50 Years Ago: The Nationalisation of the Railways

Naturally the shareholders clamour for higher compensation. Their special grievance is that, unlike the Bank of England shareholders, they are not being guaranteed the same income as they were getting during or before the war. In effect, they are to receive a State-guaranteed income of about £22,500,000 a year in place of a larger but uncertain sum they received as shareholders in concerns the profitability of which had been rendered precarious by road competition. How the shareholders must regret not having jumped at Nationalisation on the much better terms they would have got in 1919, when profits and share values were higher!

So much for the shareholders. What of the workers? The workers merely change one employer for another; little else is changed, for the State undertaking, as the Daily Herald specially emphasises (November 19th, 1946), has got to pay its way. The Evening Standard remarks that nationalisation cannot bring any possible benefit to the railway worker— “for him it can mean neither higher wages nor shorter hours” (November 19th, 1946). And the Observer, in like vein, says. “It . . . leaves the transport workers and the consumers to wonder what difference it can make to them except for the worse” (December 30th. 1946).

The Labour Government has kept its pledge to nationalise transport but for the workers it is all sound and fury, signifying nothing. Nationalisation is State capitalism and leaves untouched the real problem of the working class of emancipating themselves from capitalist exploitation.
(From front page article by ‘H’ in Socialist Standard, January 1947)