British Steel was privatised in 1988 by the Conservative government of Thatcher. It merged with the Dutch steel producer Koninklijke Hoogovens to form Corus Group on 6 October 1999. Corus itself was taken over in March 2007 by the Indian steel operator Tata Steel. In a series of brilliant portraits James Meek shows how Britain’s common wealth became private, & the impact it has had on us all. In a series of panoramic accounts, Meek explores the human stories behind the incremental privatization of the nation over the last three decades. As our national assets are being sold, the new buyers reap the rewards, & the ordinary consumer is left to pay the ever-rising bill.

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LRB journalist James Meek looks at what the great experiment in privatisation has meant for the industries it covered. The Royal Mail, railways, water, electricity, the health service and homes are the areas he directs his analysis at, testing the idea that private ownership means greater inefficiency, more innovation and better services.

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