Or rather - no, we’re not, and we never have been.
There are fundamentally two governments within the UK seat of power, London. Westminster and the City of London are both calling the shots, and although the City is noticeably a shadowy figure in the background, through the power of money it’s arguably by far more influential. However, these dual policymakers don’t always have similar goals.
Demonstrably the City invariably prevails. Witness “too big to fail” and “The banking crisis”. In both scenarios City greed destroyed what it had attempted to build, and then pressured lawmakers into requiring the taxpayer to underwrite or pay for the stupidity of City policy and actions. Laws were even changed to facilitate City operations, simply recall the HBOS and Lloyds merger for just one example.
Lawmakers now see it as normal to use our public funds to bail out private industry, as long as it’s big enough to be of concern to the City. In this respect the City controls much of mainstream policy at Westminster.
It’s been that way for centuries; the City of London Corporation’s eight century old “war chest” of cash reserves used to fight anything which may be inimical to its rule and authority is exempt from FOI legislation. It does not matter to the City of London Corporation how the war to protect and shield it is undertaken, whether it’s by direct means, by association or tenuous links through simple influence or obligation.
All that matters to the money-men (and women) of the City of London is that it wins.
The City of London and by extension in common parlance, “The City” survives through money, for money is power, it is the power behind thrones, behind governments, behind political parties, behind wars. In our modern world, little survives, or even dies without access to money. Witness the administration process – the City extracts its death toll, the little people are left to fight over what remains.
The City places allegiances that provide profit above all. That was evident in its financing of the Second World War axis powers, specifically Nazi Germany, where the chairman of the Bank of England, Montague Norman was instrumental in funneling untold millions to Hitler’s coffers, including the Czechoslovakian gold reserves after the Nazi’s invaded their country.
So much for the Czechs belief that they could trust the British state, sadly, like so many others, they put their faith in the City.
From that day to the present privatisation process that’s spreading the tentacles of capital and greed through England’s NHS and other public institutions, the City has played its part.
The Bank of England isn’t part of the UK state in so far as it is not directly controlled by Westminster, it is part and parcel of the City and other than to protect its base trading currency Sterling, has demonstrably worked as much for international finance and its own nefarious purposes as it has in support of either the UK government or the Crown. In cases where the City has found its purposes to be at odds with the common weal its tendencies, as noted above, have leaned towards what’s best for the City.
With the central bank and the City not dedicated to the national interest, other than as it supports their own ends, there is substantial leeway for both to work in nefarious ways against the common good and in pursuit of the profit gods.
Privatisation of education (which may be completed within 3 years, according to the NUT ) and the NHS in England are two prime current examples, privatisation of water in England is a recent past example. When a system is in the public domain the costs of the system are issues for the public purse, however the benefits of the system are also devolved to a common benefit. The net to commercial enterprise, excluding some ancillary contracts, is zero. The potential for profit by the private sector is close to zero.
Looking slightly more closely at water, now transferred to the private sector, the net cost to the public sector should equate to the previous net cost to the private sector, zero. Somehow in the great scheme of things the denizens of the City of London, where these transactions take place, have managed not only to facilitate the transfer of assets from public to private but to keep the public on the hook for ongoing maintenance and upgrades in projects like the London sewer renewal. This sewer project set to cost the UK billions or the equivalent of about £150 for every Scots taxpayer.
That’s £150 for an upgrade to a privately owned network that’s not even in our country.
The City has done well from its inappropriate privatisation of Water. Inappropriate because any nation or community should have universal water, health and elderly care available at basic levels. At a minimum the areas which should invariably be in the public domain for at least basic service, are fields without which life would quickly become untenable if the company controlling it was liquidated, or areas which promote societal equalisation of opportunity i.e. access to education.
Water is one such area.
The Union parties would have Scotland follow England’s example and privatise water so that we also could subsidise private profit, we’d just be doing it two countries instead of one. The Union likes standardization, it prefers everything to be the same, it constantly promotes the idea of “one country” rather than the reality of two nations bound by a political Union that has shifted and slid through time to now include two others.
Privatisation of the NHS has begun and despite the cries of doctors, nurses, consultants and physicians it will march on. It started under the Conservatives, continued under Labour and is striding forwards under this latest coalition. There is one organisation which has the power to push such a policy through successive different governments; there is one City that stands to profit from it.
NHS privatisation will be some time in coming. The very size and inertia of an organisation like the NHS will take time to move. The political groundwork must also be prepared. The charge is that the nation can’t afford the NHS, yet we’re told it can afford Trident and a near countless procession of foreign wars.
Consider the argument, the nation can’t afford the NHS, yet medical care will still be required. If the NHS doesn’t provide it in ten or twenty years it will be up to the free market, the City, to be instrumental in its provision. The difference with the City is that with everything else it will be based upon an ability to pay. There will be an inbuilt profit factor, that factor will be as much as the market will bear for such is the way of big capitol. The City would like to see profit margins of as much as 100% or more, but would possibly accept between 20% and 25% as viable. The private company my husband worked for operated on a nominal 1.43, or 43% profit margin.
With NHS expenditure in 2008/9 in England and Wales at approximately £100 billion  and a conservative 33% profit margin that means the immediate cost of a private health service to the nation would exceed £130 billion, or over £1,000 extra every year for taxpayers in order to satiate the City’s avarice. There would be no extra service, no premiums, that’s just to keep the waiting times and inefficiencies we have today.
Then we can open for discussion the profits to be made from health insurance.
Or we can open for discussion how an independent Scotland should tackle these issues.