The Early Days of a Better Nation

Friday, June 06, 2008

Labour Party to be privatised

The People's ink is deepest red. Blood and Treasure draws our attention to a possible market solution to the crisis of the Labour Party's finances:
The party's impending insolvency is beginning to concentrate minds, not least those of a group of previously Labour-friendly businessmen, who can spot a bargain when they see one. The New Statesman has learned that the unnamed, secretive group - whose members have track records in helping turn round left-leaning institutions in the past - is considering approaching hedge funds with a view to buying out the Labour Party, or rather the remaining individual members, who would be offered shares instead. "Turning the members into shareholders could offer the same opportunities as the demutualisation of the building societies," says one who is involved.


Quite how those who are courting this rapidly declining asset stand to benefit is unclear. Another businessman who is part of the "Syndicate", as he puts it, is less guarded. If new Labour became a "limited liability party", it might be possible, he says - not entirely jokingly - to "sell non-core policies, from a customer perspective, as three-to five-year options on implementation in office". These could include policy sales to the nuclear industry or to the green lobby. "This," he points out, "could help ensure that national policies achieve the highest returns. And that could only benefit the shareholders - or, as they used to be known, the party members."
Gives a whole new meaning to 'market socialism', not to mention anarcho-capitalism.


"Turning the members into shareholders could offer the same opportunities as the demutualisation of the building societies," says one who is involved.

I'm sorry, what opportunities are those? I'm pleased to be a member of one of the building societies that was able to stop the rot of predatory demutualisation: all new members joining have to sign a legally-binding pledge to donate any windfall from demutualisation to charity. Strangely enough, that has completely stymied the predators. It's almost as if there is nothing advantageous about demutualisation unless you can both offer a one-time bribe, and flood the society with opportunistic new members.

And how would you pay a one-time bribe from the assets of an organisation that has NO ASSETS, NO MONEY, AND A TON OF DEBT? This makes very little sense to me, and my understanding is that the whole thing is a slightly hamhanded parody.

Del, I don't think the opportunities meant are for the new shareholders ...

Alex, I'm sure you're right. I'm fairly sure it's satire, and I'm not at all sure that buying out a political party is even legal, let alone politically possible.

Hey, I thought you might be interested in this podcast on anarcho-capitalism, a Top 10 Finalist in the 2007 Podcast Awards...

At least if they were privatised they might get a good price for doing what big business wants unlike the status quo where they'll sell us down the river for free holiday or a slap up feed...

Exactly Stewart- for years I have been saying that the politifcans sell themselves too cheaply. It is clearest in the USA- a million or two of campaign donations lets you get laws which make you hundreds of millions in profit.

It IS a bad idea. But if the UK's parliamentary system is close to the Canadian system, it might just be a bit more democratic (first-past-the-post is the most terrible idea to hit democracy since running unopposed).

"first-past-the-post is the most terrible idea to hit democracy since running unopposed".

That's actually an achievement of the 19th and 20th century electoral "reformers", both Liberal and Labour, just like disfranchising propertyless but grandfathered voters in old-established and often Tory constituencies. Before that, some constituencies were multi-member with one vote per voter that approximated cumulative voting better. IMHO that is the most transparent and voter-friendly of the proportional voting systems, though I personally feel it would be better with more votes per voter than seats in the constituency involved (e.g. 6 votes and 3 members in one constituency, 12 votes and 4 members in another). The old system allowed third parties like Labour to break through the barrier presented by first-past-the-post voting. Small wonder that they kicked the ladder away after them and that politicians never choose it for the top level of representation (it has sometimes been imposed on municipalities or companies by courts).

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