The tension between privatising policies and public need
has been given a welcome tightening twist with the launch of We Own it, a campaign website to counter the irresponsible
privatisation of the public sector.
A few months ago I
was wondering how much further the tension could be built. While we have
plenty of evidence to contradict the ideology that the private sector is
by definition more efficient than the public, we have no evidence to show that this
government takes much notice of evidence.
article by Polly Toynbee in the summer, I learned about a few examples of
‘in-sourcing’ by which some local authorities seem to be demonstrating the
logic of taking certain functions back in house in the interests of efficiency
Public libraries are
part of this mix. Not
only are they symbolic of what remains of the public realm: as I wrote here,
they're gone, it's not just hard to get the library service back: it will be
that much harder to reinstate the notion of publicness.’
The We Own It site notes that, through privatisation, costs go up, services
get worse, they are run by people who are not accountable,
staff are undermined, and the whole nonsense is difficult to reverse. We have
been watching the large-scale, systematic, ideologically-justified,
evidence-defying manufacture of widespread social exclusion. Time to bring it
to an end.