Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 23 June 2010

Why BP should be nationalised

JUST HOURS after agreeing a $20 billion compensation deal with US President Obama over the oil spill, oil giant BP again had to apologise, this time for BP chairman Svanberg's claim that the $240 billion multinational cares about "the small people".

Hugh Caffrey

A US congressional hearing on 15 June heard that other oil companies "are just as unprepared to respond to a major oil spill in the Gulf [of Mexico] as BP". Far from caring about Svanberg's "small people", the entire capitalist industry cuts corners to boost profits.

The bill for Deepwater Horizon including clean-up costs, fines and further compensation could reach $49 billion. The environmental cost, meanwhile, keeps growing. Obama encouraged people who lost out from this spill, to claim part of the $20 billion compensation and announced that BP was setting up a "$100 million fund to compensate unemployed oil rig workers."

$100 million is small change to BP's bosses. Chief Executive Tony Hayward paid himself $36 million last year alone! How many oil workers will actually benefit from this fund? How will money be distributed and in what amounts?

Many 'City experts' call this a 'good deal' for BP. They feared Obama might go further as 83% of Americans "disapprove of BP's performance". The $20 billion equals two years' standard payouts (dividends) to shareholders. The estimated total cost of $49 billion is equivalent to suspending dividends for five years.

However, after suspending dividends this year, BP intends business as usual in 2011. To help pay for the clean-up, $10 billion worth of assets will be sold and $10 billion of capital spending, ie investment, will be cut.

Former Clinton government official, Robert Reich, suggested that BP's American operations should be temporarily nationalised so "Obama can ...use its expertise to stop the leak and clean up the mess as soon as possible." As Reich noted: "BP's first responsibility is to its creditors and shareholders, not the public."

The Socialist Party calls for fully and permanently nationalising BP, under democratic workers' control and management. This would allow workers' expertise to be used in the interests of society, not just to clean up after disasters.

Democratic planning

A socialist government would take BP into public ownership, replacing the board with elected representatives of oil workers and trade unions in the majority, and with the government also represented. Through democratic public planning this could safeguard employment and incomes, and move towards developing renewable energy.

Capitalists claim that "attacking BP means pensioners will suffer", as many pension fund investments depend on BP shares. This disaster shows why gambling pensions on the stock markets is madness. A publicly owned BP could repay the pension funds through its sizable profits, but a far better solution would be also to have democratic public ownership of the entire pension funds 'industry' to protect workers' savings and deliver living pensions for all.

'You can't nationalise a multinational company' scoff right-wing politicians. Socialists are internationalists; we fight for socialism worldwide, not just in one country. A socialist British government would nonetheless need to nationalise the largest 150 companies, many of which are multinationals.

It would appeal to the overseas workforce of these companies, including BP's 23,000 employees in the US, to support this. Introducing workers' democracy, guaranteeing rights and improving pay and employment terms, one socialist government would inspire workers the world over to bring in others.

In the last five years, there have been 26 deaths, 170 injuries and 760 safety violations on BP rigs. Regulation cannot make safe this dangerous capitalist industry. Socialist public ownership is required. Until then, this disaster, an environmental Hurricane Katrina, will tragically not be the last.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 23 June 2010:

Stop budget attacks with mass action

Budget cuts hitting the poorest hardest

Youth fight for jobs

Young people: fight for your future!

Youth speak for jobs at UCU union rally

Anti-EDL protest

Protesting at Iain's Dickensian Society

National Shop Stewards Network

The role of the NSSN in the battle to defend public sector jobs and services


Budget Day: workers' responses

Fightback to stop the cuts - public meetings

Bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday: Innocent protesters murdered by the British army in 1972

Workplace news and analysis

PCS union rejects 'inevitable' cuts

Unison election: Over 42,000 votes for socialist candidate

Unison leadership: Lack of anti-cuts strategy

Fighting cuts in Nottingham: Save the WAP day centre

Workplace news in brief

National Shrewsbury 24 Justice Campaign March and Rally

Socialist Party news and analysis

Refugee and Migrant Justice: Save this vital service!

Afghan war

Coventry rally against public sector cuts

Stop attacks on services for the vulnerable in Nuneaton

Birmingham: Growing anger against cuts

Save South Leeds Pool

Why BP should be nationalised

Socialist Party feature

How deep is Britain's media crisis?

International socialist news and analysis

Ethnic conflict explodes in Kyrgyzstan

Donate to aid Greek socialists


Home   |   The Socialist 23 June 2010   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleClimate watch

triangleBuild student unions and walkouts to fight climate change and Trump!

triangleNews in brief

triangle2016 hottest year on record, air poisonous

triangleFilm review: Deepwater Horizon


triangleDrone attacks on Saudi Arabia: Tensions ratcheted up

triangleOil firms spend $1bn fighting climate laws: 'Green New Deal' needs socialist policies

triangleTen years since Lindsey strike: when militant action stopped the 'race to the bottom'

triangleFilm: Vice - Dick Cheney - a cold and calculating opportunist


triangleFight for your future - join the socialists

triangleThe Great Big Socialist Party Quiz 2019

triangleClimate strikes: Students and trade unionists protest together


triangleUS: "We've had to build a huge culture of resistance"

triangleThe life and legacy of Martin Luther King

Public ownership:

triangleHuge opposition to Barry rehab ward closure

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns


Socialist Party

Fight for your future - join the socialists



Strikes: more determined than ever


Socialist Students

Students and workers united in struggle


South Western Railway

It's a strike to ensure the safety of the travelling public



Surrey firefighters to ballot on Christmas industrial action



Social workers lobby Hull City Council


Climate change

Climate strikes: Students and trade unionists protest together


Socialist Party

Why I joined: "Proud to be a socialist"



Carlisle election meeting: Education - time to make the mega-rich and corporations pay



Workplace news in brief


West Midlands

Solid support for guards on West Midlands Trains


Climate change

Climate change election debate - Corbyn offers best green solutions but needs to go further


The Socialist

Selling the Socialist


Royal Mail

Royal Mail court ruling - national reps meeting and solidarity action essential



Jared Wood overwhelmingly elected to RMT executive

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019