About fifteen years ago Leeds United went bankrupt and sold their ground, Elland Road, to a property business. The fans and the club have been paying for that mistake ever since. It has cost a small fortune in rents. It is like a private tax on supporters. Selling the ‘family silver’ is easy profit for the landlord class but a disaster for ‘consumers’ – fans, students, patients and passengers etc. We have all been screwed and we know it.
Privatised gas, electricity, water, railways and postal services have also proved expensive. Water is a basic monopoly yielding easy profits for the water barons. These profits are flowing abroad and mainly hidden in tax havens. We have to keep paying because we can’t do without water or indeed lots of the other stuff they own.
With a democratic revolution we can get it all back for free. But otherwise we have to pay. Labour is quite right not to include the cost of buying water back in their taxation and spending calculations. This is capital investment, and like all good capitalists, in planning to invest we have to borrow some or all of it. Trump did not become a billionaire without massive borrowing.
But how much will the country need to take out a mortgage on all our reservoirs? We can’t take out a mortgage on a house until we know the price of the house. We cannot know the price of these water assets until Corbyn has been elected. One current estimate is £42 billion. But the actual price is unknowable, not least because if Corbyn is elected the price of water assets will drop. Shares in water will dive as the owners try to run away with as much loot as they can stash in their pockets.
So I hope Leeds United will buy back its football ground and the country takes back its water assets. It is a price well worth paying. Otherwise we will continue to be screwed by the Water Mafia who can’t believe their luck. They are realists and know their licence to print money cannot go on forever and a day.