15 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: Another unaffordable item on Labour’s wish list
  • Swinson responds to Tommy Robinson backing Boris Johnson

Lib Dems: Another unaffordable item on Labour’s wish list

Responding to Labour’s plans to part-nationalise BT, Sam Gyimah, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said:

It might be a Christmas election, but this is getting silly. Another day, another unaffordable item on the wish list.

Wasting billions of taxpayer funds to nationalise BT, won’t solve the connectivity issues faced by so many of our rural communities. The Labour plan is less open-reach, more overreach.

Liberal Democrats recognise the need for every community to have high quality internet access. We will take bold steps to ensure local communities can channel investment into priority digital infrastructure projects. We will ensure companies are held to account in delivering on universal service obligations, and that regulation is fit for purpose as technology evolves.

This is part of the Liberal Democrats bold plan for a brighter, better-connected future.

Swinson responds to Tommy Robinson backing Boris Johnson

Liberal Democrat Leader, Jo Swinson, has today written to Boris Johnson asking him to publicly reject the endorsement of his campaign by Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson.

Jo Swinson said:

Tommy Robinson spreads hate and division, poisoning our communities by setting people against each other.

The fact that Tommy Robinson backs Boris Johnson tells you everything you need to know about today’s Conservative party.

If you want to stop the Conservatives, stop Brexit and stop Tommy Robinson’s preferred candidate for Prime Minister, then vote for the Liberal Democrats.

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15 Comments

  • David Evershed 16th Nov '19 - 2:25am

    There are two separate issues here.

    The government could provide users with fast broadband without charge but it’s not necessary to nationalise OpenReach to do so. Just pay OpenReach from taxation.

    The government could nationalise OpenReach without offering fast broadband without charge. But the government will need to pay compensation.

    These are different decisions with different considerations.

    The only linkage is that the value of a nationalised OpenReach becomes zero on government books it it has no commercial revenue from its broadband service by providing it without charge.

    No one should describe it as being free to provide broadband. Whoever provides it has to pay for equipment and staff to run it.

  • Labour are planning to get their hands on all the control systems in the country and have caught up with the modern world in going for “free” broadband, which will just end up being another burden for the tax payer. The food distribution system must be on their list, too, and everyone could then benefit from free food, even more basic than internet access. Given the Green agenda we will all end up living off govn delivered food boxes full of British vegetables etc.

    With the internet, how long until the govn will be monitoring all access, banning the use of Tor, etc , taking their inspiration from the Chinese? You can imagine a huge govn dept dedicated to ensuring that the populace are confined to politically correct use of their browsers with reeducation courses mandated for those clever enough to get through electronic barriers to wider access.

    There may be a case for the govn to set up a fibre backbone throughout the country that could then be accessed by various providers to sell on to consumers, some of the cost of the backbone coming out of general taxation but 5G may be a better solution for remoter areas and there should be enough competition to make it viable.

    Labour are losing all credibility by trying to do too much too quickly rather than concentrating on a few of our intractable problems.

  • Both parties are going for the populuist vote, offering free things and an end to austerity. The only diffrence is how long the policy of free things will last after the election. My guess is it will last longer with Labour but in both cases it will come to a shuddering halt as reality bites. “Populaism only works until the money runs out” and before someone squeaks ” Just print more money” I’ll clarify that “Populaism only works until faith in your currency runs out” and under the Tories and Labour that will be sooner than you think.

  • Peter Martin 16th Nov '19 - 12:12pm

    Before we all get too worked up about the affordability of nationalizing BT or anything else we might just ask ourselves how the post war Labour govt managed to nationalise some 25% of the economy when it was supposedly bankrupt

    It’s really just an asset swap of govt stock for shares. That is if the price is fair. It doesn’t cost anything apart from the admin costs of making the change.

    Whether we should then offer frèe BB is a different question.

  • nvelope2003 16th Nov '19 - 1:14pm

    Free and subsidised services and goods are very hard to end when the money runs out. There are usually riots and government offices get burned down when it happens as in Iran when fuel subsidies were reduced. Most countries have subsidised fuel but are now desperate to stop but terrified of the backlash. Ending train fare subsidies has also caused anger even amongst those who could afford to pay the true cost which would probably fall without the subsidies as the operators would be desperate to keep their customers and introduce economies.

    Who wants a government internet controller looking into their bedroom ?

    Australia has a government run internet and it is considered by some to be poor quality but there is no effective competition so people have to put up with it.

  • I’ve very little doubt that if the Lib Dems had proposed this then LDV would be swamped with posts saying what a brilliant idea it was.

    In fact given that so many interactions with public services from the NHS, education, car taxation/licensing etc., are internet driven it seems an eminently sensible proposal. This is especially so in the compulsory internet applications following the Lib Dem supported introduction of Universal Credit and other welfare benefits.

  • Innocent Bystander 16th Nov '19 - 5:38pm

    I am old enough to remember when the state ran the telephone system and the begging and interminable wait for the jobsworths to let you have one.
    If the state runs our internet, God help us.

  • nvelope2003 17th Nov '19 - 9:53am

    Labour have said any compensation will be decided by Parliament – a Parliament full of hard line Socialists who hate business, if they gain a majority. The EU would not allow nationalisation without compensation and that could be the reason why the Labour leadership are so keen to leave it.
    If there is free broad band it would be very hard for any other providers to compete so there will be a monopoly. I changed my provider and now have a better service.

  • Clearly nationalisation is a phrase that sends Mr Envelope scurrying to get his head under the bedclothes.

    However, I don’t see why nationalisation is particularly necessary. Could it be that HMG could set up its own free broadband service and allow the consequences of the free market to erode the competitive position of existing providers ? Of course Mr Envelope could continue to prop up his non-competitive favourite provider for as long as it survives to enable him to display his pure right wing preference.

    The rest of us would enjoy a free service that will do us proud.

  • Innocent Bystander 17th Nov '19 - 10:47am

    “free”
    Of course it’s not “free”. Someone else will be forced to pay for the ” service that will do you proud”.
    But as these people get a vote neither you, nor Labour, will be able to surf at their expense.

  • Peter Martin 17th Nov '19 - 10:55am

    The commonality of BB ,electricity, gas and water is that they are all delivered to the end user through the same pipes or cables. The rules of normal competition cannot apply. It is just a pretence to claim they do. A molecule of gas, for example, is owned by a network company as it passes through the main distribution pipes then for a few milliseconds it is owned by a retailer as it passes through our gas meters and then it is later owned by the user as it passes through the last few metres of pipe before being burned in a boiler or stove.

    I’m not sure what the retailers are competing on but it can only be a small fraction of the total price. There is still an effective monopoly of supply.

    Whilst it probably doesn’t make any sense to nationalise soap powder manufacturers, it probably does make sense to nationalise the monopolies. That doesn’t mean everything has to be handed out for free – although it could be. Any consumption of a real resource isn’t really for free though! Just how we do decide to price whatever is delivered, by the nationalised monopolies, has to be at least partly a political choice.

  • Peter Martin
    The energy suppliers are pretty much just billing services and barely even that as most of the actual meter reading is farmed out to independent contractors! It’s an utterly bonkers way of doing things. Water and train services are also monopolies running on fixed networks with zero scope for competition. Really, they’re only in private sector to thwart trade unions, keep wages down and because of free market dogma.

  • nvelope2003 17th Nov '19 - 3:26pm

    Internet provision is not a monopoly as Virgin provides an alternative service through its own cables or fibre. Not every place has an alternative but many do and this keeps an element of competition. The idea that a mediocre service subsidised by taxpayers should force other providers out of business is not something many people would advocate. Even if you do not use Virgin you will benefit from the fact that there is competition and get a better service and/or a better price.
    The free NHS has not got rid of private health care despite its high cost but it is only available to the rich. I do not use private health care or Virgin broadband but I do benefit, as does everyone else, from its existence. I suppose the next thing will be the closure of all supermarkets except the Co-op (of which I am a member and use regularly). I dread to think what my food bill will be if that happened.
    I have no problem with state prisons, probation services, water or energy providers because competition is not practicable but there are competing railway lines from London to Bristol, Exeter, Birmingham, Cambridge, Southend, the North East and Scotland for example and this helps not only people going to those places but also those making intermediate journeys. I get the impression that those who write about railways either rarely if ever use them or do not know much about them.

  • nvelope2003 19th Nov '19 - 4:56pm

    Free internet is available in public libraries. When I go to one I find that there is often no one else there apart from those using it. Will the free broadband cause the final demise of the Library Service ?
    A free market may not exist for long if one provider to the home, however mediocre, is subsidised by the state. If you have to go to a public library during limited opening hours that is a different matter. Is the free broadband to be available to business ?

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