David, if the SNP privatise Scottish Water they'll lose so many votes in this area anyway. What would be bound to happen is that prices would go sky high.Well, yes and no. I've no doubt at all that such a move would cost the SNP votes. But that's because of the almost universal lack of economic understanding here in Scotland. Not that it's much better elsewhere of course.
Earlier today I bumped into historian Michael Fry, formerly a Tory candidate and now a supporter of the SNP. Michael has an article about water privatisation in today's Scotsman but unfortunately it's behind the subscription wall. However I have the paper edition!
Michael explains that English water prices shot up after privatisation as a direct result of years of underinvestment by the state:
We might pause to reflect that no other country follows the precise Scottish model of regulated public ownership, whereas all over the world countries have adopted the English policy of straightforward privatisation. One of the reasons is that the English have succeeded in improving the quality of their water, and far faster than we have for all our babbling burns and limpid lochs.For me the issue is primarily a moral one. The state is the only body in society that can initiate force without attracting the attentions of the police. If there is to be a state at all (arguable), it must be limited to protecting us from aggressors. Everything else, including water, should be provided by the private sector.
Michael concludes his article by asking:
People often ask me how I, a cold-hearted capitalist, can bring myself to support the bunch of wooly lefties who now rule us from Holyrood, as I will again on 6 May.I agree with that, except for calling capitalists "cold-hearted". Capitalists are warm-hearted folk who provide people with goods and services without the support of taxation extracted from others.
Here is my answer: reality makes capitalists of us all. It is like nothing so much as a douche of cold water.
I really do look forward to that "douche of cold water" being piped, perhaps, directly from Loch Katrine to the Glasgow City Chambers.