation’ plans