New Bennism?

Cheerleader for neoliberalism and eating babies, Matt Sinclair, muses about Hillary Benn's refusal to give the World Bank £50m.

Ignoring the fact that he seems to think the current government is left wing, Matt does make make a few statements that are, er, nuts.
Respecting sovereignty means allowing nations to do what they want with their own citizens and their own money. It doesn't mean we have to throw our own money down a hole because we need to wear democratic blinders to avoid telling the difference between a loan which is going to end up spent on subsidies for the Chad auto industry and one which will get used constructively.
Yes, absolutely. However, we could perhaps come to an accomodation between the hardline position of Wolfowitz that - heaven forbid! - allows countries to have some say in how the West helps countries that they have royally screwed over in the past. Matt seems to follow the line that is working so well in Iraq and Afghanistan that once you have democratic structures in place, things will work perfectly. Unfortunately, as we see with low council turnouts in the UK, you have to think that voting is worth something to bother going to the polling station. What's the point of setting up a democracy if Paul Wolfowitz is going to offer you the choice of his way or starvation?

Seeing as you mention Chad, it's perhaps worth pointing out that the international financial system does have form in that country - Chevron and Petronas owe Chad on the order of US$450m. No, this isn't mad anti-imperialism - they let Exxon stay.
World Bank conditionality is an easy target for lazy snipes about democracy from socialists who haven't absorbed the historical experience of what privatisation, Britons should know, and trade liberalisation, all Europeans should remember, can do to improve a country's economic performance.
No, I don't think that we should, for instance, sell arms to Iraq and then advocate invading it. Where is that picture?

Oh, there it is!

Let's look at the experience of privatisation in Britain. The privatised company responsible for the Waterloo & City Line, Metronet, are so shite that they cannot open what must be one of the simpler railway lines in the world - two stations 1.5 miles apart and totally separate from the rest of the Tube.

Or we could talk about the competition that would occur between Rolling Stock Companies (ROSCOs). Oh, wait, no. Generally each type of carriage is only made by one company, so there is no competition. Not even economies of scale as with a nationalised system.

Southall, Ladbroke Grove, Hatfield and Potters Bar showed that the attitude of private companies to safety was lax at best. Things have improved since the public outcry and more subsidy from the state, but there is still greater risk of an accident because of communication problems in a fragmented system.

I have to go out now - more later.



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