So the government has made its move: Northern Rock is to be nationalised.
What are we to make of it? The (most recent) Tory line is that Labour dithered and dithered, costing taxpayers millions whilst making up their minds. But what seems to have happened is that the Labour Party were unwilling to nationalise Northern Rock if a buyer could be found on reasonable terms, but the jokers at Virgin wanted a ridiculously good deal, including protection from risk in case of the firm collapsing again.
In the government's favour, we are not simply socialising the risk and privatising the profit: instead both will now be placed in a half-way position. Commercialisation at arms-length is basically the same deal as devolution in Scotland: the firm does the business and we pick up some of the cheques at the end of the day. It's not socialism, which would demand that working people both within and without the company would have control over it. It's simple statism, and in the circumstances probably a good solution to a difficult problem.