Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Six magnificent years and six tragic years : the privatisation of the United Kingdom

For six magnificent years from  1945 to 1951, a Labour Government, advised by a Liberal thinker, William Beveridge, and a progressive Conservative, Rab Butler, created a caring state system which ensured that as a community we took responsibility to look after all of our members who struggled with poverty, and poor health. Previously people had to pay for health services and so the poor died young. A free to all National Health Service was created, unquestionably the greatest achievement in the history of the community of people we call the United Kingdom. Furthermore all children now had access to a state education system managed by elected local authorities.

From 1979 to 1997 the Conservative governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major attempted to  undermine these universal services and though Margaret Thatcher's government severely damaged the power of trade unions and attacked the long fought for rights of working people we had to wait for the New Labour governments of the now multi-millionaire Tony Blair and that son of the manse Gordon Brown to see profiteering private enterprise being introduced to our welfare, health and education services. Privatisation offers rich rewards for senior directors and shareholders of companies, diminishes the rewards and rights of workers and leads to declining services, both in number and in quality, for all those who most need them.

The New Labour government of 1997 to 2010 marked the lowest ebb in the moral ethics of the Labour movement. Little wonder that in the 2010 general election many traditionally Labour Party voters switched to support the Liberal Democrat Party when the latter's leaders,  people like Nick Clegg and Vince Cable claimed the Liberal Democrats were now the centre left's  genuinely radical caring party. It was a believable claim since the New Labour had proved to be one of the most successful capitalist/conservative sympathising governments in living memory.

We were in for more political treachery. Following voting day in the 2010 General Election, the "radical" Liberal Democrats,  held the balance of power, and decided to cuddle up with the Conservatives. This was not only treachery towards former Labour Party supporters the Liberal Democrat Party had enticed to vote for them it was also  treachery towards many of its own traditional supporters.

The following six years, from 2010 to 2016 have been tragic as we have watched the ever accelerating travel towards the death of the caring community that was once the United Kingdom.

Predictably the Liberal Democrats while they were in government could not stand up to the forces of Conservatism and in last year's General Election most of the Liberal Democrat MPs were drummed out of the Westminster parliament while New Labour paying the price of taking the support of the people of Scotland for granted lost all but one of its parliamentary seats to the Scottish Nationalist Party. The result is that we have an extreme right wing Conservative government (voted in by less than 40% of the electorate) deliberately and it seems with vicious delight legislating to impoverish further those who have very little in the first place. The last six dismal years have witnessed the invasion of our public services by the profiteering force of privatisation with its concomitant loss of jobs, and the increasingly poor pay and conditions of the diminishing numbers of workers who remain in our public services. Tonight the United Kingdom government signalled its intention to close local authority schools in favour of privately backed academies.  Public services should not be run on a profit making basis but its advance has surely reached the stage of the straw which broke the camel's back.

So frustrated am I that I ask people who voted for this Conservative government, if this is what you wanted?  Are you content that those who experience poverty, disability, physical and mental health difficulties, poor employment conditions and no prospects should be further disadvantaged and punished. Do you think you are superior to these people? Weren't you proud that as a people, as a community we had a national covenant to help those of us who struggle?  Are you happy being a driving force in a sadistic United Kingdom ?
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