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Lloyds sell-off is a scandal

The predictable free market mantra of the Conservatives continues with the sale of 6% of Lloyds

With grim predictability the relentless economic conservatives in this Tory-led government have made the incision that starts the slow bloodletting of our bit of Lloyds on the London stock market.

What else could we expect from an incompetent Chancellor who follows the out-of-date mantra that sees salvation only in giving up government powers over our society and handing them to discredited "market forces."

Yesterday's sale of 6 per cent of the bank was well-trailed, and reflects the dogmatic phobia among the right of having to do anything more than set fragile rules within which, it is claimed, markets will deliver us to riches.

That they have patently failed, apart from paying lip service when the government has made a rare intervention, to either lend or invest in projects benefiting the bulk of us does not enter into the picture.

A similar bankrupt ideology was pursued relentlessly by new Labour, which believed that government's role was to give an overall direction but not directly involve itself in the productive economy.

And it is reflected at EU and global level too, where the mantra that the state should not run anything with profit-making potential is pursued with religious zeal.

The goal, whether dressed up in some woolly Blairite catchphrases or the more traditionally blunt hatred expressed by the dinosaur right, is to open up more investment opportunities for the City, where investors have racked up big success stories in other formerly state-owned cash cows.

Successes on their terms, that is. Having given up on productive industries at home they've taken chunks of Britain's wealth and spent it abroad where labour is cheaper, with that cash never to be seen again by the bulk of us.

But the privatisation of what is now termed the "services" sector has given a temporary fillip to investors seeking easy returns in Britain.

This has long been true in the utilities, and in the post-Thatcher years the explosion of subcontracting of our public services has also provided new opportunities to extract profits from the taxpayers' purse via "efficiency" savings which really mean cuts to jobs, wages, terms and pensions.

Now they're hunting further "opportunities" in the justice, health and education sectors, among others.

The fatal flaw in this ideology - basically, that those embroiled in the City have no interest in anyone but themselves - is easily exposed. 

Papers such as the Daily Mail act as cheerleaders in this big con without ever explaining the real cost of these policies in their frenzy to suggest that anything state-run is automatically a "big brother" failure.

In the end the state - and by extension us - will have to pick up the tab for those left destitute in later life, or as now who earn below a living wage and who must rely on social security and housing benefit to exist.

And the state and taxpayers will pay a further price, in cash and quality of life terms, in the form of higher crime and decay in our societies if the Tory austerity crusade is not reversed.

By then, of course, the Conservatives' allies will have taken their pound of flesh and will have moved on to pastures new.

Not for many years has it been clearer that the choice that faces us is between socialism and barbarism.

At the same time, the establishment of a powerful state-owned bank with the goal of diverting money towards revitalising our country's economy has never looked more sensible.

It is to be hoped that the British populace sees through the spin sooner rather than later and kicks these cynical money-grabbers into touch.


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