The Left is wrong to call for “nationalisation” of failing public services. There are alternatives, and there aren’t many physical assets to take into public ownership anyway! The physical infrastructure of water, gas and electricity supply (pipelines and cables) , including the connections to our homes, is already part of our national fixed assets register like roads and railway lines. The issue is how we manage these assets and the products and services they provide.
The supply of water is controlled by private sector monopolies, the worst model imaginable. The companies have a licence to print money, pay shareholders dividends and their senior management huge salaries and benefits. As a consumer I can only buy my water from one supplier. There is no competition.
The supply of gas and electricity is from a multitude of retail suppliers none of whom has any significant strategic advantage over the others. Price competition is the only differentiator and it is entirely phoney. Prices, as we have seen recently, are determined by world markets. Downstream of the producers the retailers have played with price offers but none of them has any real chance of offering enduring better deals.
There is nothing much to “nationalise” in our water, gas and electricity (downstream of the power stations) supply sectors. Few assets and no supply infrastructure that are not already effectively publicly owned. In each case all that is needed is to create an efficient Not For Profit entity to act as the middleman between the producer and the consumer. A good parallel is the London Underground. The Tube invests its profits entirely in its infrastructure and has no shareholders, nor needs them.
We live in a mixed economy within which there is a symbiosis between the public and private sectors. They need each other. Essential services can be run as a sort of third way without any overriding ideology. The public and private sectors and, especially, we the people need efficient, reliable and well-managed water, gas and electricity supply. The Not For Profit model can provide it.