The weekend papers carried such a number of articles on a single subject - how the UK is contingency-planning for the collapse of the Euro - that one suspects this was no journalistic coincidence but the result of a quiet piece of Treasury spin. If so, one wonders who it was aimed at - those European Finance Ministries who refuse to recognise the possibility of Euro-collapse, the financial markets, UK business and industry or you and I. But clearly the break up of the Euro is no longer 'unthinkable' in government circles, though it's taken a year of bloggers and commentators united views on the inevitable collapse of the currency to get there. And whichever way you look at it, it will cost the UK something.
It's the tendency of governments and more importantly of the mandarinate to pursue an economic creed long after its sell-by date that's interesting. Kinnock - in the sole achievement of a lifetime in politics - convinced his party to drop Clause Four on the basis that economic power was no longer about ownership, but about regulation. Only to see the most spectacular failures of regulation in the newly privatised / de-monopolised transport, energy, telecoms, financial and technology sectors. Gordon Brown even took the idea to the point that the nation no longer needed to own Gold, on the basis that it could regulate instead. Don't get me wrong - I never want to see the return of a State telephone service that rations copper lines, and the GDP boost we've enjoyed from the privatisation / liberalisation process has been important - but the wave of popular benefits doesn't include better pension provision or a lower national debt.
Now of course there's not much left to privatise except one huge gleaming asset - the road network. London's already demonstrated that road pricing can be lucrative; a capital investment of £160m produces a net annual profit of £90m (excluding the massive capital premium a private firm would pay for say a 25 year right to charge). Private Toll roads have a long history in the UK, being nationalised only in 1888. Perhaps it's time to flog off the Motorways?