Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Got To Be Another Way

By all accounts electioneering is now in full swing even though we've got to wait until May 2015 for the novelty of a fixed date for the General Election. We know this for certain because politicians like Iain Duncan Smith has accused the BBC of political bias. Silly ideas are being tried out on us for reaction, such as the 'illegal immigrant's go home' poster vans, and my MP suddenly e-mails wanting to know if I want to keep receiving updates on his activities? 

We need to brace ourselves because we've got more than 18 months of this shenanigans, but as far as I can recall, the Electorate have never been asked specifically to voice an opinion about privatising public services. In the old days of class-based tribal politics, one could have assumed that the Tories would be in favour, Labour would be dead against and it wasn't really worth bothering what the Liberal Democrats thought because they had no hope of being in power. 

But that's all history as we have come to realise that Tony Blair was Thatchers true disciple and whatever Labour might say in opposition now, they embraced privatisation with gusto when last in power. Although it surprised us all when the Lib Dems jumped into bed with the Tories, low and behold they too turned out to be just as keen on privatisation. Not a cig paper can be put between them on the issue of privatising public services, which means that the Electorate is effectively disenfranchised on the topic. 

My suspicion is that a majority of the public feel pretty unhappy about this privatisation by stealth and here's an opinion poll commissioned by We Own It and reported on the Left Foot Forward website that seems to bear out the view by a staggering majority of 80%:-   
80 per cent of the public believe there should always be a public sector bid when a public service in contracted out to judge if the service could be provided at better value, according to a new survey.
The poll, carried out by Survation and commissioned by We Own It, a new organisation launching today, also found that 79 per cent believe the public should be consulted and have their views considered before services are privatised or outsourced.
60 per cent believe local and national government should run public services in the public sector by default, and only consider contracting out if this fails.
Other findings were that:
  • 79 per cent believe the public should be consulted and have their views considered before any service is privatised or outsourced.
  • 69 per cent of Labour voters believe the public sector is more accountable than the private sector when running public services
  • 90 per cent of Tory voters believe the government should be required to end private company contracts early when they are found to be doing a poor job of running public services, following public complaints.
  • 88 per cent believe private companies running public services should be required to be as transparent about their performance and financial data as the public sector
  • 48 per cent (mistakenly) believe that private companies running public services are obliged by law to respond to Freedom of Information requests
Commenting on the findings, shadow minister for the Cabinet Office John Trickett said the poll demonstrated that the public were “deeply troubled” by the government’s “ideological approach” to public services.
“In Recent times the country has witnessed some high profile failures by private providers of public services, such as Serco’s disastrous out of hours GP service and the failure of A4e in getting people back to work to name just two. It is now time for the government to put evidence before dogma in its approach to public service provision,” he added.
Cat Hobbs, director of We Own It, said she hoped the report would “spell the beginning of the end for privatisation-as-usual. In the future, public services will need to be owned by and accountable to the people they serve”.
If the present political structure is simply not able, or unwilling, to adequately reflect the views of the Electorate, then surely there's got to be another way

Recently this blog seems to have unintentionally stumbled upon a rich vein of discussion involving film analogies that just might help lift the general depressive mood. I have no idea why, but I'd like to try and keep it going a bit longer and with reference to another of my all-time favourites, 'Dark Star'

Now being basically lazy, I really can't be bothered to get out my VHS copy, fire up the trusty Ferguson Videostar and fast forward to the closing scene in order to check exactly what Doolittle says, but as he surfs towards earth on a bit of space junk, I think he says "Guys, I think I've found another way!" 

Right, film analogy out of the way, isn't the time right for another political party, but one spawned of the internet age, capitalising on it's utterly democratic nature courtesy of Sir Tim Berners Lee? For those with long memories, isn't this another SDP moment? 

Don't we have all the elements in place to challenge the orthodox political ruling class in the form of a) politically-focused blogs b) sites like Guerilla Policy that pull it all together, c) discussion forums like Open Democracy and d) democratic campaigning sites like 38 Degrees with huge scope for mobilising public opinion. I can't be the only person thinking that the time must be right to harness all this passion and energy, form a new political party and give the buggers a damned good thrashing in 2015?  


  1. TheUrbaneGorilla6 August 2013 at 07:05


    There you are Jim.

    1. You beat me by ten minutes, UrbaneGorilla!

      I don't know this film, but - extending the metaphor still further - the computer smugly saying "I have no proof this is false data" could be a parallel for the MoJ's response to the TR consultation responses...

  2. Merseyside bin men are taking strike action as the main contractor wants to move from weekly collections to forthnightly. They have also reduced the number of street cleaners by approx 40%.
    However, a report today by a government minister claims that following a survey of 500 the british public would be happy to pay more council tax to keep the streets litter free.
    Now I may not be too bright, but if a service I pay for already is cut in half, shouldn't I be getting a refund and not asked to pay more?
    Privatisation is a social and very bloated leach that feeds on apathy, stupidity and misery. As long as we the public keep allowing it to feed it's just going to keep feeding until it bursts. It's time to get the salt out!

  3. Having heard that the Charity Commission has criticised the high pay of executives in the charity sector, I was keen to know how this was received by that little devil Beelzebub, so I had a look at Bubb's Blog. Beelzebub is not happy: “Just what possessed Mr Shawcross to go public with his criticism of charity chief executive pay I don't know. But I do know it's a disgrace.”

    1. netnipper,

      Yes indeed - you were slightly ahead of me! I've been hoping to find some reason to write a post on Sir Stephen and it seems to have dropped into my lap - see tomorrow.



  4. I know you're on Dark Star today, but to travel back in time briefly both James Cameron and Ridley Scott have shown concerns about the value of people versus corporations, and this is the area reflecting the current actions of the coalition. Consider Alien and Aliens, where the Weyland Corporation believes the alien may be utilised in war and is prepared to sacrifice the crew; also Terminator, where the Cyberdine Corporation will do anything to preserve its' weapon. Makes me wonder how many members of the coalition are in fact some variety of alien cybermen.

    1. Nexus6,

      Thanks for that! To be honest I'm struggling a bit now and desperate to find a reason to mention another all-time great 'Get Carter'. I suspect I'll just have to watch it again.



  5. Common humanity rather than business behaviour seems a theme of the Berwick report into the NHS - it is not just probation that is over bureaucratised and managed to produce politically expedient results


  6. Hi Jim

    So then where do you think failing Grayling will be heading next given the recent announcement of G4S withdrawing from the tagging contracts? As the 'great' man puts it:"As I have said, I will not enter into any new contracts with G4S until that process (government review) has concluded satisfactorily,".

    1. Blimey this blog is certainly topical - I think G4S only made the announcement an hour or so ago!

      So that's round 1 to Grayling as G4S admit defeat and gives up the chance of keeping the lucrative tagging contract. With Serco out of the running, the door is wide open to a competitor to step in - could be any one of the second division - Interserve, Capita, GeoAmey.

      What they have to consider is the potential for reputational damage with MoJ contracts.