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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics...vatisation.html

Conservatives float plans for massive privatisation

A mass sale of public assets by an incoming Conservative government could include large parts of the BBC and Royal Mail, senior party figures have said.

By Melissa Kite, Deputy Political Editor

Published: 9:00PM BST 05 Sep 2009

Selling off a range of public bodies would be a "get out of jail card" as the Tories desperately try to balance the books, according to tax lawyer Charlie Elphicke, who has advised the party's economic team.

John Redwood, chair of the Conservatives' economic competitiveness commission, has published proposals on his blog for the sale of Britain's motorway network while Ed Vaizey, the shadow arts minister, last week suggested selling off Radio 1.

Beginning soon after she took office in 1979 with the first stage of a sell-off of BP, Lady Thatcher's privatisation programme accelerated in the early 1980s with the successive sales of utility companies.

Mr Elphicke, the Tory candidate for Dover, said: "The budget deficit this year and next year is expected to be £180 billion.

"If you reduce spending by £60 billion and put taxes up by £40 billion you still have a huge hole, a massive borrowing overhang.

"How do you reduce the level of borrowing and repair the public finances? Asset sales are the one thing that is a get out of jail free card."

Mr Elphicke said the Tories should consider selling BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, which could bring in an estimated £8 billion to the Exchequer.

He said: "It's a neat little compromise. It preserves the integrity of public service broadcasting and leaves the rest of the BBC intact. The public have poured money into this over the years and we could argue that we now need the money back."

Mr Elphicke said Royal Mail and Channel 4 could also be sold, and banks returned to the private sector.

"Even Labour are looking at selling off things like the Dartford Crossing and British Waterways," he said.

"And David Cameron has said he wants a discussion about what the state should and should not do.

"We need to say 'What does the government own that it does not need to own?' There is a conversation to be had with the nation where we say 'Look, we have to make hard decisions.'"

Both Mr Elphicke and Mr Redwood argue that high street banks taken into public ownership during the credit crisis should be part of an early privatisation package.

"If you return the banks to the private sector you get capital receipts of £150 billion. That is the golden hope," Mr Elphicke said.

Mr Vaizey was slapped down by party chiefs last month for proposing that the BBC should be forced to sell Radio 1. Although he is the shadow minister responsible for broadcasting, a Tory spokesman said the sale of Radio 1 was not party policy.

Mr Vaizey, a long time member of Mr Cameron's inner circle, later said he was only speaking "metaphorically" and was simply giving an illustration of one way in which the dominance of the BBC could be broken up.

However, insiders say the idea of asset sales is being discussed by the Treasury team.

One senior Conservative MP said: "We are absolutely fixated with balancing the books now, it is the only thing that matters.

"And we are stuck with the fact that we have said we are not going to change the NHS budget and that is a fifth of the whole government budget. So we are stuck with that and we have to look elsewhere.

"There is no way we are going to make the books balance just with cuts. Radio 1 and Radio 2 are ripe for a sell-off, perhaps even BBC1.

"There is a perfectly sensible economic argument for selling off Royal Mail but it is politically toxic. We need to look at these things."

Mr Elphicke said asset sales could be delayed until a few years into a Conservative government to ward off public alarm. "It doesn't need to be done immediately. It can be in year three," he said.

Hold on:

Financial shock 1973-1974, people burrying Krugerrands in the back garden. Oil price spike - first round.

Oil shock 1977-1980, the effects of the Yom Kipur war and the end of cheap energy. End of Labour.

1980- high inflation, jobless and the new Conservative government trying to raise revenue.

Financial shock 2007-2008, people burrying Krugerrands in the back garden. Oil price spike - first round.

Oil shock 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013...? effects of the end of easily recoverable energy. End of Labour.

2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015...? high inflation, jobless and the new Conservative government trying to raise revenue.

Edited by AvidFan

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news corp would give anything to get a decent stake in the bbc.

with all the hate on BBC mr murdoch has been expressing lately, about how its impossible to compete with them... combined with the plans outlined to charge for online news content... IMO that plan isn't workable unless they can get bbc to follow suit... which could only happen in privatisation..

so i guess it makes sense... but hope it doesnt happen :/

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who's going to buy Radio 1 or BBC 1 when advertising revenues are down so much? ITV is barely surviving. What stupidity!

thats not quite how it goes though is it. Remember british rail, gas, steel?

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thats not quite how it goes though is it. Remember british rail, gas, steel?

The Britsih Rail experience suggests that they keep going but with an even greater amount of money from the Treasury.

British Gas continues but it is owned by foreigners. The difference is that there is a demand for gas, not one though for advertisng paid tv and radio, and subscription radio and tv will be less in demand as unemployment rises.

Ditto British Steel aka corus.

The real parallel is with the coal industry, but who would buy the BBC just to close it down, except maybe Murdoch?

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thats not quite how it goes though is it. Remember british rail, gas, steel?

You mean we pay people to buy it off us then pay them every year after in massive subsidies?

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Guest happy?
thats not quite how it goes though is it. Remember british rail, gas, steel?

Indeed, to make them attractive to the city their pensions liabilities were left with the taxpayer. BBC1 and Radio 1 may bring some interest for a little while but these are small fry stuff.

Murdoch is not interested in acquiring the BBC brand - he wants the model broken-up because he's worked-out that he can't make money from internet news whilst there are alternatives. Boy wonder was sent to rubbish the BBC in Edinburgh not because he believes in free market efficiencies but because his old man wants a bigger share of the pie and wants to charge you for delivering it.

There'll be some interest in Royal Mail - probably from someone who wants to grow a business but is too tired to do it organically - maybe the Germans or a FedEx rival?

The Tories are admitting in this piece that they plan to raise taxation by at least 40 billion - but even if they do this they won't have the cash to meet the shortfall. They'll be forced to run a deficit whether they like it or not as forcing taxation too high will cripple any recovery and choke-off the very taxation they're trying to raise.

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who's going to buy Radio 1 or BBC 1 when advertising revenues are down so much? ITV is barely surviving. What stupidity!

they said 3 yrs time, so nah, may be good timing

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For those who probably have not heard they are also interested in privatising our prisons. In the recent announcement about the u-turn on 'Titan Prisons' the government have decided to build 5 new 1500 capacity prisons, all to be run privately, and also exisiting public sector prisons will be market tested for privatisation.

http://www.poauk.org.uk/press-release-280809.asp

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SHOCK DOCTRINE

That was my first thought too. The next gvt will probably be told to privatise key infrastructure as condition on a loan from the IMF.

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Guest sillybear2
Why not just run up more debt instead.

What makes you think we won't? We'll do both.

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Guest sillybear2
Is it me or does that article suggest Channel 4 is publicly owned???

It is, it's a profit driven corporation paid for by commercial advertising but the government still owns a 100% share.

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One of the things mooted is privatising the Highways Agency and the road network. Charging driving per mile is of course one of the things "they" are trying to bring in at all costs, and this gives them a reason to do it. A sum of £85bn was mentioned which will be very attractive to an incoming Tory government. But this particular turkey will not be voting for that kind of christmas.

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Guest sillybear2
One of the things mooted is privatising the Highways Agency and the road network. Charging driving per mile is of course one of the things "they" are trying to bring in at all costs, and this gives them a reason to do it. A sum of £85bn was mentioned which will be very attractive to an incoming Tory government. But this particular turkey will not be voting for that kind of christmas.

Unfortunately for John Redwood this won't happen, the best way to ensure there will only be a single Tory term is to introduce road pricing and tolls. At the grass roots level this is about as popular as granting asylum to third world rapists.

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Unfortunately for John Redwood this won't happen, the best way to ensure there will only be a single Tory term is to introduce road pricing and tolls. At the grass roots level this is about as popular as granting asylum to third world rapists.

It's as popular as that?

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