LETTER : Labour's public-private tussle

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The Independent Online
Labour's public-private tussle

ALAN Watkins ("Labour has a splendid solution. It's Clause IV", 12 March 1995) could not have been more wrong about nationalised industries.

I have spent 30 years working in a nationalised utility and the last five years in the successor privatised business and I would not want to go back: not because I was not well paid, I was; not because the work was hard, it wasn't; and not because it lacked security, it was gilt- edged. I would not want to go back because it simply did not work as a business, nor as a service.

It was inefficient, unresponsive, grossly over-staffed, and starved of capital. As a result prices always went up, customer service was a joke, and worn out assets just got older. It is now depressing to read apparent serious commentary suggesting that we ought to go back to this dismal way of life.

The nationalisation experiment lasted 40 long years. The new system has been going for only five years in the electricity industry. Of course it is not right. Of course it needs modifying and tuning - everybody who understands the business knows that. That's what we have to do: move onwards; get better; try harder. Turning back and sulking in our caves is not the normal way of man, never has been, never will be.

Peter Randall

Maidenhead, Berkshire

THE article by Alan Watkins on Clause IV was the best I've read in 20 years of his column.

Tony Blair and the "modernisers" are wrong in attempts to remove Clause IV from the constitution of the Labour Party. It defines what the party has stood for and should stand for; not Thatcherism or Majorism with a human face but a real alternative.

J G Owen

Caerphilly, Mid Glamorgan