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Keep East Coast public

The case for privatising the East Coast Main Line lies in ruins - and it's the Con-Dems themselves who have destroyed it.

The case for privatising the East Coast Main Line lies in ruins - and it's the Con-Dems themselves who have destroyed it.

Their leaked prospectus reveals what lies in store if the franchise is taken out of public control. It's great news for profiteers but grim reading for passengers, who face fewer trains, a worse service and even the return of third-class carriages, not seen on our railways since 1956.

The Con-Dems won't even expect the new franchise holders to pay anything like the £200m-plus a year that the current publicly owned operator East Coast has returned to the taxpayer.

Ministers have also gone to desperate lengths to hide the blindingly obvious - that East Coast has been a roaring success and the only sane option is to keep the franchise in public hands.

It's what the public want, with tens of thousands signing a petition opposing reprivatisation of the franchise.

It's what rail workers want, because they know how devastating privatisation has been for Britain's rail network and how privateers seek to slash jobs, cut pay and endanger lives at every turn.

It's what passengers want, because they are sick of a succession of private companies making a hash of running the line and tired of endless rip-off price rises to satisfy shareholders' demands for ever greater profit.

There is no rational argument for reprivatisation and no support for it outside the boardrooms of the City. But ministers are hell-bent on getting rid of East Coast because its very existence completely disproves the "private good, public bad" mantra that the Tories have spouted for decades.

East Coast has to stay in state hands. And when Labour returns to power all the other rail franchises should be returned to their rightful owners - the British public.


Cable must go

We always knew the Royal Mail sell-off was an enormous theft from every man, woman and child in Britain. But the sheer scale of that crime now exceeds anything we imagined.

The taxpayer has now been conned out of a staggering £1.7 billion by the undervaluing of the company - money which has gone straight into the pockets of the Con-Dems' friends in the City.

And as the share price continues to soar, who knows what our eventual loss will turn out to be?

It is clear though that the coalition has flogged off a shining piece of the family silver at far below its true value. It is also clear that this was done quite deliberately, with Vince Cable admitting he was warned the government's valuation was far too low.

He also admits that he bowed to pressure from bankers not to raise the price - the same bankers who stood to make a killing from the Royal Mail fire sale.

Cable's credibility is now in tatters and his position as Business Secretary is untenable. He must pay the price for his role as ringleader of this robbery and resign immediately.

That would be the first step towards justice for this great wrong. The second would be to take Royal Mail back into public ownership at the same price it was sold for - so that it's the speculators, not the British public, who pay a multibillion-pound penalty for the coalition's incompetence and the City's greed.


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