My morning reading is an article by the Deputy Mayor of Paris on how they brought their water service back into public control. It has a particular relevance for Scotland because of the business led campaign to privatise our water.
Water in Paris was privatised in 1985, although initially it was put into the hands of a public/private company. Within 2 years the production was in the hands of private water companies. A stark warning to those who may think that mutualisation is an attractive option for Scotland. As with Welsh Water, mutualisation in this capital intensive industry is always a cosmetic introduction to privatisation.
The article shows how the private companies increased their profits at the expense of the Paris water charge payer. Back in democratic control, charges have been frozen and profits are coming back to the public purse. Whilst Paris is not an exact model for Scotland, there are important lessons we can learn about the importance of democratic control.
The Tories are apparently making mutualisation a condition of their support for the coming Scottish budget. Have they become somewhat late converts to the co-operative movement? I think not. They know that once out of direct public control the service slips quickly into the hands of the multi-national water companies, as happened in Paris and Wales.
Our message remains. Scotland's water is not for sale!