I've just been listening to a speech by James Purnell to the Business Services Association, which was rather appropriately delivered in the bunker of the Cabinet War Rooms. It was full of the usual stuff about rebalancing the relationship between the state and markets.
But at the end of the speech he made clear that his department welcomes any approach by the private sector who have ideas about how they could run better the services currently run by government. This was no doubt music to the ears of BSA members like Capita. He said his department already has thirty such proposals on the table which they are considering. All good stuff.
But if Conservative DWP spokeswoman Theresa May had said this, wouldn't it have provoked accusations from Labour that the Tories want to privatise the DWP?
Is announcing the plans on the day when the media/political types are distracted by the Post Office fuss, a case of "burying bad news" ?
Labourites follow the doctrine of ''do as I say and not as I do.'' I wonder if the hard left socialists of the Labour Party e.g. Dennis Skinner, Andrew Mackinley, Diane Abbot, Jeremy Corbyn and practically everyone that isn't in the Cabinet voluntarily redistribute their large salaries and their covertly acquired expenses.
That's what the BBC would say.
What we have seen from this Government is little actual privatisation. Plenty of talk, lots of money but not privatisation.
What Purnell preaches is corporatism - unelected and unaccountable bodies to do the State's bidding. The talk of Government is often about stakeholders getting involved in running things, canvasing stakeholders views on trying to change things. These stakeholders are never the taxpayer.
Why does a private firm shape our Police force? Why do private firms run much of the back office donkey work of Government's bureaucract utopia?
It's not for efficiency. It's not for value for money.(In fact the very opposite as outside firms being brought in operate almost on a blank cheque basis) Like all this Government touches, it has seen a good idea (privatisation) and debased it and perverted it.
I don't think he is.
He made no commitment to a real level playing field and the question on public sector pension transfers to the private sector left him rather stumped.
The real problem with the way it will be privatised is that it will end up as a private monopoly running a State concession. Witness how the Sure Start initiative rapidly moved from local plurality to large monopolistic contracts by faceless corps. Witness how "polyclinics" are large enough to be a de facto monopoly and force out a plurality of GP surgeries.
This is the intention. Private companies operating a monopoly do not care much about making the people happy, just about making the Government happy. Their eager little faces pointed towards the State.
It is about control. It is about nice contracts, sinecures, consultancies. Influence.
It is a breeding ground for corruption.
More of Britain for sale? There will be nothing left shortly.
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