Taken from the Morning Star

Post-1991 capitalist euphoria over the demise of the Soviet Union encouraged the perception that the private enterprise system had triumphed historically over socialist alternatives, heralding a new dawn for neoliberalism.

Barely two decades later the dreams associated with neoliberalism have transformed into nightmares.

Shock treatment imposed on the former republics of the Soviet Union saw an oligarchy take control of untold wealth while the mass of the population saw only poverty and the mortality rate rise.

Even in the European Union, which took a leading role in promoting change in Russia and other post-Soviet states, recession, unemployment and deprivation have taken hold in response to a financial crisis sparked by private banks.

Yet the political elite, whether attached to social-democratic, liberal or conservative trends, remains utterly wedded to a one-size-fits-all economic orthodoxy that private is best.

Britain's new Labour aberration, which was spawned in the late 1980s and took over the Labour Party with the advent of Tony Blair as leader, wallowed enthusiastically in this worship of all things private.

It failed to return any privatised industry to public ownership, it assisted the private sector to penetrate public services, including the NHS, and it accepted avidly offers of finance, research facilities and accommodation from big business.

Even now when public anger is simmering against unacceptable rises in the costs of gas, electricity, public transport, water and other services once collectively owned, the Labour leadership remains paralysed in support of private ownership.

Despite opposing Tory privatisation measures while in opposition and stating correctly that "regulation" was and would be ineffective, Labour cannot now see beyond this.

The party's most recent stance on the issue was to tell Labour campaigners on the doorstep to tell people how to switch suppliers, which would be a sure way of reducing the number of party volunteers.

Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint confines herself to demanding "tough" regulation and vague references to bringing more competition into the sector as a way to hold down prices, even though the huge initial investment necessary to become a major player in the industry makes this a non-starter.

In any case, it is abundantly clear that competition in what is essentially a natural monopoly does not deliver price reductions.

If anything, it generates an informal cartel where individual companies make similar observations about impending rises in the wholesale market, put up consumer rates in anticipation and routinely announce even more bloated annual profits.

Early day motion 1160 moved in the House of Commons by Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins proposes the establishment of a National Energy Corporation to restore public ownership to counter the profiteering tendencies of the private companies.

This would be both beneficial to consumers and politically advantageous to Labour, since opinion polls indicate mass support for public ownership of gas, electricity, water and railways.

Many governments, not least in Latin America, have realised the necessity in recent years of taking key areas of the economy into public ownership to control the vagaries of the market.

MPs should weigh in behind the Hopkins EDM to let the party leadership and the electorate know that not every politician subscribes to the tyranny of the private profit system.

At the very least, this initiative should provoke a discussion within the labour movement about the need for an alternative to the neoliberal orthodoxy that dominates the parliamentary front benches.