My reply to the Conservatives “consultation” on “opening up” public services.

The Tories’ proposals on public services are truly terrifying. Have your say on their site:

http://www.openpublicservices.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/member-of-public/

Here is my furious rant measured response to their proposals.

I am completely opposed to any opening up of public services to the private or voluntary sector. Charities are already stretched, and in the recession the amount given to them is dropping. The private sector is not interested in planning for the long term, or providing the best possible quality service – it is interested in making a quick profit.

Our schools are being turned into “Free Schools” which will give non-accountable groups, particularly religious organisations, carte blanche to indoctrinate our children with their own views, or turn the well-rounded comprehensive education system into an assembly line to turn out mindless automatons, rather than thinking and questioning human beings.

Our hospitals are being turned into Foundation Trusts, which will compete with each other, rather than co-operate to provide the best patient care possible. Terms and conditions of staff will be eroded as they can opt out of national agreements. The example of North Staffs Foundation Trust, where patients were drinking out of flower vases due to a lack of staff, and receptionists were responsible for triage, is symptomatic of the not-so-rosy future of our once great NHS.

Our welfare state is also under attack – the only safety net for those who are disabled or cannot find employment. We need to invest in public services to provide more jobs and take back into public ownership what the private sector has destroyed – our railways, now with the most expensive tickets in Europe, our utility companies, which are hiking up prices and putting people into fuel poverty and our council housing, now increasingly farmed off to Rachmanite landlords.

The resources are there in society to transform the life chances of the poorest people – if these were shared out equitably. We could start by taxing the wealthy and closing tax loopholes, such as non-domiciles who evade tax. We could provide real jobs for our young people rather than cutting public services, which will only lead to a double-dip recession, which as the IMF has warned Britain, is exactly what will happen if the public sector is decimated.

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