abour is finally shifting ground on the railways with a real debate going on in the party about public ownership. It is widely recognised that privatisation has been a colossal failure. Despite record levels of public subsidy we have the highest fares in Europe and private sector investment and innovation is non-existent.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will be the biggest international 'free-trade deal' in history. It will standardise EU regulations with their almost non-existent US counterparts. Negotiations are secret and over 90 per cent consultants are corporate lobbyists, which is more than a little suspicious.
This year the Tories are preparing a new, massive attack on students, which promise to be as regressive and damaging to the future of millions of people as the trebling of tuition fees has been - plotting to sell all our student loans to private debt collectors, who are hungry to make a profit out of saddling us with more debt than we signed up to. Students are, however, building a movement to stop the government in its tracks.
Either it's an election year, or Nick Clegg has suddenly discovered some principles. This week, George Osborne announced that there would be another £25 billion in spending cuts after the 2015 general election and around half of that would come from the welfare budget. For Clegg, who must have been given a spine at Christmas, it was apparently the straw that broke the camel's back.
I hear the term "modal shift" - referring to the move of passengers from cars to public transport -- a lot, and a lot of discussion of how to achieve that. But I've now seen the answer - copy the Swiss in practically everything. And an excellent place to start would be bringing the railways back into public hands.
Imagine what would happen to Britain if the Home Secretary had the power to expel anyone from the country "without assigning any reason." Then imagine what it would be like now if the power had always existed: no dissenting voices left, no debate; anyone in a minority either too intimidated to speak out or already deported.
We're not interested in winding back the clock. We don't see the world as an epic struggle between capital and labour. And we don't have all the answers. Yet. What we do see is people being disempowered. And not just by the government. What marks out the political discourse of my generation is that we have organised against any power which negatively impacts our lives.
A couple of these recent flotations - I'm thinking of Facebook and, in the UK, the Royal Mail - have given me pause for thought at the economic models that underpin them. In short, I think they are a rip-off. Why? Because they miss a chance to have the stake-holders investing in the company as shareholders.
This means that the company (if only using the first day trading price) was unvalued by £1.6 billion by the government. This government often likes to focus on those who claim benefits, as people who are always out to cheat the system. This undervaluation will cost the taxpayer MORE in three days than benefit fraud does in a year.
It is true that there have been successful privatisations in times past but we also know there are examples, particularly in rail and energy, which resulted in sub-standard services and people being ripped off. Our goal on entering government will be to ensure that the same fate does not befall the British people in respect of the Royal Mail.
I am proposing a Welsh way forward. Plaid Cymru is not a party to shout "foul play" from the side-lines. The Party of Wales is determined to meet the aspirations of our people with alternatives. I've written to the UK Business Secretary calling on him to follow a precedent set in the Post Office Act of 1969. That legislation implemented far-reaching reforms, and within it, the UK Government surrendered its postal interests in the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, offering them to the governments of those territories.
Maria Eagle's call to effectively renationalise the rail network is so dangerous and backward-looking. Her view is based on phoney economics and is a brazen attempt to rewrite history. She has ignored the facts about the failing, worn out nationalised railway of yesterday and the modern, growing and successful railway of today.