By Dave Lunn, Vice President, Land Registry group (Personal Capacity)
At 5pm on the evening before parliament recessed for Easter, plans to consult on the proposed privatisation of Land Registry were sneakily released by George Osborne’s office.
These new plans come less than 2 years after previous plans for Privatisation from the coalition government were soundly defeated by a mass united campaign led by PCS involving political lobbying, work with customers, the public and those who have an interest in Land for the benefit of society. A 38degrees petition was launched and received over 100,00 signatures and this was all rounded off with 2 days of well supported strike action with many members coming into activity for the first time. As a result of the sum of all these parts of our campaign, the government retreated on their plans.
We knew however knew that a Tory majority government would come after us again and that is what we are now facing. This time around however their rationale for Privatisation has changed from supporting digitisation of Land Registry services to raising a capital receipt for paying down debt and supporting the government’s infrastructure programme, in effect a payday today to the detriment of the long-term public interest, particularly as Land Registry costs the tax payer nothing and paid £100m back into the public purse in 2015.
Having considered their flimsy and economically illiterate case it is clear that this is less about raising money for the public good and is more about transferring profitable public asserts to their big city mates, whilst retaining the liability element with government. In effect nationalising the risk and privatising the profit.
We are however ready for them and are currently putting together a submission in response to the consultation document which rebuts their arguments and puts forward an alternative that is in the interest of our members, customers and wider society. We will follow this up with member led political lobbying, media work, campaigning with customers and the public and ultimately with an industrial response if required. In the meantime time you can help us by signing the latest 38 degrees petition https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-privatisation-of-the-land-registry
One of the main reasons for our success last time around was the excellent solidarity and practical and financial support that we received from Left Unity comrades and the Democracy Alliance NEC.
This time around we are already receiving similar support and resources for the campaigning work that we need to do.
This is why I and the majority of reps within Land Registry group support Left Unity and Democracy Alliance candidates and would encourage you to do the same in the upcoming GEC and NEC elections. We understand that it is crucial to have a bold socialist union led by Left Unity not only to support our own campaign but also to fight alongside teachers, doctors and others for a society that works in the interests of the 99%.