Power For The People!

9th January 2014 | News / Press

Published in today’s Ecologist, Ellie Harrison explains how her concerns about climate change led to her to start campaigning for the public ownership of our essential public services and utilities with the Bring Back British Rail and Power For The People campaigns.

Ellie Harrison

“Removing the profit motive from the energy sector would help to reframe our relationship to energy altogether.”

“About five years ago I began to comprehend the urgency of our need to tackle climate change.

I clearly remember the moment when I realised that it is not a question of selflessly saving the ‘environment’, but is actually more about preserving a habitable climate so that our own species can continue to survive.

The general consensus from scientists is still that our utmost priority should be to reduce the carbon emissions which are causing global temperatures to rise, and yet, counter to this expert advice, the figures continue to show our emissions increasing at an alarming rate.

Campaigning to make public transport public

I hadn’t done much campaigning before, but I felt I had to try to do something to help resolve this potentially fatal contradiction before it was too late.

Lobbying directly ‘against climate change’ or for ’emissions reductions’ seemed a pretty thankless task – people clearly switch off when faced with the enormity of such a problem or when bombarded with stats – so began to look for more tangible issues to address closer to home.

Examining different elements of our country’s infrastructure, I discovered some huge hurdles in their current privatised free-market driven form, which are making the challenge of tackling climate change much more difficult than it needs to be. The first was public transport.

As a frequent passenger, I have had much first hand experience of the frustrations which have been caused by the privatisation of our railways in 1993-4 – the delays resulting from the lack of co-operation between competing companies running different sections of the network, and the disbelief at the over-priced and over-complicated fare structure.

£1.2 billion per year going to waste

Not only are these things acting as huge disincentives for the people of Britain to leave their cars at home in favour of the train, but the inefficiencies of the privatised system – the duplication of services, the dividends paid to shareholders, and high borrowing costs for the private sector – are wasting £1.2 billion a year.

This is money which could and should be being re-invested in expanding and updating our public transport system, re-opening branch lines and reducing ticket prices to help bring our unsustainable love affair with the motorcar to an end.

So in 2009 I decided to set up Bring Back British Rail to campaign for a re-unified national rail network – run for people not profit.

Four years hard slog later (I run the campaign as a volunteer in my spare time around work) we have more than 60,000 supporters via our website, Facebook, Twitter and email group and are making some serious headway.

Finally the common sense idea of re-nationalising our failing railways no longer seems so pie-in-the-sky. It is already the Green Party’s official policy and is beginning to make it into mainstream political discourse. But I couldn’t stop there.

Dysfunctional energy infrastructure

More than two decades on, the short-sighted privatisations of the ’80s and ’90s have left us with much more dysfunctional infrastructure which is severely hampering our ability to meet our climate commitments – nowhere more so than in the energy sector.

And so this autumn Bring Back British Rail’s ‘sister campaign’ Power For The People was launched to begin work popularising the idea of re-nationalising our energy production and supply.

Against a backdrop of the shameless profiteering by the UK’s ‘Big Six’ energy companies, who have consistently hiked up fuel prices way beyond inflation, the campaign aims to draw attention to the root causes of these problems by demanding a energy network run for people not profit.

As with public transport, there are so many good reasons why a publicly owned energy sector would benefit the people of Britain. (See also “Energy: Public ownership is the rational solution” by Andrew Cumbers in today’s Ecologist.)

Not only would we immediately save the 6% of bill payments which are currently being creamed-off as profit, but more importantly we would also have the control we need to develop a long-term renewable energy strategy to help us meet emission reduction targets and secure for our future needs energy needs.

But the most important consequence of removing the profit motive from the energy sector would be to begin to reframe our relationship to energy altogether.

If we are going to learn how live in a more sustainable way, then we must stop thinking of energy as something that we can get copious amounts of as long as we have the cash to pay.

It should be seen as an essential shared resource which we all have equal access to and must all learn to use more wisely.”

Ellie Harrison
Founder, Power For The People
www.powerforthepeople.org
www.facebook.com/renationalise
www.twitter.com/renationalise

Support from Andrew Cumbers, University of Glasgow

10th December 2013 | News

Andrew Cumbers, Professor in Management at University of Glasgow is mentoring Ellie Harrison in developing and establishing the Power For The People campaign in 2014, as she takes part in the Campaign Lab course. He is the author of the influential report Repossessing the Future, which makes a compelling case for the democratic public ownership of energy in Scotland. In support of the Power For The People campaign he said:

“Keeping the lights on and shifting http://quotecorner.com/online-pharmacy.html towards a post-carbon future will cost upwards of £100 billion. As a country, we will have to pay for this in some shape or form. A publicly owned sector will be far cheaper than the existing privatized regime, because governments can borrow at much lower interest rates than private companies. It would also mean that future revenues from energy go to the public purse rather than private profit.”

Bonfire of Austerity

3rd November 2013 | Demonstration / News

The huge new Power For The People banner will be making its first public outing on Tuesday 5 November at the People’s Assembly Bonfire of Austerity protest on Westminster Bridge.

People are being invited to bring their energy bills to burn on the bridge in protest against the recent energy price hikes which have left some having to choose between heating and eating.

Join us and keep warm behind the Power For The People banner!

Block Westminster Bridge
Tuesday 5 November 2013

Assemble at 18:00
at Jubilee Gardens
Belvedere Road
London
SE1 8XX

bonfire

Report: Repossessing the Future

5th October 2013 | Evidence / News

A Common Weal Strategy for Community and Democratic Ownership of Scotland’s Energy Resources

This brilliant report published by The Jimmy Reid Foundation makes a compelling case for the democratic public ownership of our energy resources and provides a blueprint for how this would http://nygoodhealth.com best be implemented in Scotland.

This strategy could easily be expanded to the rest of the UK and is just the sort of excellent evidence we need to fight for Power For The People!

Get clued up! Download the Report here >

Repossessing the Future

Campaign Lab

27th September 2013 | News

Ellie Harrison who founded the Bring Back British Rail campaign in 2009, has been awarded a place on the prestigious Campaign Lab course, in order to help develop and launch the Power For The People campaign.

Campaign Lab in a nine-month course for economic justice campaigners, which is facilitated by the New Economics Foundation, the Public Interest Research Centre and Finance Innovation Lab.

From October 2013 – June 2014, Ellie will work alongside 25 other campaigners (from the TUC, Friends of the Earth, Unite, People and Planet, The People’s Assembly, 350.org, Zero Carbon Britain, the High Pay Centre, the Equality Trust, ShareAction, Christian Aid and 38 Degrees) to build a powerful and robust campaign that has the strength to take on the ‘big six’ energy companies and convince politicians that public ownership is the only solution for achieving long-term energy security and a zero-carbon future.