Two key factors would seem to be driving the apparent upsurge in enthusiasm for nationalisation. The first, mentioned in your Business Leader, is not just the absolute obscenity of the remuneration packages of financiers, directors and senior managers, but also the persistent impression they give that, while most of us think they are screwing us, they still “just don’t get it” (“Nationalisation plans are now music to ears of voters who are tired of free-market odes”).
Even if they are in charge of enormous industries, it is very hard for someone doing an important job such as teaching or working in a small local business, rubbing along on, say £20,000 to £40,000 a year, to understand how any job can merit a salary that sounds like a lottery win.
The other factor may be that there is a general belief that nationalised industries will not return to the old levels of indifferent customer service.
The cartoonist Giles used regularly to characterise British Rail staff as uninterested “little Hitlers”. I remember that we laughed, but there was an element of recognition in that laughter. Service was poor and customers were not treated as if they were in the right.
Having learned in our own jobs that being nice to customers makes everyone’s day more pleasant, perhaps we are all now ready to believe that a British Rail platform attendant or a British Gas repair man in a nationalised context will realise that there is everything to gain from saying: “Enjoy your journey” or: “Let us know if the repair is unsatisfactory”, whether they mean it or not.
If that is the case, nationalisation might seem to offer the best of both worlds.
Catalan vote broke rule of law
I once was one of many Spaniards who would have forgone their constitutional right to vote on Catalan independence. No more.
The pro-independence parties called an early local election in 2015 and joined forces with one single objective: Catalan independence. Not only did they lose the majority they had, but they lost the popular vote. So much so that they had to add the anarchist/anti-capitalist far left to get a slim majority in the Catalan parliament.
Seeing the froth of independence slowly settling into a simmer after years of economic crisis, they turned up the heat by breaking national and their own regional laws, calling an illegal referendum and railroading the opposition that represent the other half of Catalans.
I condemn all acts of violence, but democracy requires the rule of law to prevail. The Spanish government has to accept its share of criticism, but it did not break the law: it tried to maintain it – and with the benefit of hindsight, very badly – while the Catalan government incited its followers on to the streets to vote, knowing it was an illegal act.
A patriot is not someone who divides friends and families to create a sovereign nation. Nationalisms and populisms need to be defeated with the rule of law and that’s why I will, until further notice, keep my constitutional right to decide on Catalan independence, to serve and protect the rights of all the other Catalans who wish to remain as part of the Spanish nation, where there is room for all.
BBC and church both to blame
One has to wonder what planet the Church of England and the BBC inhabit (“War of words rages between archbishop and BBC over handling of abuse scandals”, News).
In both cases, the self-importance of holding their own organisation in some imaginary orbit, where it is thought that they have acted well, is clearly laughable. The church, just like the BBC, has covered over many misdemeanours, clearly documented over the years.
The BBC says of the Savile debacle that once the allegations became known, a full independent investigation was carried out by a high court judge.
This is rubbish, as the BBC was very well aware over many years that there was a smoking gun with Savile. It knew of many stories circulating and had blocked a Newsnight programme on Savile.
Please mind your language
Was it really necessary for Sam Leith to repeat “Martin fucking Amis” six times in his piece on Amis last week? (“A lit crit lion bares his claws”, Books). And then when I had calmed down, I found another couple of “fuckings” in The New Review.
I am not puritanical and indeed I have sometimes used the word myself when my computer is playing up, if always with a sense of what might be termed post-coital regret. But a newspaper is a public and family document and I really don’t see why we should be exposed to this kind of language as a matter of course.
It is interesting to note that the tabloids do their best to avoid it. Has it now become a kind of sophisticated cultural chic? Anyway, it will be interesting to see whether you allow it on your letters page.