Labour’s John McDonnell accused a top Tory minister of making a “fortune” out of the UK water industry today in an extraordinary clash on live TV.
In a well-planned ambush the Shadow Chancellor pointed to the money earned by Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green when he was a director of a water company as evidence that privatisation helped “rich people”.
McDonnell also said attacked Green for “factious economic talk” as the pair clashed on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
Green hit out at McDonnell’s refusal to accept the Government would need to borrow money to renationalise the railways, the electricity board and the water supply, telling the Shadow Chancellor: “You don’t understand capitalism.”
A clearly irate McDonnell snapped back: “You certainly do, don’t you, as you were one of those people who made a fortune out of the water industry.”
McDonnell had earlier pointed out that while serving as an MP Green had been a non-executive director of Mid-Kent water from 2005 to 2007, and then held the same position in South East Water until 2010.
McDonnell said: “You were an associate director of a company in the water industry while you were an MP. Yes you were and you made quite a profit out of it. £18billion of profits paid out to shareholders during your period when you were there.
“We’re going to take that money and instead of using it as dividends for shareholders for rich people like you, we’re going to ensure it covers the cost.”
Between July 2009 and February 2010 Green was paid 16,666.64 for 112 hours by South East Water for “attending meetings and offering advice” according to the Record of Members Interest.
After the show, a Labour source said: “This is exactly the sort of thing people don’t like about our rigged system, Tories and the rich people who back them benefiting from the private ownership of our utilities. That’s why we will bring them back into public ownership, for the benefit of the many not the few.”